Review Date: January 16, 2001
Released by: Elite Entertainment
Release date: 5/11/1999
Region 0, NTSC
Full Frame 1.33:1
Heavy-drinking big game hunter Mike Stacey (Bryant Halliday
) makes a living leading safaris on the African plains. On one such expedition, his client shoots a lion, but the beast isn't hurt too badly and it crawls off into the bush. Mike declares that somebody needs to go find it and finish the job, but the expedition's guide, Major Lomas (Dennis Price
), objects - the lion was heading towards territory occupied by the Simbaza tribe, who worship lions. Killing one is the most severe crime a person in their society can commit, and means automatic death. Mike sneers at the idea of letting the beast go, even though bearer Saidi (Dennis Alaba Peters
) is the only person who is willing to go with him and finish it off.
Mike manages to kill the lion, although it wounds his arm before it dies. The two men skin it and take the hide back to camp, where they are visited by Simbaza tribesmen looking for the man responsible for the crime. Saying nothing, the natives single out Mike and throw a spear at his feet, then disappear into the bush. Believing the incident to be a sign of bad luck, most of the expedition's bearers abandon them and they have no choice but to pack everything up and head home. On the jeep ride back to civilization, another unsettling incident occurs - Saidi suddenly grabs a knife and tries to kill Mike, but Lomas is able to subdue him. The man runs off.
When the group arrives back in Johannesburg, Mike is shocked to find that his wife Janet (Lisa Daniely
) has left him, and taken their young son Tommy (Andy Meyers
) back to live with her mother in London. Mike flies to England to meet with her, but she refuses to hear him out. She states that she's sick of his drinking, his constant absences from the home, and his generally pissy attitude about everything. He begs her to re-consider, and asks her to meet him that night at the bar in his hotel. However, she doesn't show up, and Mike instead gets drunk and goes home with another woman - though he's so plastered that he simply falls asleep. However, he has a horrible nightmare and wakes up, and decides to go back to his hotel. As he walks along a darkened path, he is disturbed by the sounds of a lion roaring.
But that's just the beginning of his problems - he soon begins to deteriorate, both physically and mentally. The wound that the lion inflicted becomes infected, and he is wracked by fever. He begins to hallucinate, seeing Simbaza tribesmen stalking him everywhere he goes. His doctor is unable to explain it, and Janet puts aside their marital differences to take care of him. However, as he begins to wither, she becomes desperate and goes to an expert of Africa (Louis Mahoney
), who confirms what she's begun to suspect - her husband has fallen under a Simbaza curse. Mike has only one hope - he must return to Africa and kill the man who put the curse on him, or he will die.
As far as low-budget productions go, Curse of the Voodoo
is okay - it has some excitement, as well as a few genuinely suspenseful bits. However, it's also very frustrating to watch at times. The main problem is Mike, the lead character. The screenwriter is obviously trying to show how the curse humbles Mike and makes him see the error of his ways, but Halliday goes way overboard, creating a character that's so nasty, immature and arrogant that it's impossible to like under any circumstances. Mike isn't a hero, or even an anti-hero - he's a complete and utter jerk from beginning to end, and he's difficult to tolerate. It's almost a relief when he begins to die, since it allows the other characters to take over the story.
I have a feeling that most fans will find little of interest in the movie, especially if it were to be held up against the films that studios like Amicus and Hammer were producing during this period. If you give Curse of the Voodoo
a try, you should be prepared to be disappointed.
Elite Entertainment has done a very good job cleaning up this movie. Presented full-frame at 1.33:1, the black and white image is remarkably sharp, and it allowed me to spot surprising details such as caked-on makeup on the faces of some of the actresses. There were some problems, none of them uncommon for films this age. There's light grain and speckling, as well as numerous (though minor) scratches on the film elements. The film does contain a fair amount of stock footage, some of which looks pretty rough, but I doubt that much could have been done about that.
The soundtrack, in Dolby Mono 2.0, sounds great, with the music reproduced boldly and the dialogue clearly. Even minor sound effects (such as the sound of people walking through the jungle) were very easy to hear.
There are no supplements included.
Not a very good movie, but a pretty good DVD. At $25, getting this disc is somewhat of a gamble. Unless you're in an especially adventurous mood, you'd probably do better to avoid Curse of the Voodoo
Movie – C
Image Quality – B
Sound – B+
Supplements – N/A
- Running Time - 1 hour 23 minutes
- Not Rated
- 1 Disc
- 16 Chapter Stops
- English Dolby Digital Mono 2.0