And I especially want to thank Sheri for braving Blogger's mind-boggling back end to post some extraordinarily nice words about me which -- as she helpfully suggested in a message -- I should be able to repurpose for my funeral. Having her return to the wonderfully weird little community she created was the best present I could have received.
And I have another treat for you guys: Hank Parmer, the Human Oven Mitt is back, providing a protective layer of quilted fabric between you and sizzlingly bad cinema. Today Hank examines the motion picture which answers that age-old question, "Just how crappy does a movie have to be before it rates second billing to Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster?"
Curse of the Voodoo (Original title: Voodoo Blood Death)
A Galaworld production, in black and white. In 1965. Keep in mind that we're not dealing with just any old voodoo here, but the Voodoo.
The movie opens with some African natives jumping up and down around a bonfire, to the pounding of jungle drums. A female dancer is really getting into it. One warrior seems to be practicing with his spear. He needs all the practice he can get: he's got a bad case of the shakes, so his aim is bound to be awful. The dancer falls down. (She'll do that a lot.)
Stock footage of Africa, accompanied by the hyper-manly, John-Barry-knockoff score we'll come to heartily loathe during the course of this film.
Voice-over: Africa - a country [so what if those snooty geographers call it a “continent”] that for centuries was hidden from civilized men. [e.g. White male Western Europeans] Africa - a country of grandeur, power, beauty and sudden death. Africa - where primitive tribes still practice evil religions which weave a dark web of death around all who sin against their gods. One such god is Simba, the lion. [There's also Goomba, the wiseguy, and Skwishi, the slug, although for some reason these don't attract as many followers.] And for any man who dares to kill a lion, the penalty is death!
The veldt – actually, Regent's Park, but let's not quibble – where we're introduced to our hero, the extremely manly Great White Hunter, Mike Stacey (Bryant Haliday). Alright, so he's actually a pale, cadaverous gink who sort of resembles George F. Will, if Will ditched the glasses and bow tie, grew about a half-inch more chin and got an ash-blond rinse ... but he's got a very masculine musical theme!
He watches through binoculars as his dweebish client Radlett shoots at, but, predictably, only wounds some stock footage of a lion, which promptly takes off into the stock footage bush. Maj. Lomas – played by Dennis Price, the Real Actor in this mess, who's obviously been diligently cultivating his gin blooms since his star turn in Kind Hearts and Coronets – tells Radlett that they can't leave a wounded lion roaming about. Especially in Regent's Park, where it might raise havoc with joggers.
Mike disgustedly informs his client that he'll be the one who has to go in after it. More hyper-manly theme, as Mike and his "boys" spread out and go after the lion. Bad news: not only is the lion wounded, but he's gone over the hill and taken refuge in territory inhabited by the dreaded Simbaza tribe, which is verboten to lion-hunting honkies. The others refuse to go any further.
Mike: "Don't tell me you believe in that mumbo-jumbo."
Lomas: "I've been here long enough never to dismiss anything as mumbo-jumbo!" (Boogedy-boo, however, is a different story.)
Mike insists he can get in, kill the lion and be back in time for tea. Mike's faithful gun-bearer Saidi tries to dissuade him, but he persists in his mad scheme. Saidi reluctantly follows him.
Meanwhile, Radlett dithers and halfheartedly suggests he really ought to go with Mike, since he was the one who wounded the lion. (Uh-huh.) In a vain attempt to divert everyone from his wimpiness, he asks Major Lomas what all the fuss is with the Simbazas.
Lomas explains they worship lions, and practice a potent brew of black magic and merciless passive aggression. Radlett scoffs, but Lomas is deadly serious: "Mr. Radlett, this is neither Southend nor Surrey. These people are further from civilization than Stone Age men!" (The Major would sing a different tune, if he'd ever attended the charity jumble at St. Dunstan's.)
Radlett: "Yes, but he didn't seem frightened!"
Lomas: "He's either a fool – or a very brave man."
Cut to Mike and Saidi, stalking the dweeb's wounded lion through a stand of "African" maples, to the exotic chirping of British songbirds. Underscoring his manliness, Mike tells Saidi to wait, while he continues the hunt alone. Stock footage of lion. Mike follows it through a lush forest and rain-wet leaves. More lion footage, shot on the dry and dusty veldt. Mike hears a growl. Stock footage of lion running at camera. Mike shoots. Stock footage of leaping lion. The camera's POV savagely attacks Mike, who drops the rifle and puts his arms up.
Lomas and Radlett hear the gunshot.
Radlett: "He got him! I wish I'd been with him!" Right. You know, you're not fooling anyone.
Back to Mike. The (off-camera) lion's dead, though he did give Mike a nasty boo-boo in the left shoulder. Saidi runs to help him. I never knew you could fend off a charging, fully-grown, 500-pound African lion by simply putting your arms out in front of you.
Back to Lomas and Radlett. Ominous thunder of drums. Radlett wants to know that it means.
Lomas: "It means the hunter has become the hunted!" Thank you, Major Exposition.
Back to Mike and Saidi, who's applying some first aid to where the lion nicked Mike in the shoulder. Mike takes a swig from his hip flask. The drums are getting louder. Saidi's worried: "We must get out of here, Mr. Mike: this is a bad place!" But Mike insists they skin the lion for Radlett, first. Of course, they won't be attacked by outraged Simbazas – that would be too easy. Plus, as we'll see, the Simbazas are major wusses.