Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I'm sure you all have heard of the “cursed” Wes Craven werewolf film Cursed. No? Well then I'll fill you in before my review.

A modern day werewolf film written by Kevin Williamson (Scream, Dawson's Creek) and directed by Wes Craven, Cursedwas shot nearly 2 years ago. Upon the completion of the film the suits at Dimension Films, who were hoping to make this film into a new franchise, deemed what they had shot to be non-scary and not what they wanted. It was too silly and unintentionally funny to even be considered a horror film. So instead of working with what they had, Craven was given more money to go back and reshoot several key scenes. Well, that was easier said than done since a lot of the actors were no longer available and had to be replaced, new FX people were brought in when the old ones had moved on to other projects and some just didn't want to have anything to do with the film at all. Recasting went underway, new crew members were brought in and the film was almost completely re-shot (kind of like Exorcist: The Beginning). Craven got what he wanted this time around at the expense of twice the budget the film was originally allotted and the news got out that the film was going to be a disaster, regardless of the new footage or not. The online film community was buzzing about what a monumental heap of crap this was going to be.

Well, after nearly a year and a half of working on this film the suits at Dimension decided to add fuel to the fire by slicing up the film in order to get a PG-13 rating in an attempt to cut their losses. Not a good idea when dealing with a Wes Craven flick. For a movie about werewolves loose in Hollywood I had heard that this was one of the driest (bloodless) horror films ever made. The film was released in February 2005 and disappeared within 2 weeks. It was a HUGE BOMB!
I was never able to check it out. The trailers didn't do much for me and I never even saw it playing at a second run theater. I heard there would be an unrated version on DVD so I decided to wait. I've seen it now and here's the plot...

Ellie and Jimmy, siblings coping with the recent loss of their parents, are attacked on Mulholland Drive by a werewolf after being involved in a brutal car accident. They soon come to realize that they are becoming just like their attacker and they must do whatever it takes to find a way to stop from transforming into murderous beasts. The only way to save themselves is to find the one who attacked them and kill him/her. But there are so many suspects.  Who could it be?

Sounds just like Scream only with werewolves. Well, that's just exactly what it is. Is that such a bad thing? Nah. I liked that series of films and the way they manipulated the audience with all the red herrings and such. This film follows that formula for the first 3/4 before becoming its own film.

The acting is decent. Christina Ricci (Ellie) and Jesse Eisenberg (Jimmy) pull off their transformations pretty well; Ellie, from an uptight businesswoman to a sultry vixen, and Jimmy, from a geeky loser to ladies man. The supporting cast is good as well, with Joshua Jackson, Portia de Rossi, Michael Rosenbaum, Mya and Shannon Elizabeth all turning in watchable performances (some have very little screentime). The plot is treading on familiar ground, but it's entertaining. The final segment of the film is the highlight once it comes out of the shadow of Scream. The film is also funny when it needs to be with some great cameos (all about Scott Baio ripping on himself) and some inspired Williamson humor. Plus the who-dun-it aspect is pulled off well. It will keep you guessing until the end (I thought I had it pegged twice and ended up wrong both times).
On the negative side, there are way too many "boo" scares. Plus the werewolf looks overly CGI-ish. There's an in-your-face transformation that is about as bad as you can get with computer animation. There's also a very cheesy section in the middle involving a homosexual subplot and a werewolf dog. Some of the romantic stuff was also cornball city.

Plus at the beginning there is a useless scene at a carnival involving Mya and Shannon Elizabeth (I suspect this is the only surviving footage from the original version) getting a palm reading from Portia de Rossi. Mya gets scared when told she is doomed and runs off. Shannon Elizabeth runs after her but never finds her. Next we see Shannon Elizabeth driving home alone. She just ditched her friend after all that? Plus when Mya shows up later in the film she never once acknowledges that she ever knew Shannon Elizabeth's character (who gets offed in a great way) after the news has been buzzing about her mutilated corpse being found in the woods. She doesn't seem upset one bit and is completely oblivious to it. She even gets all sexed up to go to a party in a catsuit. It was like that plot point was abandoned in the new version. I suspect they left in that opening sequence so when Portia de Rossi shows up later in the film the audience wouldn't be like "Who the hell is she?". Bad choices in the editing room.
As for the uncut portions of the film... HOLY SHIT IS THIS FILM BLOODY! We get a couple of bodies ripped in half, a neck ripped open and a geyser of blood soon afterward, mutilated bodies and plasma everywhere! This is NOT a PG-13 film.

Is the film the disaster it was made out to be? Well, I never saw the PG-13 version, so I wouldn't know. The unrated version is entertaining and very watchable. It's not the greatest werewolf film in the world, but it'll do until the next one comes along.

2.5 out of 5

*written 6/25/05

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