The gross out film is starting to make a come back of sorts on the indie circuit. However, where would these new films be without the gross out pioneers of the ’70s and ’80s? David Keith’s The Curse (aka The Farm) is one of those great under the radar gross out classics that still holds up today.
The film is an adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space. And compared to previous adaptations of the Lovecraft story, this version stays much closer to the source material. And to add some extra horror-cred, the great Lucio Fulci is listed as a co-producer in the credits, and is said to have supervised the special gore effects in the film.
The Curse stars a young Wil Wheaton, credited here as Will Wheaton, as this was before he lost the second “L” in a tragic spelling accident. The film was released in September 1987, the very same month that Wheaton made his debut as the title character in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Wil(l) Wheaton must have been one happy scrawny 15-year-old that fall.
In The Curse, he plays Zack, a Tennessee farm boy who lives with his meek mother and a-hole stepfather, Nathan, played by old-timey Western actor Claude Akins. Nathan is a Bible-quoting religious zealot who slaps Zack around and favors his own son, Cyrus, a bullying, lard-based older teen whose only shirt is an orange jersey that stops above his navel, exposing his doughy, hirsute midsection. The reason Cyrus has for wearing this article of clothing even once, let alone all the time, is truly a mystery. Maybe this is where the curse comes in?
Anyway, The Curse is your standard “we’re going to lose the farm, deal with your new life” kind of story until a large object falls out of the sky and lands on Nathan’s farm. Young Zack immediately goes and fetches the local doctor who seems to be the only person in the community with any intelligence (and one smoking wife). Eventually the doctor tells the family that the object must just be some airplane bathroom waste that fell from above and that everything is going to be fine. Things, however, are starting to get rather weird – from the local animals attacking everyone who comes near them, to the weird sores that are starting to cover the bodies of all of Zack’s kin. It’s something in the water and only Zack is smart enough to avoid it.
An hour into the film, and the family breakfasts have taken a turn for the worse. Mother is losing it, her newly formed welts are getting worse and more numerous, Cyrus is starting to present now, and the food is getting increasingly disgusting. Not to mention they’re starting to dispense with utensils and just eat with their hands. It’s a nice, stark contrast from the start of the movie.
Zack is instructed to take an omelet up to his sister, but he takes a stop by the bathroom and dumps it in the toilet whole. Probably a wise move. But that’s just gonna clog up the pipes, people.
Even the cows are beginning to present symptoms, with giant sores all over their bodies, and some of them openly oozing. You should probably hesitate to even call some of them sores; instead they look like someone just took a chunk of cow out of their side. It’s more of a wound.
And it gets grosser. One of the wounds begins to ooze and crack open, revealing worms, spiders, and other creatures infesting the inside of the cow, which then explode maggots all over Nathan. Yeah, that’s probably a bad sign when your cows just start exploding vermin.
Simply put, The Curse is a great B-Movie, and one of the best ‘80s horror-exploitation movies that most folks have never heard of. If you’re looking for a terrific, no-budget, atmospheric horror offering, this film really can’t be recommended enough.
And don’t let the fact that this movie makes zero sense deter you. Why does Nathan refuse to acknowledge that something is wrong with the water and food supply? How come the giant boils on Mom’s face go unnoticed by everyone (including Mom) for several days? Who put the Wheaton kid in charge? Why does he get top billing? Several sequels to this movie exists, and perhaps they clarify these matters. Or maybe “the curse” is that we’re destined to never know? We’ll never know.
Let us know your thoughts on this underrated gem in the comment section below.