Saturday, 18 February 2012

Jungle Terror!

Mark Stacey is a great white hunter in South Africa. He’s a heavy drinker, stubborn as hell, a bad husband and absent father and a terrible shot. When one of his clients wounds a lion, Mark takes the decision to track it down and finish it off, despite the fact that his hunt will take him into Simbazi country, a place ruled by a primitive tribe who worship lions and punish those who transgress against them. Mark kills the lion (eventually – he really is a terrible shot, and he gets quite badly injured in the process) and when the Simbazi find out they throw a voodoo bongo party, put on their crazy dancing pumps and curse him.

Back from safari, Mark realises his wife has left him, so he returns to London to try and effect a reconciliation. Racked with fever from his festering wound, he is plagued by visions – a stalking lion, a very tall and scary looking native with a pork pie hat on, plus the usual shadows under doors, rattling door knobs and faces at windows. Most notably, he is chased by two spear wielding Africans across a municipal park – a hazy and hugely atmospheric scene that may be the best part of the film. Close to death, Mark realises he has only one option left: to return to Africa and settle it the way the white man has always settled issues with Africans: with a gun, i.e. confronting the man who put the curse on him and killing him (in the end he actually runs him over. As I said, he’s a terrible shot.)

Lindsay Shonteff’s follow up to ‘Devil Doll’, ‘Curse Of Voodoo’ is less disturbing and nowhere near as weird as its predecessor, although the fantasy sequences (or are they?) occasionally evoke the slow, treacly terror of an inescapable nightmare. The African scenes suffer from obviously having been filmed in England (all the trees are wrong, for a start), but they do okay considering the obvious limitations of the budget.

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