Curse of the Swamp Creature (1966)
MOASASOURI - A MONSTER FROM ANOTHER AGE... with terrifying destructive powers... his victims fight for their lives in a silent, eerie underwater battleground!
Year of Release: 1966
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction
Rated: Not Rated
Director: Larry Buchanan
John Agar ... Barry Rogers
Francine York ... Pat Trent
Jeff Alexander ... Dr. Simond Trent
Shirley McLine ... Brenda Simmons
Cal Duggan ... Ritchie
Charles McLine ... Rabbit Simms
Bill McGhee ... Tracker
Ted Mitchell ... Valjean
Roger Ready ... Frenchie
Bill Thurman ... Driscoll West / The Swamp Creature
Do you like cheesy monsters with bulging ping-pong balls for eyes? Then you'll love this no-budget tale of a failed mad doctor in the Florida Everglades out to create the perfect monster. After numerous ill-fated attempts in the laboratory (that end up in the gator pit) and a voodoo ceremony the doctor finally meets his match when his wife becomes a functional swamp creature.
Curse of the Swamp Creature, remindin' us that you can prospect for oil in the swamp all you want, but the guy who sold you the Clampett Retirement Strategies Playbook over the phone is gonna make it to Tahiti long before you do.
An speakin' of desert oases, other'n the depressed job market, lack of post-high school education, unpaved roads, a major coyote problem, an a hospital that can't treat anything more serious than a severed finger, I really don't understand why anybody'd ever wanna leave this little slice of Heaven we call Chickawalka County - sure's heck ain't boring here, I can tell ya that much. Take last night at the Grime Time for instance: Buzz McCulloch showed up so drunk that he spent half the second feature throwin' up in a badger hole he thought was the outhouse toilet, Aesop Marlin scratched the paint on Edgar Mastrude's Firebird with an errant fish hook, an somebody's rotten kids thought it'd be funny to dye Apollo's tail blue while he was roamin' around makin' new friends. Those're just some of your typical side attractions at the Grime Time, though; the real story started about 20 minutes into Jive Turkey. See, Billy Hilliard an me were up on the deck of the projection booth playin' cards (incidentally, never play Slap Jack with a guy whose hands're the size of a fryin' pan) when we start smellin' this heavenly aroma comin' from the back corner of the lot. So we lean over the rail an spot Tucker Washburn down below fryin' up some kinda vittles on a propane stove - which's against the drive-in rules since so much of our revenue comes from the concession stand, but Billy an I ain't the kinda guys to snitch, an besides that Tucker has approximately 27 children an can't afford socks, let alone drive-in dogs for all the little monsters. Never smelled anything quite like it though, an after awhile curiosity got the better of us, so Billy went down to get the details an warn Tucker not to let Skunky catch 'im grillin', an it turns out he was cookin' up ground squirrels his kids were pluggin' with pellet guns for supper. I'll be damned if those chunky little burrow rats weren't better'n half the food at the concession stand too, but it wasn't long before a crowd'd formed around Tucker's tailgate, which drew the attention of one Skunky Hernandez - shit-disturber and cheapskate extraordinaire.
"Washburn! You keeling concession beeznis with vermin burgers! Keel greel thees eenstant or I have Heelyar crush like glass at Jewish wedding!" Skunky demanded with all his usual tact.
"I'd be careful what you say Skunky; pretty sure there're at least a dozen pellet guns trained on ya right now," I called down from the deck.
None of 'em ever did fire, but that's not too surprisin' on account of Tucker bein' a pretty meek dude, an so he just cut the gas without a word an loaded the propane tank into the back of his station wagon. Everybody else on the other hand was royally P.O.'d at the closin' of the lunch line an started peltin' Skunky with their critter-kabobs until he hadda run for the concession stand an hide behind Juanita.
"Call them off Tokare! Your rube steaks is making them loco!" Skunky hollered from behind the counter an Juanita's apron, but the crowd was out for blood by that point, an unfortunately for Skunky, Tetnis was back at his office patchin' a breast implant that popped over at Walleye's Topless Dancin' & Bait Shop after one of the girls lanced 'erself with a stiletto heel performin' some kinda Swami routine, so he didn't have anybody to pull his ass outta the deep fryer.
"Oh for cripes sake Skunky, just let the man saute his squirrel parts; worst case scenario you've got a few less cows steppin' in holes an bustin' their legs!" I yelled from the deck. I wasn't about to pause the movie, but I figured I prolly oughta say somethin' before they made Skunky bob for tater tots in the Fry Daddy like in Jason Goes to Hell.
"Okay! Okay! I make exception for Washburn! But the rest of you buy from concession stand!" Skunky finally conceded, only now mustering the courage to peek over the counter like a midget at a carnival ring-toss booth.
This time it was rocks, sticks, an one particularly upset gentleman's wooden leg that got hucked at Skunky's head, sendin' him an Juanita both duckin' for cover like a coupla dough boys in a foxhole.
"We want rodent rounds!" Rusty Dockweiler yelled from somewhere in the crowd, which was followed up by a unanimous "yeah!" from the mob of gopher gourmets.
"Fine! Fine! Washburn, you out there?!" Skunky squeaked.
You could barely hear 'im over the roars an cursin', but from somewhere outside the unruly horde came an extremely faint "yup" from Tucker, unmoved as ever.
"Okay, you can greel, but your keeds bring me all extras to sell to lunatics! We have deal?!" Skunky proposed from behind a lunch tray.
"I reckon," Tucker shrugged, an just like that the whole thing was over - everybody went back to the movie, an tonight'll be our first double feature with rodent refreshments. I'll bet it ain't a week before Saul Schwartzberg sues us for stealin' The Rural Mural's schtick, but I guess that's the cost of doin' business in this one mule town.
Everything pretty well quieted down after that an we rolled on into the second feature - Curse of the Swamp Creature, which I don't mind tellin' ya makes The Blood Waters of Dr. Z look like The Creature from the Black Lagoon if you're anywhere south of eight beers. Good ole Larry Buchanan, bless his heart - he made some of the best flicks a bag of pop cans could finance back in the 1960s, flicks like: Naughty Dallas, Attack of the Eye Creatures, The Naked Witch, an of course, the immortal Mars Needs Women. We even held a moment of silence to honor Larry's memory... or rather, a half a moment, cause when everybody stopped jabberin' an started lookin' at their feet in quiet contemplation I realized not everybody'd gotten the memo an the whole drive-in could hear Marla Ostman an Irv Knox testin' out the shocks on Irv's Pontiac Bonneville an I hadda start the movie before all the kids under eight were scarred for life. I'm not even gonna try to categorize this flick with a tweet sized synopsis, but I will treat you to the usual trio of schlock trivia to remind everybody why they're still readin' this drek. So without further ado, I present to you Curse of the Swamp Creature - a beginner's guide to life-changing cinema. First, if you want the gators to keep your secret, you'd damn sure better provide 'em with shade. Second, for the native assigned to guard the wife of a gangly, balding, stuffy old scientist, there is no greater failing than not knowin' where the white women at. An third, there's no wrong way to eat a racist.
The movie begins with the world's most militant Lamaze coach (Dr. Simond) yellin' for somethin' gooey an Lovecraftian to "breathe," until whatever it is departs our mortal plane to be with The Deep Ones. Now the doc hasta lug the body out to the cement pond where he's givin' free room an board to a slug of alligators who're there to keep the college kids from committin' original sin on his croquet lawn, an he ends up pitchin' the body into the pool so the gators can fight over it like desperate middle-aged bridesmaids goin' for a weddin' bouquet. Then some other dude comes boltin' outta the jungle like a fat tourist who fell off the safari Jeep an strangles Dr. Eelgood til his butler who looks like Uncle Ben (Valjean) shows up an manages to stab the intruder to death, at which point Simond explains to Valjean that he can expect this to come up in his employee evaluation an that if just *one* more guy cuts off the circulation to his brain while he's tryin' to do Anton Arcane stuff he's gonna be fryin' up gumbo at Jambalaya Jack's. Elsewhere, this gal who looks like Jennifer Tilly went all-in on the ring rat lifestyle (Brenda) bellies up to a motel bar an starts schmoozin' an oil tycoon while some skinny punk (Ritchie) shakes down the guy's room lookin' for 35lb gold belt buckles, only the oil man gets a little grossed out an heads back to his room after realizin' Brenda's been around the block so many times she's got a chip reader surgically implanted inside 'er lady bits. Somethin' else you oughta know about the tycoon: he's got a really bad tattoo of an anchor on his forearm, so needless to say - Ritchie gets pretty well mashed into a wimpattie when the guy catches 'im in his room. He's just about to toss Ritchie out the door like Jazzy Jeff on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, only Ritchie pulls out a boot knife an manages to slash his way through the guy's chest hair like a native with a machete, eventually stabbin' 'im through his baboon heart. Now things're really startin' to go sideways, cause turns out the dead guy was supposed to meet Agar the Horrible (Barry Rogers) at the motel to discuss drillin' opportunities in Boggy Creek, an so Brenda hasta pretend to be the corpse's bride when Mr. Rogers lands at Podunk International Airport.
The next day, Brenda, Ritchie, an Rabbit (their guide) head out into the swamp to go shootin' at some food in search of bubblin' crude, but unbeknownst to them the natives've all been paid off by Dr. Weevil to play the drum solo from Zeppelin's Moby Dick anytime somebody trespasses in the jungle. Meanwhile, Dr. Philistine is back in his lab checkin' out the successful transplantation of gills onto an alligator by his lab assistant (Tom), an marvelin' at the way they've managed to put the poor creature on a downward evolutionary trajectory so steep that it'll prolly be puttin' a down payment on a trailer-house an scrapin' dead possums off the highway for a livin' inside a week. Unfortunately Doc Schlock's experiment goes south faster'n a union-wage retiree after the first snowfall, an since his pool of specimens has dried up on 'im like an Iranian irrigation ditch he decides to stick Tom with a syringe fulla Ny-Quil an use him for a test subject. Then the father of one of the victims shows up an explains to the doc through his Cajun Ebonics translator that he knows what he did last Wednesday an that he'd better watch his cracka ass cause he graduated valedictorian of his class at Voodoo U over in Hexarkana. An just in case he ain't got enough problems, while that's goin' on the doc's wife (Pat) goes sneakin' past Sleepy the security tard (Tracker) an finds Tom submerged in a cow trough fulla swamp gas where he's been hooked up to more hoses than the sprinkler system at Arlington Stadium, causin' a sudden outbreak of hysterical woman syndrome that the doc hasta shake out of 'er before it can spread to the native population. That's a dangerous business right there, cause most natives haven't been inoculated against hysterical woman syndrome an things can get outta hand if you don't get a handle on it fast. Anyway, Valjean decides he's gettin' too old for this crap an that he oughta be wastin' his twilight years at the senior center playin' dominoes instead of workin' crowd control at Chateau Moreau, so he finds his foxy daughter an tells 'er to assemble the voodoo crew an have 'em bang on de drum all day.
Meantime though, Dr. Kedorkian's gettin' a little antsy about Rogers an his band of hairy men roamin' around the swamp, so he tells Tracker to locate 'em an bring 'em to the house an that he's welcome to deliver a line now that his S.A.G. card finally arrived in the mail. Then the doc goes back to his lab an starts rattlin' off passages from Libyan tourism brochures like: "obedience is the key to survival", until Tracker brings Rogers an his gang back to The Inlet of Dr. Moreau where the sweaty Dr. Sluice gives everyone a tour an explains how Planet of the Apes was complete BS an that we all evolved from crappie or somethin' like that. Sometimes this guy's thought process is harder to follow than an Ozark Mountain genealogy chart, but I think that's the jist of his theory. Unfortunately, while that's goin' on, the natives've started doin' the Jungle Boogie out in the swamp an Ritchie asks Tracker to take 'im to the party so he can learn to dance like TLC in the Waterfalls video, cept things get awkward when Ritchie notices they've gone an hung a sheet-clad dummy in effigy an can't help but feel a little nervous even after Tracker explains that it's just a local custom intended to ward off Louisiana congressmen. Back at the house, Pat eventually gets Rogers alone an tries tellin' 'im 'er husband's blown a head gasket, only he don't believe 'er an that gets 'er so hacked off that she sneaks into the lab again an cuts off Tom's feedin' tube even though the state legislature unanimously voted down a Right to Die bill the week before. Needless to say Dr. Lamento is P.O.'d, an not just about what this's gonna do to his malpractice insurance cause now he needs a new specimen to work on, so he locks Pat in the closet with nothin' but his repressed homosexual urges to keep 'er company an drugs Brenda so he can prep 'er for flipper enhancement surgery. I really don't wanna go much farther than this, but you'd better believe the natives ain't just performin' the Lapdance of the 7 Veils for fun, so if you wanna see how this one ends you can check it out at the link below.
Alrighty, well, lemme just give everybody a second to catch their breath here and I'll do my best to explain what'n the hell just happened. So, for those who may not already know, Larry Buchanan was one of the all-time greats of the ultra low budget drive-in flick, having spent under $10,000 on movies on multiple occasions, and cementing his legacy as one of the heavyweight champion schlock jocks in the early days of the exploitation film. To compare a Larry Buchanan movie to a Roger Corman movie would be folly, because even the worst of Corman's offerings are light years ahead of Buchanan's crowning achievements both in terms of production and entertainment values, and I say this with no disrespect intended. The '60s were an interesting time for the Horror genre, with many semi-prolific exploitation directors seemingly emerging from nowhere at the same time to capitalize on the recent changes that had occurred with film censorship. Unfortunately, very few of them produced much of value, and most languish in obscurity to all but the most dedicated Horror fans; folks like Ray Dennis Steckler, Andy Milligan, and the lone woman of '60s schlock, Doris Wishman, just never managed to produce that one title that allowed their fans to come back with - "yeah, okay, but still, they directed X" in defense of them. Only Herschell Gordon Lewis is fondly remembered by a large swath of the Horror community, and even then, it's not because he made great films. I think Herschell summed his flicks up best when he said of his first film: "Blood Feast is like a Walt Whitman poem - it's not any good, but it's the first of its kind." At the end of the day, folks like Larry Buchanan hold their own unique place in the genre just by virtue of having produced the sheer number of movies he did, despite the fact that they all stank to high heaven. I've gotta believe that if the man directed as well as he schmoozed money out of financial backers he would've been in the same league as Spielberg, because somehow he was always able to secure more money for new projects in spite of the crater left by his last one. Certainly, there were other directors working at the time that made their share of bombs, but rarely were they able to make THIRTY of them without producing something that found a larger audience; take Jess Franco for instance, the busiest man in Spain and director of some TWO HUNDRED films - he made some real crapola in his day, but he also went on to produce titles that I've given passing grades to, like Bloody Moon. Of course if you're lucky you can also get famous for making sublimely abysmal flicks like the late great Ed Wood, but for guys like Buchanan who were probably at least slightly better filmmakers, that fame would never come, and it's a little saddening to know that it's because they were *barely* too "good."
Anyway, now comes the moment where the four hardcore Larry Buchanan fans come outta the woodwork to crucify me for sayin' nice things about him before turnin' around and crapping on his movie, so let's get to it. The script isn't content to stretch the boundaries of credulity with its primary plot point, and sees fit to commit smaller (yet no less asinine) infractions, like featuring a population of natives working in conjunction with drums to warn the doctor about trespassers, while said doctor is using these same natives in his experiments. And speaking of the "natives," just where in the hell are we supposed to be in this movie anyway? Everyone speaks English, but the "natives" are all graduates of Voodoo U, so is the flick just extremely racist, or are we actually supposed to be in Haiti or somethin'? Then you've got the alligators loungin' in the guy's swimming pool who decide it's such a cushy place to live that they'll just stay put even though there's a massive overcrowding problem, no fencing, and food that's only available when somebody's corpse needs disposed of. And would somebody please explain to me why the motel flies had to pretend to be with the dead guy to cover up his murder? Can't they just say he was never there? It's not like they can steal any oil deposits John Agar may find out on bayou safari, so what do these dopes have to gain with this scheme? If anybody knows write in and tell me why they had to do that, I'm genuinely curious. The acting is irredeemably lousy with the exceptions of John Agar, Francine York, and Jeff Alexander, and while Buchanan did at least get the three most talented actors into the leading roles, when you've got dialog like: "You're ready to come off the preserver, to make your debut in the world of humans, my beautiful and indestructible fish man," you're really splittin' hairs in your attempt to separate the terrible from the merely bad.
Here's who matters and why (less John Agar, who's been in a ton of these flicks): Francine York (Astro Zombies: M3-Cloned, Marilyn Alive and Behind Bars, Time Travelers 1976, Space Probe Taurus, Mutiny in Outer Space), Jeff Alexander (The House of Seven Corpses, Horror High, Zontar: The Thing from Venus, The Black Cat 1966), Shirley McLine (Attack of the Eye Creatures), Cal Duggan (Mars Needs Women), Charles McLine (Attack of the Eye Creatures, The Yesterday Machine), Bill McGhee (Don't Look in the Basement), Roger Ready (Night Fright, Mars Needs Women, Creature of Destruction), Bill Thurman (Mountaintop Motel Massacre, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Keep My Grave Open, Creature from Black Lake, Encounter with the Unknown, It's Alive! 1969, In the Year 2889, Mars Needs Women, Night Fright, Zontar: The Thing from Venus, The Black Cat, Attack of the Eye Creatures, The Yesterday Machine), Tony Huston (Attack of the Eye Creatures, Zontar: The Thing from Venus), Annabelle Weenick (Don't Look in the Basement, Keep My Grave Open, It's Alive! 1969, Deadly Blessing, Don't Hang Up, Encounter with the Unknown, Creature of Destruction, The Black Cat 1966), Patrick Cranshaw (Ed Wood, Nightmare Honeymoon, Mars Needs Women, The Yesterday Machine, The Amazing Transparent Man).
The special effects... well, just Google the title and see for yourselves - the monster is literally a bald man painted green with painted ping-pong balls covering his eyes in what looks distinctly like a legitimate attempt to add injury to insult when you consider the poor bastard couldn't see anything. It also conveniently wears clothing to reduce the surface area requiring makeup and suffers from severe gender identity issues given that it was spawned from the big-haired Brenda, yet referred to thereafter as "he," so I dunno what kinda crops the crew got into down in the swamp, but I'm pretty sure that when the cartel that owned it found out they were pretty P.O.'d. The shooting locations, with the exception of some of the footage taken while cruising the swamps (and even then, the cinematography is shakier than the booties on KC and the Sunshine Band), are really pitiful. The motel room is lined with enormous curtains intended to hide something - I don't even know what, but it comes off exactly like the scene in Plan 9 from Outer Space where Eros is talkin' to the King of Outer Space in front of a stage curtain. Then you've got the gator pool where they cut to stock National Geographic footage anytime a body is being disposed of, and the mad doctor's science lab, which I have to say is even more pathetic than the one in Bride of the Monster. Seriously, there's no redeeming value to be found even in areas where most flicks manage to salvage enough points to lift themselves out of a single digit score. The soundtrack consists of three distinct musical varieties - the first of which involves horns that sound like the brass section at the Philharmonic packed away six bowls of 5 Alarm Flatch-in-the-Pants chili at The Gutter Bowl - very droning, and very dull. The second is the seemingly unending loop of bongo drums that I suspect belongs to the public domain, as they sound pretty damn similar to the ones in Jess Franco's Oasis of the Zombies and, as you can imagine, they don't add a hell of a lot in the atmosphere department. Lastly, and perhaps most heinous of all, is the goofy Swing music that comes damn close to matching the dance track from The Creeping Terror. It's not quite *that* ridiculous, but it's right up there. Overall, this thing's completely unwatchable, and I realize that if you were to Google images of the monster you might think I'm being a wet blanket, but trust me - the monster's in the movie for four minutes at the climax and it's not worth it. Pitiful as it may be, if they'd hauled the monster outta the trough in the early goings I'd absolutely give it more points, but they didn't, and I won't, so forget this turkey - it's stinko.