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This dull follow-up to producer Richard Gordon and director Lindsay Shonteff's DEVIL DOLL stars Bryant Haliday as a big game hunter in modern day Africa who bags a lion on Simbasa territory and is cursed by the tribe, who revere lions as gods. Although Haliday flees to London, he is wracked by unexplained fevers and is dogged (or is he?) by spectral Simbasa warriors who run him down on Hempstead Heath and peek in through his seedy hotel window. It's all pretty unexciting stuff; although the film begins and ends in the Dark Continent, the lion's share of the story takes place indoors - apart from a couple of exteriors and one ill-advised attempt at a "Lewton walk," where Haliday hears the growling of game cats while walking back to his hotel one night (this might have had some effect had not Shonteff overlaid Brian Fahey's bombastic score atop it, killing the atmosphere). 1965 matinee audiences must have been driven mad by this unrelentingly dull voodoo drama; seen now after the passage of thirty years, its racist underbelly destroys any possibility of enjoying the film on a kitsch level. British character actor Dennis Price brings class to the production, but he's wasted as Haliday's sage advisor.
I got the chance to purchase this movie at a very reasonable price several years ago. I knew little of the film, except that it was an old black and white British thriller from 1964, I had never seen it. This one just didn't show up on the Saturday night "Creature Features" that I loved as a kid growing up in the late 60's and early 70's. Now I was expecting a short semi-cheesy exploitation Horror film, perhaps similar to "The Woman Eater", a British black and white quickie about a living tree discovered by a mad scientist on an expedition who brings it back home to his laboratory where he "feeds" it female victims. I was way wrong in my expectations, and I wasn't aware at first that this was the same director (Lindsay Shonteff) who brought us the very eerie "Devil Doll" film. So at first I was very disappointed that this wasn't really a Horror movie at all. I watched it and then put it back on the shelf for a couple of years. Something made me pull it down and watch it again. THEN I "got" it. This isn't supposed to be a Horror movie at all, despite the title. The closest thing i can compare this to is perhaps an extended episode of the original "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" or the "Alfred Hitchcock Hour" TV shows. Now I love those shows. And if someone had prepared me that this film was like that I would have gone into it with proper expectations set. And i'm sure I would have enjoyed it the first time around. One can watch this wondering if the things that our protagonist thinks he's seeing and hearing are really a result of the curse placed on him in Africa or perhaps the hallucinations of a fevered, sickly mind, since he is also ill after his African travels. At least that's how I perceived at least the middle section of this movie, and I like films that can work on more than one level. Like I said, if only someone had prepared me for the type of film this was, chances are I would have gone into it with proper expectations and would have dug it the very first time. If however, you are looking for something more in the Horror genre, from this same time period, this director's "Devil Doll" is much more of a true Horror film (also featuring Bryant Haliday the same main actor featured here). That film has some incredibly eerie moments that, at times, come near to an almost "Carnival Of Souls" vibe. So if this isn't your cup of tea you may still want to check that one out. I'll give this one a solid 7 stars, but considering that the early reviewer of this film had different expectations and gave it such low ratings as a result, i'll raise it 8 stars.
Also known as "Curse of Simba". A bigoted hunter visiting Africa kills a lion in a territory where the animal is sacredly revered by a voodoo tribe. He becomes cursed and then heads back to England where he endures feverish symptoms and hallucinates that African tribesmen are stalking him everywhere he goes. After a promising first twenty minutes or so, nothing much happens and we're bogged down with the hunter's marital problems and his seeing things. The only cure for his delirium is for him to return to Africa and kill the witch doctor who cursed him. Unfortunately, we do not like this character nearly enough to empathize with his predicament at all. The final shot of the film - for anyone who makes it that far - is pretty chilling. *1/2 out of ****
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
remember little baby Simba in Disney's 'The Lion King'? remember how
cute he was jumping around singing,"eveybody look left everybody look
right! everywhere you look baby Simba's in da spotlight!" wasn't he
just sooo ooky pooky cuddly?
well. if you really care you'll put a stop to the senseless killing of lions in Africa by game hunting. not just poachers, but legal game hunters who still hunt and kill these proud, amazing animals.
the message of this movie was don't kill baby Simba. don't kill any lion for that matter. in fact the original title of this film is 'The Curse of Simba'. a better title than the stupid voodoo title they slapped on it for American audiences. i guess voodoo sells more tickets or something. which is stupid because there is no voodoo in Africa. voodoo is from Haiti. the title change to 'voodoo' is kind of racist really. but then what do white people know.
this was a good film with a good anti-hunting message. the only problem that hinders the film besides the title change, is the obvious use of English locations to substitute for Africa. doesn't work. that's obviously England and not the African continent. too bad. good story. it could have been a better movie if not for those two things.
the wasteful, useless, hunting of Lions in Africa, by game hunting, needs to stop now before we all get cursed by it.
stop game hunting in Africa NOW! FREE BABY SIMBA FREE BABY SIMBA!
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