Director: Larry Buchanan
Deep in the heart of a Floridian swamp, Dr. Simond Trent hovers over a vat
of...of...some smoky concoction..as a scaly, reptilian hand protrudes forth from the mist.
"Breath!" Trent commands. But unfortunately, the beast dies, and the doctor is forced to dispose of yet another failure into
the pit of alligators conveniently located in his front yard.
Many miles away, at the Fly 'N Fish lodge, Driscoll West bellies up to the bar.
Frenchie, the bartender, introduces him to the lodge bookkeeper, Brenda Simmons. They
banter back and forth for a while, and Driscoll believes he may score big with his
newfound friend. But suspicion arises when Brenda asks if Driscoll truly believes he is
going to find oil out in the swamp. The problem being, Driscoll had never voiced his
intentions of searching for bubblin' crude - Black Gold - Texas Tea, and realizes that he
is merely being distracted. West quickly returns to his room to find Richie, the resident
thug, browsing through his suitcase.
Accusations turn to blows, and when Richie appears to be at the bad end of good
beating, he evens the odds by pulling a knife. Finally, Brenda and Frenchie arrive, but
only to find the corpse of Driscoll West, and Richie holding the bloody knife. They then
discover that Driscoll was to meet with a business partner, Barry Rogers, the very next
day. Where can they hide West's body? And how can they still profit from Rogers' excavation into the swamp?
Brenda suddenly comes up with an idea - she'll pose as Mrs. West! They'll say that Mr.
West had urgent business that popped up unexpectedly, and reluctantly had to send Mrs.
West in his stead (along with an assistant - who would be played by Richie).
The next day, after chopping up Driscoll's body and disposing of the pieces, Brenda,
under the guise of Mrs. West, rendezvous with Barry Rogers, and weaves her elaborate lie.
Barry, reluctantly, concedes with the plan, and the next morning, Barry, Brenda, Richie,
and Rabbit (their guide) climb into a boat, and head out into the heart of the swamp.
After travelling along the river for a while, they come to a tract of marsh impassable by
boat, and continue their trek on foot.
Meanwhile, at the lab, Dr. Trent and his assistant, Tom (Larry Buchanan), celebrate
after having successfully transplanted gills onto a crocodile. Though the rationale behind
wanting to put gills on a crocodile is never addressed, it's a remarkable feat, nonetheless. But even though the doctor is
successful in gill transplants, his efforts in creating a monster still prove futile, and
once again, the doctor must make that long walk from the lab to the alligator pit to
dispose of yet another specimen. This provides the breaking point for Trent's wife, Pat,
who has never approved of Simond's experiments - and knows the real reason why so many
natives from the neighboring village have been coming up missing.
Meanwhile, out in the swamp, it has taken approximately five minutes in the wetlands
before Rogers is spurning the advances of Brenda - who, by the way, was also juggling
affairs with both Richie and Frenchie. The next morning, the prospective Ewings happen
across Dr. Trent's estate. The doctor invites them in, offering the research party a break
from their swampish endeavors - as well as a variety of beverages. During the
"getting to know you" conversation, Dr. Trent explains a little about the
experiments he performs, along with his theory of how man evolved from snakes. Which is
quite logical, because snakes - like man - have long, cylindrical bodies, forked tongues,
scales and an appetite for hamsters.
Meanwhile, in the woods outside the doctor's property, Richie discovers a tribe of natives
performing the sacred "Snake Dance" (similar, perhaps, to the "Humpty
Dance"), which, as explained by some locals, is meant to ward off the evil spirit
inhabiting the area. In the midst of the ceremony, a replica of Dr. Trent serves as the
guest of honor. Back inside, Simond invites his new friends to stay the night, and
continue their arduous journey in the morning. Rogers and the gang gladly accept, and they
all bed down for the night.
That evening, while house sleeps, Dr. Trent, desperate for a new guinea pig, slips into
Tom's room, drugs him, and carries him off to the lab to begin the transformation process.
But Pat discovers Simond's grisly undertaking, and terminates the experiment, killing what
was left of Tom in the process. Simond, enraged, locks his wife in the lab closet. Back outside, the villagers have formed an angry mob, and are about
to lay siege on the evil doctor's lair. But Dr. Trent has one last trick up his sleeve.
With some new (and rather convenient) derivatives he recently discovered (along with 11
secret herbs and spices he borrowed from the Colonel), Simond's monstrous experiment will
finally bear fruit (not that the monster will be a fruit, mind you); but not only will the
experiment be a success, the transformation will be instantaneous (which is good,
because the movie was almost over). All Simond lacks is one last subject - and being short
on options, he settles for Brenda (which, to me, was the logical choice, being that she
was fairly reptilian in nature to begin with).
Back in the closet, Pat finally breaks free from her confines, and
finds Rogers in the living room (which is suspiciously close to the lab - if you were a
mad scientist conducting grotesque experiments to fellow human beings, would you have your
lab right next to the living room where your houseguests are casually chatting?). She
convinces Barry of Simond's dastardly doings just as the angry mob outside gets to the
front door. Meanwhile, the Brenda Monster (looking quite manly, might I add) comes to
life. Dr. Trent then orders his creature outside to confront and destroy his adversaries -
and a battle of truly epic proportions commences.
I can't honestly say I didn't enjoy CURSE OF THE SWAMP CREATURE; but I can't really say
I liked it either. Indifference would provide a fairly apt description of my feelings
towards this film. The acting, for the most part, was abysmal -
but I thought Dr. Trent was entertaining - in a true, mad scientist ham-like fashion. The
most heinous atrocity was the actual quality of the print itself - this film defines
cheapness. Dark, grainy, and for the most part, unintelligible (which sucks when you have
to take vidcaps).
David, random contributor to OTF, told me that Buchanan had used the same creature from
this film in several other pictures. So, being that I'm a staunch advocate for recycling,
I'm giving CURSE OF THE SWAMP CREATURE the benefit of a Hoff.
Dr. Trent's Pillow-Hating Alligators. Whenever Simond disposes of one of
his cadavers, it shows him carrying the corpse, wrapped in a bedsheet, to the pool, then
dumping it in from atop the diving board. Then, oddly enough, we cut to stock footage (?)
of alligators eating pillows. For one thing, I don't see what this has to do with the
film. For another, what do these alligators have against pillows?! Was this part of some
bizarre subplot that was deleted in post-production?
- Before Driscoll discovers the intruder rifling through his belongings, Frenchie tries
to warn Richie (via telephone) in Driscoll's room. The amazing thing is: Richie picks up
Driscoll's phone before it even rings. Must have been a disturbance in the Force. Or
The Snake Dance. Whenever Hollywood (or Larry Buchanan) attempts to
simulate an "authentic" tribal ritual, you can almost guarantee that something
ludicrous will result.
- The final scene where Pat tries to convince the creature (Brenda, remember?) not to
carry out Simond's evil bidding, and that she "used to be a beautiful woman." I
was waiting for someone to plea, "Brenda, I know that you're in there - somewhere - inside
that monster! Don't let it take over! You can fight it, Brenda! You can beat it! Do
it...because you love me!"
The tribute to William Shatner. While one of Dr. Trent's servants is
being reprimanded for his incompetence, the Head Servant gives him a punch to the gut, and
a karate chop to the back of neck worthy of Captain Kirk. I mean, that weak chop wouldn't
bring down a rabid gerbil - let alone a two hundred and some-odd pound man.
Doesn't appear to be available at Amazon.com.
-- Copyright © 2000 by J. Bannerman