Death Curse of Tartu (1966)

Article #28 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 4-13-2001
Posting date: 8-26-2001

Tartu is a Seminole witch doctor who has placed a curse on his burial site; if anyone desecrates the area, he returns in the form of an animal and wreaks vengeance. You can guess what happens when an archaelogical expedition with lots of teenagers invades the area…

This very cheap ancient curse epic has a few things going for it; the movie was shot in the Florida Everglades, so the swamp looks quite convincing indeed. Also, some of the attack scenes have a certain visceral impact, particularly when the snake repeatedly bites one of the teens in the face. The teens are a fairly uninteresting lot, though: they dance to music, make out, and do all the things teens do in these movies, and they really don’t have much in the way of character beyond that. And the final sequence —


— when Tartu turns into a Seminole warrior and chases one of the girls for several minutes is more silly and annoying than scary; as a rule, I tend to dislike scenes which have hysterical women continually screaming. Instead of striking terror into my heart, I’m left with the feeling that the director just chose the easiest way he could to convince me that what was happening was scary, and I’m left with the sense of the laziness and cheapness of that technique.

Incidentally, back when I was a kid and I first started watching my local Creature Feature show, my mom used to sit up and watch with me and complain about these old movies being in black and white. This movie was the first one in color that the show had aired; my mom was not home that night to see. I always wonder if the presence of color in this movie would have automatically made it superior in her eyes to the Universal Classics they were largely showing at the time.

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