The idea of director Wes Craven—the man responsible for such horror treats as A Nightmare on Elm Street and that Meryl Streep violin thing—tackling a werewolf movie sounded ultra-cool. There hasn’t been a really decent one since An American Werewolf in London, and the fact that he enlisted that film’s make-up man, Rick Baker, to assist on Cursed is reason for excitement.
Then the studio started calling for a PG-13 movie with massive re-shoots, and everything went to blazes.
Shot two years ago, this film is almost legendary for the problems it has faced. Production was shut down, and the movie was almost entirely redone with a new plot and cast. The likes of Corey Feldman, Mandy Moore and Skeet Ulrich ended up on the cutting room floor, while poor Scott Baio saw his initially meaningful part reduced to a cameo.
Craven is becoming the Mel Brooks of the horror genre: a once genius and dominant force, now glaringly un-hip and obvious. Craven falls victim to all the clichés he spoofed with his Scream series, a series that started great but deteriorated as it went on through three films. It’s a safe bet that Cursed won’t become Craven’s latest franchise. Kevin Williamson, the screenwriter who helped create the Scream series and recharge Craven’s horror battery, penned Cursed, a creative crime that punches some holes in his credibility.
Christina Ricci plays a production assistant on the set of The Craig Kilborn Show (a nice indicator of the film’s extended production, considering that Kilborn has since given up his chair). Ricci and her geeky brother (Jesse Eisenberg of Rodger Dodger) have an accident, forcing actress Shannon Elizabeth’s character off the road. Shannon is then eaten by a werewolf, PG-13-style with minimal blood, while Ricci and Eisenberg receive minor injuries. Those minor injuries result in them being cursed, and while they never really turn into werewolves, they get real close, which causes changes in their lifestyles.
Cursed splits into two movies. One is about Ricci’s character becoming sexually alluring and more aggressive at the workplace thanks to her newfound powers and despite an incredibly huge forehead. The other is essentially Teen Wolf redux, following Eisenberg’s emergence as a really cool guy at his high school. While Michael J. Fox excelled at basketball thanks to his doglike traits in Teen Wolf, Eisenberg thrives and impresses the girls with his team wrestling prowess.
As for the aforementioned contributions from Oscar winner Rick Baker, let’s just say his best werewolf days seem to be far behind him. The creatures in this film are, for the most part, computer animated, but we do catch occasional glimpses of something that is supposed to be a live-effects monster. Baker’s new werewolf has the look of a cross between Chewbacca and Animal from The Muppets. Its goofiness is probably one of the main reasons Craven had to shut down and start over. The computer stuff is worse than last year’s laughable werewolf concoctions in Van Helsing, something I hadn’t deemed possible.
I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again: Knock it off with the damned PG-13 horror movies. If it isn’t an R, chances are it isn’t very scary, and Cursed definitely wimps out on the scares and gore. Also, for the record, I was looking forward to seeing Corey Feldman (or as I like to call him, “The Feldster") in a werewolf movie, so boo to Craven for cutting him out. Corey Haim got to be in Silver Bullet, so I thought it was time for The Feldster to get his due. Alas, I was wrong.