Franchise Fuckery: Curse II: The Bite (1989)

CURSE II: THE BITE is another Italians on the run production much like ALIEN 2: ON EARTH and TROLL 2.  Surprisingly enough, those three share something more in common.  None of them have anything to do with the films of which they claim to be sequels.  Executive producer Ovidio G. Assonitis may be better known for PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING, BEYOND THE DOOR and THE VISITOR but be not afraid because CURSE II plays out as Italian as spaghetti by the time the credits finally roll.  I remember this one from a late night airing on The Movie Channel years upon years ago and never got the finale out of my head.  The effects are by the ridiculously talented Screaming Mad George and they are worth the price of admission alone.

The incredibly dull named Clark Newman (portrayed by the equally dull J. Eddie Peck) and his girlfriend Lisa (scream queen Jill Schoelen) are driving through the hot, dry, and dusty American Southwest.  While on the road they drive through a nuclear test site and pick up a hitchhiking critter.  Stopping for gas they meet a paranoid station owner who reluctantly comes out to help them fix their flat after holding a gun on Clark.  During what passes for small talk clark finds out that the man’s dog was bitten by a snake and died.  In a very effective sequence Clark finds the dog while prowling through the station, not dead but transforming into a weird snake dog hybrid.  In a rage, the owner chases Clark off at gunpoint and tries to console the gnarly creature to no avail.  

After leaving the station they have 100 miles of open road to cover and have to drive smack dab through a stretch of pavement covered with snakes of different species in one of the most humorously disgusting and bizarre scenes caught on film.  When they pull into town the sides of their truck are covered in snake blood.  While unpacking the truck, Clark gets bitten by the stowaway snake and the denizens of the small desert town respond in fright.  Luckily there is a traveling salesman, Harry Morton (Jaime Farr), with a suitcase full of anti-venom and he gives Clark a shot and wishes him well.  

Sadly, Clark was bitten by a radioactive snake…is he strong? Listen, bud…he has radioactive blood.  He’s fucked up.  His arm gets all gimpy and his health and disposition just keep getting worse and worse.  He tries to protect folks from himself but then he’s too damn stubborn to admit that something is terribly wrong.  After his arm transforms into some kind of snake thing it bites a doctor and Clark runs off.  Good thing no nonsense Bo Svenson is in this county as “The Sheriff.”  That’s right…Bo’s character doesn’t even have a name and judging from his performance he was paid well in whisky.  Well, Harry and the Sheriff have figured out that something is severely wrong with Clark and he has to be stopped.  For whatever reason the Clark-thing is hell bent on getting Lisa and she is forced to drive off in the middle of night during a rainstorm in panties and a shirt.  

The climax is raucous.  The Clark-thing crawls after Lisa while it falls apart puking and shitting snakes as it goes.  Finally it’s head splits open to reveal a larger snake.  Finally Harry and the sheriff’s department catch up thanks to the help of Harry’s trucker friends and Jamie Farr blasts the big snake to pieces.  The triumphant hero reaches down pulls Lisa out and boom the end.  It don’t get more Italian than that bleak ass shit.  So there are a ton of radioactive snakes still out there, not to mention a whole bunch that were created from a human mutation…I imagine things don’t end well for the Southwest kind of like in PHASE IV.  The biggest fault is the middle of the movie drags on and friggin’ on.  In the end, the effects, the opening, and the finale make CURSE II: THE BITE worth watching.

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