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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Wes Craven
Cast:
Christina Ricci, Shannon Elizabeth, Portia de Rossi, Mya, Joshua Jackson, Solar, Daniel Edward Mora, Kristina Anapau, Jesse Eisenberg, Milo Ventimiglia, Jonny Acker
Writing Credits:
Kevin Williamson

Tagline:
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Synopsis:
Packed with even more intense thrills than audiences experienced in theaters, this unrated version of Wes Craven's Cursed brings you the terror of werewolves as never before! Christina Ricci, Jesse Eisenberg, Joshua Jackson, Judy Greer, and Milo Ventimiglia find themselves caught up in an unimaginable horror! A werewolf loose in Los Angeles changes the lives of three young adults who, after being mauled by the beast, learn that the only way to break the curse put upon them is to kill the one who started it all! From the creators of SCREAM, this never-before-seen version is shockingly more frightening and undeniably more fun than the original release!

Box Office:
Budget
$35 million.
Opening Weekend
$9.633 million on 2805 screens.
Domestic Gross
$19.294 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.40:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 99 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 6/21/2005

Bonus:
Disc One
• Select Scene Commentary from Special Effects Makeup Supervisor Greg Nicotero and Actor Derek Mears
• “Behind the Fangs: The Making of Cursed” Featurette
• “The Cursed Effects” Featurette
• “Creature Editing 101” Featurette
• “Becoming a Werewolf” Featurette
• Sneak Peeks


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RELATED REVIEWS


Cursed: Unrated Edition (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 17, 2005)

In 1984, Wes Craven created one of horror’s great icons via Freddy Kruger in A Nightmare on Elm Street. In 1996, Craven redefined the genre with the influential, self-referential Scream. In 2005, Craven created a pretty boring werewolf movie.

The movie quickly sets up its characters. 20-something babes Jenny (Mya) and Becky (Shannon Elizabeth) visit a boardwalk psychic (Portia de Rossi) to learn whether Becky should continue to see her dog of a boyfriend. The seer provides a much more disturbing message of blood, however, and freaks out the girls.

Then we meet high school student Jimmy Myers (Jesse Eisenberg), a nerd with a crush on classmate Brooke Mueller (Kristina Anapau). Though he sits behind her in many classes, she doesn’t know he’s alive, and his attention spurs the bullying aggression of her boyfriend Bo (Milo Ventimiglia). Jimmy’s sister Ellie (Christina Ricci) works in the talent department at the Craig Kilborn show, and her boyfriend Jake Taylor (Joshua Jackson) is putting together the opening of movie memorabilia museum. He uses those pressures as an excuse for some “space”, which Ellie takes negatively, especially since Jake’s got a very checkered romantic past.

When Ellie and Jimmy drive home from the museum, they run into an animal and crash into another car. It turns out Becky’s behind the wheel of that vehicle. They go to rescue her but when they get her out of the car, a beast attacks her. This creature rips Becky in half and causes minor wounds to Ellie and Jimmy.

Jimmy claims it was a wolf but no one believes him; all the authorities think it’s a bear or a large feline. When he goes online, he learns about many “unsolved animal attacks” that some attribute to wolves.

Strange developments encourage his theories that something’s up. Both Jimmy and Ellie start to crave raw meat, and they show heightened reflexes and senses. Eventually Jimmy starts to figure out that they’re now werewolves. The rest of the movie follows what happens to them and their attempts to change their furry fate.

When I look at the problems connected to Cursed, they don’t stem from the wolf attacks. Indeed, the movie’s action elements provide its sole pleasures. Horror veteran Craven stages these to be chaotic and exciting, and they allow the film to sporadically come to life.

Unfortunately, the rest of the movie bores. In past efforts, Craven managed to create some fairly interesting characters to maintain our attention. Scream was packed with cliché but fun personalities, and Elm Street at least offered Freddy. Cursed comes without a prominent villain, especially since we’re not allowed to learn the identity of the main wolf until the end. Of course, just like Scream, it gives us some leads, but the reveal intends to surprise us, and that leaves the flick without a concrete villain.

Too bad the eventual reveal comes as such a non-surprise. The other characters fail to create real personalities. Ever since she first came to prominence in 1991’s The Addams Family, Ricci has proven herself to be a quirky and compelling screen presence. She can’t bust through here, unfortunately. Every once in a while it looks like she’ll finally do something distinctive; for instance, when Ellie starts to show her animal side, Ricci displays signs of life. These quickly dissipate, however, and the movie goes back to its usual ennui.

I find it hard to get past Jackson’s miserable non-performance as Jake. For one, I can’t figure out why this guy entrances all the ladies. He’s a decent looking dude but he comes totally free of any form of charisma. It seems decidedly implausible that all the women fall over themselves to bag him.

Jackson’s bizarre acting choices make things worse. He seems unable to open his mouth more than a sliver - is it wired shut? - and he does little more scowl and clench his jaw. Maybe he thinks this will convey the character’s lupine side, but instead he just looks constipated.

All of the drama builds to a disappointingly anti-climactic ending. We don’t care about the big reveal when we learn the identity of the main baddie, and the fight sequence seems unsatisfying. Cursed works best with “smash and grab” scenes; when we get quick, vicious monster attacks, they prosper. With a longer piece on display, it gets old quickly.

The same goes for Cursed as a whole. With insubstantial characters and a thin plot, it depends on action to maintain our interest. The movie tosses out enough good monster mayhem to make sure we don’t fall asleep, but it eventually peters out and ends as an unsatisfying flick.

Note that this DVD offers the unrated cut of Cursed. Based on what I’ve read, it runs an additional two minutes. This version adds substantial gore to what they could show in the theatrical “PG-13” cut. For fans who want the new footage to be fresh, I won’t reveal the various bits of bloodiness, but suffice it to say that this Cursed depicts significantly nastier visuals.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio A-/ Bonus C+

Cursed appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer fell into the good but slightly flawed category.

Most of the minor problems stemmed from sharpness. I noticed bouts of edge enhancement, and those rendered the image a bit indistinct at times. Most of the movie looked appropriately concise and well-defined, though. I saw no jagged edges or shimmering, and source flaws remained absent.

To reflect the predominance of moonlight, Cursed went with a decidedly bluish palette. This didn’t overwhelm more natural hues, but much of the movie showed that influence. Across the board, the colors seemed satisfying, as the reflected the production design well. Blacks were nicely deep and taut as well, and shadows usually followed suit. A few low-light shots looked slightly murky, but those popped up infrequently. The edge enhancement was the main culprit, as otherwise this was a good transfer.

I found little to complain about when I examined the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Cursed. An ass-kicking kind of mix, it accentuated the action well. Not surprisingly, the various attack sequences fared the best. Wolves came at us from all sides and created an engrossing feel for the fury of the fights. Many other scenes added great ambience, with a gold star going to the “Maze of Mirrors” sequence as a particularly dramatic use of all five speakers. The mix consistently portrayed a great sense of setting and helped make the movie more exciting.

Audio quality was always solid. Speech seemed natural and concise, and I noticed no edginess or other concerns. Music sounded vibrant and dynamic. The score and various songs boasted clean reproduction with good range. Effects remained the best elements of the show, as they were aggressive and clear. Bass response was especially good and added a feeling of ferocity to the track. This was a terrific mix.

When we head to the DVD’s extras, we start with a Select Scene Commentary from special effects makeup Supervisor Greg Nicotero and actor Derek Mears. Their chat covers four scenes and lasts 25 minutes, 17 seconds. I get the impression these tidbits were cut from a full-length commentary, as it always sounds like we join Nicotero and Mears in the middle of matters.

Normally I’d prefer a longer chat, but since the pair don’t have that much to say in a program that barely lasts 25 percent of the film’s running time, I’m glad we got the shortened version. Nicotero tells us the most as he covers elements related to the movie’s practical effects and discusses the use of CG as well. He relates a little about changes made to the flick’s tone and also goes over stunts and various tidbits from the set.

Mears was the guy inside the suit, and he occasionally offers that perspective, though he mostly just jokes about various movie scenes. He enjoys picking on bad effects shots, and that gives the commentary a refreshingly subversive tone. Unfortunately, we don’t get all that much concrete information, so the track is only sporadically worthwhile.

Four featurettes follow. Behind the Fangs: The Making of Cursed starts with a seven-minute and 33-second general view of the production. Like the following programs, it mixes movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We find remarks from Mears, Nictoero, screenwriter/producer Kevin Williamson, and actors Christina Ricci, Jesse Eisenberg, Joshua Jackson, Scott Baio, Mya, Portia de Rossi, Michael Rosenbaum, and Judy Greer.

They reflect on the werewolf genre and how Cursed tries to redefine it, stunts and fights, working in the werewolf costume and visual elements, director Wes Craven’s attitude on the set, and the museum’s mannequins, and the movie’s tone. Too much fluff appears to make this a strongly informative piece, but it has its moments. Some of the behind the scenes material is good, and we learn a smattering of factoids about the effects. It’s a painless program.

After this comes The Cursed Effects. It goes for six minutes, 45 seconds as it includes remarks from Nicotero, Mears, Greer, It goes through Mears’ approach to working in the costume, werewolf transition shots, the mixture of practical and CG effects, the costume’s animatronic components, and bringing some particularly gruesome scenes to life.

The highlight here comes from the test footage of Joannie’s transformation scene, and we get some other strong notes about the visual elements. Some of the notes echo those from the Nicotero/Mears commentary, but a lot of new bits appear, and the video footage makes this piece fun.

Creature Editing 101 fills five minutes, 32 seconds and offers statements from editor Patrick Lussier. He discusses the general impact an editor can have and also tells us Craven shot Cursed to be “R”. Then he goes into the cuts made for the “PG-13” version as well as techniques used for editing horror flicks, concerns about how much to show the creature, attempts to make the werewolf look intelligent, and cutting among the various methods used to create the werewolf. I especially like Lussier’s details about the changes executed for the “PG-13” edition; between the lines, we can discern that the studio forced Craven to chop up his film for that rating, which probably explains why the director doesn’t participate in any of the DVD’s supplements. Lussier gives us an informative little chat.

Finally, Becoming a Werewolf fills seven minutes, 57 seconds with comments from Nicotero and Eisenberg. Initially it looks like it’ll offer a standard examination of the makeup used to transform actors, but it quickly subverts that expectation. Instead it shows Nicotero and Eisenberg in a glib, tongue in cheek view of their methods. It’s surprisingly amusing.

The disc opens with some ads. We get promos for Sin City, Scary Movie 3.5: The Unrated Cut, Prozac Nation and Hostage. All of these appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with clips for Dracula III: Legacy and Dimension Home Video.

With Cursed, Wes Craven tries to do for the werewolf flick what Scream did for slasher movies. He fails. Despite a few good action sequences, it seems uninspired and tedious. The DVD presents pretty good picture plus excellent audio and a few moderately tasty extras. Only die-hard horror fans are likely to get anything from this lackluster effort.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2549 Stars Number of Votes: 51
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