Friday, 9 June 2017

CURUCU, BEAST OF THE AMAZON


d. Curt Siodmark (1956)


Routine technicolor exotic adventure potboiler with a variety of vicious animals and some shrunken heads. The titular beast is an extraordinary thing, a sort of malevolent parrot with piercing blue eyes, fearsome tusks and slashing talons: it's also fake, a ruse by a native witch doctor to keep the white man and his disease ridden civilization away. 

The fakeness of the monster doesn't really matter, however, as elsewhere real nature is working overtime to demonstrate it's redness in tooth and claw. The protagonists are attacked by crocodiles, several big snakes, a spider the size of a dinner plate, a jaguar and a load of piranhas, represented several times with mismatched, washed out stock footage. 

Shot on location in Brazil, the film never really takes off, despite being punctuated by somewhat manic dance routines and having a beefy male star who never stops smoking, regardless of whether he's eating, kissing or having a medical examination.

I was particularly impressed by the no nonsense heroine, played by Beverley Garland. She is beautiful, yes, but she's also a doctor, a scientist and an explorer, a person of great intelligence and nerve who is determined to make the world a better place. These qualities are even noticed by our carcinogen addicted hero who admiringly says: 'You're not frightened of anything, are you?' Disappointingly, she responds 'Of course I'm frightened, I'm a woman'. Bah.   

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