Curse of the Swamp Creature – USA, 1966

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‘ …his victims fought for their lives in a silent, eerie underwater battleground!’

Curse of the Swamp Creature is a 1966 American science fiction horror film produced and directed by Larry Buchanan (The Loch Ness Horror; It’s Alive; Zontar: The Thing from Venus; et al) from a screenplay by actor Tony Houston. It stars John Agar (Hand of Death; The Mole People; et al), Francine York (The Centerfold Girls), Jeff Alexander and Shirley McLine.

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-12-40-33Although Buchanan was producing low budget 16mm colour remakes of American International Pictures sci-fi movies for television distribution around this time, he claimed this was an original plot even though it bears striking similarities to Voodoo Woman (1957) and White Zombie (1932).

The film re-uses Ronald Stein’s previous music from both It Conquered the World and Invasion of the Saucer Men.

In his autobiography, It Came from Hunger! Tales of a Cinema Schlockmeister, Buchanan said: “We were plagued by the humidity, cottonmouth snakes, and mechanical troubles throughout the shoot, and John made me promise that next time we worked together, it would be a cakewalk.”

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Deep in the rural Texan swamps, reclusive and ruthless wife-abusing mad scientist Dr. Simond Trent is conducting experiments in his laboratory on the local impoverished voodoo-worshiping black “natives” in an attempt to discover the secret to reversing evolution, feeding the failures to the alligators he keeps in his covered outdoor swimming pool.

When a party of oil surveyors comes upon his isolated yet strangely suburban-style home he decides to take the final step and turn the duplicitous female leader of the expedition into a grotesque and virtually indestructible amphibious “fish man” so that he can take his revenge upon the world…

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Reviews:

” …another one of those examples that simply defines schlocky cinema as an art form in every way possible — from lousy acting, to shoddy camera set ups, to an array of unintended laughs and a disappointing monster that doesn’t show his face until the final minutes of the film.” George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In

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“The pacing is so slow that the camp is muted. But Swamp Creature probably ranks third in Buchanan’s oeuvre, behind Zontar and Mars Needs Women. The high-pitched voodoo drums are amusing and the bayou boat footage decent.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

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” …Swamp Creature is a surprisingly mature melodrama, touching on several significant themes, including the overthrow of totalitarian leadership, the use of cold science as a replacement for failed human relationships, and the emergence of female emancipation and black empowerment as leading social movements of the day.” Rob Craig, The Films of Larry Buchanan 

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” …unbearably undynamic suspense and incoherent subplots build up to the most spectacularly anti-climactic “shock” monster revelation ever filmed – the Swamp Creature is nothing more than a guy in a putty-smeared cheap fright-mask with ping pong ball eyes. Buchanan films all this with grim seriousness, which combined with his murky camera work and Agar’s alcoholic resentment, makes this one of the more interesting of Buchanan’s epics.” Brian Curran, Fear of Darkness magazine

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“Bare-bones sets, amateurish acting (star John Agar looks tired and really has nothing to do except sit around and smoke cigarettes), pacing that’s more sluggish than the bayou current, deadening dialogue, dim lighting, tinny sound dubbed in later […] and muddy photography make this picture the very nadir of voodoo cinema.” Bryan Senn, Drums of Terror: Voodoo in the Cinema

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“Perhaps more horrifying in the end than the Swamp Creature itself is the dismal and endless tape-loop of bongo-drums that pounds throughout the screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-12-59-05film. Strangely, we never see the source of all this drumming. What do these drums mean? Are they symbolic of the terminal boredom of the film itself… or a formal device to drive the audience mad, like the abominable Dr. Trent?” Freddie Mertz, Zontar, the Magazine from Venus

” …the monster scarcely does anything once it comes to life successfully. Its role in the story is limited to shambling out of Trent’s basement laboratory, offing the doctor, and then standing around by the side of the swimming pool/alligator pit for a few moments while Pat tries to convince it to commit suicide. All this takes maybe five minutes.” Scott Ashlin, 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

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“There’s an overall wooden quality to every performance, but once you get past that there are some enjoyable moments. The mad scientist character is entertaining on occasion. He’s a smarmy douchebag to everyone around him despite looking more like a high school biology teacher than an actual threat. He acts like he thinks he’s super cool even to the point of wearing sunglasses at all times. Weird.” Zak Greene, Wicked Horror

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Cast and characters:

  • John Agar as Barry Rogers
  • Francine York as Pat Trent
  • Jeff Alexander as Dr. Simond Trent
  • Shirley McLine as Brenda Simmons (aka “Mrs. Brenda West”)
  • Cal Duggan as Ritchie
  • Charles McLine
  • Bill McGhee
  • Ted Mitchell
  • Roger Ready as Frenchie
  • Bill Thurman as Driscoll West / The Swamp Creature
  • Tony Huston as Tom
  • Gayle Johnson as Mura
  • Michael Tolden
  • Annabelle Weenick as Hotel clerk
  • Patrick Cranshaw
  • J.V. Lee
  • Naomi Bruton

Filming locations:

Caddo Lake and Uncertain, Texas, USA

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page21Trivia:

A Curse of the Swamp Creature mask was one of the last items produced by the famed Don Post Studios before it went out of business in 2012.

Wikipedia | IMDb



Categories: 1960s, creature feature, monster movie, science fiction

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