Thursday, August 11, 2016
Beast Of The Amazon!
Curucu, Beat of the Amazon is a movie I have fond memories of as a real chiller. In my youth, one of the local TV stations had a bunch of those Universal monster flicks which they ran on Saturdays (Tarantula, The Monolith Monsters, The Incredible Shrinking Man, etc.) and bundled in with them was this little effort by director and writer Curt Siodmak. I have not seen it since I was a tyke but remember it as a really scary effort. Getting to watch it again this past week on Svengoolie I have to say I was rather wrong. It's really a dreadful movie, and sadly my boyhood memories made much more of it than it deserved.
The plot is ridiculously simple -- a rugged and handsome fellow (John Bromfeld) goes into the depths of the Amazon jungle to debunk the myth of Curucu, a "monster" which has attacked local villagers and encouraged them to flee back to their deep jungle homes and abandon the their jobs. His name says all you need to know -- "Rocky Dean" -- sheesh! Tagging along with Rocky is spunky woman doctor named Andrea (Beverly Garland) who causes a great deal of trouble. The pair stumble up the Amazon led by Tumpanico, who clearly has an agenda. They find the monster sooner than you'd think and sadly it's pretty unsatisfying.
The movie is a mess really, with the characters forced to do all sorts of idiotic things to keep the story rolling along. Garland's character helps people a lot, in order to set up the finale and to pad out the running time. The inevitable romance between the two is so listless that when they do finally smooch it seems pointless.
According to some reports I've read the director Siodmak (who clearly needed to stick to scripts) had so much footage when he completed the movie that he quickly ginned up another one titled Love-Slaves of the Amazons to made good use of that material. I've never seen that one either, but I confess that curiosity makes me want to see it.
This artwork by Reynold Brown, which apparently was never used, does indeed represent Curucu fairly accurately and sadly only reinforces his similarity to a Muppet.