Sunday, 22 September 2013

5 Horror Films about the Voodoo that you Do

**Please note that there may be spoilers throughout the blog**

I love when voodoo shows up in horror movies, it has such a fantastic mystique about it and it has that feeling of real black magic that regular old witchcraft just doesn't achieve sometimes.  Like in Child's Play, when Charles Lee Ray is trying to escape he's uses voodoo to spirit himself away into the Chucky doll or in Buio Omega, (Beyond the Darkness) when Iris wants Frank's girlfriend dead, out comes the voodoo dolls and it's done.  No toads, no eye of newt, it just gets the job done.  Now that's some serious shit. 
  Also, voodoo has created one of the most popular creatures to date, the zombie.  However, the zombie when first introduced was more of an undead slave and obeyed his master's evil whims unlike the uncontrollable flesh eating variety of undead that we see today.  Still terrifying these soulless monsters would try and destroy the enemies of their master, kidnap beautiful maidens and try and stop any one from harming their master.  They probably did a better job than most celebritity bodyguards.  Anyhoo, if your are looking to get into the black arts but want to skip the Hogwarts shit, here's a good place to start.

Here are 5 Horror Films about the Voodoo that you Do

5. Voodoo Black Exorcist (aka Vudú Sangriento) (1974) - So voodoo priest, Gatanebo and his lady friend, Kenya are frolicking on the beach, when a middle aged man harasses them and when push comes to shove, Gatanebo kills the middle aged man.  His punishment, which is a little harsh by today's standards, is that Kenya is beheaded and he is also killed and stuffed into a sarcophagus.
  A thousand years later, he is being transferred by ship to a museum in Port au Prince to be studied by doctor Dr. Kessling.  Unfortunately, Dr. Kessling's assistant, secretary and lover, Sylvia for some reason reminds Gatanebo of Kenya, so he rises from the dead and wreaks havoc on the ship.  Can anyone stop this love struck mummy from beheading everyone on the ship?
  This is a pretty bad mummy movie wrapped up in some voodoo lore.  The script is a bit confusing because it doesn't really explain how he was resurrected and once brought back to life, he seems to turn back into a mummy at times for no reason.  The only person recognizable in this is Aldo Sambrell (Shaft In Africa, For A Few More Dollars), who plays Gatanebo. The ending is terrible and totally leaves you hanging.  Seriously, it just ends and doesn't tie anything up at all. However, there are a few good beheadings in this, someone gets run over by a steamroller, which you don't really see outside of cartoons and a couple good chuckles at the silliness of it all.  Would I watch this again, probably not but I might be better with a few friends and a few drinks.  

4. White Zombie (1932) -Neal and Madeline go to Haiti because Neal's new boss, Charles Beaumont wants to have them get married there. On their journey to the Beaumont estate, they run into a group of people that the coachmen considers "Zombies" and he puts his carriage into gear.  The coachman explains that the "Zombies" are created from voodoo and are the walking dead.  Neal thinks this story is hogwash and is irritated by the speed of the carriage but they arrive in one piece to the estate and he's there with the love of his life, so everything is hunky dory.
  Once they arrive, they meet Dr. Bruner, who is officiating the marriage and who like probably everyone else in the audience, is wondering why Mr. Beaumont wants them to get married there at his estate.  However, there is no time to wonder about those things because Mr. Beaumont comes down, greets everyone and pays particular attention to Madeline.  He has his butler show them to their rooms and lets everyone know that the ceremony will he held in an hour.  This gives Mr. Beaumont time to sneak away to local Voodoo master, '"Murder" Legendre.  He convinces "Murder" to give him a potion to make Madeline a zombie and leave her husband.  "Murder" agrees but for a very high price and Beaumont reluctantly agrees to it.
  As Mr. Beaumont escorts Madeline to the alter, he gives her one more chance to leave Neal and marry him.  She refuses, so Beaumont slips her the powder given to him by "Murder" and they have the most uncomfortable marriage ceremony ever.  After the ceremony, Madeline collapses and she is believed to be dead.  Unfortunately, she is only zombified and her body is stolen during the night by Beaumont and "Murder".  Will Neal ever find out what really happened to his new bride and will he be able to save her from this voodoo curse or is she doomed to spend her time in a suspended state of life and death, like most married people?
  This was the first full length zombie picture ever made and the zombies are stunning for 1932.  They are simplistic, slow and obey their zombie master.  What more can you ask for?  The story is good, it has love, horror and there is even a little bit of humour in it.  Bela Lugosi (Devil Bat, Son of Frankenstein) plays "Murder" Legendre and gives a similar performance to his work in "Dracula".  It's funny because if your a fan of these classic films you may recognize some of the sets. They were "borrowed" from films like Frankenstien, Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Cat and the Canary.  There isn't a lot of violence except for the end, which is terrific but the there are some creepy zombie scenes that shouldn't be missed.  This is an old school film that is worth watching again and again.

3. The Devil's Own (aka The Witches) (1966) - After being chased out of Africa by witch doctors, missionary/grade school teacher Gwen Mayfield is looking for an easier job back in England.  So when, Father Alan Bax offers her a job teaching school in his small village, she jumps at the chance.
  When Gwen arrives she is greeted by the village people with open arms and Alan's sister, Stephanie takes a real shine to her.  She enjoys all the children in her class but notices that one girl, Linda Rigg and boy, Ronnie Dowsett seem to be thick as thieves. Unfortunately, she is not the only one that has noticed and it seems the whole town are trying to pull them apart and Gwen can't understand why.  Shortly after talking to the pair, Ronnie falls ill and Gwen finds a voodoo doll of Ronnie with pins in it.  Has Gwen discovered yet another village of voodoo witches and how will she stop this black magic before it gets out of hand?
  This Hammer film was quite enjoyable but not as voodooey as I was expecting.  Sure, at the beginning there are some good elements but as it progresses it could easily be a regular witch film.  Still, the  script is pretty solid and only drifts a bit in the middle but it gets back on course before the big ending.  My only real issue is Joan Fontaine playing Gwen Mayfield.  Don't get me wrong, Joan Fontaine (Rebecca, Suspicion) is excellent in this and a fantastic actress but the role seems to be written for somebody younger.  She does a fine job but leaves me wondering.  Anyhoo, the level of violence is low, but creepy things happen and it is terrifying watching middle aged people from England perform voodoo dancing rituals. Ghastly.  This is a fun film with a real flair that you should check out before you check out.

2. Venom (2005) - After performing a voodoo ceremony, an old Creole woman packs up a suitcase full of snakes and jumps in her car.  Meanwhile, Eric and his friends are hanging out at their favourite burger joint.  Eric still can't figure out why the waitress, Eden broke up with him and wants to go to a different college than him.  So after her shift, he follows her and stops her on a bridge to talk about it.  During their talk about their teenage angst on the bridge, local douche bag and tow truck operator, Ray Sawyer barely dodges Eric's jeep parked on the bridge and stops to give the teens shit, then goes on his merry douchey way.  Unfortunately, Ray is on the wrong side of the road and nearly collides with the old creole woman is heading the same way! The creole woman's car gets ran off the road and is now dangling on the bridge.  Ray Sawyer saves the old woman and goes back in to get the suitcase she has been muttering about.  This tips the car and it plunges into the river!  While Ray is trying to escape, the snakes attack and kill Ray.  So much for being a good Samaritan.
  Eden recognizes the old woman as her friend, Cece's grandmother and local voodoo witch.  Unfortunately, the old woman dies and her and Ray are carted off to the morgue.  However after being bitten by those snakes, Ray is now possessed with evil spirits and leaves the morgue with a bloody trail following him.  Eric and his friends discover this and go to Cece house to find a way to stop him but it's too late! Ray has come back to the old house for some reason and traps them there.  Can Eric, Eden and their goofy teen friends stop this possessed maniac and finally have a chance at love or will they become victims of this voodoo curse?
  This movie wasn't too bad.  It's pretty by the numbers but it did have a guy possessed with voodoo spirits and a pretty good body count.  There are some names in this, like Agnes Buckner (The Woods, Anna Nicole) who plays Eden,  Laura Ramsey (The Ruins, The Covenant), Bijou Phillips (Bully, Hostel II) and even rapper Method Man (Wu Tang Clan) shows up.  There are some bloody scenes but again, nothing that you haven't seen before.  Not the best Voodoo but not exactly doodoo. 

1. Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) - Ethnobotanist/Anthropologist Dennis Alan is sent to Haiti by a pharmaceutical corporation to search out a drug that they are hoping to use as an anesthetic.  Dennis meets with a young female doctor named, Duchamp and they search for a man, Christophe, a local zombie, who was suppose to be put under using this drug and then brought back from the "dead".  Unfortunately during their search, local voodoo priest and commander of Haiti's secret police, Captain Dargent Peytraud hears of their investigation and warns Allan to leave Haiti and never to return.
 Dennis ignores Peytraud and finds his own witch doctor, Mozart, who takes him out and shows him how to create the zombie powder but once they make it, they have 24 hours to wait for it to settle.  Will Dennis be able to escape Haiti with his zombie powder before Captain Peytraud finds him and put him six feet deep?
  This is quite an interesting movie.  Not only does it give a somewhat realistic look into Haitian Vodou (voodoo) but a look at how things were in Haiti during the Baby Doc Duvalier administration, which was just as terrifying as any Vodou spell or ritual.  This was "based on a true story" which always leaves me leery about the story on the screen but I think director Wes Craven (Music of the Heart, Paris, je t'aime) does a great job taking the source material and making it into a horror.  Bill Pullman (Spaceballs, Ruthless People) is good as Dennis and has a great supporting cast with Zakes Mokae (Dust Devil, Outbreak), Paul Winfield (Mars Attacks, Terminator) and Cathy Tyson (Mona Lisa, Priest).  There isn't a huge body count and it's more of a thinking horror with some disturbing scenes.  The ending I think may be a little over the top but it's a lot of fun to watch.  Great film to watch if your afraid that you'll be buried alive!

  So, after watching these films, you should grab your copy of "The Complete Idiots guide to Voodoo", (unfortunately Voodoo for Dummies doesn't exist) and start practicing some spells because you never know when you may need a spell or a zombie to protect you.

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