Curses are a real drag. There you are, walking down the street minding your own beeswax when Whammo! Somehow you did something to offend someone with the power to put a hex on you and your life is spiraling into the Twilight Zone. While I’ve never been the target of a curse — curse words, sure, but that’s another matter — I’ve seen enough horror movies to know they’re a hassle at best and positively deadly at worst.
Drag Me to Hell, Sam Raimi’s long-awaited return to horror, shines a spotlight on the good old-fashioned gypsy curse. Loan officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) denies Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) a mortgage extension, Mrs. Ganush retaliates with a dose of the evil eye, demonic torment and all-around scariness ensue and Christine looks for a way to break the curse before she’s… you know… dragged to Hell.
But be warned, lest ye think you can learn from her tribulations: Gypsy curses aren’t all the same. Take Thinner (1996), based on the Stephen King novel about a chubby lawyer starts shedding pounds after a gypsy whispers the fateful word “thinner.” That may sound like the weight-loss miracle America has been waiting for — no exercise, no calorie counting, no crazy food combining — but there’s one little a problem. It’s a curse, and yes, you can be too thin.
Still, it seems as though the whole situation could have been salvaged with a little imagination — I mean, what’s the point in being a lawyer if you can’t make a deal? He could have gotten the gypsy on Oprah or helped negotiate an infomercial/DVD combination. Picture it: Pop in the disc and your gypsy pal appears, saying “thinner.” Turn it off and watch the pounds drop away until you hit your goal, then put the DVD back in and access the special features, which consist of the gypsy simply blurting, “OK, stop!” It’s a win-win: A slender America and a gypsy with a nice fat bank account.
We’ve got gypsy curses to thank for werewolves, too (The Wolf Man), but that’s not to say they’ve completely cornered the market. In fact, horror movies about curses come in more flavors than you’ll find at your local Baskin-Robbins. In John Carpenter’s The Fog, a coastal California town is doomed when it incurs the wrath of leprous sailors. In The Grudge, the rage curse is born of… of… well, it’s just supernatural, that’s all! Really, who cares where it comes from, especially when it amounts to being scared to death by absurdly limber Asian ghosts? You’d need ten hands to count the movies in which grave-robbing saps run afoul of mummies courtesy of some intricately-carved curse on a tomb wall. In fact, the closer you look, the more it seems that everyone is throwing hexes around, from wacked-out old miners (Miner’s Massacre: Curse of the Forty-Niner) to Leprechauns to witches (Cry of the Banshee) and Louisiana doll-makers (The Inn).
I gotta get in on this action and figure out how to wield the mighty power of the curse, which I swear I’d only use for good! First, I’d curse myself with riches and glamour. Then I’d lift The Death Curse of Tartu, so fun-loving archaeology students could mess around in the Everglades without getting eaten by mutant swamp monsters. And then I’d rid Camp Crystal Lake of that nasty curse Crazy Ralph is always ranting on and one about, so horny teens could finally spend a summer there in peace. Hmm… maybe curses don’t have to be such a drag after all.
A fan of horror movies and scary stuff, Stacie Ponder started her blog Final Girl so she’d have a platform from which she could tell everyone that, say, Friday the 13th, Part 2 rules. She leads a glamorous life, walking on the razor’s edge of danger and intrigue.Read More