February 25, 2005 was an exciting day for us horror fans. Wes Craven’s (R.I.P.) first film in five years (his first since 2000’s Scream 3) was finally being released after years of delays. Little did we know what awaited us at the theater. You see, Cursed was supposed to be released in 2003, but producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein repeatedly demanded changes to the plot be made, leading to extensive re-shoots (you can read about the original version of the film here). Cast members such as Skeet Ulrich, Mandy Moore, Heather Langenkamp and Corey Feldman had to be replaced due to scheduling conflicts during a year-long production delay. The Weinsteins then proceeded to fire make-up artist Rick “An American Werewolf in London” Baker, filling in many of the werewolf shots with a CGI creation. As if that weren’t bad enough, the film was then edited down from an R rating to a more box office-friendly PG-13 rating. It was a miserable experience for many people, especially Craven, who found the entire ordeal to be “completely disrespectful.” All of that tampering didn’t help the film. It was critically panned and grossed a mere $29.6 million worldwide on a $38 million production budget.
What the Weinstein brothers did to Cursed is pretty much unforgivable, and remains one of the biggest reasons why some horror fans are loathe to trust major studios with quality horror films. It’s a shame too, because the pedigree behind Cursed is rather impressive. Not only do you have Wes Craven directing, but he re-teamed with his Scream and Scream 2 partner Kevin Williamson (who, due to scheduling conflicts, was unable to return for Scream 3) to make the film. Then of course you had legendary make-up artist Rick Baker and an insane cast comprised of Christina Ricci, Jesse Eisenberg, Shannon Elizabeth, Milo Ventimiglia, Portia de Rossi and Judy fucking Greer.
While studio tampering and re-shoots aren’t always an indicator of a low-quality film, it was for Cursed. Cursed is not a good movie. Some would argue that it’s one of Craven’s worst efforts, but somehow it still manages to entertain (which is a big reason why it ranks as number 17 in my ranking of all 26 of Craven’s films). Looking back on the film 12 years later, you really can see glimpses of what Craven was trying to accomplish with the film. Our own Daniel Kurland put it best: he was trying to reinvigorate the werewolf sub-genre just like he reinvigorated slashers with Scream. None of it ever works, mind you, but the film is still a schlocky good time if you’re in the right mood.
Cursed came out two days before my 16th birthday, and I was really excited to go see a Wes Craven movie in theaters (it would be the first of his films I was able to see on the big screen). After having seen much of his filmography on VHS and DVD, I was finally going to see a Craven film in theaters, and you know what? I enjoyed it. I was aware that what I was watching wasn’t a “good” movie, but I had fun with it and I was in the right frame of mind. Whenever I need a good laugh I always look up the below clip in which Ricci’s Ellie baits Greer’s villainess with some harsh digs. It’s one of the sole laugh-out-loud moments in the film and it’s glorious. The werewolf flipping off Ricci is the one thing people remember from Cursed, but it’s Ricci’s delivery of “bad skin” that always gets me going. It’s a stupid bit of dialogue in an even more stupid film, but I can’t help but love it.
What do you think of Wes Craven’s Cursed? Have the 12 years since the film’s release been kind to it? Do you think it gets a bad rap? Or is it indeed one of Craven’s worst films? Let us know in the comments below!