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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

CURSE OF THE MAYANS -- DVD Review by Porfle




In the tradition of such tales as THE LOST WORLD and CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, there's 2017's CURSE OF THE MAYANS, the story of yet another ill-fated group of explorers venturing into a land that time has forgotten to hunt something that ends up hunting them.

This time it's Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, and the team is headed by fiercely dedicated and somewhat arrogant scientist Dr. Alan Green (Steve Wilcox) who yearns to delve farther and deeper than ever before into the mysteries of the ancient Mayans. 

Since this will involve unexplored underwater caverns in the cold, dark earth beneath age-old pyramids, Green enlists the aid of gorgeous scuba expert Danielle Noble (Carla Ortiz) to assemble and lead a crack dive team. 


Unfortunately, this team will include Danielle's flaky ex-husband, his current weed-head girlfriend, and the latest lovesick loverboy to be trapped in her spell.  They all hate Dr. Green, and they're all superstitious about the legends of evil reptilian space monsters trapped by the Mayans and just itching to break free in order to enslave and possess the human race.

Sounds like nothing could possibly go wrong, right? Well, if it didn't, this wouldn't be much of a movie, and for most of its running time CURSE OF THE MAYANS is a pretty good one. 

The best part for me is the journey into the jungle and subsequent exploration of the crumbling Mayan ruins.  The interpersonal relationships are just entertaining enough, with some smart, realistic dialogue and more than adequate acting (Ortiz and Wilcox are first-rate), and the scene in which the party encounters some really hardcore Mexican bad guys intent on raping and pillaging is even more tense than the monster stuff later on.


Director and co-writer (with Alberto Haggar) Joaquin Rodriguez has crafted a film consisting mainly of handheld camera that manages to avoid the sloppy, slapdash look we see so often, while also delivering some of the most stunningly beautiful shots of jungles and caverns that I've seen.  The underwater photography in particular is often breathtaking.

Once we get to that point, the film takes on a really claustrophobic, past-the-point-of-no-return feeling with the team blundering about in spooky underground tunnels and diving in dark scary waters.  Things of a possibly supernatural origin begin to plague the expedition as they get closer to the terrible secret the Mayans went to so much trouble to bury in the first place.

The final act gets a bit confusing--I wasn't always able to keep up with what was happening to whom, and much of it is murky and dark--but this actually helps to keep the viewer off-balance. 


Monster sightings are mostly limited to brief, shadowy flashes, which keeps us from seeing the seams and zippers, so to speak.  I was reminded of THE DESCENT during this sequence--I enjoyed the first half of that movie more than the rest as well. 

After a furious flurry of monster attacks and screaming, which I can't really go into without spoiling the story, the ending sets us up for a sequel that may or may not have you quivering in anticipation.

As for me, this one installment was enough.  But as Mattie Ross says in TRUE GRIT, "enough is as good as a feast", and CURSE OF THE MAYANS is a visual feast that also feeds my inner Monster Kid enough to tide him over till the dinner bell rings again.


                                     WATCH THE TRAILER:

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Format: DVD (Single) / Digital HD
Running Time: 88 mins.
Genre: Sci-fi / Thriller
Audio: Dolby 5.1
Aspect Ratio: 16x9 (1.78:1)

Release date: March 6, 2018


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