The Curse of the Komodo

05/16/2020 08:25

Film: The Curse of the Komodo

Year: 2004

Director: Jim Wynorski

Writer: Steve Latshaw

Starring: Tim Abell, Melissa Brasselle and William Langlois



This is a movie that I never heard about until I was working through the horror movie encyclopedia that I am to round out for films I’ve never seen or heard of. When I saw the year that it came out, I was nervous as this is the bad CGI era and being this is a creature feature as well. Other than that, I had no knowledge of what I was getting into. The synopsis here is genetically-engineered Komodo dragons have become ginormous creatures hunting people on a remote tropical island. A small group of scientists must stop the dragons before they escape the island and destroy the rest of the world.

We start this on Isle Damas which we learn is 300 or so miles south of Honolulu, so pretty much the middle of nowhere in the Pacific Ocean. We see a couple of helicopters come in, dropping off commandos. They’re making their way toward a compound or that is what I’m assuming. This is a research facility that is head up by Phipps (William Langlois) and Dawn (Gail Thackray). Both of them are gone that night, so it is just Hanson (Ted Monte), Blake (J.P. Davis) and Phipps’ daughter Rebecca (Glori-Anne Gilbert). They have a high-tech electric fence around the perimeter. As commandos are making their way to the compound, they’re attacked by what looks like a giant lizard. This causes the two men to check it out and find one has been bitten, but still alive. They put him out of his misery before returning.

Phipps and Dawn are actually at Pearl Harbor. They’ve been summoned by Foster (John Henry Richardson) who is in the military. I don’t recall them giving his rank, but he’s in charge of the project they’re working on. They’ve been brought there to be informed that of why it was being done. The problem though is that the plug is being pulled. They’re to collect the final data and provide it to the government.

There’s a major storm rolling in. That same night a group of criminals led by Drake (Paul Logan) rob a casino. Helping him is Reece (Cam Newlin) and Tiffany (Melissa Brasselle). They make their way to a helicopter that is flown by Jack (Tim Abell). He’s able to lift off but they don’t get far. They land on Isle Damas. The group hears strange things that night, but stay in the helicopter until morning.

Phipps and Dawn return to the island where they go about their day. They’re running low on fuel and don’t have enough to keep the electric fence running all day. Blake, Rebecca and Dawn go out to collect samples, thinking the giant komodo dragons will be asleep. That’s not the case though as they’re attacked. Phipps and Hanson go out to make sure they’re okay. The helicopter for the other group is broken and they go looking for anything on the island.

The three groups converge and go back to the headquarters. It becomes a fight for survival as Foster is not going to evacuate them despite what he says and a containment protocol is called in.

Now I should lead off here stating that I do dig creature features, but I’m not the target audience for this film. That is playing my hand a bit early, but there’s not enough substance here for me and I really don’t find these cheesy movies to be all that fun. I’ll admit that trying to watch these with a critical eye might be part of my issue as well.

That’s not to say that this is all bad. I do like the story they come up with to get these characters together. It is a bit cheesy that the director, Jim Wynorski, is references one of his own movies with Foster stating he saw Dinosaur Island that came out a decade before this. I’ve never seen it, but I figured that it existed when I heard the title in the movie. Back to my point though, he watched that movie and thought that creating large animals as a weapon could be viable. I did like that Foster states it took time for this be brought to execution, so it is believable, it just isn’t viable. On top of that, the robbery and attempted escape to get the criminals there is fine for me too.

Something else I wanted to add in here as well was that I liked them selecting Komodo dragons as the animal to make larger. When I first learned about them in school, I’ve personally been fascinated. The idea that these are some of the closest things we get to dinosaurs and being the largest lizard in the world just peaks my interest. Just wanted to add that before moving on.

The story doesn’t feel that original to me. As I’m watching this, it is similar to the 1959 movie of The Killer Shrews. That also takes place on an island, where they’re experimenting with making plants bigger and then it causes a mutation with animals to grow larger. Now this isn’t new for sci-fi films, what really clicked though is they state there are no other animals on the island and how much Komodo dragons eat. I’m sure the later is true, but they state how much the shrews can eat in the other film and how they’ve wiped out all of the food aside from humans. This doesn’t ruin the movie and I’m sure a lot of these borrow from each other.

What really doesn’t work for me though is that the characters make a lot of horror movie clinches, like splitting up for no real good reason. This is to set things up and it is obvious. They introduce how Komodo dragon’s saliva has so much bacteria, it is pretty much poisonous. I like this aspect as it is factually correct. The problem I have is that two different characters act zombie like. This isn’t really fleshed out though and just kind of seems like them trying to add things to make this more exciting. Since the story didn’t do much for me and most of the comedy didn’t land, I just found this to be boring to be honest.

I should tackle the elephant in the room next, which is the effects. There’s a ton of CGI here, which I wasn’t the biggest fan of it. I will give them credit though, I’ve seen much worse. You can clearly tell the giant Komodo dragons are done with computers, but I didn’t hate it completely. They use quite a bit of green screen as well, but they just don’t do great at hiding it though in my opinion. I will say that the bit of practical effects they used were good, especially wounds after attacks. The cinematography is fine as well.

The last thing I’m going to go over is the acting. It’s not great if I’m going to be honest. There’s not much in the way of character development. I really did have trouble figuring out who was who and I had to make a point in my notes when I heard a name. To complicate this, that’s not the names they’re always credited with at the end. People get referred to by their first names and then the credits have their last names most of the film. Abell, Brasselle, Langlois, Thackray, Logan and Gilbert are all fine. There’s not much emotion and I’d say the highlights are seeing Gilbert nude as well as Brasselle in a white tank without a bra on.

I’m going to say that I’m not the target audience for this film. This is one that I would say don’t try to come in with a critical eye. The story is pretty basic, the acting isn’t great and the comedy didn’t really land for me. If you don’t mind a movie going CGI heavy and if you like creature features, I do think some might enjoy this. This is really a movie to watch with people, especially a group if you’re going to have drinks in my eyes. I really didn’t care for it though to be honest. My rating here would be below average.


My Rating: 3.5 out of 10