Death Curse of Tartu – USA, 1966 – reviews

‘This is horror!’

Death Curse of Tartu is a 1966 American supernatural horror feature film written and directed William Grefé (Mako: The Jaws of Death; Impulse; Stanley; Sting of Death). The Falcon International Productions movie stars Fred Pinero, Babette Sherrill, Bill Marcus and Mayra Gómez Kemp.

The movie was allegedly written over 24 hours by Grefé and shot several days later when distributors requested a second feature to double-bill with his Sting of Death.

Plot:

Archaeologist Ed Tison and his wife Julie take four students into the Florida Everglades to search for Native American artifacts. They discover the burial mound of Tartu (Doug Hobart), a Seminole witch doctor.

Four hundred years previously, Tartu vowed that if anyone ever disturbed his grave, he would return and kill the desecrators.

Unfortunately, the grim legend becomes reality when the spirit of Tartu is resurrected and stalks the archaeology students by transforming himself into a shark, a snake, and an alligator…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“Sadly Grefe makes little of the fact that the avenging spirit is an Indian, the one interesting feature of the plot. The result is a routine outing that lacks even the verve of William Girdler’s similarly motivated The Manitou (1977).” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

” …manages to deliver where is should and serves as both an early example of William Grefe’s career as well as the development of the Nature Gone Wild genre than would become so prevalent in the 1970’s, particularly in the wake of Jaws in 1975. Overall a solid and really enjoyable slice of trash.” Bad Movies for Bad People

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“Overall this was an asinine film with pretty much no redeeming qualities. Everything about this story is bad […] Most of the film is made up of the characters wandering around doing nothing in the Everglades.” Cinema Freaks

“The characters are pretty annoying and the plot has no surprises, except, perhaps a moment when two students get killed in the same attack (instead of the usual one-at-a-time). But it feels like it was made in a genuine attempt to entertain its audience, and the flashes of gore, and the fabulous bikinis, should at least keep viewers awake.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

Buy: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca

“The makeup on the mummified Tartu — created by Doug Hobart, who also plays him — is pretty memorable. There’s some cheap gore (a mutilated human arm) and some laughable props (a phony spider in a cave), and the soundtrack is extremely grating on the nerves.” George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In

” …the movie was shot in the Florida Everglades, so the swamp looks quite convincing indeed. Also, some of the attack scenes have a certain visceral impact, particularly when the snake repeatedly bites one of the teens in the face.” Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

Death Curse of Tartu follows a template that has been in wide use among lousy American horror movies since at least 1922’s The Headless Horseman — hook the audience in with something cool early on, so that maybe they won’t notice you boring the sh*t out of them until at least the end of the second act.” Scott Ashlin, 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

Choice dialogue:

“I can’t argue with evil spirits.”

Cast and characters:

  • Fred Pinero … Ed Tison (as Fred Piñero)
  • Babette Sherrill … Julie Tison (as Babbette Sherrill)
  • Bill Marcus … Billy
  • Mayra Gómez Kemp … Cindy (as Mayra Gomez)
  • Sherman Hayes … Johnny
  • Gary Holtz … Tommy
  • Maurice Stewart … Joann
  • Doug Hobart … Tartu (as Douglas Hobart)
  • Frank Weed … Sam Gunter
  • Brad F. Grinter … Explorer (uncredited, director of Blood Freak; Flesh Feast)

Filming locations:

Everglades National Park, Florida

Technical details:

  • 84 minutes
  • Mono

Release:

In the UK, Death Curse of Tartu was released by Grand National Pictures on a double-bill with The Flesh Eaters.

Image credits: Video Collector

Related:

The Manitou – USA, 1978

Keywords:

alligator | archaeologist | burial ground | cave | curse | Everglades | quicksand | Native American | Seminole | shark | snake | spider | students | witch doctor | swamp

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