Curse of the Zodiac is a 2007 horror film, written and directed by Ulli Lommel.
In the 1970s, San Francisco finds itself being terrorized by a sadistic psychopath who identifies himself as "the Zodiac" in disturbing phone calls he makes to a writer who is possibly named John, though the Zodiac insists on just calling him "fat fuck" (which gets annoying very quickly). Along with the phone calls, the Zodiac also sends the writer a variety of rant-filled letters, some of them containing bizarre puzzles and codes, which the Zodiac states can help "figure me out" if they are solved, though he seriously doubts anyone "in this dumb fucking city" will be able to best him.
As the writer struggles to find his self-proclaimed nemesis, who is escalating when it comes to blowing out the back of people's heads by cramming gun barrels into their mouths, a young woman named Natasha Baines (a name which is only revealed just before the credits) is plagued by trippy visions relating to the Zodiac and his victims. At first, the visions only occur while Natasha is asleep, but they eventually begin coming to her while she is awake, growing in intensity each time. Possibly due to possessing powers himself, the Zodiac starts communicating with Natasha during her visions, threatening her and taunting her inability to stop him as she is forced to watch as he slaughters innocent people in front of her. Shortly before her boyfriend leaves her due to the strain caused by her uncontrollable gift (or maybe curse would be a better description) Natasha meets with the writer when the two of them just happen to stop by a police station to offer they're help in catching the Zodiac, only to be ignored. Together, the two decide to bring down the Zodiac, hopefully before he makes due on his promises to add them to his ever increasing list of victims.
Ulli Lommel's second film about the infamous Zodiac Killer, this one, like its predecessor, has little in common with the real-life murderer, probably only being made to try and cash-in on David Fincher's adaptation of Robert Graysmith non-fiction book Zodiac. Aside from the setting, the killer's nickname and some of his MO, it's pure schlocky, cheaply produced fiction consisting of somewhat poor acting, so much excessive profanity it would make a sailor blush, and extremely schizophrenic, crazy editing and filming.
Reception has been poor... very, very poor, to put it nicely.
This film provides examples of the following tropes:
- Abusive Parents: One of the victims mentions that whenever he made a mistake while playing the piano, his father would bash his head against it.
- Ac CENT Upon The Wrong Syl LA Ble: The Zodiac has a peculiar way of pronouncing San Francisco.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "I hate drugs. I hate sex. And I hate goddamn rock and roll."
- Bigger Is Better in Bed: The Zodiac claims to have a nine inch penis.
- Blood from the Mouth: The piano player's death.
- Boom, Headshot!: The Zodiac usually shoots his victims in the mouth, though a few times he goes right for the head.
- Calling Card: The letters and phone calls, and writing a Zodiac symbol in blood at the crime scenes.
- Cast as a Mask: Jack Quinn plays the Zodiac, but director Ulli Lommel (under the pseudonym Rick van Cleef) voices him.
- Country Matters: Surprisingly, it's only uttered once.
- Creepy Doll: The Zodiac keeps the head of one in a jar, for some reason.
- Creator Cameo: This being a cheap production, a lot of the crew had bit parts.
- Cool Shades: Natasha is always wearing them in her dreams.
- Couldn't Find a Pen: The bloody Zodiac symbols.
- Covers Always Lie: The DVD menu depicts the Zodiac brandishing a huge knife, which he never uses in the actual film.
- Curiosity Killed the Cast: The writer's date is lured to a window, where she is killed, by noises the Zodiac makes.
- Deleted Scene: Extended versions of the first victim talking with her pimp, and the writer talking with his prostitute.
- Diary: The Zodiac keeps one, though it's mostly filled with just symbols.
- Disposable Sex Worker: The first victim, and the writer's date.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: All the female victims getting a long gun barrel rammed down their throats by a man prone to psychotic, sex-based rants.
- The Faceless: Early on, the Zodiac's face is either always obscured or blurred out.
- Final Girl: Natasha. Subverted. She does die.
- Gainax Ending: The dead Natasha is shown closing the gore splattered book the Zodiac gave the writer before killing him, after the following had appeared:"On October 12, 1978 Natasha Baines was found dead in her bedroom. No signs of foul play were discovered, except for the sign of the Zodiac on her leg written in blood."
- Gross-Up Close-Up: On some spilled brain matter.
- Hope Spot: A victim appearing to hear Natasha's screams for her to call for help or run before it's too late.
- Info Dump: "The elusive Zodiac was a Serial Killer responsible for 12 or more gruesome murders committed mostly in Northern California in the 1960s and 1970s. The Zodiac coined his name in a series letters and phone calls, taunting and cursing a San Francisco Writer, the Police and his Victims. In 2004 the San Francisco Police Department officially closed the case. The Zodiac's identity remains unknown..."
- In the Hood: On the DVD cover, but not in the film itself.
- Limited Wardrobe: The Zodiac never changes clothes.
- Mad Bomber: The Zodiac continually threatens to commit some bombings.
- Nameless Narrative: The credits don't even give any characters names.
- Overcrank/Undercrank: Also heavily abused.
- The Piano Player: Or, as he's referred to in the chapter title, The Piano Man.
- Police are Useless: You'd think they'd show a little interest in someone who has been receiving calls and letters from the killer...
- Politically Incorrect Villain: The Zodiac hates bitches, faggots and... hippies.
- Psychopathic Manchild: According to the writer, the Zodiac has the handwriting of a young child.
- Prequel: Possibly one to Lommel's earlier released Zodiac Killer.
- Scary Black Man: The first victim's pimp, or at least he's trying to be this.
- The '70s: 1978, to be specific.
- Tattooed Crook: The Zodiac has unexplained symbols printed on his neck.
- Walking Backwards: The Zodiac in one scene, though it was possibly just an editing effect.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Natasha's boyfriend just disappears halfway through, apparently breaking up with her.
- Your Cheating Heart: During an argument, a victim's boyfriend actually complains that she won't let him hook up with other woman, apparently viewing this as abnormal.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: Natasha dreams about being strangled by the Zodiac, and wakes up with bruises on her neck. The films ends with her apparently dying in her sleep from Zodiac-related causes.
- Your Worst Nightmare: The Zodiac initially torments Natasha in her dreams.