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Film / The Curse (1987)
aka: The Curse

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The Curse (also known as The Farm) is a 1987 American horror film adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft's The Colour Out of Space, directed by David Keith. It stars a young Wil Wheaton.

The plot focuses on Zack Crane (Wheaton), a teenager living on his family's farm in Tennessee. The family's lives are upended when a strange meteorite crash-lands on the property, seeping a mysterious liquid that ends up having a horrific effect on the crops, the livestock, and eventually the family itself.

The film received three Direct to Video sequels; however, none of the films are connected to each other. The first film's distributors noticed that it was successful on the home video market, and so marketed three unrelated films as sequels to capitalize on its success.

This film is cursed with:

  • The '80s: The movie has a rather vague setting in time, then Wheaton's character wears an incredibly '80s T-shirt in a couple scenes.
  • Adaptational Villainy: A lot! In the original novel no one shows really violent or deplorable behaviors. Here a list is needed.
    • Nathan is a zealot who slaps Zack on a couple of occasions, ignores Zack's remarks regarding the taste of the food and water and thinks the curse is God's punishment for his wife's adultery and blames her for this. When he is tainted and becomes a crazy mutant, he tries to kill Zack and kills the neighbor/physician. In the original novel, Nahum (which is Nathan's name in the novel) never shows signs of this kind of behavior and is instead one of the first to understand that the meteorite has poisoned his farm.
    • Cyrus, the eldest son, bullies Zack on a couple of occasions. It goes from bad to worse when they are poisoned by the mysterious substance: he too tries to kill Zack and Alice.
    • And finally the neighbor, who in the novel is the best friend of the family and stays near them till the end, here is a physician who lies about the meteorite to protect the investments of a speculator (then he tries to fix it, dying as a result: see Redemption Equals Death, below).
  • Adaptational Heroism: Zack, in spades. But even Allen the physician, who eventually tries to save Zack and Alice, and at the end the TVA representative Carl.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Frances (the wife). She becomes an unsatisfied wife and an adulterer.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Everyone.
  • Body Horror: Anyone poisoned by the meteorite becomes a sort of rotting mutant (and a potential murderer).
  • The Corruption: As in the novel, on people, plants, buildings and the landscape alike.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: As in the novel, the ultimate fate of anyone who has been poisoned. It is debatable which version is worse, if the one in the novel (where the living beings seem to lose their vital force and their minds) or here (where the living beings become rotting and crazy mutants).
  • Death by Adaptation: Allen, the neighbor, who here visits the home not as a friend but as a physician.
  • Honor Before Reason: Nathan refuses to believe there's anything wrong with the food or water on the farm because he takes the complaints as a personal insult against what he provides for the family.
  • I'm Melting!: The ultimate condition of Frances, when Zack finds her in the attic.
  • In Medias Res: The movie starts with the Cranes' farmhand being arrested and raving about "It" being in the water. It then cuts to six months prior, the day before the meteorite lands on the Crane farm.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: Frances, when she starts to show signs of madness. In the end, when she mutates, Nathan closes her in some kind of cellar.
  • Only Sane Man: Zack and Alice are the only members of their family willing or able to recognize there's something wrong with the food and water on the farm, arguing it tastes bad and not wanting to consume any more of it.
  • Parents as People: Nathan is a flawed individual, but is trying to do right by his stepson as well as his biological son. He doesn't always take Cyrus' side, letting Zach flip him the bird after Cyrus calls him a dork. He also only physically punishes Zach for things like blasphemy and outright, to-his-face disrespect on his own property, and even then it's only a swat that comes with a lesson instead of a beating because "I hate you." He only becomes malevolent when the Color drives him insane.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: In the novel the events occur in months, but if this was true in the movie, Zack and Alice wouldn't have any means to avoid the taint. Indeed, while we see that Zack brings from town some food and water to Alice at least once, we even see that Nathan forces them to eat all their tasty cursed meals. It could have been an Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole. But here the events seem to occur in few days, with the curse hitting and mutating the living beings much faster than in the novel. The Colour is shown as a greyish-cyan light, which is otherworldly without being too difficult to produce consistently. The reservoir survey also happens concurrently with the events of the story instead of being a Framing Device.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Allen the neighbor and physician: he lies about the meteorite (see the Adaptational Villainy above), but when he understands that the Cranes are being poisoned by a mysterious substance, he tries to fix his mistake. In the end he is killed by a mutant and crazy Nathan while he tries to save Zack and Alice.
  • Sex Signals Death: Frances is an adulterer and is the first one to be tainted and poisoned.
  • Spared By Adaptation: Zack and Alice.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Firmly averted. Despite being married to an old and rigidly religious Nathan who refuses affections from Frances because he believes men must make the first move, Frances is given no sympathy for cheating on him by having sex with Mike, a farmhand who lives in a nearby shack. She's the first to undergo horrible mutations and complete Sanity Slippage from the meteorite and Nathan repeatedly blames her for the meteorite's effects on the farm and believes it's God's Punishment for her adultery.

Alternative Title(s): The Curse