Once in awhile a movie gets so roundly panned that I find myself wanting to watch the thing just to see if it’s anywhere near as bad as everyone claims it is. You probably know the feeling. And once in awhile, it turns out everybody else was right.
Such is the case with German straight-to-video schlockmeister Ulli Lommel’s 2007 release Curse Of The Zodiac, a DTV quickie that he rushed into production to capitalize on the then-current hubbub surrounding David Fincher’s more economically-titled (and obviously far superior) Zodiac and that boasts an IMDB score of 1.3 on the old “1 to 10” scale. I’ve been on something of a Zodiac kick lately, having watched Fincher’s flick three times in the last few months, and immersing myself in such second- (or lower-) tiered fare as 1971’s The Zodiac Killer and two wretched films hailing from 2005, The Zodiac (which sort of pretends to be a “legit” production), and Ulli Lommel’s The Zodiac Killer (which doesn’t, given that it was directed by you-know-who). I hadn’t taken the plunge with this one, though, just because — well, what’s the point, really?
And I can safely say the same thing now, after having seen — or rather endured — it. Seriously, even by out guy Ulli’s low standards, Curse Of The Zodiac is dull, pointless, plodding shit. We all know “The Big Z” was never caught, of course, so the idea here is apparently that he’s come out of retirement to kill more people because — well, he just has. And so he does. Mostly it’s women who are in bad relationships that he seems to be targeting, and that’s about all you need to know, apart from the fact that pretty much all we see of our guy is the back of his fucking head (he’s apparently got some mystical code letters tattooed on his neck) and that, for some reason, Lommel decided to shoot at least half this film at pain-in-the-ass sideways angles. Keep the Excedrin handy, you’re gonna need it.
On a purely logical level, this flick makes no sense simply due to the fact that the guy playing Zodiac, one Jack Quinn, was probably about 4 years old when the original murders his character is supposed to have committed took place, but you can conveniently overlook that little hiccup if you just do what I should have done and shut this fucker off about ten minutes in. Or better yet, don’t even start watching it in the first place.
If you’re a hard-core Lommel fan — please! Get a real hobby! — you might recognize a few of the ladies in this one, like Cassandra Church, Victoria Ullman, and Lyn Beausoleil , from some of the director’s other “efforts,” but by and large this is a no-name cast with no talent lifelessly playing out pointless murder scenes and even more pointless (but usually mercifully quick) “character set-up” bits. If you’re not the Zodiac himself, you’re in this one to get killed, plain and simple, and if you are the Zodiac himself, you’ve got a pretty easy gig because you really don’t have to show your face or even speak much — the guy with the impenetrably thick German accent who was hired to mouth out what’s supposedly going on inside your head will take care of all of that for you. Amazing the little perks you can add to a flick when you’ve got a two million dollar budget.
Wait a minute, did I just say a two million dollar budget? That’s what the IMDB claims this shitstorm cost, but don’t ask me where it all went, because the low-rent videography, lower-rent sets, and lowest-rent-of-all actors couldn’t — or at least shouldn’t — have cost more than a few grand, combined. Seriously, there are student projects coming out every day with more by way of professional merit than this movie.
All of which could be forgiven, of course, if Curse Of The Zodiac was a “good” bad film, or “so bad it’s good,” or any other descriptive term that genre hack “critics” (you know, like me) like to trot out to describe garbage that we know is garbage but still enjoy anyway. Sadly, this one never rises to that level (not does it even appear to be trying to) and just stays near-unwatchably bad from start to finish.
In between shit zombie and supernatural flicks, Lommel has been doing some of this “true-crime-inspired” garbage for the better part of a decade now, with films such as B.T.K. Killer, Green River Killer, Black Dahlia, Son Of Sam, D.C. Sniper, and, most recently, Manson Family Cult, in addition to his two Zodiac-themed numbers, padding his resume (and, one would assume, his wallet). It pains me to admit that I’ve sat through four of these, and this one’s by far the worst of a bad bunch. It’s available on DVD, but don’t waste your time on that, just stream it on Netflix if you absolutely must blow off my advice and subject yourself to this stream of sorry indignities. I did my part by trying to warn you, from here on out I wash my hands of the matter — I just wish that I could scrub the wretched memory of this thing from my brain as easily.