(Before I left for vacation, I watched a handful of horror films that were available for free on Fearnet. For the most part, I think I may have overpaid. But, since I am dedicated to reviewing every film that I see, good or bad, I’ve decided to review these Fearnet films for Halloween here at the Shattered Lens!)
In the past, I have occasionally defended the German director Ulli Lommel against the oft-stated charge that he is the worst director of all time.
“Yes,” I’ll admit, “Lommel is kind of pretentious and a lot of his films can’t overcome the burdens of their low-budget origins. And no, he can’t director actors. But, his early films have a certain dream-like quality and The Boogeyman holds up fairly well for what it is. Plus, consider these two words: Uwe Boll.”
Unfortunately, I’m not sure that even Uwe Boll could have directed a film as bad as Lommel’s 2007 straight-to-DVD film, The Curse of the Zodiac.
The Curse of the Zodiac is one of Lommel’s ”true crime” films. In these films, Lommel claims to tell the “true” stories of American serial killers like BTK, the Son of Sam, and Zodiac. (In fact, Lommel has directed two unrelated films about the Zodiac killer.) A while ago, I read an interview with Lommel in which he stated that his serial killer films are about revealing the hypocrisy of puritanical American society. Maybe they are but they’re also pretty bad and The Curse of the Zodiac is one of the worst of them.
Taking place in the early 1970s (though you’d never guess it from the lack of period detail), The Curse of the Zodiac tells the story of the Zodiac Killer. In real life, the Zodiac Killer is one of the most intriguing (and nightmare-inducing) serial killers in history. In the film, he’s just a bald guy who wanders around San Francisco, kills a few random people, and spends almost the entire movie repeating the phrase, “Hey there, fat fuck.” The fat fuck in question is a writer who is investigating the crime and who is kind of fat. We never discover the writer’s name or who he is or why he’s investigating the Zodiac or why the Zodiac knows him or …. well, anything. He’s just a character who shows up every few minutes. Another character who shows up every few minutes is a psychic who has visions of the Zodiac committing his murders. The Zodiac refers to her as “hippy chick.” Neither the writer nor the psychic really do anything that a normal person would do when confronted with a serial killer but then again, Zodiac doesn’t really do anything that a normal serial killer would do when confronted by a writer and a psychic.
What can you really say about a film like The Curse of the Zodiac, beyond that fact that, in the course of 82 minutes, nothing really happens beyond watching three anonymous characters wander around San Francisco. Lommel doesn’t get one good performance out of his tiny cast, though he does find a lot of excuses to show off some nausea-inducing hand-held camera work.
The best thing that I can say about The Curse of the Zodiac is that it deserves to be seen just as evidence of how bad a bad film can truly be.