Color, 1991, 91 mins. 20 secs..
Directed by Sean Barton
Starring Christopher Lee, Jenilee Harrison, Henry Cele, Andre Jacobs, Zoe Randall, Gavin Hood
Scorpion Releasing (Blu-ray) (US RA HD), MGM (MOD DVD) (US R1 NTSC) / WS (1.85:1)

You'd Pangahave to look pretty hard to find a horror series Pangamore confusing than the Curse films, which started off as a loose H.P. Lovecraft adaptation with Wil Wheaton and Claude Akins before turning into a snake-obsessed monster movie with Jill Schoelen (Curse II: The Bite), an African-set supernatural tale (Curse III: Blood Sacrifice), and finally a tale of demonic shenanigans in a monastery (Curse IV: The Ultimate Sacrifice). None of the stories have any connection at all, which makes sense considering each sequel was intended to be a standalone film with the third and fourth film originally titled Panga and Catacombs respectively.

Somewhere in Africa a few years after World War II, strange rituals are afoot at night that soon come to affect new arrival Elizabeth (Three's Company's Harrison, one of the series' multiple Suzanne Somers replacements). She's just married sugar cane farm owner Geoff (Jacobs) and is expecting their first child. Not the brightest bulb, she ignores the warnings of their foreman, Mletch (Cele), and disrupts a magic ceremony involving a goat because she wants to save the animal from being used to... well, it isn't quite clear yet, but she assumes the sacrifice-happy locals are up to no good. Of course she gets a curse put on her for her efforts that soon comes to affect her baby, with Dr. Pearson (a very slumming PangaLee) on hand to explain that she's due for a date with an ancient monster. Soon something's running around with a machete, heads are falling off, and the Pangaclock is ticking till Elizabeth's final confrontation with a rubbery beast beyond her imagination.

Sort of a belated cash-in on The Serpent and the Rainbow crossed with a slasher movie and an old-school monster film, this is a very goofy horror film obviously geared for the home video market. It was also the only directorial effort for Sean Barton, who had better luck as the editors of such hits as Return of the Jedi, Quadrophenia, and Jagged Edge, though he manages to work up some nice spooky atmosphere in a few scenes and definitely maximizes the potential of the African setting for a welcome change of pace. As with many other colonial horror films, the treatment of black characters falls somewhere around the level of your average '40s Monogram film complete with wide-eyed witch doctors and terrified villagers, but the white characters are so bland and idiotic you'll come to the conclusion that being able to summon a murderous sea monster might not be such a bad thing after all.

PangaAs mentioned above, this one has been released in most territories on home video as Curse III after its brief theatrical appearances as Panga, including a VHS and laserdisc round from RCA/Columbia in the early '90s. After that it fell into the domain of MGM who kept it Pangaactive on VHS and a 2015 MOD DVD that appended Panga to the more common title. Curse III made its worldwide Blu-ray debut in 2019 from Scorpion Releasing through Ronix Flix, confusing things even further by having the Curse III: Blood Sacrifice title on the packaging and Curse III: Panga on the menu screen. Anyway, it's still the same movie either way and looks fine here in that usual '90s film stock / MGM catalog title sort of way, looking several notches better than the DVD and doing what it can with a fairly cheap, flat approach throughout. The DTS-HD MA English stereo track is also fine for what it is, with the overbearing and mostly amusing score getting the strongest support. The theatrical trailer is included (as Panga) along with bonus ones for Deep Space, Shredder, Nothing but the Night, and The Devil Within Her.

Reviewed on March 3, 2019.