Lamia Lunacy, Getting Dragged to Hell (Drag Me to Hell)This one's recent, but it's also very much the archetype for the traditional "Curse" movie. Right down to the vindictive old gypsy woman!BUY @ amazon
It all starts with such a simple setup:
So, you're Alison Lohman and you're life is pretty decent. You're dating the Mac guy, you've got a nice house in sunny California, and you've even got a job working at a bank in the middle of an economic crisis. You're perhaps a little too nice, and you've got some s**tty co-workers, but, I mean, c'mon, who doesn't?
So you start feeling the pressure from your boss to tow the company line, be firmer with the clientele, and this little old lady walks in the door. She's kind of gross, and kind of rough around the edges, and she needs your help to extend her loan payments (or something like that). It's one of those situations where you have to make a decision and you've got every reason to just say no. You know, to do your job. So you do.
Sure it's kind of a downer for the lady, but I'm sure she'll cope . . .right?
OH DEAR LORD WHY IS THIS CRAZY OLD bitch ATTACKING ME IN MY CAR AND SPITTING ALL OVER ME?!! WHY IS SHE RIPPING S**T OFF MY CLOTHES?!
So the old lady apparently never took anger management class, because she lays the mama of all movie curses on Alison Lohman's little blond head.
The curse works over three days, and summons (to make a Dogma Quote) "A F**king Demon" called The Lamia to torture you before finally, well, . . . dragging you down to hell kicking and screaming. If this doesn't seem like it's all that bad, well first off, then you haven't seen this awesome movie. Second, the torture involved is total. The girl from Flicka is subjected to both physical and psychological terror at pretty much any time of the day. She sees shadows crawl along walls and delicious meals resemble autopsy photos. Blood shoots out of her nose like a Double Dare set-piece. She can't sleep and is literally being driven insane with fear. When it's all said and done she then gets to keep doing all of this. Forever. In hell.
Worst of all, is that it's a nigh unstoppable curse to remove. This baby kills all hope, and it's only through some luck and a lot of determination that Ms. Lohman even gains a fighting chance at removing this, but even then, she get's a tiny window of opportunity. Three days? S**t. It takes me three days to work up the energy to write a stupid list on the internet, let alone try and do anything important like, you know, saving my immortal soul!
But why is this one at the top of the list? Well, because unlike most of the people to follow on the list, neither the poor girl nor anyone she knows actually deserves this level of punishment. She makes a decision that pretty much anyone else at her bank would have made (or at least we're given that impression early on in the film), so she pretty much just wins a F.U.B.A.R. lottery. For doing her job.
Which means that there's no real lesson here, other than maybe, "Be real nice to every old lady ever, or kill them before they can utter a single senile syllable."
Crucio - Excruciating Pain (Harry Potter)With more variety in spell choice than ways to commit sins in Singapore, you'd think the list of spells that are considered "illegal" in the Harry Potter universe would be extensive. But no, there are only three: The Unforgivable Curses.BUY @ amazon
One Kills - Avada Kedavra. One Controls - Imperio. One Hurts - Crucio.
Like most of the magic in the Potter-verse, these are pretty simple concepts, along with almost "cute" latin nicknames.
And of course looking at it simply, the killing curse seems like it's probably the worst. I mean, it kills you right? What's worse than death?
How about losing control of your actions? Becoming a tool used by the other tool that cursed you, then eventually having to live with it later. Yeah that would suck a bit of Severus' Snape.
But I maintain that it's the last one that's the worst.
Well, the Avada Kedavra seems, in pretty much every depiction in the films (and the books), like the wizardry world's equivalent to pulling off a headshot. It kills you sure, but it's also so damn fast that I doubt you'd feel much pain.
Imperio too seems like it has plenty of room for causing misery on people, especially mentally and emotionally after you stop being controlled. But it also seems like there are plenty of counters to the spell, and several children in the novels are capable of resisting its effects. I know the story's going to focus on the heroes, so naturally they'll be a bit better off, but still it seems that in general, the controlling curse has a range of effectiveness based on the strength of the victim's mind or will.
But Crucio? No, it's strength is based on the will of the caster. And if they're pissed, you're going to hurt. A lot. For as long as they want you to.
The pain is described as going through your whole body, probably hitting every pain receptor you have and torturing them directly, and does no actual physical damage. It just causes physical suffering, without death. But physical suffering can lead to mental suffering of course. . .
Enter Neville's parents. They were tortured so horribly by the damned spell that they went completely nuts and catatonic- FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES. They are a burden on the rest of the wizardry society, aren't able to care for their child, are probably in constant mental anguish if not having residual physical pain, and are just going to live in this state for years. That's way worse than a quick death or mere emotional damage.
That's a nasty little curse.
And to think, it's actually taught in class. . . to kids!
Your Inner Beauty is Ugly - also I Hate Servants (Beauty and the Beast)Oh hey, another "Someone mistreats an old lady, and the old lady totally overreacts with magic" example. This is one that I really shouldn't have to explain to you either.BUY @ amazon
I mean Angela Lansbury even says it's a, "Tale as Old As Time" and I for one trust Angela Lansbury's authority here.
Because that's how old she is.
But why is this so bad?
At the very beginning of the story we're told that the Prince is a selfish snob and all that, and you know what, I don't really think the crone who turns out to be a fairy queen (and most likely has to rush back to her cave to hand Link some Din's Fire) is wrong here.
She's super magical and probably saw into the f*ture or something, and realized that this would be a good thing for the prince in the long run. Plus if the prince truly learns from the cursed morality lesson, he won't seek a reprisal later on. If he doesn't gain humility and wants to tear the fairy lady limb from limb, she's also the only one who can possibly lift the curse anyway, so he wouldn't dare do anything. The lady really has the Beast by the short hairs here.
But again, no, that's not why this is bad. It's bad because of everyone else that gets cursed right along with the a*****e prince!
Seriously, I would not want to be turned into a damn piece of silverware and locked in a dusty cupboard for who knows how long! For (as with Drag Me To Hell) only doing my damn job and not being smart enough to take the day off when the local soothsayer comes knocking? That's total BS!
And I mean, look at how truly mad the years of isolation have driven the servants: their first impulse when encountering company is to sing and dance through well-choreographed musical numbers! That's truly the mark of people who have far too much time on their hands!
I've heard some argue that due to the entire castle being turned this way, it must mean that they've all committed some sort of sin to deserve it, but I mean, come on; Chip? What the hell could a little boy have done? Also, if we follow the logic of the curse, and everyone turns into a representation of their personality, does that mean Lumiere thought of himself as a candlestick BEFORE the spell was cast? That's just confusing.
Also consider the fact that when they ARE finally released from the curse due to "True Love" (which since they're vaguely French will probably only last about as long as it takes for the Prince to get to the bar Gaston hung around in and scope out the maids there) they don't seem to have aged at all (Chip is still a kid, Lansbury's still alive). That means that if they have any family that's lived outside the castle for the last decade or so while the Beast learned humility, they won't be able to recognize them.
Sure it's a Disney-fied take on the story, and sure, everyone seems OK at the end, especially Belle and the Beast. Even if the "lesson" Belle (and subsequently every little girl who watches the flick) learns is; "Don't worry, if you stick by your man, he'll change for you! Even if he's horribly abusive, if you just hold firm everything's going to be all right!".
The servants get the short end of a pointy candelabra though, and that just sucks.
Get Trapped in a Toddler-Size Doll (Child's Play)An interesting case here. With most curse stories, some regular schmo pisses off someone or something in tune with the ethereal strands of reality, and they get punished for it. They try to avoid the punishment, and whether or not they do generally depends on how kid-friendly the story is.BUY @ amazon
The story of the man who would become the man-child Manson doll is a bit different though.
So Charles Lee Ray, perfectly played by Brad Dourif, is your standard 80's psycho a*****e who seems to have fallen straight out of the movie Cobra . Or would have, if he hadn't taken a minor in Voodoo American Studies during his higher criminal education (rather than the rest of his graduating class' preferred minor: Jazz Theory With Axeheads).
So when this serial strangler finally gets shot down by your standard 80's renegade homicide detective, and is ditched by his accomplice (does a "strangler" really need an accomplice? Is that a lucrative criminal enterprise?) he's able to remember all of the magic words necessary to transfer his soul into a new body just before he kicks the bucket. After watching the attached video, he can also apparently summon lightning . . .which might have been useful when dealing with the cop, but I digress.
As I'm sure most are aware, due to this spell he becomes the living doll of death: Chucky.
How is this even a curse? It seems like a rather useful spell to know, right?
Well ya see, the 2 and a half foot terror doesn't WANT to be stuck in a dolls body. This was just a really temporary solution to his problem and ol' Chuck would love to just get into a new body. Unfortunately for him though, he must've missed an important lecture on spell duration or something, because when he confronts his Professor on the matter (one Dr. Death, though that's his professional name, privately it's just David Death) he learns that within a rather short amount of time, his transfer to his new body will become permanent. He's even started to turn the hollow plastic body into more and more of a real one, with blood and muscles and bones and other gross organic matter.
The only way out for the Chuckster is to transfer his soul into the body of the first person who he spoke to in this new form (which seems REALLY arbitrary to me, but hey, when it comes to magic you play by the rules or it all falls apart). This of course turns out to be the one kid the ginger neck-snapper has done everything to alienate and piss off into becoming a hero. Things don't end up going well for Chucky as a result.
Why this especially sucks:
He seriously has no one to blame but himself. He cast the spell on what ever object was handy rather than waiting the two minutes it would have taken for the cop to reach him, and then he wastes a whole bunch of time indulging in just being evil before he decides to try to move onto body #3, or look into why he can't properly do it.
See that kids! Never mix your magical studies with your general laziness. Magic takes effort or you'll curse yourself into an abomination!
Of course eventually he does become accustomed to life as a doll. To some fairly odd results .
One Nasty Chain of Cursing (Ringu/The Ring)OK, I don't exactly get the whole Asian take on the curse.BUY @ amazon
At least with most western curses, there's usually some sort of a point.
You piss off some magical person (almost always an old lady of vaguely eastern European decent), and you get a fitting punishment.
But with a lot of the "J-Horror" films that became popular over the last decade (and further back into history and myth if you actually, you know, live over there) it always seems like the curses are arbitrarily evil.
I'll use The Ring as the uber-example, since pretty much everyone's familiar with it over here, but the same concept holds true in The Grudge, or . . .The Curse of course.
So here we have a nasty little psychic girl. In life she seemed to be a little bundle of negative reinforcement and insanity to everyone around her.
So naturally the folks who took guardianship of her say, "Oh what the hell. If we ice the damn bitch maybe we can get on with our lives and be done with it."
But no, her malevolent ghost then causes her "mom" to commit suicide and drive pretty much everyone else to the bonkers bin to torment themselves the rest of their natural lives.
Revenge gained, problem averted right?
Also, not a curse. A nasty horrible haunting to be sure, but not a curse.
Kids don't really seem to have a very good sense of empathy. This apparently goes doubly so for dead psychic girls who don't like being tossed down wells.
So Samara/Sadako somehow (because I don't know if it's ever explained exactly how, but we're dealing with a magic ghost gal at this point, so let's not question it too much) smuggles out a videotape to the rest of the world. Watch the tape, and at first you think the "curse" is that you simply had to watch some pretentious asshole's bad student film. Not so bad reall-
Hold on, that's the phone.
OK so you also apparently die in a week.
That's not so bad really. How do you die though?
You get your face turned inside out by the ghost girl after she comes screaming out of a TV!? And before that you're driven insane with nightmarish imagery in your every waking hour, AND when you sleep!?
Well is there any way to lift it?
So you found the body and gave her a proper burial and laid her soul to rest and she's STILL going to kill me, I mean you!?
Oh wait, so there is a way to avoid it. Pass it on to someone else. That's just peachy. We just get out of yet another format war and now I've got to somehow convince someone to watch a VHS again? How the hell is that going to happen?
You know what, F**k you Samara/Sadako, whoever. You're just being arbitrarily evil at this point.
Well at least the number of people it spreads to will likely be rather low, as the only people who die have to be a fairly limited number of folks, what with the death of the VCR and all.
I mean, it's not like Japanese ghosts can target larger groups of people, like say a town . . .
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