Those wacky Everglades! They're full of all sorts of wild, scary animals, some of which are even the supernatural manifestations of "evil spirits and with doctors that turn themselves into giant alligators!" Or snakes. And sharks. Really.
Which is what a group of four college kids encounter on an archaeological field trip with their teacher, Mr. Tison (FRED PINERO), and his wife, Julie (BABETTE SHERRILL), when they trudge deep into the Florida Everglades, stumble upon an ancient Indian burial ground, and activate the Death Curse of Tartu. Actually, their friend Sam Gunther earlier stumbled upon the spot and dug up an old stone tablet which warns of Tartu, a 400 year old Seminole witch doctor, who "swore he'd come back from, change himself into wild creatures," and kill those who trespass on the sacred ground. And we know Tartu means it because Sam already made Mr. T's rotted corpse come to life and change into a boa constrictor that gave Sam the squeeze.
And, sure enough, minutes after the kids set up camp, roast marshmallows(!), and start making out, Tartu again wakes, turns into wildlife, and starts offing the cast. Mr. Tison eventually decides the only way to stop Tartu is to find his resting place and destroy his remains but when he tries that, Tartu climbs out of his casket, turns into his young pre-rotted self, and goes chasing after the leading lady...
Regional rarities come in all styles and genres, but none may be as geographically specific or as atmospherically alien as the so-called "swamp movies," primarily marketed to Southern audiences who could easily relate to these backwoods sagas. Shot in seven days by Florida exploitation filmmaker WILLIAM GREFFE, and sent out as a supporting feature with his berserk Sting of Death (1966), Death Curse of Tartu is as much a swamp movie as it is a horror film, and revels in its slimy water, overgrown vegetation, snakes, 'gators, and airboats the way another horror film would play up a haunted house or foggy graveyard. Of course, like any good exploitation director, Grefe' doesn't hesitate to chuck all the atmosphere and stop the film dead in its tracks to focus on college-age cuties shaking their booty to rock and roll.
DOUGLAS HOBART, who played the jellyfish man in Sting of Death, plays the decomposed Tartu with booga-booga makeup that sort of resembles a monster clown. There's also a wonderfully goofy opening as an explorer (director BRAD GRINTER) enters Tartu's cave, is immediately killed, and the living corpse of the witch doctor then peruses papers carried by the explorer which just so happen to have the film's credit on them!
This Special Edition has been digitally remastered from a 35mm swamp-soggy print, and includes...
And remember, "the human brain is very mysterious."