Rock Dean’s (John Bromfield) family owns a plantation in the Amazon River area. His workers have left the plantation in droves. Other plantations in the area have also seen their workers leave and return to the jungle. Rock finds out that there have been mysterious killings in the area. The natives attribute the killings to an ancient bird-like creature the people call Curucu. Legend has it the Curucu lives in the area of the Amazon Falls way up the river. It is an area where no white man has ever been. The area is also inhabited by headhunters.
Rock is sent to find the legendary bird or whatever is killing people and stop it. Before traveling into the heart of the jungle he needs to have shots to avoid some of the diseases in the area. At the doctor’s office he meets Dr. Andrea Romar (Beverly Garland). She asks to go with him. She is looking for a drug the natives have that she thinks may help her in her research to find a cure for cancer. Rock refuses, stating that women don’t belong in the jungle. When Rock goes to hire Tupanico (Tom Payne), his usual guide, he finds out that Andrea has already hired him. Rock has no choice but to go along with Andrea’s expedition. Tupanico takes them through the jungle where they come upon a tribe of natives. The tribe is unsure of the party until they see that there is a woman with them. It convinces them that the expedition is friendly.
When Andrea finds out that one of the natives is sick, she insists on attending to him despite the witch doctor. The man’s name is Tico (Wilson Vianna). Andrea realizes that Tico has appendicitis and needs surgery. They take Tico with them to the local missionary. The missionary is run by Father Flaviano (Harvey Chalk). Father Flaviano is also a doctor. Andrea and Father Flaviano save Tico’s life.
While they are at the missionary Curucu strikes again. After they are on their way again they see a reflection of something glowing under the surface of the river. The bearers panic and flee. Rock, Andrea and Tupanico are left alone in the jungle and Curucu is not far behind.
“Curucu: Beast of the Amazon” was released in 1956 and was directed by Curt Siodmak. It is an adventure horror movie that was filmed in Brazil in the Amazon jungle. The original film was made in color. It is a rather obscure film that was never released on either VHS or DVD. The titled monster Curucu is pronounced “Koo-Ruh-SOO"
The actual Curucu monster is somewhat of a letdown but as a jungle movie it’s got a good amount to recommend it. On the positive side it shows the Amazon as being far more treacherous than most movies portray. There isn’t a danger that wasn’t thrown at Andrea, crocodiles, spiders, snakes, leopards, piranha, wild buffalo stampedes, headhunters, you name it she experienced it. There are also some spectacular scenes of actual Amazon waterfalls. The film would have been even better in color, alas; I couldn’t find a color print.
Granted the movie is not great but it is standard for 50’s style movies so it’s no worse than any other guilty pleasure film that I’m sure each one of us has a dozen or so we cherish. I was also OK with the silly looking monster despite the let down it plays in the story line. As an extra plus you also get Beverly Garland, who is always fun to watch.