On a tropical island off the coast of Brazil, voodoo is alive and well. The voodoo queen, Mama Rata-loi (Ruth de Souza) reigns over all the locals. J. Peter Wells (Walter Reed) is a writer, lecturer and debunker. He is writing a book on voodoo and other cult beliefs trying to expose them as fraudulent. Mama Rata-loi is not happy that Peter is invading her kingdom.
When the bodies of dead men start washing up on the beach Peter is sure that the men were killed by poison and not by voodoo superstition. The local authorities don’t seem to care all that much about the deaths, so Peter begins investigating himself. Peter’s lover is Venus de Viasa (Ziva Rodann). Venus is an heiress. She wants Peter to mind his own business.
Peter’s daughter Sara (June Wilkinson) arrives with her husband, Warren (William Wellman Jr.). The newlyweds have only been married a week. That doesn’t stop the sexy Venus from hitting on Warren and making Sara jealous. Sara is also afraid that her father has gotten into something risky. Things prove to be far more dangerous for Warren, who has been selected to be the male sacrifice in Mama Rata’s next ceremony.
“Macumba Love” was released in 1960 and was directed by Douglas Fowley. Filmed in Brazil, it is a low budget American horror jungle movie. It is a little on the obscure side, most versions available are bootleg on DVD-R.
The highlight of the film is a couple voodoo ceremonies, although the one in the beginning of the film lasts a little too long. Still, they are actually rather interesting. After that there isn’t much to keep your attention. Character development is sketchy and the acting is subpar. The film stock, at least for the copy that I saw, was washed out and the night scenes were a bit dark. The film is not totally horrible but not impressive either.
As a hook, patrons to the theater received a “Voodoo Charm” to ward off evil. The charm was actually a restaurant type packet of sugar with the film’s logo printed on it.
The actress who plays Sara is June Wilkinson. She is famous for being big chested. She was around about the same time as Jane Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe, only not as well known. The filmmakers shot two versions of the beach scene where she is frolicking in the waves with her on-screen husband Warren. In the international version Ms. Wilkinson’s bathing suit top comes off. In the American version it does not. The American trailer shows the European version. Male patrons, expecting to see what was in the trailer, were very disappointed.