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A good, twisted black comedy from the nineties, executive produced by Quentin Tarantino and starring the shamefully underrated Angela Jones.

The Package
     CURDLED was adapted from a 1991 student short that was seen and loved by Quentin Tarantino, who encouraged its creators John Maass and Reb Braddock to expand it to feature length, and retain the lead actress Angela Jones. The latter won the role of cabdriver Esmeralda Villalobos in PULP FICTION based on her work in the CURDLED short. Sadly, the talented Miss Jones hasn’t been very active in recent years--and neither, for that matter, have Maass or Braddock.
     Tarantino ended up overseeing the CURDLED feature, and even scripted a televised crime program segment (featuring Kelly Preston in a reprise of her FROM DUSK TILL DAWN role). CURDLED also boasts several sharp supporting players, including William Baldwin, Barry Corbin and Lois Chiles. It was theatrically released (none too successfully) by Miramax in 1996, and on DVD through Tarantino’s short-lived Rolling Thunder Pictures label.

The Story
     Gabriella is a young Columbian woman obsessed with violent death. She feeds her obsession by taking a job with an outfit that specializes in cleaning up crime scenes.
     Meanwhile Paul, a good looking serial killer, is on the loose. His latest victim is Gina, an older woman he seduces and then stabs to death in her plush Miami home. Before she dies, though, Gina writes Paul’s name on her kitchen floor. Paul leaves the crime scene but returns a few days later to wipe away Gina’s writing. At that very time, however, Gabriella and her partner arrive to clean up the place, and Paul locks himself in the wine cellar. There he stays while Gabriella does her job.
     Paul is still stuck in the wine cellar the following night, when Gabriella returns to the scene with her boyfriend…and inadvertently frees Paul. He knocks out the boyfriend and, after witnessing a “Danza Macabra” by Gabriella around the crime scene, orders that Gabriella clean his name from the floor. Realizing they share similar interests, Paul cozies up to her for a time, but finally elects to kill her. Gabriella, however, is far from a helpless victim!

The Direction
     Actress Angela Jones is best known as the cabdriver from PULP FICTION who eagerly grills Bruce Willis about how it feels to kill a man. CURDLED director Reb Braddock uses Jones in the same way Tarantino did, by contrasting her sunny good looks and childlike demeanor with an unhealthy streak of morbid curiosity--sweet and innocent though Angela Jones often appears, her devilish grin is unmistakable.
     CURDLED overall follows Jones’ lead, dealing with sick and perverse subjects in a deceptively light-hearted manner, complete with a bouncy cha-cha score and a bright, cheery color scheme. It’s essentially a warped character study, and a good one, anchored by a powerful lead performance. William Baldwin is also quite memorable as Gabriella’s darkly charismatic nemesis.
     The film unfortunately bears many of the pratfalls common to feature films adapted from shorts. There are moments of noticeable padding, notably in the final confrontation between Paul and Gabriella: it begins in electrifying fashion with Gabriella’s priceless murder-victim dance, but quickly turns plodding. The two spend much time going over the particulars of the murder, which seems somewhat pointless considering that Gabriela’s dance already covered that, and in far more edifying fashion.

Vital Statistics

Miramax Films

Director: Reb Braddock
Producers: John Maass, Raul Puig
Screenplay: John Maass, Reb Braddock
Cinematography: Steven Bernstein
Editing: Mallory Gottlieb
Cast: Angela Jones, William Baldwin, Bruce Ramsay, Mel Gorham, Lois Chiles, Daisy Fuentes, Barry Corbin, Kelly Preston