Curse of the Black Lagoon (2018) and Unfollower (2020)

Director Milko Davis’s most recent effort was 2019’s Jurassic Thunder; his latest, Phantom Patrol, is in post-production. He was four films into his self-made indie career (his first was 2007’s Raiders of the Damned) with this tale about a researcher (Davis mainstay Elvis Sharp) cursed by his encounter with a mermaid-like creature deep in the Amazon jungles. He comes to realize that, in order to reverse the prehistoric, aquatic metamorphosis of his own body, he must return to the jungles for a cure.

In addition to Elvis Sharp, you’ll also recognize Rick Haak, aka General Hicks, as well as actor Leon Mayfield, from Milko’s fun Jurassic Thunder. You’ll also see cast crossovers in the frames from Milko’s other films Tsunambee and Jurassic Dead. The B&S staff appreciated actor Rick Haak taking the time to comment on our review of Jurassic Thunder, telling us “. . . the movie was fun to make and Milko does a lot with such a low budget.” That “lot” shows in Milko’s work, as his serviceable casts always confidently sells the outlandish drama of his pen and/or lens. We dig the dude.

Yikes. Creepy long-haired women!

For an against-the-budget film made four under $50,000, Curse of the Black Lagoon certainly looks like an ambitious, well-made film — with the cast slopping around in the woods and waters with gusto — as these stills from the film, show (here and here). Originally known as Merwitches, then retitled for its eventual DVD and streaming relaunch, the film unfortunately ran into production issues and, it seems, will not see release. Too bad, as the production stills, seen above, are intriguing: you can see everyone is enjoying the work and making the best picture they can make with the resources they have. Respect.

You can enjoy the .mp3 soundtrack from Curse of the Black Lagoon by Daniel E. Wakefield on Amazon.

Now streaming for free on Tubi.

So, if you’re wondering of the connection between a ’50s monster homage and a ’90s cyber thriller: the common denominator is the husband and wife filmmaking team of Johnathan Aguero and actress Julie Crisante. Curse of the Black Lagoon was co-written and co-produced by the duo — with Milko Davis on as the director. Aguero produced and Crisante acted in Davis’s Jurassic Dead.

Unfollower, a Lifetime cable channel-styled thriller, represents as the couple’s third joint project: one that serves as Aguero’s third producing, second writing effort, and directing debut. In addition to starring Julie Crisante, Unfollower also co-stars a new-to-the-scene Erin Felton, who starred in Curse from the Black Lagoon.

Drawing from her real life, past-personal experiences of abuse, Crisante stars as Jo Kelly: a self-conscious, up-and-and-coming on-line fitness instructor who becomes a cyber-stalking victim. When the digital stalker enters the real world, she uses her fitness skills and fighting instincts to stay alive.

Is it one of her 100-plus student-followers? Sure, her cheating, now ex-boyfriend, who runs his own high-tech firm, offers to help when the cops, won’t: but is it him? Or her enamored co-worker? Or a jealous competitor?

While this hasn’t bowed (at least not yet) on the female-centric Lifetime cable channel in the U.S., instead going straight to the free-with-ads stream Tubi platform, this “damsel in distress” cyberstalker has decent enough, against-the-micro budget production values and acting; there’s no reason why Julie Crisante can’t become the next romantic lead in a seasonal, cable romance or a MarVista-Canadian produced thriller for Lifetime. The proceedings of Unfollower are deserving to be a part of that channel’s serviceable rotation of thrillers that get the job done when you’re numb from the AMC and TNT repeats and need something new to watch. And thanks to our ’80s home video gods of Fred Olen Ray (A Christmas Princess) and David DeCoteau (The Wrong Valentine) writing and directing — and getting us hooked on — Hallmark and Lifetime movies, we should know.

Another interesting twist — well at least to those B&S About Movies fans of all things ’80s SOV — Unfollower is one of the many films produced and shot in Denver, Colorado. During our “SOV Week” deep dive back in September, we discussed the Centennial State productions of Curse of the Blue Lights, The Jar, Manchurian Avenger, Mind Killer, Night Vision, and The Spirits of Jupiter. Yeah, one day, some day, we’ll get to fellow-obscure, direct-to-video Mile Highers such as Savage Water (1979), Lansky’s Road (1985), and Back Street Jane (1989) . . . that is, if we ever find errant VHS copies or fan-ripped streams. If you’ve seen an online copy of them, let us know.

You can learn more about all of the films produced in Colorado at Colorado

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.