Curucu, Beast of the Amazon is a 1956 American film directed and written by Curt Siodmak and starring John Bromfield, Beverly Garland and Tom Payne. It was shot in Eastmancolor, on location at the Amazon River in rural Brazil, with an estimated budget of $155,000.
The title creature is pronounced "Koo-Ruh-SOO" (Portuguese: Curuçu). The film was advertised as a "monster movie", with the ad material (such as the poster by Reynold Brown) showing a giant claw and a creature's glowering eye. However, it was actually just a jungle adventure film, with no horror or science fiction elements whatsoever. The film is extremely rare, since distributor Universal Studios has apparently never released it on DVD.
Plantation owner Rock Dean (Bromfield) travels up the Amazon River to investigate why the workers have left in panic. Dean's guide, Tumpanico (Payne) warns him of Curucu, a birdlike monster who is said to live up the river where no white man has ever been. Accompanying him is Dr. Andrea Romar ([Garland), in search of a drug which (in this story) the natives use to shrink heads. She hopes this drug will be effective in reducing cancerous tissue.
Tumpanico guides the couple through the jungle, where they see a strange shimmering form in the river which drives the bearers away. After Rock shoots an animal, Tumpanico offers to clean his rifle for him. Rock reluctantly agrees.
Later, Curucu attacks. Rock shoots at it, with no effect. The monster is revealed to be Tumpanico, who is trying to drive "his" people away from the plantations, where he can lead them in the old ways, before white men brought civilization and disease. Tumpanico used the excuse of cleaning Rock's rifle to load it with blanks.
Before they can be killed, Rock and Andrea are rescued by natives friendly to the local missionary. After wandering lost in the jungle in the commotion, Andrea wakens to find herself and Rock at the mission. A grateful native, whom she treated earlier, gives her some gifts: the shrinking drug she was searching for, and the shrunken head of Tumpanico.John Bromfield as Rock Dean
Beverly Garland as Dr. Andrea Romar
Tom Payne as Tumpanico
Harvey Chalk as Father Flaviano
Larri Thomas as Vivian, the dancer
After filming, Siodmak had 10,000 feet of color film left over that he could not export. Love Slaves of the Amazons was the result, and used some of the same cast.
According to a TV Guide review, the film is "a moderately amusing jungle adventure which places Bromfield in dangerous Amazon territory alongside the courageous Garland".
Universal has never released Curucu on DVD; only bootleg DVD-R copies of varying quality exist.