Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sssssss (1973)

...aka: Cobra, The
...aka: Kobra
...aka: SSSSnake
...aka: Sssssnake Kobra

Directed by:
Bernard L. Kowalski

Snake-haters will get some chills out of this ridiculous, but interesting and very entertaining tale of a mad scientist, Dr. Carl Stoner (the wonderful Strother Martin), who is plotting to turn his new assistant (Dirk Benedict) into a king cobra with daily injections of tainted snake venom. He also kills off his enemies or detractors using snakes and makes money on the side doing an informative lecture/ demonstration to visitors of his secluded house/ lab. The obviously brave leads are constantly surrounded by and have to handle all varieties of snakes (even the dangerous ones), while schlockmeister Kowalski (ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES) does a good job with character development and shock scenes. Although some of the visual effects are cheesy and dated, John Chambers' make up FX remain highly impressive. The video didn't come out until the movie was over 20 years old and has obviously had some nudity (a skinny dipping scene with hilarious-looking painted vegetation - that moves! - to cover backsides) and violence cut out for a PG rating. The DVD version retains these cuts.
Heather Menzies (PIRANHA) has a good supporting role as Stoner's daughter, who falls in love with Benedict over the course of his stay, and future Captain America Reb Brown plays a jerk who is attacked while taking a shower. The cast also includes Jack Ging as the sheriff, Richard B. Shull as a doctor and Felix Silla as "the seal boy." The movie was double-billed with THE BOY WHO CRIED WEREWOLF (1971), and was ripped off by 1996's CURSE OF THE PUPPET MASTER, which was nearly a scene-for-scene copy substituting puppets for the snakes.


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