February 28, 2013

Movie Review: Sssssss

Do you like snakes? I don't. Well, they are pretty cool creatures and all, but I like to keep my relationship to them like Indiana Jones. Now, while I choose not to associate with them in an in person fashion, I have absolutely no problem with them on the screen. That brings us to today's film, the 1973 cult man versus nature flick Sssssss. I have to say it isssss definitely worth sssspending ssssome time with. Too much?

Anyway, the movie is a pretty enjoyable and certainly strange ride. The tone for the bulk of the running time seems suited to a television movie and not a full fledged feature, but that makes it no less compelling. It is kind of refreshing to watch what is ostensibly a horror movie that doesn't try to be in our face. Basically, it is no Black Christmas or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, on the other hand, it is also no Food of the Gods.

The movie is about Dr. Stoner (Strother Martin) and his experiments with snakes and their venom. The guy seems amiable enough, but there is a mad scientist glint in his eyes that anyone with horror movie experience knows is best to be avoided. Fortunately, our protagonists are not that bright. Another sign of his craziness is his snake show where we see him work his hypnotizing magic on a King Cobra.

This brings me to one of the more interesting notes of the production, the snakes were real. They were not defanged and were at full venomous capacity and the cast interacted with them. I think that would have been a deal breaker for me. Still, it is pretty interesting to know hat the majority of the time you saw real snakes, although I am pretty sure that the sounds were dubbed in, they did not sound realistic at all.

The plot is kicked off wit the arrival of David Blake (Dirk Benedict) who has taken a position as Stoner's assistant after his prior assistant has mysteriously left. You know, before I took that position, I probably would have insisted on knowing more about my predecessor. Anyway, he is a rather likable guy who is genuinely interested in the work. He is introduced to the snakes, informed of their varying venoms and warned to be careful. He is also given the fist in a series of venom injections, supposedly to help in the case of a bite, but you and I know to suspect something.

In between snake sequences and injections David meets the good doctor's daughter, Kristina (Heather Menzies-Urich). The two hit it off and are pretty soon an item. However, things ever end well for star crossed lovers in a horror movie.

The final act comes and the end result of Stoner's experiments come to fruition and we get to see the snakes unleashed on unsuspecting victims. It is all a little cheesy, especially one particular effect (you'll know it when you see it), but still effective in a weird and subdued fashion.

I have to say that Sssssss is a rather enjoyable movie. It as the bonus of real snakes while showing a real human monster. The characters of David ad Kristina are quite likable, have good chemistry, ad are easy to root for. It is also fun to see Dirk Benedict outside of Battlestar Galactica and The A-Team.


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