October 7, 2013

Horror-A-Day: Night of the Cobra Woman

The first week of October is all but done. Fortunately, there is still plenty of month left to continue watching horror movies. Sooner or later the weather will latch up as we will truly feel like Halloween is approaching. Until then, we can keep it as gloomy as we want. With Netflix Instant I am mere clicks away from a horror movie of some sort. The latest one to play out before my eyes is a mediocre feature that still manages to be entertaining, in a fashion. It is the kind of movie that you will know right away of if it is for you.

The movie is called Night of the Cobra Woman. It is a 1972 slice of Filipino exploitation. During this time frame the Philippines were a popular place for low budget and B-film makers. The locale offers all sorts of great production value, it lends authenticity to even the craziest tales, and this is one crazy movie. Hat is not to say it is good, I am not sure I would go that far, but there is a certain allure to this piece.

The movie starts with a prologue set during the second World War. A couple of nurses are searching a cave for herbs. One of them, Lena Aruza (Marlene Clark), gets bitten by a snake, a rather uniquely colored cobra. The bite has an odd effect on her. Meanwhile, her friend is outside the mouth of the cave. She is found by a soldier, raped and shot. It is a wry odd opening to say the least.

The timeline jumps forward to the present of 1972. We catch up with a young snake venom researcher, Joanna (Joy Bang, yes, that is her real name). She is there to study and her boyfriend is there to keep her company, to make this movie a touch weirder, the boyfriend, Duff (Roger Garrett), snatches an eagle he sees on the street. It reminds him of an old pet and names it Dirk. Weird.

Well, on the outskirts of town we find that Lena is still alive and well and has seemingly not aged a day. It seems the cobra venom on her blood stream has had an affect on her and she needs to have a steady diet of venom and sex to keep her youth. She seduces Duff and keeps him as a sex slave while Joanna needs to figure out how to get him back.

It is a strange movie that never really takes off. It still manages to be entertaining. It moves along while never really delivering any tension. It is more of a curiosity with a little snake sleaze through in. There is this great scene of Lena seducing a young Filipino and as they get into bed, she is not looking so great, with like a layer of cracked sake skin. I was wondering why he did it, but it doesn't matter, it is part of the movie. He dies and she gets up and peels off the old skin. Very odd.

This is a movie to just watch, let the ridiculousness pour over you. Watch the bad snake transformations, the goofy bit where Joanna is asked to watch a monkey but wants to go to lunch, the fact that Joanna and Duff don't really ask about each other or even comprehend that what is going on is not normal.

Night of the Cobra Woman is definitely one for the ages. It is not my favorite, but it is certainly worth a shot. Snakes are inherently creepy, so it has that going for it. It's no Killer Snakes from Shaw Brothers, but few are. Marlene Clark is good here, and Joy Bang is funny as she tries to be taken seriously.

Mildly Recommended.

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