Friday, June 26
92 Minutes / Thorn EMI Video / Cropped from 1.85:1 to full screen
Wealthy explorer Jason Kinclaid (Oliver Reed) enlists the knowledge of a doctor who specializes in telepathy, Tom Brasilian (Peter Fonda), to examine a mythical snake captured in a small tribal island. Kinclaid is troubled by horrible experiences of feeling the surrounding turmoil and killings by the serpent and believes Dr. Brasilian can lead to an answer, but a sect of Californian snake-worshipping cultists are also aware of the discovery. The snake arrives and is interned at a local college, but that night men working for the cult break in with one getting totally fucked up when the beast escapes from its pen. The survivor (Al Waxman) informs the cult leader who demands he not fail again in his recovery mission.
At this point, authorities are alerted and the search begins as the snake randomly kills in its slithery trail. Waxman gets spasmed real good during an attack and Kinclaid travels to his summer home armed with an AK to finally face down the creature after getting a track on its whereabouts through a controlled telepathic session with Brasilian.
I had put off watching this one given the generally negative reviews, however; it's not nearly as bad as some make it out to be. This doesn't mean it's void of several crippling problems. First, the whole telepathy angle is a device of convenience being only used to give some connection between the protagonists and the snake. There's also a glut of blue tinted snake POV shots which might sound like a trivial detail, though it's so ridiculous the whole film is cheapened by a noticeable degree whenever we see victims facing the menace of a shaky camera. Worst of all, the editing is sloppy particularly derailing at the climax. After enduring some delirium inside the summer home; Kinclaid confronts the snake, gets killed, Brasilian with love interest Keane arrive, machine gun the snake, walk off, the slain serpent catches ablaze, and the credits roll. All this in under five minutes. It's as if Fruet and company simply said "fuck this" and ended it. Before I forget, the cultist aspect is completely dumped after the phone call at the end of the first paragraph above.
There are a scant few redeeming qualities. Despite there being only one real entire body spasmodic "bloating" (Waxman), it's pretty disgusting and horrifying with the spongy final shot illustrated on the cover art. The other attacks involve no spasms, but are surprisingly brutal and fast-paced. When the men break in to the college lab the resulting attack is furious with one of them torn up and thrown around the room like a ragdoll from ceiling to floor. In another a woman is savaged in midair in her home, thrown through a bathroom door, and bloodily strikes a glass shower door much to the terror of the nude girl on the other side. The performances are decent enough as well, with the pleasant and learned British-accented Reed faring the best. We don't see much of Fonda.
The cover art is so promising, oh well. I believe Code Red has the rights, so maybe we'll see an uncut DVD release in the future.
VHS Picture: 6/10
VHS Sound: 4/10