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November 23, 2009

Flicks: Snake People (1971)


Boris Karloff in Jack Hill's Snake People (1971)

Ol' Doc van Molder 'splains science stuff about s-s-s-snakes.

Finally, the green-blooded herpetologists are getting some. No, no, not the greasy hair metal guys who dated your idjit sister long enough to give her the permanent variety of love strawberries or crawling hives. I mean, a movie for the hardcore reptile fans.

This snake film is actually more of a zombie movie and follows the traditional voodoo formula containing specific elements that make it work: a hapless heroine, evil voodoo deity Damballah with his zombified minions taking part in a primitive ritual. This ritual involves the physical if not the spiritual union of the two cultures. Along the way, Snake People (1971) also prominently features, that's right! You guessed it! Snakes.

Snake People, aka Isle of the Snake People, Cult Of The Dead or La Muerte Viviente in the Spanish language version, works - in spite of the fact that production was shut down midway and then finished in Mexico, is Jack Hill, he of Spider Baby (1968) and Coffy (1973) fame. Hill's steady co-direction mostly keeps together Snake People's unusual story and troubled production. The casting of an ailing Boris Karloff, in one of his final roles as the duplicious Doctor Carl van Molder, and some very enjoyable (yet also, wacky) experimental sequences make this a mostly watchable film.

Snake People
You know what? Midgets really are evil.

Did I mention the evil midget? Yes, there is a very evil midget in this movie. How does the Sleaze-A-Saurus knows that he's evil? Because he likes snakes. In fact, he likes snakes a lot.

The film's psychedelic and psychological derived editing sequences feature the heroine, Anabella Vandenberg, taking the audience along for a ride in her out of body experience in a Freudian nightmare. Add some offhand references to necrophilia (which ol' Doc Damballah doesn't approve of?), identity crises and lesbianism and you officially have a movie that bites back: S-s-snake People!


References:
IMDB, La Muerte Viviente
1000 Misspent Hours, S-s-s-snake Persons!
Everyman, Limbless Reptile Enthusiasts!
Monster Movie Muzak, La Muerte Vivente


The Snake People are available at:
Snake People on Amazon

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