Monday, November 21, 2016

Sssssss (1973)

After the various meanderings and diversions of the past couple of weeks, I was hoping to get back to the schlock movies for a while this week.  My plans, however, have, as ever, been blown off course somewhat by other events.  So, instead of kicking off with a write up of a seventies horror flick, (that, hopefully, will now come later in the week), We'll start with a quick random movie trailer for another forgotten seventies horror film.  1973's Sssss (aka Ssssnake) is a film I've only ever seen in German.  I don't speak German, but that really doesn't matter.  This is the sort of film where you really don't need to know what's being said to understand what's happening.  Interestingly, it offers a rare leading role to character actor Strother Martin, whose whining and wheedling minor outlaws, small town bankers and grubby hustlers have graced many a western.  Here, he's a deranged herpetologist obsessed with turning a human into a snake.  Consequently, he starts injecting his daughter's unwitting boyfriend, (also his assistant), played by Dirk Benedict (long before either Battlestar Galactica or the A-Team),  with cobra venom.

Benedict inevitably starts trying to bite people, before going all scaly, losing his limbs and slithering about the floor like a snake.  Eventually, he turns into a real cobra, not a giant one, just a regular one, which subsequently dies in a climactic fight with a mongoose.  Yes, really.  Oh, and Martin dies after being bitten by another of his snakes. Along the way various people threatening to interfere with Martin's plans are killed by his snakes (real ones, not ones which used to be people) and there's a diversion to a carnival freak show, where one of Martin's earlier, less successful, experiments is on show.  And that's about it.  It's a pretty odd little movie, but it has all the right ingredients for a minor schlock classic: a crazy scientist, carnivals, freak shows, rubbery monsters and a small town setting.  But these elements never quite gel and it all feels slightly unsatisfactory - pergaps the anti-climactic ending is to blame.  To be fair, it's surprisingly ruthless, with most of the sympathetic characters dead by the end of the film's running time. Also, Martin, even in German, makes for a suitably slimy and deranged villain. 

So, we're off on what, I hope, will be a week of schlock.  Stay tuned.



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