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Isle of the Snake People (1971)
"La muerte viviente" (original title)

 -  Horror | Mystery  -  March 1971 (USA)
2.8
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Ratings: 2.8/10 from 556 users  
Reviews: 28 user | 21 critic

Evil scientist runs a veritable army of LSD crazed zombies.

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Title: Isle of the Snake People (1971)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Carlos East ...
Lt. Andrew Wilhelm (as Charles East)
Rafael Bertrand ...
Capt. Pierre Labesch (as Ralph Bertrand)
Yolanda Montes ...
Kalea (as Tongolele)
Quintín Bulnes ...
Klinsor (as Quintin Bulnes)
Santanón ...
Dwarf (as Santanon)
Martinique
Julia Marichal ...
Mary Ann Vandenberg (as July Marichael)
Yol Duhalt
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Storyline

The inhabitants of a small, remote island have been practicing voodoo rites and worshipping an evil priest named Damballah for years, but the local law officials generally turn a blind eye to this death cult's bizarre activities. Captain Labesch arrives from the mainland, determined to crack down on the island's lawlessness and clean up the ineffectual, hard-drinking police force. He appeals for assistance from wealthy plantation tycoon Carl Van Molder, who owns nearly half of the island and wields a great deal of influence over the population. Van Molder has made the study of parapsychology his life's work and believes in the secret powers of the mind. He warns Labesch not to interfere with this forgotten island's ancient ways. Also visiting is Van Molder's niece, Annabella, a temperance crusader who wants her uncle to help fund the International Anti-Saloon League. She falls in love with handsome police lieutenant Andrew Wilhelm, despite his fondness for rum. Meanwhile, beautiful ... Written by Anonymous

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Genres:

Horror | Mystery

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

March 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Isle of the Snake People  »

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Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of a package of four films Boris Karloff made as co-productions between Columbia Pictures and Mexico's Azteca Films, though after Karloff's death Columbia sold off their share to a distributor called Horror International. See more »

Quotes

Anabella Vandenberg: Modern science has shown that alcohol is responsible for ninety-nine point two percent of all the world's sins.
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Featured in 100 Years of Horror: Boris Karloff (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Strangely Disturbing, Claustrophobic Trash Nightmare
31 January 2008 | by (New York, USA) – See all my reviews

Yeah, SNAKE PEOPLE sucks, but there is something odd about this film. It's difficult to enjoy and hard to recommend -- even Boris Karloff's near death scenes of catatonia are hard to enjoy, knowing how sick he was and probably out of his mind on various drugs. He plays a zoologist living in Guyana or someplace like that, and has stumbled upon some secret voodoo sect that practices snake worship and human sacrifice. There is a weird midget who does nasty things to chickens, a local pervert who wants a pretty native girl zombie for some live-in necrophiliac housekeeping help, a pretty grand daughter who has some downright Freudian nightmares, a local snake priestess who dances with two or three of the things dangling over her body to frenetic bongo drums, and other elements that defy verbal description.

What always gets to me, though, is the aura of claustrophobia and decay that the movie exudes. It's a wretched film to be sure, but there are certain images such as the tiny cages encasing over-sized anaconda snakes in a teeny laboratory that sort of stick with you. Nothing about the film is particularly scary, but watching it does evoke a feeling of unease that's hard to deny. If just making audiences feel uncomfortable is an achievement than this movie actually does succeed on some level, though it plays out more like a random nightmare. The story isn't memorable as much as certain images -- the snake dancing, the bizarre dream sequences, the Baron Samedi figure presiding over the voodoo ceremonies -- resonate on a basic level.

About Boris Karloff, there's probably some truth to saying that his presence in the film is exploitational, especially when considering that it was only released after he had actually died. Nonetheless it does look as though he is actually enjoying himself, since he was first and foremost an actor who lived to make motion pictures. They prop him up in his wheelchair (probably with an oxygen tank close at hand) and most of his lines seem to be delivered in a sort of delirium; he doesn't seem to be interacting with anyone, just doing his part when he had enough strength, and there is a certain sadness knowing that this kind of work is what his greatness had been reduced to.

But at the same time he MADE the film, probably because he had to keep working just to stay alive. Completists of his films should probably find a copy, and it's relatively easy to find in a somewhat truncated form on various public domain DVD releases that should cost only a few dollars. I doubt the film will ever receive any kind of restoration job, it's certainly not any kind of artistic triumph and certainly isn't regarded with much reverence, but it is interesting and will perhaps one day be regarded as a triumph of cinema's ability to create a feeling of ill ease.

4/10


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