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A doctor who specializes in snakes develops a way to turn a human being
into a king cobra! Will he use this on the college student who has just
became his new assistant?
Sssssss (love that campy title, that's seven S's folks) is an above-average man-becomes-creature horror film. The film is very well made and despite its seemingly cheesy premise actually creates itself an effectively serious tone. The story is intriguing, thanks largely to the likable and well-rounded characters, and builds to some terrifically chilling scenes as well as a nice show-down finale. The makeup effects are solidly created and genuinely creepy. The lovely music score by Patrick Williams is also a highlight.
The cast is definitely one of the films best features. Veteran actor Strother Martin is excellent as he balances his performance between fatherly teacher and sinister scientist. Young Dirk Benedict is charming as Martin's young assistant and attractive Heather Menzies delivers a sincere performance as Martin's daughter, and Benedict's love interest. Also Reb Brown makes for a good bully.
So, you don't have to like snakes to enjoy this intelligent old-fashioned horror tale. It's definitely one of the best of its kind and well worth catching for fans of old school B horror.
*** 1/2 out of ****
I have fond memories of watching this film as a kid. So often those
movies you enjoyed as a kid turn out to be trash when you watch them as
an adult, but this was a rare case of a movie that managed to hold up.
Sure it has it's faults, but nothing that can't be over looked. The plot is a bit silly, and the ending more so, but the way the movie is played you ignore the rampant over acting and outside of reality plot.
Plus, the film doesn't seem aged. So many films from the Seventies look so out of place looking at them in modern times, but this film managed to avoid all of the trappings that put it out of time. It holds up amazingly well for a thirty plus year old movie.
If you've seen this once and remember it fondly, i recommend a fresh look through grown up eyes.
We saw it back then in the seventies and were promptly scared to death by
it. Set up like a mystery, you don't know what is in the back of the truck
at the beginning and the gawking at the carnival freaks was pretty chilling
too. Reb Brown's fate and his treatment of the pet snake were both
something that made us sit up and take notice.
And then there was the nosy neighbor/professor person and his destiny. The
snake-handling looked very professional.
Then I saw it years later. The daughter's shrieking and weeping could set
your teeth on edge, the concealed nude swim scene is pretty amusing now with
cartoon leaves, Benedict is completely naive and if you have no idea what to
expect, you may even be rooting for him. Strother Martin was very
believable as the mad doctor up to his confrontation with "Royalty". My
brother said the hysterical daughter went on to pose for Playboy.
Hated her very seventies hairdo.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Originally this was titled SSSSNAKE, but someone in Universal's
publicity department thought SSSSSSS was clever. So the name was
changed, and the movie did poorly in the theaters. In 1976, NBC
acquired the rights to this film, and it became a sort of cult movie,
growing stronger as VHS in 1997 and DVD in 2004 added fuel to the fire.
This is basically your standard mad-doctor film. Strother Martin plays Dr Stoner, who believes man is doomed as a species. He wants to speed up man's evolution, and since the King Cobra is the deadliest creature on the planet, he wants man to evolve into the King. So he finds a college student to act as his assistant, and injects him with cobra venom (the student thinks the serum is an inoculation against snake bites).
SPOILER ALERT ***** SPOILER ALERT **** SPOLIER ALERT ****
For those of you you have seen the film, you know that the film ends on a freeze frame of Heather Menzies screaming as the David/Snake is killed by the mongoose. I've always thought this was a weak ending! If this movie is ever remade (as everything is these days), I hope the producers would consider this ending:
Heather grabs the policeman's gun and shoots the mongoose. She saves David/Snake. Now that her father's dead, she runs the show on Sundays. She begins the show by saying: "The King Cobra is the deadliest creature on the planet. But I have a very special Cobra here" David slithers out. Heather pets David/Snake on the head. The crowd gasps in surprise. "He is a very special friend of mine".
Ok, I've got to qualify that "Ssssssscary as Hell!!!"
statement. I first saw this movie on TV when I was
like 5 years old. My babysitter wanted to watch it,
despite the fact that it scared me to death. In fact,
this movie is the one defining moment in my life that
made me forever ssssssscared ssssssspitless of
About a year or so ago, I saw the ad for this movie on the SciFi channel and it again made my blood run cold. But I decided to watch it anyway, finger on the remote switcher button, to see if it was really as I remembered it 25 years ago. Granted, the special effects were exceedingly lame and the acting was even worse, but remember, this was made back in the early 70's -- long before Industrial Light and Magic and when the only prerequisite for acting was big boobs and a tight butt. Regardless, this movie, in it's time, really was ssssssscary. So scary, that after watching it (at that young age), that I refused to get in a shower (I'd only take baths) until I was probably 12. Oh, and I did actually get through the whole movie on SciFi and actually developed feelings for the pet cobra that gets...well, something happens to it, but I'm not telling what for those who haven't seen it. After watching it recently, a little bit of that pent up fear was released -- although, I still can't stand snakes, not even to look at a picture of them in a book or anything -- except cobras, I really like cobras, now.
Oh, well. I recommend the movie. Just remember the time period it came out of and watch it for what it is. Granted, the story-line was a bit hokey, but just think what it could be like if they made a remake with really good special effects, really good horror movie actors, and a little bit of work on the script.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Doc Stoner(Strother Martin, who most know as the warden in COOL HAND
Luke who utters the famous line, "What we got here is a failure to
communicate.")who has grown quite mad over the years, injects an
innocent, kind-hearted college student, David(Dirk Benedict;Face of
A-TEAM fame)with an inoculation that is slowly turning him into a King
Cobra. A missing student named Tim, we later find, was a tragic victim
of Stoner's experiments in "tampering" with evolution so that
civilization would continue after mankind was long past(..he's paranoid
with the fact that mankind, as we know it, is certainly on the verge of
collapse and extinction which fuels his obsessions with his work). What
Stoner doesn't expect is that his daughter/assistant Kristina(Heather
Menzies of PIRANHA fame)and David fall in love. Stoner, however, has
grown diabolical and will kill one male behind the death of his pet
snake and another quack doctor/professor, behind the school's granting
him the annual grant that keeps his career going, who understands what
he's up to regarding David, becoming lunch to his pet boa.
Disturbing slow burning horror film works because we sympathize with David's eventual plight. He has no clue, at first, what the doctor is injecting him with. Also still, we witness David and Kristina's growing love for one another. But, the true terror is seeing poor David's agony and transformation as his insides and bone structure begin to shift. The make-up effects work well enough even if they are a bit hokey by today's standards. This film works more off the viewer's sympathies for the victim and what horrific lengths Stoner goes to see his work accomplished.
The film deals a mad doctor(Strother Martin),his former helper has
disappeared and he asks to University professor(Richard B. Shull)a
student. A young man called David (Richard Benedict)looking for
employment is hired by the scientific.The doctor works a secrets
experiments on snakes.Meanwhile David falls in love with his
daughter(Heather Menzies).Then the ¨mad doctor¨ injects him a serum
into becoming a King Cobra snake causing a horrible transformation.
The motion picture packs horror,romance,shocks and is quite entertained. In the film appear known actors from the 70s and 80s as Dick Benedict(¨Galactica Battlestar,A Team¨),Strother Martin(Peckimpah's usual player:¨Wild bunch¨),Heather Menzies(Robert Urich wife and little girl actress in ¨Sound of music¨)and Reb Brown(a beefcake who played many hunk men vehicles). John Chambers provides a deliriously imaginative make-up ,he won an Academy Award by the classic ¨Planet of Apes¨and made the sequels among others films(Phantom of the paradise ans Island of Dr. Moreau).Executive producers are Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown ,short time after they produced the successful ¨Jaws¨to Steven Spielberg. The motion picture is well directed by Bernard L. Kowalski who worked with Roger Corman.Slick film aimed at youthful audiences and terror lovers.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"SSSSSSS" is an interesting but ultimately too slow creature feature.
Eager to continue his research, Dr. Carl Stoner, (Strother Martin) asks old friend Dr. Daniels, (Richard B. Shull) to recommend a student for an assistant, and selects David Blake, (Dirk Benedict) for the purpose. Meeting with his daughter Kristina, (Heather Menzies) in their lab, and witnesses a public display for the group. As he continues to work in the lab, he begins to worry about the constant inoculations and treatments and tries to begin a relationship with Kristina. As he begins to secretly transform into a snake, he tries to hide it from her, and when the transformation finishes he looks less and less like his former self.
The Good News: There really wasn't a whole lot here, and what's here isn't that bad. The film's main claim to glory is the constant and continuous focus upon the snakes, and if they're a creep-factor for yourself, then this will undoubtedly feature a lot of moments that are pretty unsettling. There's plenty of time spent among them and around them, from handling them in their cages to researching them to milking them, and it'll be a little tense whenever those milking scenes occur as the anticipation of whether they're going to bite or not will really give some shivers. The main moment, though, is the sideshow display, which features a really big snake is let loose in front of a group of watchers and a display is put on with it in an attempt to milk it, and the constant use of it hissing and ducking whenever the hand comes near the head to grab it does have some unnerving quality to it. There are some individual scenes that are pretty good, such as the fight at the carnival which ends in a really unique fashion, or the bathroom attack, which is really creepy and is quite creative, being simple examples of it being entertaining without the focus on the snakes. The transformation isn't that bad and must've been really impressive back then, as the face itself, which doesn't have any snake-like features, to transform into a reasonable facsimile of one, is pretty impressive. It doesn't look that bad, and has some nice features to it.
The Bad News: This really wasn't that impressive, and there's a couple reasons for that. The main one is that the film is very, very slow. It takes forever for something to happen, and aside from the two scenes above, it's really unspectacular when it does happen. The snake wrangle and milking scene does have a few tense moments but it does seem to drag out and on, taking twice as long as it should've been. The moments at action don't really come to pass and move along quite unspectacularly, and it moves onto something else. The only thing remotely considered action comes in the final minutes, and then it just ends. There's really no set-up or anything, the action starts, then finishes and then the film just ends. It's quite unremarkable and seems weird. The film's other fatal flaw is that, unless snakes creep you out, there's nothing of interest in the middle of the film. The middle is based around the concept of "snakes are creepy," and unless that applies to you, all the contact time with them won't register and it becomes an endless series of scenes that don't do anything other than induce boredom. Its not the kind of response a film really wants, but it's the one main flaw in the film. Otherwise, this wasn't bad, if only it would've moved along faster.
The Final Verdict: This one really could've used a faster pace to be more interesting, since most of what's wrong is derived from that fatal flaw. It's still a cheap B-movie, so if that appeals to you, then give it a shot, there's nothing here that won't upset them, but those fearful of snakes are advised to seek caution, there's tons of time with them in the film.
Today's Rating-PG-13: Violence and Brief rear Nudity
I first saw this when I was 8 or 9. I already had a fascination for,
and a fear of snakes. But this movie (Along with "Stanley") increased
both the fear and the fascination, for me! I think cobras are the
coolest of any snakes, deadly as they are!
I agree somewhat with the other comments, that some of the acting ranged from mediocre to downright lame! But whether you love or hate snakes, wouldn't you agree that the snakes in this movie are/were more exciting to watch than the human actors? They were, for me! As cheesy as the acting was, otherwise, I still recommend this movie. Especially if you like to watch venomous snakes and specifically, King Cobras!
I can't believe I sold my VHS copy of this movie at a pawn shop! I miss this movie!
SSSS makes up in suspense and b-movie star power what it lacks in production values. Strother Martin is a classic 2nd string villain. Dirk Benedict, you might remember him from battlestar or A-Team. And the female lead,Heather Menzies, played one of the Von Trapps in the Sound of Music. She was also in Captain America with Reb Brown,who has a small part in this movie too! Nope, this movie came from a time when FX were cheap, shaky and down played but the movie was fun and exciting none the less
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