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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".
*** 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
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.
Pretty silly horror movie about Dr. Carl Stoner (Strother Martin) who
has perfected a drug that turns men into King Cobra snakes. (Yeah--I
know it's ridiculous). WHY he wants to do this is never fully
explained. He wants to use it on young David Blaine (Dirk
Benedict)...but his daughter (Heather Menzies) is falling in love with
OK--the story is more than a little silly but this is fairly watchable. They used real snakes in the film (as a statement at the beginning tells us) and just watching them is pretty interesting. The story itself moves pretty quickly and (science aside) is pretty involving. The acting helps--Martin is actually not bad as the doctor; Benedict (so young and handsome) is also pretty good as Blaine and Menzies overdoes it a little (particularly in an argument with Martin) but she's not bad. There's also some fairly impressive (for the time) makeup and special effects. It's OK.
Trivia: Flashes of nudity (mostly from Menzies) are inexplicably "covered up" in the prints now in circulation. Strange--it was OK for a PG in 1973.
This movie is a bit of a throwback to 50's science fiction horror. It involves the mad scientist performing crazy experiments. It is rather interesting, but it needed more. Not much happens except the scientist turns his poor assistant into a snake creature. As the movie goes along he slowly changes. I think the scientist's daughter falls in love with the assistant and tries to find out what her dad is up to. I am guessing this movie is really short cause from what I remember; there really wasn't much else to it. Not too many scares and such. The ending is kind of funny though as you find out what a mongoose is best suited for. Somewhat interesting flick that just needed more depth to it. Maybe a killing or two more, anything to spice it up. The movie does have a good title though, very original.
The movie is great! Actors know how to act and what to do, and that's very good for the movie. The feeling of horror is to be experienced, though it's a nice movie to watch and sometimes it's quite funny. The movie was shot in the beginning of Dirk Benedict's Career, so his performance not as good as it became later, but he was a very talented and promissing actor. Good job!
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