Isle of the Snake People (1971) Poster

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Crappy, But Hilarious Trash-Horror With The Great Boris Karloff
Witchfinder General 6661 December 2006
"La Muerte Viviente" aka. "Isle Of The Living Dead" aka. "Snake People" of 1971, is an extremely trashy and unintentionally hilarious movie, and one of the last movies of the great horror icon Boris Karloff. I have utmost respect for director Jack Hill for movies like his great blaxploitation classic "Coffy" starring Pam Grier. "Snake People", directed by Hill and Juan Ibanez, however, is one of these movies that are so bad they're actually pretty good. I'm a big fan of trashy B-horror flicks, but the only two reasons why I enjoyed "Snake People" were Boris Karloff, who plays a rather small role in this, and the movie's unintentional fun value.

The tropical island "Korbai" is reigned by a bizarre voodoo cult. The cult's unholy priests, amongst them a creepy midget and a scary snake dancer, sacrifice beautiful local girls to their occult deity "Damballah". The girls, who volunteer as sacrifices in order to achieve eternal life, are then resurrected from the dead as mindless zombies. Determined to put an end, to these rituals, that are ignored by the local police, Captain Pierre Labesch comes to the island. He asks the islands richest landowner, Carl Van Molder (Boris Karloff) for help. In the meanwhile, Van Molder's niece, who came to the island to fight alcoholism, befriends a local police lieutenant.

As a horror movie, "Snake People " fails entirely. As an unintentional comedy, however, it is hilarious. The dialogue is extremely poor (and therefore extremely hilarious) and apart from Karloff, the acting is really bad too. The locations are amateurish, the plot has huge holes and many logical errors. While Captain Labesch, for example, is obviously French, and came to the island sent by 'the government', other law enforcement officers of this government have English names. I laughed a lot when I saw this movie the first time, and I will definitely watch it again. Don't expect any suspense, but watch this as the unintentional comedy it is and entertainment will be guaranteed. 3/10
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Not the turkey it's made out to be. Boris Karloff, Jack Hill, zombies, voodoo snake cults, what's not to like?
Infofreak14 June 2004
In 1968 horror legend Boris Karloff was filmed and the footage was incorporated into four Mexican horror movies released in the early 1970s after his death. Now these movies are regarded by most horror buffs as being absolute turkeys, but if 'Snake People' (the only one of the four I've seen to date) is anything to go by I must disagree. Karloff looks old and ill but his handful of scenes are still worth a look. The rest of the movie is a bit illogical, but unlike the naysayers I didn't find it to be boring. Voodoo snake cults, come on, how is that boring? The most interesting thing about 'Snake People' is that it was partly directed by cult film legend Jack Hill ('Spider Baby', 'The Big Doll House', 'Coffy', 'Switchblade Sisters'). Quentin Tarantino is a massive Hill fan and calls him "the Howard Hawks of exploitation". I believe Hill shot all the Karloff scenes in California and this was mixed with Mexican footage directed by Juan Ibanez, but apart from that I have no idea whether the movies were already scripted before filming, or improvised later Roger Corman style. Anyway, the story concerns a young woman (Julissa) who visits her aged Uncle (Karloff) on a small Caribbean island. Unbeknown to her it is the home of a voodoo cult which eventually kidnaps her. But hey, the plot doesn't really matter, there are lots of zombies and snakes and a creepy dwarf in a top hat and Boris freakin' Karloff dude! To be completely honest 'Snake People' wouldn't even crack a place in my horror top 100, but you know what? I enjoyed it. Enough to watch it twice. And if I was faced with the choice of watching it a third time or sitting through the likes of 'Cabin Fever' or 'House Of 1000 Corpses' again then it's me and Boris and the snake worshippers baby!
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capkronos12 May 2003
Echoing narration informs us about the "diabolical" new threat of voodoo on the island of "Korbai" near Haiti and a laughing, sneering midget in sunglasses cuts the head off a (real) chicken. Then Anabella (played by Julissa), a member of the International Anti-Saloon League informs some soldiers that, "Modern science has proved that alcohol is responsible for 99.2% of all the worlds sins!" She arrives on the island with others to visit her uncle Carl von Molder (Boris Karloff or his masked double).

Meanwhile, blue-faced zombies are overrunning the island. Voodoo cultists kill soldiers with a blowgun, strangulation and machete and regularly resurrect the dead with the help of the dwarf (who whips them). Rabid zombie women eat a man and one soldier adopts one as his girlfriend to scratch his back and fan him. ("Imagine a beautiful woman that can't talk. Every man's dream!") The niece has an extremely bizarre dream of her evil double suggestively sucking on a (real, live) snake before kissing her (?)

Little of this movie makes sense and the ending stinks, but it has some weird, senseless stuff to recommend. It's one of four much-hated movies Karloff did in 1968 before his death, constituting his final film work.
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Slow Spanish Schlock Worth Seeing For Sexy Tongolele
DarylKMiddlebrook13 April 2005
I Bought this film on DVD a couple of days ago not expecting much, and my intuitions were correct. Very slow with dialog that goes all over the place. We never get a grasp of where the film is taking place, who are these people and why anyone is doing what they do. Master horror icon Boris Karloff is basically exploited for name recognition (something that would happen quite frequently in the later stages of his career)and has little if anything to do. His relationship to the cult and how it evolves is never explained. The only reason I finished this sleep enhancer is the sexy dancing of Mexican actress (and exotic dancer) Yolanda Montes billed here as Tongolele. Nearly forty years old at the time it was made, Tongolele still possessed a knockout figure and sexy aura. Her two dance sequences are the only thing that will keep you awake while trying to finish off this turkey.
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whpratt123 December 2002
THE SNAKE PEOPLE or Isle of the Snake People was one of four films Karloff signed to make for Producer Luis Vergara. The Mexican filmmaker had obtained financing from Columbia Pictures to film them in Mexico. But due to the actor's emphysema and arthritis problems with his legs in a brace problems in high altitudes, the Mexican actors and crew came to Hollywood and shot the four films back-to-back in the Hollywood Stage Studios in Los Angeles instead. There, all of Karloff's scenes were filmed in five weeks during the Spring of 1968. During the filming, Karloff was physically incapacitated by lung trouble, which necessitated an oxygen mask from time to time. After Karloff's scenes were completed, the crew returned to Mexico and shot the remaining scenes there.
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The midget is more exciting than the movie.
aaronmocksing198710 March 2008
I liked Boris Karloff in the Mummy, and Frankenstien, but like all actors reaching their peak they decide to take whatever they can give them... and this was one in which Boris took. Whether it was for money, boredom, you be the judge, but he did the movie and now I will probably be the judge of how it looks.

Visual and colorful, that's about all I liked. And the nice dancing.

But the acting is as poor as any B-movie fan or non-fan can pretty much see. Stale, plain, and unintentionally funny comedy arises from a movie that would have been better off shelved forever. There are moments that are pretty gruesome, but the midget... yes, him, is actually cute as he outshines Boris more than ever. I remembered him over Boris Karloff, and wondered why he doesn't appears for more than a few scenes. Why doesn't he? Oh well.
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A good Karloff film.
Kenneth Eagle Spirit2 February 2007
This thing deserves a better reputation. True, it has its down side. The photographic technique isn't the best. Quickly panning in and out, jerking the camera around, these are things I think directors do when they don't know what else to do. Lack of imagination excused by low budget. Aside from that it has lots of pluses. Karloff is good, as always. The rest of the cast play their parts very well. Two in particular come across perfectly and so help make this a good flick. Carlos (Charles) East does well as Wilhem, making the character very natural and hence believable. But, my opinion, the best player of them all? Yolanda Montes, billed as Tongolele, as Kalea. With her sex appeal and that budding "Bride of Frankenstien" hairdo shes dead on as the Voodoo priestess. And with sex appeal in mind, I noticed a pronounced current of underlying sexuality that flows nowhere. But things like that help pull 'em in when you show the promos. This isn't a bad movie. For a B flick its OK.
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That Chick Has A Big Snake
verbusen14 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
First off, if you've come here as a Karloff fan, the film is on and it seems like a decent print. The same media channel on Youtube has put out tons of other B movies there as well, they probably also released them on DVD, so you can check it out there for free.

I don't know why so many are so critical of this film, it looks above average to me in terms of late 60's early 70's drive in horror movies. If you want to compare it to something done by an HBO now (like that Vampire series), yeah it sucks probably, but among it's peers, it's above average. Many say this movie is slow moving, but I mean the first scene has a real animal sacrifice (a chicken) and the newly risen zombie woman is made a sex slave! That's some pretty racy stuff for me! The movie was not slow to me, but it was hard to root for the Hero, or even know who the Hero was until about the end, I got the feeling that the Zombie cult was the Hero, lol.

It does rap up abruptly but thankfully painlessly and I liked it. Many reviewers were turned on by the middle aged cultess, I was not but she did freak me out with those eye close ups. The black zombie chicks turned me on with their pretty faces and hot lips. If you are into chicks dancing with snakes, you will like this movie. And if you get down to it, there were not many movies up to that time that featured chicks with snakes like this one did, this movie was pushing boundaries if you ask me.

Karloff's disappearance at the last part is sad, and he's not the sole reason to watch, the voodoo rituals take that honor; but he does have a couple of decent dialog scenes I guess and the movie is better off with him in it then without.

Compared to other crappy horror movies of it's time this rates a 7 of 10 from me, it would have rated higher with some heavy doses of nudity (there is none). Worth watching on Youtube.
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Nothing More Than a Cult Oddity
Alien_I_Creator2 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Similar to Bela Lugosi acting in Ed Wood's Z-grade cult pictures toward the end of his life, Boris Karloff took one last stand (in failing health) in front of cameras to shoot four films that are today considered less than sub-par, to say the least. Snake People, or La Muerte Viviente, was one of them. It is also the most accessible of these rarities which were all first released in Mexico.

This film was co-directed by Jack Hill (along with Juan Ibanez) who would later go on to make blaxploitation history with Foxy Brown and Coffy. Hill is also part of what could be considered the Roger Corman school, as he is one of many directors apprenticed by the cult cinema legend.

The film begins with Capt. Pierre Labesch and Anabella Vanderberg arriving together on a small Caribbean island. Labesch is there to assume control of the local police force and Vanderberg to help spread the temperance movement. They are greeted by stories of voodoo and zombies being rampant on the island. Captain Labesch makes it somewhat of a crusade to stop what he believes to be hogwash. They later pay a visit to Mr. van Molder (Karloff), a plantation owner who is Ms. Vanderberg's uncle and also an amateur scientist conducting experiments with voodoo and telekinesis. From him, they learn that the voodoo practitioners await the coming of Baron Samedi, a voodoo deity to be summoned by the high priest Damballah. Of course, the voodoo turns out not to be hogwash and the characters find themselves trapped within the web of occult and sacrifice. The plot is paper thin, and it is not long before you realize that van Molder is Damballah. The final revelation makes for a very anticlimactic ending.

However, this film does have its good moments. Notable parts include various haunting voodoo rituals involving a creepy midget (credited as "midget" mind you) killing chickens, and an eerie encounter between Vanderberg and her evil doppleganger. Overall, I'd say this flick is best left to cult aficionados and collectors of rare cinema oddities.
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"Offer your dreams to Damballah!"
wbswetnam15 April 2012
This is one of Boris Karloff's last films. It's a confusing train wreck featuring Karloff as Damballah / Carl van Molder, a sexy-as-hell snake dancer named Tongalele, a maniacal grinning dwarf, zombies, and lots of big snakes of course. The basic premise of the movie is that the island has been taken over by zombies and followers of a voodoo cult who worship their leader, Damballah. The local police force are more interested in finding the bottom end of a rum bottle than they are in stopping the activities of the voodoo cult. A superior officer of the police arrives on the island to clean things up, and he tries to enlist the help of a large plantation owner, Carl van Molder. Van Molder is uninterested in helping the police, telling them to leave things as they are, that they don't know what they're messing with.

It's campy but fun, I've seen a lot worse that's for sure.
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Not the complete embarrassment you may be expecting.
Ale fish5 August 2000
Just before he died Boris Karloff shot back to back footage for four poverty row horror flicks. Additional scenes were later shot in Mexico - with mostly different actors! - to bring each of them up to feature length.

This is the first and most coherent of this unfortunate quartet of pictures. It's also the dullest. Boris is a plantation owner on an island threatened by a curious voodoo cult that throws in cannibalism and snake worship with the usual business plan of raising of the dead to work in the fields.

The story is bereft of any new ideas and the phallic imagery is rather puerile. Still, we do get some lively snake dancing and the matching of the two sets of footage is not that bad, although Karloff's foreman appears in one scene with a beard and the next scene without!

If only the great man had stopped here!
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Strangely Disturbing, Claustrophobic Trash Nightmare
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.

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You need to smoke a heavy bowl to understand this one
KHayes66628 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
We start the movie off with a midget pimp in a top hat and coattails digging a hole while laughing maniacally....that was about the only good thing about the whole movie for I watched this sober and nearly fell asleep.

On an island dominated by Mexican voodoo practitioners, the local police is stumped to a recent rash of rituals and bodies showing up.

I'd love to go into detail but the idea is making my head very dizzy. Its titled Snake People but its really a weird zombie movie more than anything. It really makes no sense at all, better off watching it high or something

The highlight of the movie is the midget, haha always are funny

3 out of 10
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"I don't understand. What is this voodoo?"
utgard1430 September 2017
Another of the dreadful Mexican cheapies Boris Karloff made at the end of his career. All were filmed in 1968 and released later. It's pretty sad that this is one of Karloff's final roles. The plot involves voodoo, as a number of these dreary ugly horror movies made during this period do. I guess the voodoo fad was late making its way to Mexico. There's not a single positive thing I can say about this wretched unwatchable excuse for a film. Even the ailing Karloff, who filmed his scenes in a studio stateside and had to rest in a wheelchair between takes, can do nothing to help this. It actually makes me sad to see him like this. Anyway, Karloff buffs may want to check this film off their list. I see no other reason anyone else should subject themselves to this.
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It's a bad movie, but...
zee26 July 2013
It is entirely worth watching for the performance of Santanón, a Mexican dwarf actor who is the voodoo priest. Capering about with a maniacal grin, in a top hat and bizarre costume, whipping the dancing girls, invoking Papa Labas (or one of those voodoo gods), his performance is riveting. I kept rewinding the film to watch him. I'm still not sure if it was a good performance, but it was a performance unlike any I've seen before and oddly convincing. The actor seemed to be having a great time with it, and were the whole movie his, it'd be one of my favorite cult films.

Unfortunately, there's a bunch of other stuff wasting time in this film, a ridiculous police department plot, a temperance gal and her colonialist uncle (Karloff, forgettable), and too much that's non- voodoo ritual.
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The Snake Poople
Mark Honhorst6 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Yes, I put poople on purpose. I will admit that I was finishing an "art" project for the first fifteen minutes or so, but even then, when I wasn't really paying attention, I could tell that this was going to be a terrible movie. First off, I'd like to say that I truly feel sorry for Boris and Bela. During their later years, not only did they do awful films, they did films that are considered the worst of all time. That's okay, though. Karloff is barely even in this shipwreck. The dubbing was terrible. I don't even think that was Karloff's real voice. Most everything else was deplorable as well, including a painfully slow pace. I will say this about the film. The odd dream sequence brings the old "Making out with oneself" gag to an entirely different level. Other than that and a few exotic dance scenes,it really has nothing going for it. I haven't been through such cinematic agony since my attempt to watch an uncut version of "Manos the Hands of Fate".
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The late great Boris Karloff in dull Spanish voodoo nonsense.
The_Void20 November 2007
I had a funny feeling that this film was going to be rubbish, and rather unsurprisingly; I was absolutely right. The Snake People is cheap and nasty; and not nasty in the good sense of the word, I mean nasty as in fiendishly boring and devoid of any reason for watching. The plot is highly unoriginal and focuses on something to do with voodoo and snakes. Many a good horror film has been based on a plot like this; but The Snake People makes no attempt to make the proceedings interesting, and consequently we end up with a dull, plodding film that made me wish I hadn't started watching it. Of course, the only reason this film is even remembered at all these days is down to the fact that it stars the late great Boris Karloff. Apparently, Karloff died before this was released and it's probably a good job too, as I'm sure the great horror master would not have been too fussed with how he's used here! Sometimes with crap films like this, you can expect some consolation from things like blood and nudity; but The Snake People doesn't even provide that small pittance. Overall, this is one of a (thankfully) small number of films that I really wish I hadn't bothered with - give this one a miss!
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comments for the Snake People 1968
goodvibe-123 June 2004
Although it's getting kicked about Snake People isn't by far the worst film.

However, I do urge readers to exercise caution with any of the other films of the genre cranked out of those studios back then. I do enjoy the campiness and the dance scenes are pretty cool, but the film could have been better by all means. The dwarf actually did lend a healthy dose of just the kind of campiness enjoyable in such a film, and the death scene elicited a chuckle from a close friend and confidant who never had the privilege to enjoy the movie when it aired back in '74. (My glahsses!!) It's another one of those "tamer" movies for the kiddies to enjoy in the den while the parents play cards in the kitchen. If I had a drive-in, Snake People would definitely have a place up there on the screen, especially compared to a lot of those crappy ones I actually DID see at the drive-in back in the 70's!
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really scary.
jacobjohntaylor126 January 2018
This movie has great story line. It also great acting. It is better then The Exorcist. It has great special effects. It is very scary. If it does not scary you no movie will. I cant not believe that people do not like it. 3 is underrating this movie. What is your problem people. This is one of the best horror movies ever.
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Virtually plotless and completely pointless, at least the world map is pretty.
mark.waltz6 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I give this a rating completely above bomb, simply because it is often hysterical and because of that opening shot of the world map that looks into a non-existent island where this supposedly takes place. A narration of the world's cults and odd customs prepares the viewer for 90 minutes of oddities, from the cackling dwarf overseeing voodoo rituals to the sudden attacks on men by presumably cannibalistic women on unsuspecting men as a part of their snake worshiping rituals. Toss in Boris Karloff as the presumably head of the cult (whose evil looking daughter is seen performing some of the rituals) and you've got the recipe for one of the most laughably bad foreign horror movies ever made.

It's obvious to me that this is part of the legion of dozens of bad horror films influenced by Mario Bava's huge success, "Black Sunday", something that even he was never able to top. Certainly the atmospheric settings and sinister looking special effects and bloody photography do have all the elements that make for a visually pleasing ghoul fest. But the cast is truly wretched, and Karloff (dead nearly two years when this got released) seems tired and uninterested. There's no one among the women in the cast who comes even close to capturing the sinister magic that Barbara Steele provided in even the worst of her films. I have read reports that it us not Karloff's voice in the dubbed print, but it certainly sounded like him to me.
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Not great, but I've seen much worse.
soulexpress18 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
On the Caribbean island of Korbai, the natives perform animal and human sacrifices under the mysterious voodoo priest, Damballah. When a new law-enforcement official, Captain Labesch (Rafael Bertrand), arrives, he is outraged that the police have turned a blind eye to the cult's murderous ways. Determined to bring about law and order, Labesch seeks the aid of Carl Van Molder (Boris Karloff), a wealthy and powerful landowner who advises the captain against interfering with native customs. When he ignores Van Molder's advice, policemen start turning up dead, killed by female zombies under the command of the sultry priestess Kalia (Tongolele) and a grinning, maniacal dwarf (Santonon) in sunglasses. There's also a romantic sub-plot involving Labesch's assistant, Lt. Wilhelm (Carlos East), and Van Molder's visiting niece, Annabella (Julissa), who is a proud member of the Anti-Saloon League.

Karloff looks like death warmed over but is reasonably effective as the oily Van Molder. Tongolele drips with diabolical sensuality as the snake-handling voodoo priestess; the close-ups of her eyes are particularly stunning. The highly attractive Julissa is less than believable as the chaste and tee-totaling Annabella; her most effective scene is a fevered-dream sequence in which Annabella has lesbian sex with her doppelganger. Rafael Bernard chews the scenery as the self-righteous, tunnel-visioned Captain Labesch. Carlos East is barely there as the handsome, if hard-drinking, Lt. Wilhelm.

The most striking performance is the dwarf Santonon's. Whether flogging an errant zombie, laughing insanely as he beheads a chicken, helping Kalia perform a ritual to manipulate Annabella's dreams, or bleeding to death after he is repeatedly slashed with a machete, Santonon fully owns each of his scenes. I can't say that his performance is good, but it damned sure stayed with me!

SNAKE PEOPLE is by no means a great horror film, but I found it entertaining—even if it didn't take me long to figure out who Damballah was; even if the horrible dialogue sounds even worse when dubbed from Spanish to English; and even if the ending was too damned abrupt. The best scenes are mainly of the snake-dancers and the voodoo rituals.

My favorite line of dialogue, courtesy of Annabella: "Modern science has proved that alcohol is responsible for 99.2% of all the world's sins!" (Yeah, the same way it proved that vaccines are responsible for autism.)
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BA_Harrison25 June 2017
A voice-over attempts to explain the religion of voodoo to the uninitiated, after which we witness a ritual presided over by a leering midget in sunglasses and a top-hat who sacrifices a real chicken (lopping off the poor bird's head with a machete) in order to raise a woman from the dead.

Cue groovy titles.

Written and co-directed by Jack Hill, the man behind several hugely entertaining exploitation classics from the '60s and '70s, Snake People certainly has the right ingredients to be a whole lot of schlocky fun: graveyard ceremonies (complete with plastic skeletons), a sexy priestess who gyrates with a snake, zombies, cannibal women, Boris Karloff, a bull-headed French cop who riles the locals, and a beautiful young woman destined to be sacrificed.

Unfortunately, Hill only handled Karloff's scenes in L.A., leaving the majority of the film to be directed in Mexico by Juan Ibáñez, who displays little of Hill's movie-making moxie. Ibáñez's direction is lethargic, turning potential exploitation gold into dull, repetitive and occasionally incomprehensible nonsense.

Poor old Karloff starred in four of these low budget Mexican/US co-productions during the twilight of his career, but was spared the pain of seeing the end results by popping his clogs before their release.
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Spooky nonsense from south of the border
Leofwine_draca23 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
SNAKE PEOPLE is one of the infamous 'Mexican quartet' of films that Boris Karloff shot on the cheap shortly before his death in 1969. This one was filmed in 1968 but didn't actually get released until 1971, making it his penultimate screen appearance. I've seen three of the four of these films now and they're all similar in that they're extremely low budget horrors, made with a little imagination and lots of choppy editing that sometimes makes it feel like you're watching two films joined together, like those Godfrey Ho ninja flicks of the 1980s. SNAKE PEOPLE is one of the most disappointing of the four, because it has a lot of scope and a lot of potential. As usual, directorial chores are shared between exploitation king Jack Hill and Juan Ibanez. Individually, scenes are well shot, atmospheric, and contain a great visual style, but this is a film that's less than the sum of its parts. The editing is poor beyond belief, the script is flat and lifeless and too many ideas have been crammed in here with none of them coming to full fruition.

The movie kicks off on a surreal high as a bespectacled dwarf, nicknamed Baron Samedi, sets about digging up the body of a recently deceased woman. There's a kind of madness hanging in the background, a sense of voodoo lurking unseen nearby and this is the film's best asset: a creepy atmosphere throughout. After this we're thrown into a plot involving a bullish police 'capitan' attempting to teach the pesky natives a thing or two, while the island's soldiers are dispatched with machetes and garrotes and Boris Karloff wanders around in his study, talking about telekinesis. Occasionally we go back to the evil dwarf and meet some zombies who are a cross between the willing slaves of 1940s zombie flicks and the flesh eaters of Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. The film ends with a fully fledged voodoo ceremony but the climax is mishandled, just like the rest of the flick.

The cast isn't really worth mentioning, other than Karloff who puts in his usual good performance – this actor never shows anything less than complete integrity. Too much time is spent with ageing real-life dancer Tongolele, who adds nothing to the plot other than a poor makeup job, and then there's the padding: endless scenes of dancing, of native mumbo-jumbo, sexist comments, repetition in the extreme, and then a ten minute dream sequence that has nothing to do with the rest of the movie! This bit involves attractive starlet Julissa finding herself trapped in a cave with her ghostly doppelganger. Like the rest of the film, it looks cool although makes little sense. Add into the mix some poor special effects, hints at necrophilia and lesbianism, and you have a could-have-been movie that's an ultimate disappointment. I rated this on par with DANCE OF DEATH, with ALIEN TERROR being the best of the four so far.
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Snake People is not a zombie movie, it's a zombie
oulamies19 June 2016
Yes, a slow, dead movie. The makers of this film messed up storytelling so bad, I can't even articulate what actually happened in it. I remember a weird laughing midget, I remember life-lasting dancing scenes with snakes, I remember old Boris Karloff mumbling something, I recall long staring shots, but not much anything in between. Some moments are visually quite pleasing, but damn, there's no point to anything. I have no idea who the characters are, what they want and why they want it. But I don't care about finding out any of that, because the character work and the long sleep-inducing shots of some rednecks trying to score with the stiff "zombie" women just paralyze me mentally.

The idea of a voodoo zombie cult is awesome, but I don't know how they managed to go this dull with it. The zombies look like normal people just with a faint blue skin tone, and they're not creepy at all. Is Snake People supposed to be a horror movie? It sure as hell makes no effort trying to shock or creep you out in any way.

I'm not against slow horror movies, as long as they have a good atmosphere and an interesting story. This film has nothing. Looking at a dead body is more vivid than watching this movie. I propose watching a better voodoo zombie movie, like "Plague of the Zombie" by Hammer.
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Boris Karloff & Zombie Fans
Rainey Dawn8 January 2016
This film is also known by it's shorter name "Snake People". This is not what you would call a good film... but it's not completely horrible - it's so-so.

We have Boris Karloff as Carl van Molder / Damballah a man that owns over half of the island and studies parapsychology. He is a firm believer in leaving the island natives to their ways - but there is a deeper reason for this.

We have voodoo cultist killing people, a beautiful voodoo priestess and zombies. If this sounds appealing to you and you like older low-budget horror movies then you might like this film. This is not one of those "must see for horror fans" films but rather for those that like some of the older trash horror films.

This is a good film to have for Boris Karloff fans - it's one of his last films.

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