Reviewed by Kryten Syxx
Starring Kwok-Leung Gan, Chi Chao and Chun Chen
Directed by Chih-Hung Kwei
Distributed by Image Entertainment
Where would bad horror movies be today if it weren’t for snakes? No, not the studio executives … I mean the slithering creatures that managed to bring down an airplane, almost eat J Lo and always seem to be fighting various types of themselves on the Sci-Fi Channel. There’s just something about the little reptiles that always appears threatening, much like spiders. Speaking of which, when can we get more giant spider movies?
Anyway, today we’ve got a ‘70s flick from the Shaw Brothers called The Killer Snakes. A quick glance at the cover art and screen caps do make it look like a cool flick about sex and snakes, but that assumption didn’t hold up once the the movie started playing. Yes, there are snakes that kill and there’s a good amount of nudity; the whole thing just doesn’t gel very well and makes some choices that won’t sit well with animal lovers.
Chen Chih is a tiny guy. Years of mental abuse have left him an empty shell that can only find solace and friendship in snakes. Oddly enough the creatures take to Chen and he realizes that he shares a psychic bond with them. Now, if you were a little pissed of dude who wasn’t getting laid while and getting pushed around by assholes, what would you do with an army of snakes at your command?
That idea sounds awesome on paper, it really does. The execution of said idea, however, never comes full circle. The nudity feels awkward (even for me) and it’s never really clear as to why we should even care about the film’s main characters so much. Sure, Chen has been bullied, lives in the gutter and does thankless jobs to get by but he sure as hell doesn’t try to better his situation. He strives for nothing more than to win the heart of some girl who caught him diddling his trouser snake during a wet dream five minutes into the film.
On the other hand, the bad guys of the The Killer Snakes are much more fun. When everything else in the picture is devoid of substance, one can always find entertainment while watching dudes with mustaches and bad suits acting like the slimiest bastards on the planet. A film is in a sad state of affairs when each person the audience should hate actually turns out to be the you’ll root for and shed a small tear when they get lazily bitten by a snake. Oh, and those kinds of characters always get the cheesiest English dubs too.
The Killer Snakes really takes a dive off the deep end when it introduced us to a healthy amount of violence towards real living snakes. While a number of scenes employ fake snakes for the obvious purposes such as attacking humans, the same kindness wasn’t afforded to the snakes when humans were attacking them! During the film’s later scenes we get the see quite a few of the serpents get cut right in half, following shots show the injured bodies still wiggling around. While it’d be nice to believe these bits were all done via special effects, these little guys were way too life-like.
If getting chopped up wasn’t bad enough for some of these poor guys, a couple boxes of them get lit on fire for a grand finale! Sweet damn! I’ve seen some nasty things, but watching creatures being burned to death just for a movie is something really disgusting. The terror doesn’t come from a man using telepathy to control serpents, it comes from the filmmakers making the really sick idea to burn the poor beasts alive.
After the DVD player is turned off, there’s little to remember about The Killer Snakes aside from that image of watching the reptiles being really burnt alive. That isn’t exactly a good thing. Honestly, all would have been lost if I hadn’t clicked on the Special Features icon on this DVD. Hidden within this section are near 30 trailers for films that must be better than The Killer Snakes. Each and every single one of the films that can be previewed held more entertainment value packed into a measly two minutes than Snakes’s ninety nine minute run time. Amazing!
There’s no doubt that Image Entertainment is doing a great service by bringing us as many of these pics as possible, but not each on can be a winner. With that being said, we can’t wait to see what other DVDs they have in the works.
2 out of 5
5 out of 5