Monday, June 10, 2019


As Netflix overproduces its own content to push out the old and Amazon opens a bigger well for cheap modern films, we as fans have to work a little harder to locate genre films made last millennium. If you want to go back even further, TCM Underground becomes a fertile source every now and then. 

Quick Plot: In 1890, a mad (and particularly snooty) doctor treats his pregnant wife's supposed mental illness with a unique blend of science and snake venom. She dies just after giving birth to a dead daughter, who then comes back to life unprompted by her father or the local midwife witch.

Upon hearing the news, the townspeople riot, quickly assembling their torches to destroy the doctor and his demon spawn. The daughter is saved just in time and put in the care of a steely shepherd, who is happy for her to disappear into the woods once she begins creeping out his dog. 

Some twenty years or so later, a young detective is sent to investigate the village, as several corpses have turned up filled with king cobra venom. Could the young woman be haunting the town that spurned her? There's only one way and a whole lot of angry mobs to find out!

Released in 1961, The Snake Woman feels a tad too early for its own good. Had it been a few years later, you get the sense that it would be sexier and more dangerous than its simple ghost story by way of herpetology suggests. Had the story fallen into the hands of Hammer or Amicus, we'd feel the haunting sexuality that a serpent woman screams for. Heck, had it come out ten years earlier, perhaps there would be a stronger, more haunting Val Lewton-esque quality. 

The early '60s British horror game just doesn't really accommodate a concept like The Snake Woman to its fullest potential. The film is perfectly watchable and thankfully quickly paced, but it just doesn't scratch that itch that you want addressed when dealing with sexy cobra ghost girls. 

High Points
In its 80 minute run time, the village of Bellingham assembles its torch-wielding local mob more times than 29 years of Simpsons episodes, and that's impressive

Low Points
Perhaps part of my apathy for The Snake Woman stems from the fact that the movie never really settles on whose story it's telling. The titular female doesn't get much screen time, while the leading man is dropped into the story a good third of the way through. Perhaps centering the tale on one dynamic character might have added some much needed pop

Lessons Learned
To save on production cost, consider casting your shepherd with a musician who can do double duty by playing the wood flute

Being the living proof of a scientist's theories is far more important than being a simple child

Supernatural snake women shed their skin in one clean body suit

I recorded The Snake Woman off of TCM, and it worked perfectly fine as a watch for my mood for something a little different than what you find streaming in the horror section of most services these days. That being said, the film just doesn't pack any real punches. Human suit and angry mobs aside, I double I'll remember much of this movie down the line.