Shock, 99 Mins
Also known as Hissssss, Ssssnake and other slithery titles, this Cinema Cult release of the drive-in favourite from 1973 should please classic Monster Movie completists, especially those interested in the career of make-up legend John Chambers, who was played by dead-ringer John Goodman in Argo and is probably best-known for his memorable work creating the moveable masks in the original Planet Of The Apes (1968). Although it must be said that his snakey work here really isn’t his best, particularly as the late-on-glimpsed monster-man is obviously wearing a green shower cap.
In the best tradition of filmic mad scientist types, pro-character-actor Strother Martin plays Dr Carl Stoner, who’s immediately established as up to something nefarious as he studies and flings about lots of scary-looking snakes (and many of them were real and as dangerous as they looked). In need of an assistant for obvious reasons (what happened to the last one again?), he hires gormless student David Blake (Dirk Benedict before he signed up for the original Battlestar Galactica) and sets about trying to (no spoilers necessary) transform him into a king cobra without the kid quite realising it (duh!).
Complicating matters is Carl’s daughter Kristina (Heather Menzies), who falls for David and proves equally as dumb as she tries to work out what’s going on and why exactly he starts looking so scaly (didn’t she see the title of the movie she was in?), before we end with a grim and somewhat puzzling freeze-frame.
And yes, it’s a hopelessly dopey plot, but the cast (and director Bernard L Kowalski) keep straight faces, which is rather refreshing given how, in the end, ssssssseriousssssssly ludicrousssssss it all is.