Sssssss (1973)

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Sssssss (1973)

Post  BoG on Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:07 pm

Strother Martin stars as local snake expert Dr. Stoner, who conducts experiments in a lab set up in a rural area while also selling venom and occasionally putting on a show with a King Cobra for the local rubes. There's also an old snake named Harry as a family pet and a sickly python.  His assistants are his daughter (Heather Menzies) and a temp whom he acquires at a local college. Unknown to anyone, Stoner has gone 'round the bend, convinced that mankind is soon doomed due to pollutants and whatnot, so his aim is to mutate people into snakes. His latest attempt with his last temp worked only halfway, so he gives the whimpering snakeman away to a carnival (headed by Tim O'Connor). He gives his new temp (Dirk Benedict) injections under the guise of building immunity to lethal snake bites. In truth, it's a special serum that gradually mutates poor Dirk over the next few days...
The movie is low budget but professionally made and fairly entertaining, mostly due to Martin's performance. His voice is kind of hypnotic and, especially when he goes into explanations of his work and general info about snakes, he really does come across as this scientific researcher, albeit on the eccentric side. There are also entertaining small supporting roles for Richard B. Shull and Reb Brown; Shull plays an obnoxious tenured college professor whom Stoner cannot stand; Brown is an obnoxious college football star who dislikes Dirk. Both of these minor antagonists end up as snake fodder, to put it one way. The creepiness in the film doesn't stem from snakes but from the gradual transformation of a human being (see the later Fly remake of '86); we catch a glimpse of the results in Stoner's previous assistant so we know what's in store for Dirk. It revolves around freakish change that man just wasn't meant to dabble in. The wild ending also involves a mongoose, the natural enemy of snakes. BoG's Score: 7 out of 10
Snake Trivia: Dirk Benedict didn't have much luck with a film career, but he finally became a big TV star in Battlestar Galactica (1979) and, later, The A-Team; Reb Brown later starred as Captain America in two TV movies (1979) and Yor, the Hunter From the Future.  The same year that Shull co-starred in this film, he also had a small role in the film Slither, but that film had nothing to do with snakes...
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