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蛇殺手 (1974)
The Killer Snakes

Reviewed by: Libretio
Date: 11/24/2005
Summary: Yes, it really *is* as outrageous as you've heard!!...


Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Panavision)
Sound format: Mono

A downtrodden slum-dweller (Kam Kwok-leung) nurses a series of injured snakes back to health and uses them to take revenge against those who have wronged him, with disastrous consequences.

Though inspired by the unexpected worldwide success of Daniel Mann's American screamie WILLARD (1971), Kuei Chi-hung's shameless thriller mixes social commentary (the squalid conditions which breed discontent and rebellion) with lashings of crowd-pleasing sex and violence, played without irony or humor. Kam's hapless protagonist - trapped in a cycle of poverty and hopelessness which must have resonated deeply with viewers during the film's original theatrical run - staggers from one disaster to another, until he finds an outlet for his deviant sexual fantasies, culminating in mass murder. Set to Chen Yung-yu's shrill music score, and designed by art director Lin Mao-lung to emphasize the ugliness of Kam's daily life, the film's lowbrow mise-en-scène is further enhanced by Yu Chi's hand-held scope camerawork, somewhat removed from the glamorous compositions which characterized Shaw Brothers' output at the time.

Having already forged a dubious reputation in fan circles with THE BAMBOO HOUSE OF DOLLS (1973) - an Asian contribution to the 1970's 'Women in Prison' cycle - director Kuei employs a similar misogynist tone in THE KILLER SNAKES, portraying most of the female characters as heartless strumpets fully deserving of the indignities heaped upon them by Kam's ruthless avenger, in scenes reminiscent of Japan's Roman Porno output. Stripped naked and bound hand and foot, these wretched characters are bitten repeatedly by vengeful reptiles, and Kuei emphasizes the sexual aspects of their agony at every turn. Needless to say, sleaze fans will get their money's worth, though the production is sullied by three episodes of unsimulated animal cruelty: An opening shot of a live snake having its gall bladder removed; a climactic sequence in which snakes are cut in half by a sword; and a *deeply* unpleasant shot of snakes being burned alive. Despite Kam's controlled performance in the leading role, the movie is too lightweight to rise above its limited ambitions, though trash fans will relish every outrage.

NB. See also Wai Wang's similarly-styled LEWD LIZARD (1979), which reportedly goes even further during sequences in which reptiles attack naked women! The mind positively boggles...

[Mandarin dialogue]

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 01/19/2004
Summary: 3.5/5

***1/2 THE KILLER SNAKES: Gritty as they come, a wonderfully bleak vision of then-modern urban life. Some unpleasant treatment of animals (snakes, naturally) seems shocking by modern/western standards.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: battlemonkey
Date: 12/21/1999

A young loser befriends a bunch of snakes, which he rescuesfrom the restaurant next door, and uses them to kill his rivals. A non kung fu horror film that has some interesting moments, but ultimately fails to impress me.