From The Deuce
Also Known As
- Il Kobra (Italy)
- Kungskobran (Sweden)
- SSSSKobra (Finland)
- SSSSnake (UK)
- Ssssilbido de muerte (Spain)
- Sssssnake Kobra (Germany)
- Once this motion picture sinks its fangs into you, you'll never be the same.
- Don't say it, hiss it!
- Released in 1973
- Running Time: 99 Min.
- Production Co: Zanuck/Brown Productions | Universal Pictures
- Distribution Co: Universal Pictures (1973) (USA) (theatrical)
Cast and Crew
- Directed by Bernard L. Kowalski
- Written by Hal Dresner, Daniel C. Striepeke
- Starring Strother Martin, Dirk Benedict, Heather Menzies, Richard B. Shull
- Produced by David Brown, Robert Butner, Daniel C. Striepeke, Richard D. Zanuck
- Original Music by Patrick Williams
- Cinematography by Gerald Perry Finnerman
- Film Editing by Robert Watts
The film begins with two men loading a crate into the back of a truck, we hear noises from within the create. Money changes hands. The two discuss the contents future in the Carnival. The man who sold the crate is shown to be Herpetologist Dr. Stoner (Strother Martin) who seeks a new laboratory assistant. He goes to see a rival college professor Dr. Daniels (Richard B. Shull) who suggests the young academic David (Dirk Benedict).
As a part of the risks involved in their work Stoner begins David on a regime of anti-venom treatments. David is introduced to Kristina (Heather Menzies) Stoner's daughter who is following in her fathers footsteps. Through their work David and Kristina relationship intensifies and while out driving one day they take a detour around the lake where they skinny dip and thus begins their romance. David begins to suffer physical side effects and nightmarish hallucinations to the booster shots Stoner is administering who claims that they were foreseen and not to be concerned about.
The police visit Stoner to ask about the disappearance of Tim, Stoner's previous assistant. Stoner claims Tim left because of a dead relative. David takes Kristina to the World Wide Carnival where David goes through the freak show to see the mysterious Snake-Man, while explaining to Kristina what he's witnessed when Steve a fellow student starts a fight with David over Kristina, although Steve wins the fight he loses face and is taken away in disgrace. Later that night Steve breaks into Kristina's room but he invasion is interrupted by Harry the family's pet Red-Tail Boa, fighting off Harry Steve kills the snake.
Stoner reacts to the attack on his daughter by throwing a Black Mamba snake into Steve's shower, the snakes bite kills him instantly. David consoles Kristina over the death of Henry and they end up having sex, on the return of her father the race to there rooms. Stoner talks to Kristina and they end up fighting over her relationship with David. The next day Stoner sends Kristina to collect a rare snake that he claims been sent to them. Daniels confronts Stoner with the news of Steve's death and that his academic grants will not be renewed. Daniels attempts to discover what Stoner has been working on but upon seeing David's mutated face he is knocked unconscious by Stoner, he finds himself in the storm cellar where he is eaten by a Python.
While Kristina waits for the package to arrive she goes to see the much talked about Snake-Man at the Carnival, she sneaks into the exhibit and to her horror discovers it's her fathers previous assistant Tim. She rushes home realising that her father has been continuing his work on David. Meanwhile Stoner uses this time to finish the treatment on David and completing his transformation into a new species a King Cobra with the intelligence of a man. Stoner overcome with his achievement proceeds to hold court with his King Cobra to tell it of his news, where he is attacked by the snake and killed. Kristina arrives home to find her father dead and the transformed David in a fight to the death with a mongoose.
Although there is little character development it is still an engaging film, a tale of science gone wrong with a genuine if shallow exploration of social Darwinism, the development of society and interpersonal relationships. In true fashion of the mad scientist, Dr. Stoner's actions and intentions are never hidden from the audience but unlike many films he is believable and somewhat of a sympathetic character. Although his methods are despicable, one can realize his desire for man to evolve and survive the destruction of civilization and life as we know it through our own doing is genuine. He respects natures balance and order which is lacking in mankind, this is shown though frequent discussions with his laboratory snakes, especially Harry who he sneaks shots of alcohol, saying that 'you can't deny an old man his nip now and then.' He reads Walt Whitman to Harry beside the fire and again at the Boa's cremation. In comparison, Dr. Stoner is somewhat cold and frustrated when dealing with most people except for his daughter. We must suspect that his kindness to David is to gain his trust to further his experiments, although it appears he has a honest respect for David's scientific curiosity.
David and Kristina's relationship stems from the time spent in Dr. Stoner's laboratory and their shared passion for science. Their romance is shown to grow through the playful skinny dipping, and David's attempts to defend Kristina from the unwanted attention of Steve at the Carnival. His actions don't seem to be out of jealousy but the honest desire to protect Kristina from Steve, someone who he has been threatened by before. While Kristina's feelings for him are shown though her reaction when Steve goes through his anti-venom treatment and when she discovers her fathers true intentions and rushes to protect him.
Technically the production values are standard for this genre and the age of the film. However the sets used are of good quality, both internal sets and location shots match in theme and atmosphere and are full of detail. The initial transformation make-up for David is somewhat lack lustre (a simple green wash with random scales drawn on) but as the transformation progresses the quality improves and would be passable even for today. The Tim Snake-Man would have been quite at home on the set of The X-Files. The visual effects for the transformation itself hasn't dated well but for it's time isn't bad. The use of real snakes is another aspect that add to the suspension of disbelief for an otherwise outlandish exploitation film.
A personal complaint I have is the version of the film I have seen must have been censored to lower it to a MPAA PG rating. The two scenes that would have shown very quick flashes of nipple have been altered, firstly when David and Kristina go skinny dipping at the lake, a leaf is superimposed over Kristina and when the two are having sex in front of the lounge fireplace there is a large black box covering her naked breasts. It's an annoying but amusing reminder of the ludicrous lengths censorship goes to.Reviewed by Collectors Edition