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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

CULT OF THE COBRA

Six ‘Ugly American’ soldier boys get caught crashing a religious snake cult on their last day overseas and wind up being followed home by one of the cult members: a snake out for revenge! Make that a snake that’s metamorphosed into lovely Faith Domergue! (Sort of like the movie CAT PEOPLE, but after the fall.) Faith dutifully goes about her deadly business, always in the form of a snake (okay, the shadow of a snake), until she finds herself developing second thoughts of human kindness upon falling hard for one her putative victims! Dopey, kiddie-matinee stuff to be sure, though it looks a bit better than it might thanks to Russell Metty’s smooth lensing. (Amazingly, Metty went straight from this dreck to the TechniColor glory of Douglas Sirk’s ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS/’55.) And it’s also not too disgracefully acted by pleasant nonentities like Marshall Thompson & Richard Long. Still, awfully tame fare that’s probably best appreciated (if that’s the word) as a comparison to something like CAT PEOPLE/’42 which manages to build a small masterpiece out of equally ridiculous material, makes sense while you’re watching it and even runs a reel shorter. Best thing here is the cool poster; though tv buffs will enjoy seeing David Janssen running a dimly lit bowling alley in a scene that hopes to do for this film what the famous swimming pool scare sequence did for CAT PEOPLE. No such luck; no such skill.

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: The new WideScreen formats coming in at the time made it harder for cheap little horror pics to build up claustrophobic terror. Too much space to fill up; harder to focus a viewer's attention. Not that Francis D. Lyon’s megging would be much improved in the old, squarer Academy Ratio.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: As mentioned, CAT PEOPLE/’42.

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