'The Killer Snakes: Special Edition'
(Kam Kwok-Leung, Maggie Li-Lin-Lin, et al / DVD / NR / (1974) 2007 / IMAGE Ent.)
Overview: Fear slithers straight up your spine in this notorious Shaw Brothers shocker from the director of The Boxer's Omen! Mocked and abused by everyone around him, a meek young man lives near a haven for reptiles and, upon discovering a wounded snake one night, discovers that he has a unique psychic bond with his cold-blooded neighbors. Impoverished and sexually frustrated, he's soon pushed to the breaking point by those around him and vows to unleash his fury in a perverse, delirious attack of scaly serpents like nothing you've ever seen!
DVD Verdict: The film has a rough start, but before you know it, it somehow gets on track and the horror begins. If you find snakes creepy, this will be hard to handle, made creepier by being a film without digital snakes. In addition, the psychological story of the anti-hero being exposed to and the victim of violence, some with sexual overtones, is handled in the usual shallow, sloppy way such genre films handle these things.
However, once out of the way, there are some remarkable moments of chills here fans will enjoy. I just wish it were more consistent, but it is still one of the Shaw’s best releases.
Not to give too much away, but Zhihong is the name of the guy who has to use the snakes as a surrogate penis to satisfy his offbeat desires and he's one of those fellows who is always seeming to be getting beaten up by hookers and their johns as well as strip searched in alleyways whenever they think he might be carrying money on him. If one was inclined to really concentrate on this movie, I suppose you could read a bunch of symbolism into Zhihong's frustration, his fascination with snakes, and the bizarre appearance of his pet Komodo dragon that he uses to help him rape one of these evil hookers!
There's lots of opportunities to make comments about his "snake" and his "lizard" but this movie was just too icky to try and climb into Zhihong's crusty pink shirt and put any of it in perspective. Plus, I was guessing that the Shaw Brothers probably just was mixing in as much deviant sex and animal-on-the-rampage violence as they could to get as many deranged Hong Kong residents into the theater as possible. I rather doubt that they were attempting any commentary on how repressive their society is towards ugly guys whose dirty shirts are only surpassed by their dirty minds!
Even though Zhihong is the biggest and scariest loser you'd meet this side of comic book convention and lives in a run down hovel that I wouldn't even store my dirty '76 Maverick in, this is still a movie, so there's a hot mama who is hanging around making eyes at him. Her name is Xiujuan and she runs some sort of booth near Zhihong's house selling crap. Zhihong has a crush on her, but instead of ambling next door, asking to borrow a cup of snake gall bladders, and gathering up his courage and asking her out, he sits at home staring at his bondage magazines and playing with himself!
Much more happens in between (including the release of all those snakes!), but I thought I'd just lay a quick foundation down for you .. but trust me when I say that this movie has something to repulse everyone! Women, animal lovers, people adverse to perspiration. It's all there. No skanky stone is left unturned.
It not only an ugly movie, it's an ugly looking movie. Maybe the shaky zooming shots work fine in kung fu movies where guys in stringy white beards wearing their pajamas are taunting one another about their fighting skills, but in a movie like this, it doesn't come across as a stylistic choice so much as a guy being unable to operate the camera properly. If nothing else, the movie does manage to convey the atmosphere of suffocating foulness of what the locals probably call a "working class neighborhood" but I'm not sure that's really a compliment in this circumstance. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Featuring original Mandarin Soundtrack
With English Subtitles/English-Dubbed Soundtrack