Boris Karloff - Karl Von Molder
Ralph Bertrand - Captain Pierre Labiche
Julissa - Annabella Vandenburg
Charles East - Wilhelm
Tongolele - Kalea
Quintin Bulnes - Klinsor
Year - 1968
Score - BOMB
Why do snakes get a bad rap in motion pictures? Always protrayed as villains or frightening creatures, snakes have been involved in really infamous films. ANACONDA, ANACONDAS: THE HUNT FOR THE BLOOD ORCHID, WOMEN OF THE PREHISTORIC PLANET, CAVE DWELLERS, PYTHON, SNAKES ON A PLANE - I can go on. That's not to say that these films are all bad. Some of them aren't. But usually if a snake is involved in a film, it's probably gonna be more bad than good. You can add SNAKE PEOPLE to the list. One of Boris Karloff's last films and released after his death, SNAKE PEOPLE is the epitome of horrible filmmaking.
You ever wondered why Indiana Jones hated snakes? Watch this film and you'll know why.
Some small island named Korea [or Korbai or Koran or Koocachoo - I'll stick with Korea since it sounds funnier] is inhabited by evil. If the evil is intense enough, it'll spread throughout the entire island and possibly the world. Apparently this great evil is just your regular voodoo ritual stuff that brings the dead back to life. Yes, voodoo-induced zombies that love to eat the flesh of those who don't believe in the leader of this voodoo clan, Dumbass...I mean, Dumballah. As this all goes down, a proper lady named Annabella (Julissa) comes onto the island to visit her uncle (Boris Karloff), who happens to be a plantation owner who studies the voodoo world on the island. Two soldiers (Ralph Bertrand and Charles East) are trying to keep peace on the island by putting the dead back where they belong. During all this, people have weird dreams about snakes and strange rituals and sacrifices are being performed. For what reason? Who in the hell knows?
SNAKE PEOPLE is probably one of the most boring, slowest, uneventful films I have ever seen in my life. I thought TROLL 2 was bad but at least the horrible acting and ridiculous costumes made me laugh. SNAKE PEOPLE is just...bizarre. I honestly don't know how I feel about this film other than the fact that I didn't like it. I mean nothing really memorable or exciting happens. And when something does happen, it doesn't last long enough for it to mean anything. For a film that has voodoo, zombies, cannibalism, erotic belly dancers, and Boris Karloff, it's not entertaining at all!
Juan Ibanez isn't a director. He's just a guy who bought a camera and decided to play with it by shooting random events. Then he called it a film called SNAKE PEOPLE. I'm serious. There's no tension, suspense, or any creativity in this film at all. The only memorable visual in the whole film is the dream sequence where Annabella is fighting her doppelganger. Not because it's directed well, but because Annabella puts the head of a snake in her mouth as if she's giving oral sex to it. And the whole erotic belly dancing sequences [there's like five of them] by Tongolele are as exciting as those paid advertisments that run on television at night. At least the belly dancing is better than Britney Spears' last VMA performance. And no Chris Crocker...I will not LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!! Anyway, there's no flow or pacing. The editing's horrible and disjointed. Events just randomly happen. And scenes just run forever [well they seem to anyway]. Just not a well-directed film.
The story by Jack Hill is no better. It's as if Hill took all these horror elements, put them in a cup, shook the cup, and poured out the contents as if he were playing Yahtzee with not one die matching. Nothing makes sense. One random act happens after another. And the dialogue...good lord! I couldn't believe the things that came out of these people's mouths. I can't even recite the lines of dialogue but they're laughable and forced. Normal people don't speak like the characters in this movie. And the midget witch doctor - why does he laugh for no reason other than to annoy me? It was like watching a James Bond villain but worse. Then he starts crying out of nowhere. I didn't get it. And the guy who liked having sex with his dead wife - um, okay. And Annabella wanting to rid the island of ALCOHOLISM?? Because it causes sin? And only old people are allowed to drink because it's for medicinal purposes? What the hell!? And it didn't even lead to anything! And I wasn't sure if the voodoo zombies were cannibals or they were separate FROM the cannibals. They all looked the same and acted the same. And the message of the film wasn't clear either. Was this a propoganda film about how organized religion is evil? Or was this film trying to tell me that no one should interfere in one's beliefs? Just a horrible screenplay that made absolutely no sense at all. Honestly, I don't think Ibanez or Hill cared.
The acting was beyond amateur if you can guess. The only good actor here was Boris Karloff, who didn't really do much in his ailed state. I admire the fact that he was professional enough to give it his all during his last days but only if it were in a MUCH better film. It's actually kind of sad to watch the man who will always be known as Frankenstein's Monster have trouble walking with a cane and leaning against objects so he won't fall. Plus the few scenes he is in, he's sitting down. Obviously all these scenes were done on a soundstage and a double was needed for the other scenes set in Mexico [where this was filmed]. For some reason, I'm not sure if he knew what film he was acting in. Some of the things he would say made no sense, like the fact that his obsession with telekinesis and pyrokinesis made him believe that it would end the world of famine, war, and death. Yet, his scientific beliefs or experiments never went anywhere in the story, so I had no idea what his character was really about. Karloff is the best actor in the entire film, which isn't saying much.
And honestly, I can't really talk about the other actors. They were all horrible in their delivery and seemed like caricatures of real people. I've seen elementary school productions that have better acting and stories that make more sense. Everything about this film gave me a headache.
THINGS I STRUGGLED TO LEARN WHILE WATCHING THIS FILM
1. The Island of the Snakes is Korea. I thought Korea was the Island of the Fruit and Vegetables Stands?
2. The midget witch doctor actually cut a live chicken's head off to bring back the dead. PETA is gonna be cluckin' angry about this!
3. Alcoholism is responsible for 99.2% of all sin. Obviously the bitch was drunk when she conducted her research.
4. The mafia princess looking belly-dancer dances with snakes during voodoo rituals. I don't know about you, but my snake was certainly charmed...
5. "Whoever lives by the sword...must have a strong arm." I agree. My arms have been strong ever since I started playing with my sword all those years ago.
6. The voodoo girl enjoyed the midget witch doctor slapping her behind with a whip. And she got off on it. Now I see why Halle Berry wanted to do CATWOMAN. Then again, I want to do Catwoman too...
7. According to Annabella, alcoholism is only okay when your old because it's used for medicinal purposes. I really like to hit this bitch with a bottle of Smirnoff...
8. The French Captain uses lit cigars to get answers from the natives about Dumballah. I thought only Monica Lewinsky was into that sort of thing?
9. The necrophiliac got caned by Boris Karloff. I thought this was Korea, not Singapore.
10. Don't be a traitor on a cannibalistic island. The guilt won't be the only thing that'll eat you up.
THE FINAL HOWL
SNAKE PEOPLE is one of the weirdest, non-sensical films I have ever had the displeasure of watching. I don't mind films that are so bad that they're actually entertaining. But this film is just bad and it amazes me how it was ever made. I really can't recommend this film in the slightest. Unless you want to be bored for 90 minutes, I'd slither away from this one.