Wednesday, October 29, 2008


In post WWII Asia (that's as specific as the title credit gets), a group of GIs, including Marshall Thompson and Richard Long, looking for some cheap thrills gain entrance to a secret religious ritual of the Lamians, a sect in which some members can supposedly change into snakes. During a rather sexy dance routine involving a slinky, barely dressed woman slithering in and out of a snake basket, one of the drunken soldiers (James Dobson) tries to take a picture and the crowd chases them out, but not before Dobson winds up with a snake bite. He's on the mend in the hospital, but mysteriously winds up dead from another bite the next day. Months later, back in New York City, the men begin dying one by one, of snake bites. Could this have something to do with the mysterious, exotic Faith Domergue, a woman who has moved in across from roomies Thompson and Long?

I'd never heard of this film at all until it came out as part of a Universal sci-fi DVD collection. It's not so much sci-fi as an attempt at a "Cat People"-kind of horror movie. It starts out well with the nicely atmospheric "Asian" sequence, but when it moves to New York, it becomes just another B-movie thriller with sparse sets and uninspired acting. There are some interesting plot and character details presented but not much is done with them: for example, Long and Thompson are both vying for the affections of Kathleen Hughes, and eventually it's Thompson who gets dumped, but the whole affair winds up playing no part in the proceedings. The soldiers are all sturdy and handsome (especially William Reynolds as Pete) with Thompson doing the best acting. Domergue is fairly wooden, but that befits her character. Unlike in CAT PEOPLE, there is no ambiguity about whether or not the supernatural is involved—we see her change into a cobra at least once (done cleverly in shadow), and that takes some of the suspense out of the film. I did enjoy this on its own B-movie level, though the DVD set itself (Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection, Volume 2) is disappointing. [DVD]

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