The Killer Snakes
Year of release: 1974
Director: Kuei Chih-Hung
Producer: Runme Shaw
Writer: Ni Kuang
Cinematography: Yau Kei
Editing: Chiang Hisng-Lung
Music: Frankie Chan
Stars: Kam Kwok-Leung, Maggie Li, Richard Chan, Got Dik-Wa, Chow Gat, Lam Fung, Terry Lau
Not rated; contains III-level violence, language, nudity, and sexual contant
Movie Review Index
The 1974 Shaw Brothers horror film The Killer Snakes pushed the limits of what would be considered "acceptable" cinema at the time. Featuring choice bits such as the evisceration of live animals, and the insertion of said reptiles into female orifices, this is most definitely not a family-friendly picture.
In the film, Kam Kwok-Heung plays Chi Hung, a destitute loner at the end of his rope. Cast aside by society and forced to take menial jobs in order to survive, Chi's only bright spot in life is Xiao Chuan (Maggie Li), a pretty girl who runs a stall in his neighborhood. But after Xiao apparently stands Chi up, his lifelong interest in snakes turns into a full-blown obsession, and he begins using the animals to enact his revenge on those who have wronged him.
The Killer Snakes employs a sense of grittiness and sheen of sleaze that becomes its' biggest advantage. This is an extreme motion picture that is very uncomfortable to sit through at points, even to someone like this reviewer, who has seen more than his fair share of Category III exploitation fare. Even compared to many more modern releases that pride themselves on how far they push the envelope, The Killer Snakes still manages to shock and jolt the audience.
The film still does fall prey to the usual pitfalls present in many low-budget Shaw Brothers productions, most notably here in the area of special effects, or rather, in this case, not so special effects. In particular, the parts that show the snakes jumping at people are obviously just someone offscreen throwing them at the actors and look absolutely ridiculous. Overall, though, the low points don't detract from the proceedings enough to make The Killer Snakes a bad film. If you're into the seedier side of cinema and have a strong stomach, this is one of the best representations of the genre from the early 1970's and is well worth checking out.