Friday, October 23, 2015

Ten Statements About....SSSSSSS (1973)

"I'm your boyfriend now, Christine...."
“You are a real and a bona fide genius. First one I ever met."
“It's rare to be appreciated for one's failures."

1) What makes this film effective for much of its running time is the understated performance by Strother Martin.  We know this man is a mad scientist from frame one, and yet he’s so mild and laid back that you almost forget how sinister his intentions are....

2) least until that third act (get used to this phrase).  Once we hit that last twenty minutes or so, the actors start behaving irrationally.  It’s almost as if the script is hurrying the actions along because they know their time is up.

3) Wow...Reb Brown was broad even in his youth.  At least he dies without screaming his character’s name.

4) The use of real reptiles throughout the film does give the movie a creepy feel.  Although the creepiest thing in the movie aren’t the snakes but the mongoose Strother keeps around for....whatever.
This is a snake drinking booze.  Your arguments are
no longer valid.

5) Not surprisingly, there is a romance between Dirk Benedict’s David and Heather Menzies’ Christine that doesn’t work.  There’s no organicness their coupling, and seems to be there because, well, the script requires the two to make like a couple.

6) Bernard Kowalski does something very effective when Benedict starts changing.  Instead of solely shooting the actor from behind (although there is some of that), Kowalski does show him from a slight distance so that we know something’ about him.   This creates a sense of unease that culminates in a great shock cut.

7) I don’t think the film needed the deaths-by-snake in the late second and third acts.  They contribute to the disintegration of Martin’s performance, and seems to be there solely to give the viewer some violence to keep them engaged.

"You haven't thought of a coherent ending? Nooooooooo!"
8) There are some really disquieting make-up effects in this film, beginning with the ‘shedding’ and carrying through to the appearance of the monstrous characters least until the third act, where we learn what Strother Martin’s real intentions are.  And speaking of that third act...

9) What. The. Hell. was that ending all about?  No, really, the last ten minutes makes so little sense it almost serves to tear down the hour and a half that came before it.  And you’re telling me that Christine could recognize what Dick has become instantly?

10) Why do they make such a big deal about this rare Amazonian snake--Christine mentions it a couple of time, goes to the shipping station and waits for its arrival--when there’s no pay off to this aspect?

Overall... until the third act just wrecks everything, this is a very low-key, creepy at times, little mad scientist throwback.

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