CALAMITY OF SNAKES (1983)
posted 00/00/2009

Directed by:
Chi Chang

Starring:
Lei Chang
Chung-Lien Chou
Tung-min Huang
Yuen Kao

Country: Taiwan/Hong Kong
Runtime: n/a
AKA: Ren she da zhan
       
   

I hate animal torture films, and that's one of the reasons why I leave the cannibal movies to my esteemed colleague, Jorge. This film is basically a "nature rum amok" deal where the calamity (in this case snakes) befalls the cocky Chinese developers of a brand new high-rise. Now, I hate snakes about as much as Indy does, but I don't find it very satisfying or gratifying to see hundreds (and I do mean HUNDREDS) of snakes actually slaughtered in order to make a movie.

Picture Jaws with a whole bunch of pissed-off snakes instead and you'll get the idea behind this movie. A greedy land developer wants his new condo up in a hurry, but his construction team has run into a snag. It seems they have dug up a pit of snakes (???) and while most of them want to wait to have them removed safely, Mr. Greedy forces everyone to grab shovels, pick-axes, and whatever else they can get their hands on and go to town on the snakes. So, we get our first batch of vicious snake murders right off the bat. The next scene shows us a guy stripping the skin off of a live snake and cutting into its guts to yank out the bladder and pour the "healthy juice" into cups for his customers (I'll go with Viagra if I ever need some "healthy juice"). The film is blatant animal snuff, and the thinly-constructed plot makes us painfully aware of this.

Our hero is the young architect that wants to bring reason to the money-grubbing madness, but he is ineffectual. Soon, the building goes up and people start to move in. We get a nice cross-section of Chinese stereo-types, and at this point the film starts to bore because (believe it or not) you start to miss the snake killing. It isn't long before snakes start to become a hassle for the property. It seems the death of the snakes in the pit have unleashed a death curse on the condo and now the place is crawling (literally) with slithery vengeance. They introduce a couple of mongooses (mongeese?), and we watch the furry little guys tear the heads off a number of snakes. A giant anaconda shows up and starts causing trouble so they look for more help. The most capable man to deal with what is apparently the king of the snakes is an old man who catches and tames snakes. He is called in and the most amazing sequence takes place when he and the giant (sometimes rubber, sometimes real) snake have an all-out kung fu battle to the death. You'll have to watch the film to see how it turns out, I'm not ruining this one!

All seems to go back to normal for a while, and the gala opening for the condo takes place. The party is equal parts dull and disco-glam. Everyone is drinking, having fun, and enjoying their cozy new home. Of course us discerning filmgoers know that some crazy shit is about to go down, and crazy shit does indeed go down. Snakes of all shapes and sizes crash the party and basically spend the next 30 minutes tossing themselves (or being tossed) at the partygoers. It seems all the snakes can do is launch themselves magically through the air and land on people to creep them out. The crowd swells and sways and stampedes toward the exits. The once neighborly neighbors are now out for their own sakes, stepping over anyone in their way. The fire department arrives and another giant king snake shows up to settle the score once and for all with the greedy developer. Who's side will you be on?

Brought to us by the good folks at Apprehensive Films, this is certainly a slice of obscure world cinema, and I was happy to watch it, even if it did turn my stomach every once and a while. The one big flaw in the film is the draggy mid-section, and after the snakes have attacked or jumped on people a few times it actually starts to get boring. If snakes scare the crap out of you, stay away because this is certain to fuel a few nightmares. If you don't mind snakes, but don't love them, then you might enjoy this snake-sploitation oddity. If you are a member of PETA, then STAY THE HELL AWAY and pretend this movie doesn't exist (or that there are hundreds like it). For me, I hoped it would be better, or at least more entertaining. As it stands, it is a crazy party movie, but not one I'd pop in just for kicks (unless, of course, snakes were my sworn enemies). It's gory, unpleasant, kind of slow at times, but worth a watch. Make it a date night and eat gummy worms!

- Jose Prendes

 

comments powered by Disqus

Strictlysplatter.com is owned and operated by Jorge Antonio Lopez. All original content is Copyrighted © 2008 by its respective author(s). All Image files
are used in accordance with Fair Use, and are property of the film copyright holders.