Judge Daryl Loomis worships the parakeet god who tells him to cut himself.
An exotic inferno of sex and voodoo.
Italian genre movies always tend to be pretty strict in their definition. Westerns have their tropes, as do gialli, as do their version of the zombie movie, and the lines are never really crossed. Their erotic cinema, a genre of its own for a while, is a little different, though. Often, as seen in the string of Black Emmanuelle movies (I know that some of those are technically Greek, but the principle is the same, so shut up), there are elements of other genre movies bled in to give it an actual story. But some stand without a genre and those are the really weird ones. With its lurid poster and voodoo trappings, The Snake God seems like a natural erotic horror picture. In reality, the film doesn't have a place anywhere, leaving it a strange forgettable enigma.
Paola (Nadia Cassini, Starcrash) and her older husband arrive on a Caribbean island to live on his plantation, but she isn't satisfied by her husband or the promise of fun in the sun. While he ignores her, Paola befriends Stella (Beryl Cunningham, Screamers), a teacher on the island. Stella teaches her all about her voodoo religion, even taking her to meet her shaman, who gives her an amulet and a cryptic message. Soon, Bernard is dead and she is being stalked by a snake, not to kill her it seems, but to deliver her true love into her arms.
There really isn't much plot to The Snake God. Mostly, it's an exercise to get Nadia Cassini and Beryl Cunningham rolling around on beds and beaches in various stages of undress. In that, director Piero Vivarelli (Satanik) succeeds admirably. They are an extremely attractive pair and he frames them very nicely within the Caribbean landscape. What they say makes no difference; they talk about little more than the search for love and it gets boring really fast. Viewers who are sitting through these conversations waiting for some kind of sexy payoff are in for a disappointment, too. The best they'll get is a voodoo dance scene, but it never goes beyond some writhing around and a little bit of skin.
As an aesthetic exercise, The Snake God does work pretty well, both for the aforementioned natural beauty on display and for Vivarelli's strange and off-putting shooting style. Off-kilter angles and odd editing choices add tension to the movie where it may not really belong, but is a welcome addition to the story, which is completely forgettable.
Because it's not that the movie is badly written or plotted, it's just plain boring. Were it not for the aesthetics, The Snake God would have absolutely nothing going for it. As it stands, there's not much, but there's probably enough going on with that side to give aficionados a reason to check it out, which essentially everyone else is safe to steer clear of the movie.
Mondo Macabro's DVD release for The Snake God does the movie fair justice. The 2.35:1 anamorphic image looks surprisingly good, with sharp detail and solid black levels for a standard definition transfer. It's bright and colorful, showing off the lovely landscapes very nicely. It isn't perfect; there's a little bit of dust and damage here and there on there on the print, but it's never distracting and, all in all, quite a good looking image. The sound isn't anything special, but it's a serviceable mono mix without much hissing or popping to deter from solid musical score and the ever-so-compelling dialog.
Extras are a slim bunch. The only significant feature on the disc is a fifteen minute interview with Vivarelli, who is funny talking about his career and his enduring love of marijuana. It's not an essential listen, but it's amusing enough. Otherwise, all we have is some text production information and a trailer.
The Snake God isn't a particularly compelling movie, but it's just weird enough that fans of mildly erotic Italian cult cinema will probably want to have a look. To them, it's recommended; nobody else will likely make it through the first half hour and, truthfully, though there are things to like about the movie, they really aren't missing all that much.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Mondo Macabro
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