1972 saw the release of the Filipino horror film Night of the Cobra Woman, a decent little chiller that is slightly more laughable than it is scary due to the special effects but still manages to project a little bit of an eerie atmosphere around itself at times. Many find its abrupt cuts and editing a little sloppy and perhaps that might be true, but it is a fun watch that never fails to keep you sitting right in front of your television as it is that perfect mix of camp and low budget with just the right amount of mystery.
Joy Bang stars as Joanna, a woman who has to do a paper on a particular snake as assigned by her teacher. Joanna wants to do one on a type of cobra that is supposed to be extinct though, one that her teacher mentioned in class and one that might still be around as rumour has it. So it is that Joanna heads on down to Lena Aruza’s house, gets driven away, calls in her boyfriend who goes to the same house and gets bitten by the cobra, falls in love with the snake-woman, magic stuff happens, love-making happens, Joy kills the snake, Lena has no more venom and must start making love to all sorts of men to steal their youth and vitality as a result of that, more craziness and the film leaves off on an ending that might be considered a happy one.
The title alone is captivating, yet the film is so insane and yet so good as well that it is truly hard to tear your eyes away. There is a fair amount of nudity that drives the film straight into exploitation territory and most of that from Marlene Clark, the aforementioned snake-lady. You have to suspend your belief in all things rational for a bit as Marlene goes around in the film having sex with a number of people and most of the time looking like she is ready to shed her skin off, just like a snake. Why any man would make love to a woman whose skin is literally peeling off is strange, yet she is also eternally young and can turn into a snake, so logic went out the window the very moment the movie began.
The actresses are good and do a fair job with the story and script by Kerry Magness and Andrew Meyer though it is hard to believe in Joy Bang as a scientist and easier to think that Clark is a snake-woman. Roger Garrett plays the unwitting boyfriend who would rather spend life as a snake with Clark than go back to Bang which either speaks to the power of love or Bang is simply not all that. Decent direction, some good cinematography and a very apt and cheesy score make Night of the Cobra Woman a must-see for anyone that loves B movies.
3.5 out of 5