(director: Bernard Kowalski; screenwriters: Hal Dressner/story by Dan Striepeke; cinematographer: Gerald Perry Finnerman; editor: Robert Watts; music: Patrick Williams; cast: Strother Martin (Dr. Carl Stoner), Heather Menzies-Urich (Kristina Stoner), Dirk Benedict(David Blake), Richard B. Shull (Dr. Ken Daniels), Tim O’Conner (Kogen), Tim McGraw (Nobel Craig), Jack Ging (Sheriff), Ted Grossman (Deputy), Reb Brown (Steve Randall), Charles Seel (Old Man); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Dan Striepeke; Universal; 1973)

An absurd but enjoyable venomous mad scientist B horror pic.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An absurd but enjoyable venomous mad scientist B horror pic. The snakes used are real, and John Chambers provides excellent makeup for the carnival freak show. Director Bernard Kowalski (“East of Java”/”The Woman Hunter”) has an appetite for the bizarre and a pretense for the arts, with allusions to the biblical Garden of Eden and the poet Walt Whitman. It’s based on the story by Dan Striepeke, and is written by Hal Dressner.

The pompous college chairman of the science department, Dr. Daniels (Richard B. Shull), reluctantly recommends to the board another science grant for the study of snakes to the eccentric self-righteous herpetologist, Dr. Carl Stoner (Strother Martin)–someone he dislikes, but has worked with for many years. Daniels also picks a needy college student, David Blake (Dirk Benedict), to be Stoner’s lab assistant. Stoner says the previous assistant ran off to take care of ailing family members, but his family reports him missing to the sheriff (Jack Ging). David, residing in Stoner’s house, begins a romance with Stoner’s daughter Kristina (Heather Menzies-Urich). Meanwhile Stoner is regularly giving David experimental injections of a serum he manufactured from his King Cobra, that are gradually changing him into a snake. The mad scientist wishes to turn David into a cobra because he believes the reptile is God’s favorite creature. In a failed experiment he already has turned the previous assistant (Nobel Craig) into a freak show attraction of a half-man and a half-cobra. He can be seen at the carnival that’s in town, where the film’s creepiest scenes take place. When Stoner realizes his clueless daughter is screwing David, he warns her not to because there’s a danger such contact can lead to side effects for her. But Kristina disregards his warnings, and when she finally realizes David is being transformed into a cobra it’s too late to have an uplifting ending for a movie that has such a sinister bite to it. What I learned from this film is that the cobra is no match for the mongoose when it comes to fighting.