Sssssss (1973)

SssssssTerror is ready to strike!

You see, I have this problem. It’s a problem that has bitten me many times over the years and still I never learn. Often in my quest to find new, craptastic films that I have never seen before, I’ll take an actor from a movie I like, look them up on IMDB, and see if they have made any other films that pique my interest. Often, this is a big mistake. Take Clayton Rohner for example. Fantastic in Just one of the Guys, but Nightwish made me want to scrape my eyes out with a rusty dessert spoon. Dirk Benedict = Awesome in Bodyslam, But Sssssss should have been called Zzzzzzz. If not for the many, albeit random shirtless Dirk shots, I’d be screaming at Deep Discount DVD for my eighteen bucks back. In fact, I’d be screaming at Deep Discount DVD to pay me eighteen bucks for watching the movie in the first place and we can all forget this mess ever happened.

*Coincidentally, Clayton Rohner was in Just One of the Guys with Toni Hudson who was married to Dirk Benedict. The world sure is a Six-Degrees-Of-Kevin-Bacon-ish kinda place!

Sssssss had potential. Really it did. Mad scientist looks to turn unsuspecting college student into half man, half snake. Add Dirks unwavering hairdo of doom and it was surely a recipe for Stinkomovies vintage extra tasty. But somewhere, it all went tits up. I’ve just decided that this review is going to contain spoilers to allow me to demonstrate my point. Not because I’m an asshole, but because I look at it as a public service so none of you have to sit through it.

Made in 1970-something or other, I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece, but the end product has left me feeling confused. The opening scene details a business transaction taking place between our suspected mad scientist (the lab coat tipped me off) and a hick with a travelling freak show. Given the theme of the film, we get the feeling that he’s turned someone he shouldn’t have into a snake-man. But Doc seems apprehensive and remorseful. Maybe he’s not such a bad guy!

But that doesn’t stop him from heading down to the University to find a new guinea pig/lab assistant and after some useless banter with the college professor (there’s some totally unexplored back story there) he picks up David and takes him home for the summer. I guess we can be thankful that this isn’t a gay porn film at the very least.

When the pair arrive back home they are greeted by Dr Stoner’s (yes that’s his name) daughter Christine. She’s tall, thin, bespectacled, has bad skin and hates bras, but must have been a vision of beauty in the 70′s because it’s love at first sight for young David. Christine continues on to show her father pictures of her sister’s (his other daughters) baby. He’s a grandpa! He’ can’t be that much of a bad guy!

But then he proceeds to start giving David snakiness injections under the guise of a venom inoculation, since he’ll be working with snakes all day long. So I guess he didn’t learn anything from his last Snake-Man abomination, and he really is a loon. David comes across as a really sweet guy, and you feel kinda bad for him when he starts to feel really cold, hallucinate about all sorts of old artwork and shed his skin.

But underneath all this needle jabbing debauchery, we have rather strange love story, with David suddenly declaring that he and Christine should go skinny dipping. Thus their relationship is born. Things turn bad when David takes Christine to the Carnival and he runs into the bully from college who makes a pass at Christine. Rather lame fighting ensues, with David getting his ass handed to him, before he goes all king cobra on said bully, biting him. It’s actually rather hilarious to watch. I also neglected to mention that David went into the freak show (yes *that* freak show) and saw the Man-Snake that he is destined to become.

Anywhoo, later that night, our resident lecherous bully decides to climb through Christine’s window for a little action but falls off when he discovers Harry, the Stoner’s friendly alcoholic python on the window sill. He proceeds to murder Harry, which makes Dr Stoner very mad and bent on revenge, and for some reason makes Christine want to have sex with David. Dr Stoner finds a snake in his lab that kills people quickly and efficiently and looks like a heart attack and let’s it loose in the bully’s shower. That’s that taken care of. But when he gets home he flies off the deep end after he realises Christine and David had been doing the wild thing.

Now here’s where the movie had the opportunity to do something really cool, like have Christine be pregnant with a freak snake man baby, or be infected with venom too, but no, the possibility of side effects of their union is explored with a great big dramatic fight between father and daughter, and then promptly discarded.

The next day, David’s transformation speeds up and it isn’t long before he resembles the freak in the sideshow. There’s no turning back for David now. Dr Stoner gets rid of his daughter by sending her to pick up a package, and feeds the snooping college professor to the hungry boa in the cellar. Here’s where things start to suck. David doesn’t stay a man snake, he turns into an actual Cobra (boring) and gets killed by an escapee Mongoose for his efforts. Meanwhile Dr Stoner decided now was the time to pick a fight with another king Cobra and also gets his ass killed. Christine rocks up with the cops (after seeing the Man-Snake at the freak show), sees David-Cobra being killed by the Mongoose, somehow realises its David and screams. Movie finished.

I’m sitting there thinking “What??”

If I had made this movie, I would have had Man-Snake-Dirk go on a murderous rampage killing all the douche bags at his college, and it’s up to Christine to find the antivenom to reverse the process before it’s too late and David ceases to exist and it’s only Snake-Man left. Plus I’d add some boobies and explosions. I’d keep Dirk Benedict, but I’d make Dr Stoner Christopher Lloyd, and I’d replace the chick from the Sound of Music with one of the hot bitches they seemed to get on the A-Team every week. Hot bitches rule.

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  • Torben3039

    Ha!  Can you believe I saw this as a double bill with ‘The Boy Who Cried Werewolf’?  Yes, it’s true.  And as a kid I too thought ‘Sssssss’ was kinda dumb…but for me the reason was too much romance, and not enough Snake Man mayhem.  And I must say, I think I’d like your version much better…boobies and explosions, PLUS a Snake Man 1 vs Snake Man 2 battle to the death!

  • Kaz

    Wow, really? Definitely a disappointment of a movie for me. It’s a little worrying when a reviewer can come up with a better plot for a movie than the person who made it!

  • Torben3039

    Well, when you come up with a better plot for ‘Cavegirl’, let me know!

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