Directed by: Bernard L. Kowalski
Written by: Hal Dresner, Daniel C. Striepeke
Cast: Strother Martin, Dirk Benedict, Heather Menzies, Richard B. Shull, Tim O’Connor, Jack Ging, Reb Brown
Distributor: Scream Factory
Rated PG | 99 Minutes
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Before Jaws of Satan, Anaconda, or Snakes on a Plane, there was Ssssss. Directed by Bernard L. Kowalski (Attack of the Giant Leeches), this 1973 horror film tells the twisted tale of Dr. Carl Stoner (Strother Martin), a scientist hellbent on turning humans into snakes.
Surely there must be an easier way to get revenge on those who have wronged you than creating a race of snake-men, right? Sadly for David Blake (Dirk Benedict), this is not the case. As Dr. Stoner’s new lab assistant, David, is subjected to a series of injections of “immunization serum” to protect him from lab’s diverse population of deadly snakes. Of course, we know that David is actually Stoner’s latest test subject – a snake-man in the making.
Complicating matters is David’s interest in the doctor’s daughter, Kristina (Heather Menzies, Piranha), who he goes skinny dipping between jump cuts of snakes hissing and lunging at the camera. Sadly, David’s hot-and-heavy romance runs cold when he experiences strange side effects from Doc Stoner’s serum. His skin sheds and is replaced with green scales as the metamorphosis from human to serpent progresses. If you’re wondering what that looks like, it looks a lot like this:
When I was a kid, I remember seeing this horrific sight – a lizard man reminiscent of the visitors on V – on late night TV. I never caught the name of the movie, but that image of a snake-man in a mad scientist’s laboratory was burned into my brain. Fast-forward to a couple weeks ago, when I sat down to watch Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of Sssssss. Lo and behold, here was the movie in question! Finally, I was able to put a name to David’s snake-face.
Nostalgia aside, there isn’t much worth remembering about Sssssss. What’s most interesting is that the film was produced by Richard Zanuck and David Brown, who would go on to produce Jaws two years later. Zanuck went from producing The Sound of Music to Sssssss, while Brown went from Sssssss to The Sting! It’s funny to think that, in-between so many iconic motion pictures, there’s this weird little snake movie.
Of course, that’s Scream Factory’s modus operandi: give weird cult flicks a second life, with high-definition transfers and in-depth bonus features. I mean, this is the company that brought us Frogs, Food of the Gods, and Tentacles on Blu-ray! Of course they’re going to give Sssssss the Criterion treatment! And with a 1080p transfer in 1.85:1 and a DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo track, this is by far the best Kowalski’s film has ever looked.
Sssssss is now available at Amazon. Check out this release’s bonus features, as well as a trailer and cover art below!
* New: My Reptilian Past – an interview w/ Dirk Benedict
* New: The Herpetologist’s Daughter – an interview w/ Heather Menzies
* Photo Gallery
* Theatrical Trailers
* Radio Spots