Time to look at another retro film by Universal. This one definitely came out quite a while ago and I will admit that I have never heard of it before. The poster is certainly intriguing and I never get tired of seeing the scared looks on everyone’s face as they look at the main characters of the film. It was a staple of the old films after all and they do have a good reason to be very afraid. After all, their lives may be in grave danger!
A group of American soldiers were getting ready to go to New York, but they hadn’t found anything really cool to take pictures of. They became fascinated by a man who could play music to a snake and one American mentioned how their was a religious cult who believes that people could turn into snakes and vice versa. The old man told them that he could take them to a meeting so they could see for themselves…for 100 dollars plus 10 up front. The heroes went and saw an intriguing show with a whole lot of dancing. Unfortunately, one of the members was drunk out of his mind and decided to take a very bright and loud picture of the show. Naturally, this did not fly with the members there and they decided to attack.
The army members were able to escape thanks to their military training, but one of their members died to a Cobra bite and they were cursed so that the rest would die the same way. Was this real or was it fantasy? Most of the members disregarded this right away, but then a mysterious lady moved next door and all of the animals were afraid of her. Also, more of the army members started to die from mysterious accidents. It may take a rocket scientist to put the clues together before it is too late!
This is certainly a classic horror film at its core. The Cobra even gets her own theme music. Whenever she puts on her serious face, the music speeds up and you know that one of the army guys is going to die…or at least be threatened. She typically gets to play her theme music at least three times before any fatalities occur. You know that the characters will be toast, but you just don’t know when they will bite the big one. Even the wife of one of the main character is nearly taken down, but the handy dandy mailman arrives just in the nick of time. That’s why speedy mail delivery is always so important right? Naturally, I’d give the soundtrack here a thumbs up. It’s not quite Resurrection F or Bonds Beyond Time, but it’s rare for a 50’s film to have any notable themes at all, so this was quite an impressive feat.
The film’s only a little bit above an hour so it’s quite short. That being said, the end of the film starts to drag just a little as you’re waiting for the heroes to make a move or for the next victim to show up. The Cobra doesn’t even seem all that sure herself as she struggles to decide whether she should go through with the murders or not. She hints that she may not be able to stop herself, but it’s hard to tell whether she meant that physically or just about the honor of it all. Either way, if she really wanted to settle down, not murdering the main guy’s friends would have been a good way to start. As she was a half hearted villain, I can see why she never became as big as characters Dracula or the Werewolf.
I was glad that the cops were actually pretty reasonable here as the evidence was pretty clear cut so they should agree that the new girl was the likely suspect. It did make sense after all right? Paul was definitely the best character in the film as he always suspected that there was some truth to the curse as cults would need to have someone to back them up. The way that he and Lisa handled the whole wedding arrangement admittedly lacked any form of tact or honor and came across as a little rude, but they probably hadn’t given it a whole lot of thought so they were just trying to go through the motions of being Tom’s friend even though their romance was their top concern. You will feel bad for Tom for a second, except that he went for the rebound immediately which shows that he’s the kind of guy who can move on way too quickly.
I think this film could have used a little more action. Not a whole lot happens and that’s usually okay, but a good portion of the film is spent on giving the cobra some character development, which ultimately doesn’t go anywhere. That screen time could have been better used for some fights against the Cobra. Some of the characters struggle, like throwing vases and things of the sort, but how can you not be able to outrun a Cobra? At the very least, you can manage to land a hit right? Even if the bite happens first, you can squash it…of course, that would have hurt the film’s score so it’s a double edged sword.
It should be noted that the film takes the high road with the animal violence so I have to give it kudos for that. A dog, cat, and a horse appear and they are all spared. There was one scary scene where we think that the cobra will attack the dog, but this doesn’t happen. I think the dog should have been a little braver and could have approached the cobra, but since that could have been dicey, I’m fine with this. The shaking was a bit much though and you’ll feel bad for the little guy.
Overall, Cult of The Cobra was a good film. It was probably a little more dull than some of the other retro classics, but it was still an interesting film. My favorite part of it was probably the opening scenes as that could have been expanded into a film in its own right. I wouldn’t have minded if it was about them infiltrating the cult, but that’s another plot for another film I suppose. The characters were decently developed even though you knew that they would be toast by the end. Snakes aren’t too scary compared to other monsters so this definitely won’t scare you at this point, but that’s all right. The solid music theme for the cobra will be good enough for the horror/thriller aspect. If you like these retro thrillers, then I certainly recommend it. It may not be the most exciting tale out there, but it’s fairly short and the writing is solid.