What it lacks in terms of special effects and make-up, William Cheung's Calamity Of Snakes delivers the chills by sheer number of slithering snakes. Stephen Tan reviews.


THE ASIAN VALUES VCD REVIEW

Shaw snakesploitation movies such as Killer Snakes and Fangs Of The Cobra are chickenfeed compared to Calamity Of Snakes (1983). And even with the budget and special effects, the recent Snakes On A Plane still pales in comparison.

This Hong Kong production starts off when a construction site discovers a nest of snakes. To avoid unnecessary delays, like calling in the proper authorities to deal with the snakes, developer Ko Yuen (the film stars a number of Shaw veterans) decides to cut a few corners and take matters into his own hands. With the crew, he bulldozes and chomps his way through the snakes.

Trapped in a hole in the ground, the snakes have no escape. It's a bloody job but someone's got to do it and animal and reptile lovers will cringe at the wholesale slaughter. They will also likely to cringe at a detour through a night market to a stall which sells snake's blood and snake's gall bladder. Here viewers get an instructional view of how the snake's gall bladder is extracted.


But the snakes have not been vanquished. They attack and kill one of the workers but not before he had enjoyed himself with a prostitute - in the film's only sequence which shows outright nudity. After all, snakes and sex do make interesting bedfellows. Meanwhile, the workers' quarters get an infestation of snakes. Having rats at the snakes might be a good idea - shown in a very graphic sequence - but there are too many snakes for the rats to handle. Spreading sulphur seems to keep the snakes at bay but the method becomes totally ineffective when a heavy rain washes the sulphur away.

Next a snake handler, who works at a magic show, is engaged and he takes on an impressive looking python. As in many kung fu/wu xia movies, the hero needs to demolish a couple of the minor minions before taking on the bad guy himself. Here, the snake handler bites off a couple of the smaller snakes before a duel to the death with the python. It's a well choreographed and bloody fight with the python coiling itself round the snakeman before the snakeman strings it up to die.

With the apartment building completed, a gala opening is held and the rest of the film resembles The Towering Inferno, with snakes taking place of the fire. Snakes, and more snakes, descend upon the building. An ageing playboy is killed when a load of snakes crashes onto his car. Lifts, bedrooms and baths become flooded with snakes as more victims fall one after another. Enter the mother of all snakes - it's a behemoth in size but because, in many instances, it looks like a man in a suit (figuratively speaking), it just isn't as scary as the killers in Anaconda.


It is left to the legions of smaller and real snakes which effectively send the chills. Imagine a corridor full of snakes. There's really nowhere to run or hide. At the last moment, it is the calvary... the firemen and their deadly spray/foam that save the day but not before the unscrupulous developer dies in a fiery dance of death with the giant snake.

Unlike, say, Snakes On A Plane, with impressive-looking effects and make-up, it is the knowledge that there are real snakes on screen, not one or two but a whole screenful that makes Calamity Of Snakes chilling. The movie would have been more effective if it had undergone some form of restoration. As it is, the colours are slightly washed out. Unfortunately, the dialogue is not in Cantonese or Mandarin - it's an American-dubbed track, which really adds a layer of hilarity but truly lives up to the film's grindhouse notoriety.

Note: The Calamity Of Snakes DVD is banned in $ingapore.





For more... email mybigo@bigozine.com with the message, "Put me on your mailing list."


 
April 22, 2007








 

Click here for other Asian Values DVD Reviews:

Fangs Of The Cobra
Entrails Of A Virgin
Sensual Pleasures
Return Of The Dead
The Ghost Story
School Of The Holy Beast
Bewitched
Moods Of Love
Seeding Of A Ghost
Gong Tau
Maguma
Yumeko's Nightmare
Hitch-Hike
Question
Abnormal Family
Bitter Sweet
Empty Rooms
Despite All That
Tokyo X Erotica
Lunch Box
Arakimentari
The Ambiguous
A Snake Of June
Ai No Corrida
Abe Sada
Edo Porn
A Woman Called Abe Sada
Visitor Q
Intrigue In Nylons
Maybe It's Love
Woman Of The Night
Take Care, Your Majesty
The Stud And The Nympho
Sex Beyond The Grave
The Sexy Killer
The Girlie Bar
At The Breast Of The Enemy
Starlets For Sale
In The Navel Of The Sea
The Amorous Lotus Pan
Dyesebel
Big Bad Sis
Milagros
The Sugar Daddies
Curacha
Bruce Lee & I
Yesterday Children
The Boxer's Omen
Tinimbang Judged Today
The Foxy Ladies
Corpse Mania
Pale Passion
Sinful Adulteress
Raw Passions
Pila Balde
Sinful Confession
Flower Of Manila
Sexy Playgirls
The Most Beautiful Creature On The Face Of The Earth
Sexy Career Girls
Toro (Live Show)
That's Adultery
Woman Of Mud
Adultery, Chinese Style
Prosti
Women Of Desire
Tatlo
Hex
Naked Under The Moon
Love Swindler
Virgin People
The Girl With The Long Hair
Tatarin
Sex For Sale
Tatsulok
36 Secrets Of Courtship
Biyaheng Langit
Sexy Girls Of Denmark
Laman
Golden Lotus: Love And Desire
Tuhog (Larger Than Life)
Dreams Of Eroticism
Legends Of Lust
Amorous Woman Of Tang Dynasty
Hong Kong Hong Kong
Kiss Of Death
Crazy Sex
Forbidden Tales Of Two Cities
The Call Girls