I’m not sure if I liked this film or I liked the situation in which I watched. Which was visiting with a relative that I hadn’t seen in a while over dinner. To which Cult of the Cobra was perfect ambiance. Faith Domergue commanded attention and while silly in premise was successful in its execution. This is more in line of what I think of the horror films of the 1950s. Cult of the Cobra was made independently and that does show with the film utter lack of special effects. Though the POV shots along with the performances that sometimes bubble over into being over the top makes me understand how Cult of the Cobra has earned its cult status.
Cult of the Cobra opens with six GI’s, Paul Abel (Richard Long), Nick Hommel (James Dobson), Tom Markel (Marshall Thompson), Pete Norton (William Reynolds), Rico Nardi (David Janssen) and Carl Turner (Jack Kelly) in Asia prepare to ship home at the end of WWII. After meeting a snake charmer Daru (Leonard Strong), who for a fee of a hundred US dollars, shows the men to the secret temple of Lamians. Snake worshipers who can change from humans to snakes and back again. His only condition is they are not to be discovered. Which of course they are when Tom takes a photo, resulting in a huge fight where the GI’s have to flee with the temple priest cursing them. Though Tom is left behind, when they realize he’s not with them and the prepare to go back for him. They find him being left in the road by a woman, who quickly flees. Tom has a snake bite, but Paul sucks the poison out and they rush him to the hospital. The next day they laugh about the events as Tom recuperates and states that he will be well enough to ship home with them the next day. That night an unknown creature (snake) enters his room and attacks him. The next day Paul and the others are upset over Toms sudden death. Though this doesn’t prevent them from shipping home. Though the deaths don’t stop there. While driving home after closing up the bowling alley where he works Rico is also attacked and dies. Followed by Carl after he throws a party is attacked by the same creature. Paul becomes convinced that the deaths are the result of the curse and are somehow connected to Lisa Moya (Faith Domergue), who moved in across the hall just after they returned home and who Tom has fallen for…
The film keeps a very brisk pace, mostly thanks to its sizable victim pool. Cult of the Cobra quickly jumps into the action before easing into the horror and the dread of what fate holds for the GI’s. The POV shots are very effective in the regard and allow the viewer’s imagination to do some of the work. Which is a good thing since the inclusion of rubber snake would have made these scenes laughable.
The acting is on par with Faith Domergue stealing the show for me. She plays a memorable villain, that actually seems conflicted about her actions. Plus I love it that a woman is the killer with men being the victims. A refreshing change of pace from the slasher norms I’ve grown accustom to.
Final thoughts, I don’t really have much to say as Cult of the Cobra is very straight forward. Most the other actors do good jobs and hold their own. The music balances well with the action on-screen and the ending leaves you with a hollow feeling. My one complaint is that the ending feels abrupt, but I can’t see another way that would deliver the same emotional punch. 7/10