• Snake God, The

    Snake God, The
    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: December 10th, 2013.
    Director: Piero Vivarelli
    Cast: Nadia Cassini, Beryl Cunningham, Evaristo Marques, Sergio Tramonti
    Year: 1970
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Piero Vivarelli’s 1970 film The Snake God, for some of us at least, might, to the unfamiliar, conjure up images of some sort of horrible monster, maybe someone you might see square off against Sinbad in an old Ray Harryhausen movie or maybe an evil foe to be dealt a mighty blow by a warrior such as Conan. Nope. There’s none of that here, this isn’t a fantasy film at all nor is it really even a horror film yet it rests most assuredly in the pantheon of ‘Italian Cult Films’ somewhere alongside the ‘sexy thrillers shot on exotic islands’ sub-genre made popular by the likes of Joe D’Amato – and to many of us, that’s the sure sign of a good time at the movies.

    When the film begins, a lovely woman named Paola (Nadia Cassini) has arrived on a tropical island where she and her husband Bernard (Sergio Tramonti) enjoy all that the place has to offer – sun, beaches, beautiful scenery, booze, all sorts of good stuff. One sunny afternoon they take a boat trip which turns into an opportunity for voyeurism when the couple spies on a black couple having sex on the beach. Intrigued by this, they watch.

    When they get back to shore, low and behold they meet Stella (Beryl Cunningham), who just so happens to have been the female involved in the beach side coupling they found so enthralling hours before. They hit it off and become fast friends and soon Stella is sharing her plans to explore a seaside location called Black Rock even though she knows it’s got sharks and snakes aplenty. She makes the trek, solo, and encounters a snake god named Djamballa who has become more than a little interested in her. From here on out, the various ideas of fantasy and lust shared by the two women start to intertwine in strange ways, resulting in arcane rituals, island voodoo rites and plenty of naked flesh.

    Better known for his involvement on more action oriented fare like various Spaghetti Westerns and Mario Bava’s Diabolik, director Piero Vivarelli proves with this picture that he has a keen eye for location shooting and for framing the female form. The film throws political correctness to the wind and makes no qualms about the fact that the white couple is turned on by black Stella’s exotic looks as they go about indulging in some off kilter stereotypical ‘island/native’ activities (tribal dancing and what not) but the film moves at a good pace and it is consistently impressive in the visual department. The South American locations employed in the film are lush, warm, inviting and appealing and Vivarelli rightly fills these locations with beautiful woman aplenty, often in various states of undress. He wasn’t going for high art here, even if at times he definitely shows plenty of artistic flair.

    Nadia Cassini, probably best known for her role in Luigi Cozzi’s camp classic Starcrash, is a sight to behold here. She’s curvy in all the right places with a beautiful face and an aura of sexual confidence about her that is nothing short of appealing. Likewise, Beryl Cunningham is also very attractive and Vivarelli lets his camera linger over both ladies enough so that, even if this never gets as graphic as the aforementioned D’Amato’s films, we become rather well acquainted with them.

    This isn’t deep, but it has nice atmosphere about it and it moves at a good pace. The film dabbles in racial stereotyping but doesn’t go so far as some of what the Italian film industry would churn out in the coming years. Instead it works better as a sort of sexy travelogue that occasionally ventures into genre territory and melodrama. It’s nothing, if not beautiful to look at, and quite entertaining.


    Snake God debuts on DVD from Mondo Macabro framed at 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen in a pretty slick looking transfer that boasts good detail and nice color reproduction. There are some minor specks here and there but overall the picture is crisp and clean sporting pretty solid black levels and decent compression. There’s no obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement to note, and all in all, given the obscurity of this picture it looks very good indeed.

    The Dolby Digital Mono track on the disc is in Italian with optional English subtitles and it sounds pretty good. Range is understandably a bit limited but the score has some nice bounce to it and the levels are nicely balanced. There are no issues with hiss or distortion to note and the subtitles are clean, easy to read and free of any obvious typos.

    The main extra on the disc is a fourteen minute interview with Piero Vivarelli in which the late director discusses shooting the film on location, his love of film and music, why he got into making movies and more. He also shares some amusing stories about Lucio Fulci and where to shoot your movies if you also happen to be on the hunt for killer weed. This is a really fun, laid back and informal interview, Vivarelli is quite a character and a born storyteller!

    We also get some extensive production notes that detail the film’s history and provide some welcome information on those who made it. Rounding out the extras is a theatrical trailer for the feature, the always enjoyable Mondo Macabro promo reel, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    More of a sexy travelogue than you might expect, The Snake God offers up plenty of beautiful woman, gorgeous landscapes and a fantastic score to compliment an interesting enough storyline that, if it doesn’t break any new ground, offers up some memorable set pieces. Italian cult cinema aficionados will find much to enjoy here, and Mondo Macabro’s DVD release offers up the film in excellent condition with a few fun extras as well.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      Even though this never gets as graphic as D'Amato's similar films, I found more to like about this one. The offbeat nature of the story - and that rather ambiguous ending - along with drool-worthy scenes of Cassini and Cunningham make this one well worth a purchase imo. The Augusto Martelli score is fab too, particularly "Beryl's Tune". I could have done without that brutal goat decapitation though. Damn. Extra points for a particularly blatant J&B money shot.