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That’s seven S’s, kids and don’t you forget it. As the row of S’s suggests, Sssssss is about, you guessed it, snakes. Now, y’all might think a b-movie about snakes like this would be just chuck full of puppets, garden hoses with googly eyes, or toy snakes. Wrong. Sssssss prides itself on using real snakes. Real venomous snakes no less, like the Black Mamba and the King Cobra. In fact, there is a big disclaimer at the front of the film stating the use of real snakes—and you can tell they are real. This film was shot in the 1970s, and fake snakes looked like fake snakes back then.
Fans of The A-Team and the original Battlestar Galactica, take note: Dirk Benedict is the young star of this here feature. And I do mean young—he looks straight outta high school. Benedict gets the gig as crazy snake doctor Strother Martin’s assistant (only three S’s? Lame). Martin has a filmography longer than an anaconda, and is perhaps best remembered as the “Failure to communicate” guy from Cool Hand Luke (he’s also in Slap Shot and The Wild Bunch).
Martin has other companions too, mainly his daughter, played by Sound of Music‘s Heather Menzies, and his “obedient serpent” Harry. Yes, obedient serpent. Harry is prone to drinking whiskey throughout the film, which is worth a watch on its own, and I’m sure inspired Nickolas Cage’s performance in Leaving Las Vegas.
The awkward snake lingo doesn’t stop with obedient serpent, either. Lines like, “I’ll milk you tomorrow,” and “Put your finger in there,” slither throughout the film. In addition to Martin’s hilarious snake-speak, Benedict suffers through a few crazy hallucinations scenes—complete with stock footage of volcanos and other weird stuff.
Two scenes really stand out, however. Actually. Three. First, is a scene where Martin has a duel with a King Cobra. A real King Cobra, no less. Sure, there’s some creative shooting and editing going on, and probably a puppet shot or two, but it is still impressive. Second, there is a scene involving an alleged ‘snake-man’ at a freak show. Without spoiling too much, I’ll just say it is down right creepy. Third, and this is something really special, is the skinny dipping scene with Benedict and Menzies.
Don’t get your hopes up. Instead of seeing what nature gave the pair, laughable graphics of huge leaves are superimposed over anything questionable. It is a sight to behold.
Sssssss is a hoot and insanely entertaining, so give it a watch—but ya might wanna pass if’n ya suffer from a fear of snakes. I’m lookin’ at you, Dr. Jones.