Sssssss (released as Ssssnake in the UK) is a 1973 horror film starring Strother Martin, Dirk Benedict, and Heather Menzies. It was directed by Bernard L. Kowalski and written by Hal Dresner and Daniel C. Striepeke, the latter of whom also produced the film. The make-up effects were created by John Chambers and Nick Marcellino. It received a nomination for the Best Science Fiction Film award of the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films in 1975.
The movie begins with Dr. Carl Stoner (Martin) selling a mysterious creature in a crate to a carnival owner. It is later discovered that the creature is actually part-man/part-snake, the result of one of Stoner's bizarre experiments. College student David Blake (Benedict) is hired as an assistant by Stoner, an ophiologist. It transpires that Stoner's previous assistant had mysteriously left town without telling anyone (Stoner explains that he had gone back home to attend to a sick relative).
Unbeknownst to David or anyone else, Stoner is a delusional man, convinced that humanity is doomed and is attempting to prepare for what he believes to be the inevitable by working out a method of transforming humans into reptiles that can survive pollution and any other ecological disaster that would wipe humanity out.
Stoner begins David on a course of injections, purportedly as a safeguard against being bitten by a snake in his lab. David's skin slowly starts to change and even peel like a snakeskin. David begins a romance with Stoner's daughter Kristina (Menzies), although her father objects and insists that she not have any sexual relations with him. David becomes increasingly perturbed by the strange side effects of the injections. Kristina visits a carnival freak show and is horrified when she sees a bizarre "snake-man", whom she recognises as Stoner's previous assistant, Tim.
Distraught, she races back home to save David who is currently mutating into a cobra, brought about by the injections that Stoner has been giving him. Stoner is bitten by a real cobra from his lab and dies, just as David's transformation is complete. Kristina arrives home and finds her father dead with the real cobra next to him. The police then arrive and shoot the cobra before heading to the lab where a mongoose is attacking David's neck, attempting to kill him. But the police do not have a clear shot, and as Kristina screams David's name the movie ends abruptly, leaving their fates uncertain.
- Strother Martin as Dr. Carl Stoner
- Dirk Benedict as David Blake
- Heather Menzies as Kristina Stoner
- Richard B. Shull as Dr. Ken Daniels
- Tim O'Connor as Kogen
- Jack Ging as Sheriff Dale Hardison
- Kathleen King as Kitty Stewart
- Reb Brown as Steve Randall
- Ted Grossman as Deputy Morgan Bock
- Charles Seel as Old man
- Ray Ballard as Waggish Tourist
The film's executive producers were Richard Zanuck and David Brown, who went on to produce Jaws.
The venomous snakes in the film were not defanged during production. Five King Cobras were imported from Thailand for this feature, ranging from 10â"15Â ft in length. They were recently caught in good health from the wild with full venom potency. The "Snake Park" milking scenes were real and meant to mimic what Bill Haast did at his Serpentarium in Florida daily. About one ounce of venom was collected during each take with no harm to the snakes. A different cobra was used for each take. The filming of this part of the movie took most of a day, as the cobras spent most of their time trying to escape the fenced enclosure rather than rising up in the traditional cobra attack mode.
This film was released by Universal as a double feature with The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973), making the program one of the last double bills released by the studio.
- The title for the film's release in Spain was Ssssilbido de muerte, which translates as Hisssss of Death in English.
- The title for the film's release in Japan was Kaiki! KyÅ«ketsu ningen sunÄ"ku (æªå¥ï¼å¸è¡äººé"ã¹ãã¼ã¯), which translates as Bizarre! Human blood-sucking snake in English. It was released in Japan on September 18, 1976.
Sssssss has been released on DVD, both by itself and in a collection that also includes The Funhouse, Phantasm 2 and The Serpent and the Rainbow.
In Japan, there was a VHS format release, and a DVD was released on April 7, 2010.
- List of killer snake films
- SSSSnake at the Internet Movie Database
- Sssssss at Rotten Tomatoes
- Sssssss at Cinema de Merde