“A percentage of all profits from CALAMITY OF SNAKES in all formats will be donated to Save the Snakes in continuation of their mission to protect snake populations around the world.”
Some things you just can’t unsee…
I generally love horror movies where nature strikes back, even a lot of the bad ones. There’s always been something supremely enjoyable in watching killer critters wreak havoc on a hapless cast lining up to be clawed, bitten and devoured. However, Calamity of Snakes was more than I bargained for. It’s essentially a reptile snuff film.
Throughout its running time, literally hundreds of real snakes are killed on-screen in just about every violent, cruel and agonizing way you can imagine. These sequences are voyeuristically shot, unsettling and seem to go on forever. In fact, there’s so much snake slaughter that this disc offers a “cruelty free” version, which runs a full ten minutes shorter. I even considered reviewing the film with that version, but then I wouldn’t really be doing my job, would I?
At any rate, these scenes pretty much sucked all the fun out of the movie for me. Which is too bad, because elsewhere, Calamity of Snakes is the kind of nature-run-amok flick that has the potential to be terrific entertainment by virtue of its sheer goofiness. The story sees a greedy building developer ordering his crew to kill a big batch of snakes blocking the construction of his newest highrise. But he apparently doesn’t get ‘em all, because after the building is completed, thousands more snakes - including a few giant pythons - burst from the ground to get revenge, attacking the residents.
But apparently, killing critters was an acceptable part of Hong Hong horror cinema back when this was made, which is discussed at-length - and often defended - in a documentary that comes with the disc. One interviewee even pretentiously suggests that modern viewers offended by on-screen animal killing are culturally ignorant…even racist. Contextualize it all you want, buddy…it doesn’t make this stuff any easier to watch.
Still, I’m sure there are plenty of thrill seekers who'll indeed find the wonton snake slaughter very enjoyable. For everyone else, you’ve been warned.
“FROM SHAW TO SNAKES: THE VENOM AND VIOLENCE OF EARLY CHINESE LANGUAGE HORROR CINEMA” - The best of the bonus features, this includes interviews with various film historians, though I could do without some of them mansplaninig why I shouldn’t be offended by filmmakers killing animals.
“REPTILIAN RECOLLECTION” - Lin Kuang-Yung interviews actor Chui-Yi Chung.
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By Nathan Hamilton and Brad Slaton.
“CRUELTY FREE” VERSION - All the real snake carnage removed.
ENGLISH DUB OPTION
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