Seen in Jeonju

Countdown to Halloween D-3: Snakes

29th October 2011

Snakes are a popular choice for movies. In recent years we have had at least four Anaconda movies, Snakes on a Plane, King Cobra and the Python series. Earlier decades gave us movies such as Venom and Mamba.  Way back in 1974, Hollywood treated us to a movie simply called Snakes in which an elderly man sent his pet snakes out to take revenge on his enemies rather like the better known film Willard which featured Rats. Both of these could be seen as part of a sub-genre of the ‘Nature-Gone-Wild’ category of disaster films. In Nature-Gone-Wild movies, a species– or sometimes an entire family comprised of various, related species– of animals would rise up against humanity. Hitchcock presented us with The Birds and the feathered fiends were quickly followed by many other animals from rabbits (Night of the Lepus), frogs (Frogs) and even worms (Squirm)!

calamity of snakesThe nature-gone-wild films and disaster films in general never really caught on in Korea. However, during the late sixties throught the early 80s, Korean filmmakers frequently teamed up with Hong Kong and Taiwanese production companies. Most of the films made through these collaborations were action ‘kung-fu’ flix but there was some variety. Here we will briefly look at two movies featuring reptiles of revenge that were co-produced with Hong Kong. The first is a film known as Calamity of Snakes (1983). This one follows the usual pattern of nature-gone-wild films where a greedy corporate executive does something to destroy the natural habitat of the animal of the day and they rise up to indiscriminately take vengeance. In this case, the snakes seem justified as their brethern have just been horribly slaughtered by a construction crew who are building a new resort hotel. In retaliation, the snakes invade a luxury, high-rise and attack all the residents living there. Mind you, this is not just one species of snake– it is quite an unusual mix. And they are led by a gigantic boa with kung-fu ability.  Yes– you read that last part right. The snake, suspended from the sky, becomes involved in a wire-fu battle with a team of exterminators.  Sounds like it might be fun, right? Well, not really. For many of the scenes, the snakes are real (unlike the one in the photo above) and so are their deaths.

75-031~2The other co-production is The Magic Curse (1975).  A trip to Borneo takes a bizarre turn when the travellers encounter a snake cult who make human sacrifices to their serpent god. Taekwondo instructor Im Moon-yeong escapes the clutches of the bizarre witch doctor Adulla and runs straight into the arms of a mysterious woman who turns out to be a high priestess of the snake god. She falls in lvoe with Moon-yeong and sends him safely on his way, but with a little gift. When kissing him goodbye, she bites him and imparts to him a curse. She warns him that if he meets any other woman, her rival for his love will die a horrible death. Instead of taking her seriously, Moon-yeong makes a stop over to Hong Kong and proceeds to screw — I’m sorry– I meant ‘make love to’ as many woman as he can.  After he leaves, each of these comely lasses are terrorized by snakes until they can bear it no more and suffer from heart failure. I’m sure there is something Freudian going on here…  Anyway, Moon-yeong soon finds that the curse has another aspect.  When he is assaulted by a gang of thieves, he transforms into a scaly man-snake with enormous teeth.  With dead street punks on his hands and a trail of dead women behind him, it is not long before the police track Moon-yeong down. Fortunately for our hero, the police believe his story of the curse and accompany him to Borneo to put an end to it. Meanwhile, in Borneo, the high priestess has fallen victim to a curse herself placed upon her by Adulla.  She is transformed into the green Medusa-like woman in the poster and she too is leaving a trail of havoc in her wake.

We are not quite done with snakes yet. These are not quite supernatural enough. Tomorrow we will look at the Snake Wives

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