Vacations are a funny thing. Depending on the circumstances they can go from awesome to disaster and back again with little warning. For example, when I was a kid in Chicago, my parents threatened each other with divorce while we stayed in some flea bag motel, but then my sister had to ruin all those good vibes when she threw a tantrum at the Field Museum.
Likewise, for Lisa (Jill Schoelen only two years removed from The Stepfather and her greatest success) there are break ups and screaming that mark her cross country holiday with her boyfriend Clark (soap opera legend J. Eddie Peck). Of course those involve Clark mutating into a snake, eating her pet birds, and worst of all, going on a murderous rampage and not killing Jamie Farr’s character.
But like the sweet promise of my parents’ divorce after too many years of them interrupting me watching The Love Boat with their fights, Lisa’s vacation had its good times as well.
How could Lisa not enjoy Clark fingerbanging her in the car with his mutated snake hand? It’s a hand with a forked tongue after all! And that time she was squatting to take a piss by the side of the road and Clark blasted an evil snake who was trying to slither where the sun don’t shine with his trusty rifle was positively romantic!
Somewhat less romantic had to be that time in the motel room when Lisa discovered the panties she left laying around were positively soaked with snake jizz! She was justifiably repulsed and even I have to admit to being a bit grossed out which really says something since I usually don’t mind a pair of soaked panties!
Things turn around for the viewer immediately though when she uses her guitar to smash a snake hiding in her bed. The horror of her plucking on that thing and singing again in the movie was finally ended!
Digital penetration and drenched intimates aside, is there anything else that elevates this above all the other “guys with mutant snake hand” movies? Uh, yeah, everything else!
How about Jamie Farr’s serious turn as traveling salesman Harry who carries around a suitcase full of snake anti-venom? And who uses his skills on the CB to rally a bunch of truckers (including his bulldog-faced girlfriend Flo) to try and find Lisa and Clark after Jamie realizes he misdiagnosed what snake Clark was bitten by and thus gave him the wrong antidote? (Harry is worried about being sued by Clark!)
And then there’s very special guest star Bo Svenson as the Sheriff! Like any sheriff who pointlessly harasses our obviously infected protaganist, Bo only makes matters worse when he isn’t being completely ineffectual!
After arresting Clark on a trumped up drug charge simply because Clark won’t show the Sheriff his magic snake arm, the Sheriff stops off by the side of the road to take a piss. That’s right! This movie features two important urinating scenes! Combined with the soiled undergarments and snake sodomy by Clark of Lisa in their Jeep and this puts much more expensive fetish films to shame!
Proving that no last second piss goes unpunished, the Sheriff’s deputy gets himself killed by the bloodthirsty serpent living where Clark’s arm used to be! Don’t worry though, the Sheriff isn’t competent enough to put a stop to Clark’s slimy spree.
SnakeClark still has plenty of kill left in him and as anyone who’s an expert on mutant animal bites knows, as time passes, what starts out as a couple of wimpy puncture wounds on your hand turns into your head splitting open and giant snakes pouring out of your has-been human flesh!
If there isn’t much in the way of explanation for all of this (a couple of dudes in hazmat suits mess with a snake at a nuclear testing site and a doctor babbles about DNA and genetic makeup), that’s okay because this is more of an episodic road story than anything else.
SnakeClark wanders around aimlessly (much like the plot) until someone helps him, his girlfriend tracks him down, and he attacks the family with his newly empowered fifty foot long snake tongue! He undergoes a finally gooey transformation at a muddy construction site where somehow the Sheriff and Harry all show up at just the right time.
Director Frederico Prosperi (his only time directing, but he also produced his brother Franco’s Wild Beasts!) realizes what a snake movie needs: snakes! There’s an entire road full of snakes that Clark and Lisa have to drive over. Then there’s all the snakes that Clark starts puking out of his transformed mouth at the end of the movie. There’s even plenty of snake POV shots to amp up the snakey suspense! And the special effects are all pre-CGI so there’s lots of appropriately gooey props to marvel at.
Part of what makes the movie work in a “can’t stop rubbernecking at a car wreck” way is that despite the fact the movie is about a guy who has a snake growing out of his arm, no one ever cracks a smile about it once! In fact, Lisa doesn’t even seem that concerned when Clark starts sweating, holding his gauzed up hand protectively and generally acting like a guy who is in the middle of a horrible mutation. She just wants to prance around in a leather mini-skirt and dance with other dudes in a cowboy bar!
Normally, you might complain that such behavior is unrealistic and that she’s just acting like that to generate a confrontation between Clark and some redneck, but Lisa was probably just trying to put the best face on a vacation where she was violated by a radioactive snake. And who can really blame her? But next time? Probably a staycation.
© 2013 MonsterHunter