Offer Your Dreams To Damballah

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Snake People was one of 4 Boris Karloff films shot back-to-back, each co-scripted and directed by Jack Hill and Juan Ibanez, with Hill shooting the Karloff scenes in Hollywood and Ibanez shooting the rest in Mexico. Karloff plays Damballah, a houngan (Voodoo priest) leading a cult that uses snake venom to create zombies. His assistant, snake dancer Kalea (played by the lusciously buxotic Tongolele, Queen of the Rhumba) is a femme fatale in the truest sense of the word…when not slithering around with her snake, she commands a passel of gorgeous black female zombies who devour Damballah’s enemies. (This is, I think, the first post-Night Of The Living Dead film to feature carnivorous zombies. It’s certainly the first and maybe only one to combine traditional Voodoo zombies with gutmunching ones). There’s a feverish weirdness to the film…the best supernatural horror films give you that “We’re not in Kansas anymore” feeling. Occasionally the strangeness is leavened by Jack Hill’s trademark humor. Karloff gives such a solid, commanding performance that you wouldn’t guess that he was not long for this world. Snake People isn’t as scary as, say, Serpent And The Rainbow or Angel Heart, but it’s ghoulishly fun in that pulp/horror comic sort of way. Offer your dreams to Damballah!

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