Cult of the Cobra

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Cult of the Cobra
Cultofcobra.jpg
Directed by Francis D. Lyon
Produced by Howard Pine
Screenplay by Richard J. Collins
Story by Jerry Davis
Starring Faith Domergue
Kathleen Hughes
Richard Long
Jack Kelly
David Janssen
Marshall Thompson
Edward Platt
Music by Irving Gertz, William Lava, Lou Maury, Stanley Wilson (all uncredited)
Cinematography Russell Metty
Edited by Milton Carruth
Production
company
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • May 30, 1955 (1955-05-30) (U.S.)[1]
Running time
82 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Cult of the Cobra is a 1955 American black-and-white horror film, produced by Howard Pine, directed by Francis D. Lyon, that stars Faith Domergue, Richard Long, Kathleen Hughes, Marshall Thompson, Jack Kelly, William Reynolds, and David Janssen.[2] The film was released by Universal-International Pictures as a double feature with Revenge of the Creature.

Six American officers witness the secret ritual of Lamians (worshipers of women who can change into serpents). When the soldiers are discovered by the snake cult, the High Lamian Priestess vows that "the Cobra Goddess will avenge herself". Once back in the United States, a mysterious woman enters into the life of each service man, with disastrous results: "accidents" begin to happen, and before each death the shadow of a cobra is seen. Critics noted similarities of the film with Val Lewton's movie Cat People having been released thirteen years before.[3]

Plot

Shortly before shipping home at the end of World War II, six American Air Force officers explore an Asian bazaar. A snake charmer, Daru, allows the men to take pictures of him holding a cobra. Paul Abel mentions the strange cult of the Lamians, who worship snakes and believe that there are people who can transform into them. Daru says quietly that, for a price, Paul can see this for himself.[4]

Daru takes the men to the secret Lamian temple, while warning them that if caught, it will mean their deaths. The six observe a ceremonial dance symbolizing the rescue of the Lamian people by their Cobra Goddess. As the lithe female dancer slides back into a woven basket, the drunk Nick Hommel ignores Daru's warnings and takes a photograph. The temple erupts as the Lamians react in outrage, and their high priest pronounces a death curse on the intruders.

Nick fights free of two Lamians and grabs the woven basket, now containing a cobra, from the temple's platform. Daru is killed by his fellow Lamians, while the other servicemen set fire to the temple to cover their escape. They speed away in their jeep but slam to a halt when they see Nick lying in the road, a woman standing over him. Tom Markel pursues the woman, but she vanishes. He returns to Nick, who is suffering from a snake bite. Paul looks worriedly at the empty woven basket lying in the road.

Recovering in the hospital, Nick apologizes and assures his friends that he will be fit to ship out the next day. As he settles into sleep, something appears from the darkness and slips into his room through an open window. It rears up over him as Nick opens his eyes and screams. Devastated by Nick’s death, his friends must make their plans to ship out. Paul worries aloud that the high priest’s curse may have been more than words. The others scoff, as the conversation turns toward their plans for civilian life.

Back in New York, while alone in his apartment, Tom is startled by a scream coming from the apartment across the passageway. He forces his way in and finds a beautiful, terrified woman named Lisa Moyer, who speaks of an intruder. Tom calms her down and persuades her to spend the day with him. Arriving home that evening, Tom invites Lisa into his apartment. There, she shows an intense interest in a photograph of the six friends, taken during their Air Force service in Asia.

Later that night, Rico Nardi, one of the six, locks up his bowling alley and begins to drive home. In his rear-view mirror, he catches sight of something moving in the back seat that strikes at him. The car swerves, crashes, and flips over, killing Rico. As a crowd gathers, a breathless Lisa slips away into the shadows, one of which is shaped like a cobra.

Carl Turner and his roommate Pete Norton, two of the remaining six, host a party. Carl comes on to Lisa, and Tom jealously punches him. Tom and Lisa leave, and when he doubles back to return her left-behind gloves, he finds Lisa gone from her apartment. She returns to the party, but it is over and Carl is now cleaning up. As he fixes her a drink, a cobra is suddenly there. He throws an object, striking it as the snake lunges at him, but its movement drives him backward, carrying him out an open window to his death below. Bystanders gather as Pete returns and notices Lisa in the crowd, favoring her arm. The police question him, and Lisa returns to her apartment, where she finds Tom dozing. She begins to tell him that she's in love with him, a new experience for her.

The next morning, while Tom and Paul have breakfast, Julia Thompson joins them. She is not only Paul's fiancé, but Tom's old girlfriend. They receive a phone call regarding Carl's death, and both head to the police station while Julia cleans up. Lisa comes over and notices Julia looking through books on cults, specifically one about people transforming into snakes.

Lisa feels threatened, but a dry cleaner comes by and Julia leaves to get ready for her next show. Paul gives the police his theory about the curse placed on them and thinks that Lisa might have transformed into a cobra in order to kill them. Tom, angry about the accusation, leaves. The inspector dismisses his theory, so Paul requests that a toxicology test be made on Carl and Rico's bodies.

Later, Lisa is about to go to Julia's show when Pete surprises her at Tom's apartment. He sees the scratch on her arm and insinuates that she is the killer of his friends. Now cornered, she transforms into a cobra and goes after Pete. At the police station, the toxicology results show that Carl and Rico were killed by cobra venom. Paul and the police arrive at Tom's apartment, where they find Pete's dead body and Tom and Lisa gone. Paul calls Tom at the theater about Pete's death. He wants Tom to keep Lisa there until the police arrive. Lisa, however, has gone into Julia's dressing room. When Julia returns, a cobra tries and fails to strike at her. Tom rushes in and covers up the snake, then uses a coat rack to lift and then push it out a high window. The cobra transforms back into Lisa as she lays dying on the sidewalk below. Later, standing over her now lifeless body, Tom covers her face and walks away into the shadows.

Cast

Production

Mari Blanchard started the film, but actress Faith Domergue replaced her a few days after shooting began.[5]

Release

Home media

Universal released Cult of the Cobra on DVD in a boxed set called The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection Vol. 2, which has 4 other genre features (Dr. Cyclops, The Land Unknown, The Deadly Mantis, and The Leech Woman).[6]

Legacy

See also

References

  1. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047966/releaseinfo?ref_=tt_dt_dt
  2. ^ Maine, David (14 March 2013). "'Cult of the Cobra' (1955)". PopMatters. popmatters.com. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  3. ^ Erickson, Glenn (September 13, 2007). "The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection Vol. 2". DVD Talk. dvdtalk.com. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  4. ^ Hendershot, Cynthia (2001). I was a Cold War Monster: Horror Films, Eroticism, and the Cold War Imagination. Popular Press. p. 58. ISBN 9780879728496. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  5. ^ Parla, Paul; Mitchell, Charles P. (2000). Screen Sirens Scream!: Interviews with 20 Actresses from Science Fiction, Horror, Film Noir, and Mystery Movies, 1930s to 1960s. MaFarland. p. 71. ISBN 9780786407019.
  6. ^ "The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection 1 & 2". DVD Beaver. dvdbeaver.com. Retrieved 3 September 2017.

Bibliography

  • Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Films of the Fifties, 21st Century Edition (First Edition 1982). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009. ISBN 0-89950-032-3.

External links

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