Black Cobra Woman (1976)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller, Softcore Sex Film  |   Run Time - 97 min.  |   Countries - Italy  |  
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This bizarre curio from veteran European exploitation filmmaker Joe D'Amato is unexpectedly high on style and depressingly low on substance. Black Cobra seems pretty slick on the surface: the cinematography has a gauzy glossiness worthy of an Emmanuelle film and Piero Umiliani's exotica-flavored musical score, mostly lifted from his previous soundtracks, is sexy and sophisticated all at once. However, Black Cobra falls apart on a story level: the plot has a few surprises to offer (the villain's comeuppance must be seen to be believed) but the threadbare script fails to use its novel plot devices to their full potential and never builds interesting or believable characters. D'Amato doesn't help things with his lackluster direction, which never establishes a comfortable pace and pads the film with momentum-killing travelogue footage of Hong Kong. In terms of performances, the actors have little to work with but Gemser makes an attractive lead and Palance turns in some amusingly eccentric work as the hermetic Judas. All in all, Black Cobra has enough kink to please the exploitation film completist but is likely to confound most other viewers.