Snake People (1971)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Supernatural Horror  |   Release Date - Mar 1, 1971 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - Mexico, United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Fred Beldin

Horror icon Boris Karloff ended his career by appearing in four Mexican genre films which reached American audiences several years after his death and were seen primarily on TV late-late shows. 80 years old and suffering from arthritis and emphysema, the ailing actor's scenes for all four features were shot in 1968 over a two-week period in Los Angeles by exploitation director Jack Hill. The films were finished in Mexico by director Juan Ibanez, with Mexican casts that only occasionally interact with the old master. La Muerte Viviente (known in America under a plethora of other titles including The Snake People and Cult of the Dead) was the first finished product of this bizarre international horror series, and despite sensual snake dances, cannibalistic zombie girls, and genuine chicken decapitations, it remains the most sedate entry. This can be said only because each of these patchwork wonders is a masterpiece of schlock cinema, and the following three (which include Chamber of Fear, House of Evil, and Alien Terror) up the ante in terms of outrageous set pieces, insane action, and utter confusion. Karloff is a good sport, lending an air of class and sophistication to a movie that deserves none, and aside from a few obvious stand-ins, the integration of his scenes with the remainder of the production isn't bad. La Muerte Viviente won't scare anyone, but the sweaty, hallucinogenic voodoo of this sleazy horror show is fun and undeniably weird.