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CHRISTINA APPLEGATE IN THE SNAKY JAWS-CLONE 'JAWS OF SATAN'

Christina Applegate in JAWS OF SATAN Year: 1981 Rating: ***1/2

Strange when you know a movie by one name, adorning the posters, video cases and disc covers, but another title displays on the actual opening credits... usually fitting a lot more. One example is THE SILENT FLUTE verses CIRCLE OF IRON: the first centers on what the film is about while the other sounds a lot cooler. But in this particular case, banking on the Steven Spielberg shark blockbuster, morphing KING COBRA into JAWS OF SATAN, is actually a better fit...

The titular serpent is The Devil seeking Gothic revenge on a priest. Yet we mostly center on Gretchen Corbett’s Dr. Maggie Sheridan, investigating a series of snake bites taking place in a small town where Fritz Weaver’s Father Tom Farrow, ironically aided (with great chemistry) by new age spiritualist Diana Douglas, resides...

Christina Applegate in JAWS OF SATAN

Called in from the big city is snake expert Jon Korkes as Dr. John Hendricks, a standard leading man/expository scientist in this low-budget horror flick balancing the creature feature genre of SSSSSSS, the taut melodrama of VENOM, and your typical exploitation body count fare…

The best parts involve the latter: from random townsfolk to policemen to the token vulnerable child, played by a very young Christina Applegate resembling the following year's cute blond POLTERGEIST hands-on television starlet, Heather O'Rourke. When the slithering antagonist appears within various interiors and exteriors, from a train to a post-funeral cemetery, the suspense level is palpable, and although mostly implied, each strike is violently effective...

Gretchen Corbett in JAWS OF SATAN

What makes just about any drive-in type of b-movie shine, and has been their staple for years, are veteran actors selling the goods, not only guiding the story but making a farfetched premise legitimate and believable...

Herein Weaver (star of a TWILIGHT ZONE and one day co-star of the best CREEPSHOW episode, THE CRATE) and future ST ELSEWHERE doc/former Alfred Hitchcock heavy Norman Lloyd take THE OMEN and especially EXORCIST template... a relatively younger, faith-doubting priest relying on an older priest for wisdom and logic... Stressing the mysterious origin and agenda of the snake: revenge dating back thousands of years.

Fritz Weaver in JAWS OF SATAN

Meanwhile, an abandoned sub-plot involving the town's greedy Mayor covering up for a Dog Race Track mirrors Murray Hamilton keeping the lethal beaches open in JAWS (Dick Miller in PIRANHA, Dean Jagger in ALLIGATOR): putting financial gain over people's lives.

Yet you can take away all the cheap peripheral distractions and simply enjoy the snake (snakes, actually, since KING COBRA oversees the lesser snakes doing the actual killings) going to town, literally. And at one point, the glass separating the Cobra is totally visible, but hey, the same thing happened in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. So there! 

Christina Applegate and Nancy Priddy in JAWS OF SATAN
Christina Applegate and Nancy Priddy in JAWS OF SATAN
Gretchen Corbett in JAWS OF SATAN
John McCurry in JAWS OF SATAN
Norman Lloyd in JAWS OF SATAN
Fritz Weaver  in JAWS OF SATAN
Christina Applegate as Kim Perry in King Cobra aka JAWS OF SATAN
Christina Applegate as Kim Perry in JAWS OF SATAN w/ Bob Hannah
Christina Applegate as Kim Perry in King Cobra aka JAWS OF SATAN
Gretchen Corbett in JAWS OF SATAN
Gretchen Corbett in JAWS OF SATAN
Jon Korkes John McCurry in JAWS OF SATAN
Christina Applegate in JAWS OF SATAN

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