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STROTHER MARTIN, DIRK BENEDICT, HEATHER MENZIES IN 'SSSSSSS'

Year: 1973 Score: ****1/2 Rest In Peace: Heather Menzies-Urich
"At first we were all petrified," recalls SSSSSSS ingenue Heather Menzies about working with real snakes on set. "The boa constrictor was very docile but the python was more aggressive. They taped his mouth shut with scotch tape but that didn't stop him from trying to take a piece of me...

"I wouldn't go near the cobra," Heather continues. "They had to put a glass partition between him and me. I wouldn't even go near the set unless the partition was up. I've worked with a few snaky people in my time… but I draw the line at cobras." And so, herein, the title makes and breaks this picture; it's cheesy and funny, hokey, silly: Not the movie, the title: And that's the problem: SSSSSSS is actually quite good, genuinely entertaining, with some terrific performances headlined by Strother Martin as a mad scientist who's actually down-to-earth, docile and friendly but has a sinister agenda...

"All you are are a bunch of snake freaks!" Reb brown, SSSSSSS
Hence Dirk Benedict as the med-student being given supposedly standard inoculations...

Along with Martin, sharing scenes with terrific side-roles by Heather Menzies ("Piranha") as the doc's faithful daughter, a scream-queen with a brain, and intrepid yet still vulnerable; underrated character-actor Richard B. Shull as his droll collegiate nemesis; Reb Brown as a bullying jock (who Heather worked with later in CAPTAIN AMERICA); Tim O'Conner as a circus owner and some real life snakes including a cobra, black mamba and boa constrictor all add up to a film that slithers with ease and perfection from one situation to the next, building to an inevitable and awarding conclusion.
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