Friday, September 16, 2011


William Fruet

I went into Spasms without the slightest idea of what it was about. After watching it, I’m still not sure. The film opens with a tribe of indeterminate origin in the midst of a ceremony as some great white hunter watches from a distance. There’s an explosion, a tree catches on fire and we are treated to a POV shot from high up in the tree tinted blue. Due to the age of the VHS tape and the blue coloring I thought maybe this was indicating a robot.

The unseen thing attacks the tribe. And by unseen, I mean there are POV shots of it approaching someone and then a cut to them getting knocked away. You can’t see anything hitting them. So maybe it’s an invisible robot.

Whatever it is, they manage to catch it in a net.

Turns out it’s a snake. Oliver Reed plays Jason Kincaid a man bitten by this snake several years ago. He’s been having visions of it attacking people and has hired someone to capture it and bring it back to study. He’s also hired an ESP expert named Tom Brasilian (Peter Fonda) because you see; the venom of the snake has given Kincaid a telepathic link because telepathy is a virus.

Of course the snake gets loose, thanks in part to a snake cult and thanks in part to a lot of terminally stupid people. The telepathic venom thing doesn’t seem to help anyone else who gets bit. They just sort of swell up and melt. I should also mention it’s a giant snake that no one can easily find.

If all of this sounds lunatic, well it is. At least until the end. Without getting into spoiler territory. I’ll just say this: There is no end. Major plot elements just sort of stop happening much. There are several minutes of flashbacks to pad out the film. Then the whole thing just stops. It seems they ran out of money to film the climax of the movie. I suspect most of that money was spent on refreshing beverages for Mr. Reed.

There’s a lot of energy in the early parts of the movie, and then the whole thing smashes into a brick wall. The snake cult was never adequately explored. I got excited when the cops and the army were called out, nothing ever comes of it. The sleazy villain who’s out to steal the snake dies before any of the other characters even know he existed. The telepathy angle doesn’t amount to anything.

If you don’t mind ending on a truly disappointing note there is some enjoyment to be had in watching Oliver Reed ham it up on occasion and when the snake attacks some sorority girls, complete with unnecessary shower scene. Tangerine Dream supplies an adequate score. I can’t see this keeping anyone glued to the screen but has a few notable moments. I can really only recommend this film for giant snake completists and Oliver Reed mustache enthusiasts.

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