The Cobra Woman Strikes!
A nurse named Lena from America goes to the Philippines and gets bitten by a magic cobra (named Movini) that sort of enslaves her to its power. Time passes and she becomes a local legend that people are frightened of. Later, Lena (played by Marlene Clark) is confronted by a young scientist named Joanna (played by Joy Bang) who is in the country to study snake venom. The plot gets convoluted from there, with Joy’s boyfriend, Stan, getting bitten by Movini and enslaved to Lena. Stan has to help Lena in her quest to secure nubile men for sex and death. Lena begins shedding her skin as she is utterly possessed by Movini, becoming more and more like the cobra. Meanwhile, Joanna is poking around, causing trouble. Eventually, a final confrontation occurs and Stan must become possessed by Movini in order to save Joanna from certain death. Joanna thanks him by leaving the jungle and stopping to eat some fruit on her way out.
This one is a really strange flick. Produced by Roger Corman, it definitely plays like a Corman movie from the late 50’s/early 60’s era, pre-Poe Cycle. You get all the stilted dialogue, weird scene transitions, and odd behavior from his old days, with an added dash of sex and boobs. Marlene Clark is terrific as the apprehensive nurse that is enthralled to Movini’s will. Ms. Bang is equally terrific, playing the kind of girl that likes to eat her Cheerios straight out of the box. She’s sexy, spunky and, at times, utterly obnoxious. There’s a lot of white American privilege going on here, and her blunders get her into some serious trouble. The special effects are kinda bad, even for the time period, and they will either hinder your enjoyment or add to the charm.
Night of The Cobra Woman isn’t a lost treasure or a film that will blow your mind. It is a fun hour-plus that is plenty weird. If you’re a Corman fan you’ll find a lot to love here, and if not, it’s worth it for the Philippine settings and the hot women. Oh, and the snake stuff is handled pretty well, with almost every actor at some point being confronted by real, live cobras. This was pre-CGI, so no cheating here, and no real rubber snakes to speak of, either.
Three Stars out of Four