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The Snake Girl (1974)

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The Snake Girl (1974)
Chinese Title: 蛇魔女
Translation: Snake Witch

Cast: Dy Saveth, Kon Samoeun, Oh Lan, Fong Au, Hon Kan, Choi Lam-Lam
Director: King Weng
Producer: King Weng, Roy Chua
Writer: King Weng


The Snake Girl, much like The Snake Man (1970), is a Cambodian-Taiwanese co-production. The credits suggest that a Taiwanese film crew made the movie with a largely Cambodian cast and then dubbed it all into the Mandarin during post-production for local consumption. Or maybe producers King Weng and Roy Chua simply followed a business model not unlike Tomas Tang and Godfrey Ho of Asso Asia Films and simply took movies from other Asian countries, dubbed the films into Chinese, (dishonestly) replaced the credits with their own names and released it to local theaters.

Su Kuei is a philandering son of a gun, whose latest conquest is the equally-wicked Meggie, eldest daughter of the village chief—the film is set in the hinterlands of Cambodia. The scheming couple hire a sorcerer to poison Meggie’s dad and Su Kuei’s wife, and soon the couple run the place. However, once a slimeball, always a slimeball: Su Kuei tries to rape Meggie’s righteous sister, Ah-Hua. In an extreme act of victim-blaming, Meggie has her lackeys take Ah-Hua to a cave filled with snakes and leave her there to die. The snakes don’t kill her; an interspecies romance develops and Ah-Hua is ultimately impregnated by one of the slithery serpents.

Some fifteen years or so later, the deceased village chief’s adopted son, Fei Lung, had grow into a strapping young man. He’s currently engaged to marry Milla, Su Kuei’s daughter from his first marriage. However, the Spawn of Ah-Hua’s union with a snake has now come of age (and is played by Saveth Dy, of Snake Man and The Snake Girl Drops In), and leaves her cave to visit real people. Fei Lung immediately falls head over heels for the girl, whom he names Ah Mei. Milla is heartbroken, of course, and Su Kuei is not going to take this sitting down. He gets his sorcerer and a trio of black magic priests involved, ultimately leading to a snake attack of near-Jennifer proportions and the downfall of all the bad people.

Despite the horrific underpinnings to the story—black magic, interspecies erotica with a reptile, a woman with dozens of live snakes glued to her scalp—the film is largely a soap opera melodrama. Su Kuei is the textbook definition of toxic masculinity: adulterous, violent, abusive and a closet rapist waiting for an opportunity. Fei Lung is more in touch with his feelings, crying and lamenting how he’s being forced into an arranged marriage—albeit with some particularly bad overracting. Once Milla gets dumped, goes into that resigned weeping mode every time Fei Lung’s name is brought up.

The movie will mainly bore viewers, but there are a couple of moments that will horrify them. The first meeting between the Sorcerer and the black magic priests will make you wince: they communicate with spirits by running their tongues across a knife blade (the sharp end!) or sticking long spines into their cheeks and out the other (cheek). The finale is especially disgusting, in which they try to “exorcise” the titular snake girl through a ritual that involves beheading a live rabbit onscreen. And that awful scene “climaxes” with stagehands throwing live snakes onto the cast, which is getting off lightly for all the horrible things they’ve done. I think we’d rather see almost everyone involved with this film get bitten by poisonous snakes instead.

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