Tonight's review is dedicated to our newest she-reader from down on the Rhine,Anni,tattooed n' fine,with a taste for crime.An extra-succulent serpentine shocker from the outta sight seventies just for you,baby.One of the last double-bills from Universal(bring 'em back,boys,the theatrical horror experience in this country needs a shot in the arm),sharing the marquee with Nathan Juran's The Boy Who Cried Werewolf the same year,Kowalski's fried slice of exploitation gold is a dated and groovy exercise in throwback genre staples like the assembly line mad scientist with total disdain for his fellow humans and a god complex a half mile wide,coupled with moviegoers natural fear of snakes to make for ninety-nine minutes of entertaining fright fare that ran regularly on late night television for years afterwards.John Chambers transformation effects in the finale are surprisingly effective for the time period,and the production,which was nominated for Best Sci-Fi Film two years later,is comprised of solid shlocky efforts from screen vets like Strother Martin and Heather Menzies,and Dirk (Battlestar Galactica,The A-Team)Benedict as the silver screen's very first college-student-into-King-Cobra. ...Comes Kristina(Heather Menzies),a horny hedonistic herpetologist heading headfirst into hooded,hissing horror. Ah,the glorious seventies,when men of science with a twisted vision of the future could freely mix humans with reptiles in the privacy of their laboratories,and when the theory results in genetic failure,he or she could very easily sell the skewed mockery of life to the nearest sideshow with little interference from the local podunk police force and carry on in the direction of progress.Such a man is Dr. Stoner(Strother Martin),who dabbles in mad science when he isn't wrangling King Cobras in his front yard for a handful of buford onlookers and a can full of tips.His daughter/assistant,Kristina(Heather Menzies)is ready to look past the cold-blooded reptiles and wrangle the pants python of a real man if he'll look past her giant glasses and nerd lab coat.The elder Stoner relies upon the nearby university for research grants and unsuspecting guinea pigs,and when his latest assistant,Tim,tranforms into a scaly,whimpering beanbag instead of the king cobra with human intelligence the good doctor was hoping for,it's the sideshow for Tim,and the drawing board for Stoner.That's where oblivious college swat,David(Dirk Benedict)comes in.Looking to earn some money and extra credit,he unwittingly volunteers to assist Stoner in the lab,becoming the next in line for the doctor's king cobra venom injections,which,given in regular intervals will eventually metamorphosize the subject into a highly-evolved king cobra with human intelligence,apparently.Hey,I didn't write it. Dr. Daniels(Richard B. Shull)considers cryptic clues,then is crushed by a colubrid. While Kristina is shedding her awkward shyness and clothes to go skinny dipping with David(who's shedding his own skin,due to the injections),her father is eliminating nosey colleagues like Dr. Daniels(Richard Shull)from the university,by trapping him in the cellar with an enormous,hungry constrictor,and brainless sportos like Steve Randall(Reb Brown),by slipping unfriendly when wet black mambas into the shower with him after the jock douche accidentally kills the doctor's favorite pet boa while trying to sneak into Kristina's upstairs digs through the open window.Earlier at the fair,Randall's hijinks earn him a bite(!)from David,when his neanderthal approach doesn't impress the female snake handler.When David and Kristina get their fuck on,it speeds up the boy's metamorphosis timetable,forcing Stoner to send her away to pick up an imported reptile at the train station while he completes the procedure.When the snake never arrives,she makes a pitstop at the fair to see the snakeman,overcome by the horrible realization that it's her father's former assistant,Tim,and a similar fate awaits her new love interest.Meanwhile,David has transformed into a twenty foot long poisonous snake with blue eyes.Dr. Stoner,his work completed,squares off against his other cobra in the pen,and gets the living shit bit out of him by the hooded devil,an opprobrious fate for such an advanced mind.As Kristina arrives on the scene with the authorities,who shoot the cobra in the pen,she watches helplessly as the serpent formerly known as David battles to the death with an ornery mongoose,letting out a freeze framed scream,as was standard protocol for such movies back then. "...for instructions in reptilian/human hybrid,press eight with your biforcated tongue..." The late Kowalski helmed genre classics like Night of the Blood Beast(1958) and Attack of the Giant Leeches(1959),before enjoying a long career in television,directing everything from Perry Mason and The Untouchables to Baretta and Diagnosis Murder.Strother Martin,who died in 1980,will always be remembered for his fine work in films like Cool Hand Luke,Slapshot,and the original True Grit with John Wayne,although he did put his stamp on genre films like Nightwing(1979) and Up in Smoke(1978),as well.The beautiful Menzies,who broke into film in 1963's The Sound of Music,scored memorable genre turns in Joe Dante's Pirahna(1978) and tonight's review,as well a myriad of television roles.Dirk Benedict will always be remembered as the original,much less sexy Lt. Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica,and Face from The A-Team,although he's done an ocean of other film and television appearances over the years.I don't know about you guys,but 70's horror like tonight's entry is just what the doctor ordered for me,most of the time.I'll always break out discs like "Sssssss" when that particular mood strikes me(and it does,trust me).On the ratings scale,tonight's review rears back and spreads its hood,displaying a decent score of two wops. "I'm over the Orange Julius idea,fellas.Could somebody just pick me up a few frozen lab rats instead?"