Tuesday, December 31, 2013

DVD Review: THE SNAKE GOD (1970)

Label: Mondo Macabro
Region Code: 1 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 95 Minutes
Video: 16:9 Widescreen (2.35:1)
Audio: Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Director: Piero Vivarelli
Cast: Nadia Cassini, Beryl Cunningham, 
Evaristo Marquez, Sergio Tramonti
Tagline: Sex, voodoo and two beautiful women on a search for sensual liberation.

Abandoned by her rich industrialist husband on a remote Caribbean estate, Paola meets Stella, a beautiful local girl who is an adept of a hidden voodoo cult. The two women become inseparable, sharing their most intimate secrets. All goes well until Paola demands that Stella take her to one of the voodoo ceremonies that she attends every week. There Paola falls under the spell of Djamballa, the powerful snake god, from whose powerful magic there is no escape.

While not as lurid as some of the exotic-erotic Italian productions from schlockmeister Joe D'Amato (Sex and Black Magic, Exotic Malice) this gorgeous South American travelogue from the 70's does offer up some stunning sights, namely the curvy beauty of Nadia Cassini (Starcrash) and the thick slice of ebony delight Beryl Cunningham.

The film hits most of the usual exotic notes without digging too deeply into the sexual taboo and racial stereotypes we've come to associate with this particular brand of exploitation cinema, in fact it's pretty damn tame by comparison, skirting the expected sleaze in favor of some deeply sensual ebony on ivory eroticism, that Beryl Cunningham is quite a stunner.

Not familiar with director Piero Vivarelli's other works but I was impressed with the visual aesthetic and atmosphere of the film, he definitely has an eye for detail and composition. The South American locations are framed very nicely, the colors are vivid, and he definitely knew how to capture beautiful women on film, no doubt. Not a lot of substance here but a fun exotic detour with some decent performances and a whole lot of tropical lust and a tiny bit of voodoo. 

DVD: Mondo Macabro bring The Snake God (1970) to DVD for the first time in the US with a very nice transfer from the film negative. The color reproduction is great with a fine layer of film grain, crisp details and decent black levels. 
The Italian Dolby Digital mono audio handles Augusto Martelli's fantastic Afro-Cuban score and the dialogue quite nicely. Optional English subtitles are provided.

Special features include a trailer, text bios, extensive production notes, a Mondo Macabro trailer reel and a fourteen minute interview with the director Piero Vivarelli who touches on why he became a filmmaker, experiences with Lucio Fulci and his love of smoking weed. Mondo Macabro do it again, another slice of 70's cinema with a great transfer and some nice extras, very nice. .

Special Features:
- Interview with director Piero Vivarelli (14:25)
- Extensive production notes
- Original Trailer (3:32)
- Mondo Macabro Previews (7:43) 

Verdict: I was expecting a bit more naughtiness coming into the title but just the same I did enjoy the erotic delights of The Snake God (1970), a gorgeous slice of 70's exotic-erotica featuring the sensual delights of the Cuban beauty Beryl Cunningham and American ex-pat Nadia Cassini. 3 Outta 5