Cult of the Cobra
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|Cult of the Cobra|
|Directed by||Francis D. Lyon|
|Produced by||Howard Pine|
|Written by||Jerry Davis|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
Cult of the Cobra is an independently made 1955 American black-and-white horror film, produced by Howard Pine, directed by Francis D. Lyon, that stars Faith Domergue, Richard Long, Jack Kelly, William Reynolds, and David Janssen. The film was released by Universal Pictures on a double bill with Revenge of the Creature.
Six American officers witness the secret ritual of Lamians (worshipers of women who can change into serpents). When the soldiers are discovered by the snake cult, the High Lamian Priestess vows that "the Cobra Goddess will avenge herself". Once back in the United States, a mysterious woman enters into the life of each service man, with disastrous results: "accidents" begin to happen, and before each death the shadow of a cobra is seen.
Shortly before shipping home at the end of World War II, six American Air Force officers explore an Asian bazaar. A snake charmer, Daru, allows the men to take pictures of him holding a cobra. Paul Abel mentions the strange cult of the Lamians, who worship snakes and believe that there are people who can transform into them. Daru says quietly that, for a price, Paul can see this for himself.
Daru takes the men to the secret Lamian temple, impressing upon them the danger of what they are doing and warning them that if caught, it will mean their deaths. The six observe a ceremonial dance symbolizing the rescue of the Lamian people by their Cobra Goddess. As the lithe female dancer slides back into a woven basket, the drunk Nick Hommel disregards Daru's warnings and takes a photograph. The temple erupts as the Lamians react in outrage, and their high priest pronounces a death curse on the intruders.
Nick fights free of two Lamians and grabs the woven basket (now containing a cobra) from the temple's platform before fleeing. Daru is killed by his fellow Lamians, while the other servicemen set fire to the temple to cover their escape. They speed away in their jeep, but slam to a halt when they see Nick lying in the road, a woman standing over him. Tom Markel pursues the woman, but she vanishes. He returns to Nick, who is suffering from a snake bite. As Tom tends him, Paul looks worriedly at the empty woven basket lying in the road.
Recovering in the hospital, Nick apologizes for his conduct and assures his friends that he will be fit to ship out the next day. As he settles into sleep, something appears from the darkness and slips into his room through an open window. As it rears up over him, Nick opens his eyes and screams. Devastated by Nick’s death, his friends must make their plans to ship out for home. Paul worries aloud that the high priest’s curse may have been more than words. The others scoff, turning the conversation to their plans for civilian life.
After their return to New York, while alone in his apartment that night, Tom is startled by a scream coming from the apartment across the passageway. He forces his way in, and finds a beautiful, terrified woman, Lisa Moyer, who speaks brokenly of an intruder. Tom calms her down and makes friends with her, persuading her to spend a day with him. When the two arrive home that evening, Tom invites Lisa into his apartment. There, she shows an intense interest in a photograph of the six friends during their Air Force days in Asia.
Later that night, Rico Nardi, one of those six friends, locks up his bowling alley and begins to drive home. Suddenly, in his rear-view mirror, he catches sight of something in the back seat, something that strikes at him. The car swerves, crashes, and flips over, and Rico is killed. As a crowd begins to gather, a breathless Lisa slips away into the shadows, one of which is shaped like a cobra. Two are now dead and four remain...
- Faith Domergue as Lisa Moya
- Richard Long as Paul Able
- Marshall Thompson as Tom Markel
- Kathleen Hughes as Julia Thompson
- William Reynolds as Pete Norton
- Jack Kelly as Carl Turner
- Myrna Hansen as Marian Sheehan
- David Janssen as Rico Nardi
- Leonard Strong as Daru
- James Dobson as Cpl. Nick Hommel
- Edward Platt as Snake cult priest
Universal released Cult of the Cobra on DVD in a boxed set called The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection Vol. 2, which features 4 other classics as well (Dr. Cyclops, The Land Unknown, The Deadly Mantis and The Leech Woman).
- The film became a cult favorite after being syndicated to television and later on home video.
- Most of the film's actors later went on to star in more than one, and in some cases several, of their own network TV series, such as Jack Kelly in Kings' Row, Maverick, and Sale of the Century; Richard Long in Bourbon Street Beat, The Big Valley, and Nanny and the Professor; Marshall Thompson in Angel and Daktari; William Reynolds in The Islanders, The Gallant Men, and The FBI; and David Janssen in Richard Diamond, Private Detective, O'Hara, U.S. Treasury, The Fugitive, and Harry O.
- Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Films of the Fifties, 21st Century Edition (First Edition 1982). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009. ISBN 0-89950-032-3.
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