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"Ssssnake" redirects here. For Atari 2600 video game, see Sssnake.
Directed by Bernard L. Kowalski
Produced by Daniel C. Striepeke
Written by Hal Dresner
Daniel C. Striepeke
Starring Strother Martin
Dirk Benedict
Heather Menzies
Richard B. Shull
Tim O'Connor
Jack Ging
Kathleen King
Reb Brown
Music by Patrick Williams
Cinematography Gerald Perry Finnerman
Edited by Robert Watts
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • July 1973 (1973-07)
Running time
99 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,030,000[1]
Box office $1 million (US/Canada rentals)[2]

Sssssss (released as Ssssnake in the UK) is a 1973 horror film starring Strother Martin, Dirk Benedict, and Heather Menzies.[3] It was directed by Bernard L. Kowalski and written by Hal Dresner and Daniel C. Striepeke, the latter of whom also produced the film. The make-up effects were created by John Chambers and Nick Marcellino. It received a nomination for the Best Science Fiction Film award of the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films in 1975.[citation needed]


The movie begins with Dr. Carl Stoner (Martin) selling a mysterious creature in a crate to a carnival owner. It is later discovered that the creature is actually part-man/part-snake, the result of one of Stoner's bizarre experiments. College student David Blake (Benedict) is hired as an assistant by Stoner, an ophiologist. It transpires that Stoner's previous assistant had mysteriously left town without telling anyone (Stoner explains that he had gone back home to attend to a sick relative).

Unbeknownst to David or anyone else, Stoner is a delusional man, convinced that humanity is doomed and is attempting to prepare for what he believes to be the inevitable by working out a method of transforming humans into reptiles that can survive pollution and any other ecological disaster that would wipe humanity out.

Stoner begins David on a course of injections, purportedly as a safeguard against being bitten by a snake in his lab. David's skin slowly starts to change and even peel like a snakeskin. David begins a romance with Stoner's daughter Kristina (Menzies), although her father objects and insists that she not have any sexual relations with him.

When David wakes up the next morning he looks in the mirror and looks in horror as he screams, so he calls doctor Stoner. Later Dave now fully dressed is on the bed as he clenches his sheets with his hand as we see that his hand is grey and slightly scaly. Kristina visits a carnival freak show and is horrified when she sees a bizarre "snake-man", whom she recognises as Stoner's previous assistant, Tim.

Distraught, she races back home to save David who is currently mutating into a king cobra, brought about by the injections that Stoner has been giving him. Stoner is bitten by a real king cobra from his lab and dies, just as David's transformation is complete. Kristina arrives home and finds her father dead with the real cobra next to him. The police then arrive and shoot the king cobra before heading to the lab where a mongoose is attacking David's neck, attempting to kill him. But the police do not have a clear shot, and as Kristina screams David's name the movie ends abruptly, leaving their fates uncertain.


Production notes[edit]

The film's executive producers were Richard Zanuck and David Brown, who went on to produce Jaws.

The venomous snakes in the film were not defanged during production. Five King Cobras were imported from Thailand for this feature, ranging from 10–15 ft in length. They were recently caught in good health from the wild with full venom potency. The "Snake Park" milking scenes were real and meant to mimic what Bill Haast did at his Serpentarium in Florida daily. About one ounce of venom was collected during each take with no harm to the snakes. A different cobra was used for each take. The filming of this part of the movie took most of a day, as the cobras spent most of their time trying to escape the fenced enclosure rather than rising up in the traditional cobra attack mode.[citation needed]

This film was released by Universal as a double feature with The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973), making the program one of the last double bills released by the studio.

International releases[edit]

  • The title for the film's release in Spain was Ssssilbido de muerte, which translates as Hisssss of Death in English.
  • The title for the film's release in Japan was Kaiki! Kyūketsu ningen sunēku (怪奇!吸血人間スネーク), which translates as Bizarre! Human blood-sucking snake in English. It was released in Japan on September 18, 1976.

Home video[edit]

Sssssss has been released on DVD, both by itself and in a collection that also includes The Funhouse, Phantasm II, and The Serpent and the Rainbow.

In Japan, there was a VHS format release, and a DVD was released on April 7, 2010.[4]

On January 7, 2016, Scream Factory announced on their Facebook page that it will release the film on Blu-ray in April.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tom Weaver, Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers: Writers, Producers, Directors, Actors, Moguls and Makeup McFarland, 1 Jan 2006 p 228
  2. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1973," Variety, 9 January 1974, p. 60.
  3. ^ Howard Thompson (1973-08-02). "The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973) 'Sssssss' and 'Werewolf' Blend Horror". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ "【DVD】怪奇!吸血人間スネーク2010/04/07発売". Retrieved 2013-02-23. 

External links[edit]