Sunday, October 5, 2014

Snake Woman's Curse (1968)

Oh, how I pine for the purity of pre-capitalism, when everyone was equally hip-deep in filth and squalor!  When the fear of microaggressions or hiring quotas were absent, and the only real fear was the fear of a landlord repossessing your field.

This is the world of Snake Woman's Curse, a world where a mom and her daughter must move into a slave sweatshop after the man of the house dies.  There, they will work until they repay his debts.  The landlord and wife are terrible jerks, but the worst of the bunch is the young master, who wears Vaudeville hats and loves to rape the slaves.

A Sade-like series of misfortunes befall our two heroines.  There's some stuff that seems so alien, whether because of culture or time or both.  Example: after sexual violation, the victim's boyfriend scolds her for not literally killing the aggressor.  A lot of the horror in the film, both worldly and otherworldly, arrives in the sex scenes and they are tremendously essential to the overall plot.

You might think a movie called Snake Woman's Curse would be bursting at the seams with snakes, but this really isn't.  It's much more of a quiet ghost story and often leans more into fantasy territory than pure horror.  We get some snakes and also some ghosts, but this is far more restrained than the title might suggest.  Definitely not a Hong Kong-style animal-horror vomit-a-thon.

What we lose in gore and scares, we gain in craftsmanship.  Every shot in the film is elaborately composed and some are genuinely beautiful.  The acting and music are also top-notch, and Snake Woman's Curse is easy to watch and enjoy.  (Aside from the sexual violence, which isn't like I Spit on Your Grave or something,) this is a light, calm ghost tale that would probably make a good palette cleanser after something much more intense.


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