From the producers of Jaws and Deep Impact and the director of a bunch of Jake and the Fatman episodes comes Ssssss! Starring a pre-Starbuck/Face Dirk Bendict and your grandpa's favorite character actor Strother Martin, this snoozy, slithery sci-fi schlockfest showcases a seemingly sinister scientist (surname Stoner) studying snakes or something.
Though Sssssss lost the 1973 Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film, it won the hearts of herpetology scholars everywhere for giving '70s American something new to giggle at (hee-hee... herpe-tology).
Is this film too venomous for the nanobots' delicate constitutions? If it is, this score technician certainly isn't looking forward to popping a handful of tiny robots into his mouth as if they were aluminum-flavored Jolly Rangers in order to suck poison out. As this film will teach us, however, we do what we must in the name of science!
- Including a disclaimer stating how badass all of the cast and crew had to have been to work around live, murderous snakes. = +4pts
- Opening the film with grunty sex noises that turn out to be coming from two old guys hauling a crate out of a cellar. = -9pts
- You don't have to tell time like a wild west gunfighter just to impress Strother Martin, other old guy. He obviously likes you, otherwise he wouldn't be selling you his failed experiment (which seems to be a sexy groan monster). = -2pts
- The love child of Walter Matthau and Richard Nixon tells lame snake jokes and pervs on young co-eds before reaffirming to Dr. Stoner that nobody cares about his dumb experiments because they're dumb. = -3pts
- Because of reasons, Starbuck becomes Dr. Stoner's lab assistant. He's immediately thrust into the doctor's madness by watching him give his python Kentucky bourbon. = +5pts
- Pro-tip: Don't squirt gasoline on Starbuck's crotch if you're afraid of snakes. = +3pts
- Love interest alert: Dr. Stoner's nerdy daughter has big hair, big glasses, big... no, that's pretty much it. = -4pts
- Referring to snakes as a minority group. = -15pts (For spitting poisonous venom into the eyes of the civil rights movement.)
- When your superior essentially asks,“Wanna watch me agitate the hell out of a horrifyingly poisonous snake before I pump chicken blood down its throat?” = -5pts
- Chekov's mongoose. = +4pts
- Introducing a majestic king cobra... = +6pts
- ...and then shoving a noisy mongoose into its face. = +3pts (lol, mongoose noises!)
- Starbuck is too sleepy to help with the dishes. We've all been there, dude, but you're a guest; get off your duff and scrub some plates! = -4pts
- Explaining that cobra venom is nature's strongest hallucinogen after you've injected a syringeful into your lab assistant. = +6 pts (For sheer dickery.)
- Karate chopping at a king cobra for tips. = +3pts
- Dr. Stoner is bitten by a black mamba and shrugs it off like it ain't no thang. = +5pts (You can't poison brass balls!)
- Watching Starbuck shed his skin makes us want to squirt glue on our hands and then peel it off because THAT IS SO FUN. = +3pts
- Trying to pick up chicks at a mad scientist's house. = -2pts
- The shocking reveal isn't that Dr. Stoner's former lab assistant is missing, but that he's none other than Tim McGraw! = +6pts (One for each amazing ab.)
- Cobra montage! = +7pts
- What could have been a sultry “Skinny dippin' with Starbuck” interlude was thwarted by strategically superimposed foliage. = -4pts
- Suddenly, a carnival. = +3pts
- Covering a Vietnam war triple amputee in green scales and then asking him to squirm around as a sideshow attraction. Work is work, though, right? = -7pts
- Giving a girl a stuffed animal and then immediately demanding her to get you a beer. = +3 pts in 1973, -9 pts in 2014, total score = -6 pts
- Suddenly, carnival boobies! = +6pts
- In an embarrassingly choreographed fight scene, Starbuck wraps his legs around a dudebro and then bites the fuck out of his neck for the honor of his nerdy belle. = +10pts (Pre-AIDS America was a magical place.)
- Drunkenly reading Walt Whitman with your equally soused snake. = +7pts
- Rape-hongry dudebro climbs into nerdy girl's window and triggers her drunken anti-rape python. = +11pts
- Dudebro satisfies his carnal hunger not with virginal nerd tang, but by murder-flexing his pythons to murder a python. = -6pts
- Seemingly enticed by the notion of rape, nerdy daughter jumps Starbuck's bones. = +6(sexy) points
- While crying isn't the best reaction to a post-coital “I love you,” it's certainly the most common. = -4 pts
- Too occupied with singing in the shower, dudebro lets Dr. Stoner get the drop on him and slip a revenge mamba into the tub. = +8 pts (why wasn't this the central plot of the movie? Black Mamba's Revenge, baby!)
- Dr. Stoner demands that his daughter not have sex with the handsome young man living in their house. Sorry, dad, but your little girl has already been Starbucked! Woop woop! = +4 pts
- Oh, wait... nevermind. Starbuck's overnight transformation into Snake-Face has pretty much garotted his sex life. =-4pts
- Professor Matthau-Nixon arrives just in time to catch a peek at Snake-Face and get blackjacked over the head. = +3pts (Nobody likes that guy anyway.)
- In a scene that clearly inspired The Jigsaw Killer, Dr. Stoner locks up his antagonist and hides two keys to his escape – one fake, one real – in cages with venomous snakes. Diabolical! = +12pts
- It's really not your day when you escape death by poisonous snake bites only to be strangled and eaten by an anaconda. = -2pts
- We're pretty sure that Dr. Stoner sent his daughter on a snipe hunt for a bogus package and encouraged her to sleep at the post office in case it arrives. Is there no end to the man's evil? = -6pts
- The strongman's toodle-oo. = +9pts
- When nerdy daughter is horrified to discover that the freakshow snake man is Tim McGraw, we're not sure if the tear trickling down the snake man's cheek was part of the act or from the Vietnam amputee having a PTSD episode. = -4pts
- Dr. Stoner successfully settled the creation-evolution controversy by turning a man into a cobra because... oh, the nanobots went into sleep mode during the evil soliloquy. Something about Adam and Eve and science, we guess. = -6pts
- Since dudebro seemingly dies of a heart attack, his girlfriend (wait, he has a girlfriend? WTF, dudebro!) is wracked with guilt after believing that she committed death by snu-snu and gives the police a funny anecdote to tell at their annual ball. = +6pts
- The dividing line between mad science and evil science is crossed when you turn a man into a snake just to make him fight an actual snake. = -7pts
- The mongoose is loose! = +4pts
- Cobras are like children: take your eyes off of them for a second and they inject neurotoxins into your veins. = -6pts
- Either those were some pretty good special effects or the filmmakers actually shotgunned a cobra's head off. = Points pending an ending credits reassurance that no animals were harmed harmed in the making of this film
- Snakebuck vs. Chekov's mongoose – final round, fight! Whoa, shit... are they actually letting wild animals fight on screen? = Points pending!
- Ending the movie with nerd girl screaming in horror at the sight of her former lover being waggled to death by a mongoose. = -20pts
- There went the credits with no American Humane Association disclaimer. = -30pts
Total Score = -12 ptsAvailable: DVD, herpetological archives, crusting away in a snake fetishist's VCR
For all of its foreshadowing (alternative title could have been The Mongoose That Wouldn't Shut Up) and promise (did Dr. Stoner not want his daughter sexing up Snake-Face for fear that she'd lay li'l Snakebuck eggs?), Sssssss was about as entertaining as one would expect from a film about a guy turning into a snake. Despite its boring shortcomings, the film managed to earn a PG rating despite featuring Saw-like tortureporn, two sex scenes, and an exploding snake head.
As noticed by this technician's friend during the viewing, the film's plot was consumed and shat out by Curse of the Puppet Master (they even referenced the connection) in an attempt at holding the World Record for Wackiest Motion Picture Homage. We'd run that film through the nanobots next, but the first movie still has them flinching at TV psychics.
Ssssssshould you watch Ssssssss? Not without a Ssssssscorecard, sssssssucka!
Score Technician: T. J. Geise