Never mind that the title is deceptive because the accompanying storyline sprawls over a lengthy period of time—dubious naming is the least of this movie’s problems. A painfully dull horror movie with zero scares and even less narrative interest, this schlocky shocker concerns a woman in the Philippines who flees from creepy Japanese soldiers during World War II, hides in a cave, and gets bitten by a supernatural cobra that imbues the woman with its serpentine spirit. Or something like that. This is one of this poorly conceived were-monster flicks that’s supposed to have a tragic element—in this case, the woman eventually becomes more cobra than person, so she longs to slip her human skin for a life inside scales—but every element is executed so incompetently that nothing connects. The acting is, no surprise, the only aspect of the picture that’s worse than the direction and screenplay; lifeless performers amble through scenes as if they just received their dialogue an instant before the cameras rolled. The movie also gets caught in a quagmire of supporting characters, from the cobra woman’s deformed accomplice to the young researcher whom she indoctrinates (once the story cuts ahead to the present day) as her lover/successor/whatever. And let’s not even talk about all the boring scenes of the researcher’s girlfriend searching for him and/or writhing as snakes crawl over her body but never bite. Leading lady Marlene Clark, as the cobra woman, is a statuesque African-American beauty who’s not shy about nude scenes, so the picture provides a measure of sleazy eye candy. Furthermore, the old-fashioned effects scenes (think dissolves to simulate the passage of time during transformations) provide kitsch value. Plus, as you might expect, there are snakes. Lots of snakes. Nonetheless, good luck finding even five moderately interesting minutes amid the 85-minute sprawl of this low-budget junk.
Night of the Cobra Woman: LAME