It’s that time again! Time to shine a spotlight on an underrated horror film! While there are many well-known movies in the horror genre, there are even more that fly under the radar. Even among popular titles, countless flicks somehow continue to get overlooked. For this installment of Underrated Horror Movie of the Month, we’ll be diving into Sssssss. Yes, that’s really the name. In some countries, it’s titled Hisss.

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About the Movie — Sssssss

The story, created by Dan Striepeke, is about a young research assistant named David Blake (Dirk Benedict) who joins Dr. Carl Stoner (Strother Martin) in his snake research and experimentation. During his time working with Dr. Stoner, Blake begins falling for the doctor’s daughter, Kristina (Heather Menzies).

Unfortunately, Dr. Stoner has his own plans and is secretly working on a serum that’ll transform men into snakes with the intent of testing it on Blake. As the doctor gives Blake more injections, he begins experiencing strange changes. Eventually, Blake starts fully transforming into a King Cobra. 

To say this movie is unique is a vast understatement. Since its release in 1973, several other movies have been created based on a similar premise — turning a human into something else. However, it’s my opinion that all of them have fallen short of the terror that Sssssss induced.

It may not have had all of the amazing special effects that are expected in today’s horror movies, but the practical effects were top-notch. While it’s difficult to imagine what it would actually look like to see a human slowly transform into a snake, the artists that worked on Sssssss created something truly brilliant. The scales, the way Benedict’s body seemed to change and contort. It’s enough to give a person nightmares.

Hal Dresner was able to take Striepeke’s story and weave it into an amazing screenplay. Also responsible for the creepiness is the director, Bernard L Kowalski.

The movie has a run time of one hour and 39 minutes.

On Rotten Tomatoes, Sssssss only has a dismal 30 percent with 10 reviews on the Tomatometer. Its audience score is a sad 25 percent…

Still from horror movie of the month Sssssss.

Pictured: Dirk Benedict and Strother Martin in Sssssss.

Thoughts

The first time I watched this movie, I was a young pre-teen who lived to watch horror films with my grandpa, from whom my love of horror stemmed. We had previously watched many of the older horror outings such as Universal’s The Wolfman (1941), Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman (1943). To say I was unprepared for Sssssss would be the understatement of the century. Silently I watched as a man became a snake. Everything I thought I knew about horror movies changed.

While The Wolfman was scary because he was cursed to become half-man, half-wolf, it was somehow different in my young eyes. Also, these were the days before I came to like and understand snakes; the days when I thought they were all harmful. On the other hand, I was fascinated by wolves. Besides that, the Wolfman could change back into a man whereas, in Sssssss, Blake is trapped as a King Cobra.

Unfortunately, Sssssss is only available to stream in a few select parts of the world. However, it’s fairly easy to find a DVD or Blu-ray copy.

You can check out the spooky original trailer below. Then, let me know in the comments if you’ve seen this movie and what you think of it! Don’t forget to leave me suggestions about which film I should feature in the next Underrated Horror Movie of the Month!

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