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Two lovers trapped by a man more poisonous than any snake.

Cast
| Classic Lines | Foreign Titles | Formats | Notes | Pictures | Reviewing the LD | Summary - Official | My Summary | My Review  

Cast

Character Actor
Professor Charles Baldwin Malcolm McDowell
Malika Sydney Penny
Claire Anzer Lois Chiles
Marc Anzer Jason Cairns
Phil Anzer Philippe Léotard
Old Jean Howard Vernon
Young Marc Anzer Mac Skinner

Directed by Max Reid

Classic Lines

"You want me to go back out, knock and then come back in?!"
"Give it to me as a gift, I can justify it."
"She can do some luscious things, but you probably don't know that yet. Want me to key you in?"
"The experiment is not over!"

Foreign Titles

French - La Part du Serpent
German - Im Banne der Schlange

Formats

VHS - NTSC / LD / DVD R0 

Notes

Pictures

DVD Cover - Front
Laserdisc Cover - Front

Laserdisc Cover - Back

Laserdisc Label

Malcom Label Error

Malcolm as Professor Baldwin

Reviewing the Laserdisc

    The disc doesn't have chapter titles, but is extended play and does have search. There are no other special features. It is pretty basic and is put out by AIP studios and has digital sound with Dolby Surround Stereo. It also has the CX noise-reduction system. The picture and the sound quality are above average, but are not superior sounding. The color isn't too bright either, it seems a bit on the dark side. The sound is clear, but has to be turned up somewhat higher than normal to enjoy.

Ratings out of 10:
Color 6
Sound 7
Picture 7

Summary - Official

    Malcom (sic) McDowell, Sydney Penny and Lois Chiles star in this exotic thriller where obsession and desire lead to deception and an explosive love triangle!
    From the lush jungles of Africa to the beauty of Geneva, Switzerland, beautiful Malika (Penny) struggles with her perverse addiction to the manipulative and abusive Professor Baldwin (McDowell). Her new feelings of attraction for his young, charming protégé, Marc Anzer (Jason Cairns) set a deadly duel into motion, fueled by the impassioned rivalry of love...

My Summary

    Marc sneaks to an upper level at the Geneva Airport. He is waiting for a friend to arrive who works for Swiss Air. He arrives and they hug. The man hands Marc a bag telling him it was no problem as usual, but a passing officer sees this and the two take off in different directions. Marc runs down two levels, but is eventually apprehended and led away in handcuffs. What is in the bag - drugs? That is what the inspector thinks. When he goes to open it Marc tells him not to because it is a deadly viper. The inspector doesn't believe him saying that is a new one, but Marc persists. The inspector lets him open the bag and when the snake pours out the four officers jump back. Marc is taken into custody.
    Marc is taken to a cell and he lays down remembering his first encounter with a snake seven years earlier in Burundi, Africa when he was 13 years old. Marc's father Phil is a scientist in charge of a big project. Marc gets bored and wanders off into the jungle. He isn't far in when he comes face to face with a deadly mamba snake. He is not afraid, though he should be. A few natives happen to see this and they jump out and capture the snake which is a rare find. They happily go back to the site and while Marc is happy, his father is not. He wasn't supposed to wander away. Before anything can happen the natives invite them all to their village and they head out. At the village there is a ceremony where something potent is served. The men all drink out of the concoction with large straws. Marc's father and his partner tell him to just fake it, but Marc winds up drinking it after all. Soon all three, plus the villagers are wildly dancing around the fire.
    Later that night Marc excitedly tells his mother all about the days events. Phil is not happy she is finding out and she isn't happy with him for letting their son go alone in the jungle. Marc goes to his room and the parents fight. She tells him she doesn't mind all his work and his late hours, but there has to be something in it for her - she is his wife and she can't do her work there.
    The next day Marc goes to see the mamba which he considers his. A village boy a little older then him tells him to watch out, it'll kill him. Phil's partner Jean yells at them telling them not to fool around with the snake and makes them clean out the big snake pit. Is is dirty, smelly work that they aren't happy to do. Later they are showering off the filth when the partner comes back telling them there is going to be a big snake hunt the next day and Marc can go if his father allows him.
    A caravan pulls up to Marc's house the next day to pick him up. Enter Professor Baldwin. He is interested in seeing the the boy who has a way with snakes. He goes into Marc's room looking for him. His mother, Claire, is coming out of the shower and is not happy that he just barged in. She tells him to go back out, knock and then come back in. He can't understand her logic, but is attracted to her. Before anything happens Marc runs up and they head out for the snake hunt. They form two groups and head off down river in Zodiac's. There is word of a large python sighting and they head off. When the group pulls up it is a giant one curled around a tree. Two natives get out to grab it and Marc and the Professor follow. Everything seems to go smoothly until the snake starts wrapping itself around the natives leg. The native yells to the professor for help, but he stands in shock, totally helpless. Marc then takes control and tells the native to stand still as he unwraps the python.
    That night while eating dinner the Professor asks if the python was angry or scared. Marc says it was scared and the professor agrees. Though he says it is pretty angry now, Marc disagrees saying it is still scared. Marc asks the professor if he could be a snakeologist some day and the professor says perhaps.
    The next day his father picks him up early even though Marc wants to stay. He isn't with his mother, instead bringing the African Beatrice, whom he describes as a co-worker from the office. As they ride back the charade falls apart when Phil puts his hand on her leg and they then hold hands. Marc turns away in disgust.
    They are taken to a big party and Marc goes into the water with other kids his age and splashes around. Meanwhile his mom sits with Phil's partner while Phil is closely dancing with Beatrice. Claire cannot take this and confronts him on a nearby dock and walks away from him with Marc forever.
    Back to the present day. Marc is bailed out of jail by his mom whom he stills lives with since he hasn't seen his father since that day they left. She tells him it was 500 Francs to bail him out and she expects him to pay her back. He tells her how beautiful the snake was and she tells him he describes it like a woman. She wishes he would smuggle women instead of snakes. His mother tells him she has to go to London for a job interview tomorrow. When we see his room it is filled with snake cages and tanks. Marc takes out his python Max, his best friend, and goes to bed. 
    The next day Marc goes to his job at the museum where he works with reptiles. Soon he is reunited with the smuggled viper since the authorities have given it to the museum. The viper isn't doing to well and he tries to take care of it. When he is wheeling the snake out through the reptile exhibit he runs into the beautiful Malika. She takes notice of the snake and he takes it out asking if she wants to touch it. She asks if it is harmful and he assures her it is harmless. She asks if she can trust him and touches the snake. He is surprised and tells her not many girls like snakes. "Do you know a lot about girls?", she asks. "Do you know a lot about snakes?", he replies. She tells him the snake looks sick and needs a line - proving that she does.
    When he gets back to the lab his taxidermist friend Roger tells him he needs his help to work at the party tonight for Professor Baldwin. Marc is quite surprised that he'll be seeing the Professor after all this time. That night Geoffrey, who is the museum curator, introduces the Professor to speak. During his speech, Marc and Roger notice Malika and a photographer taking her picture. When the photographer comes over for a drink he asks if he knows who the girl is. He tells her she is Professor Baldwin's assistant...his special assistant if you know what I mean? Marc isn't discouraged and when she goes down to the dinosaur exhibit he follows her with two drinks in hand.
    When he gets down there he chickens out, not knowing what to say. The Professor sees both of them from the balcony and motions her to come up. When Marc finally decides to go over to speak to her, he hits a wine glass into a wall breaking it and Malika is already gone.
    Upstairs they run into Malika's aunt and the Professor tells her how good it is to see her. She doesn't like him and tells him how upset she is that she doesn't get to see her niece any more. Marc is left once again to return home to his snakes, this time bathing with Max.
    The next day Geoffrey brings the Professor over to meet Marc and tells him he needs his help to hunt down 10 vipers for an experiment. Marc says that won't be a problem. The Professor also wants to see how he hypnotizes the snakes. They go to the Professor's SUV and he finds out Malika is coming too. She tells the Professor they have already met and he finds that interesting. Since it is only an hour away Marc drives out to the wooded area where the snakes are. He is excited about it and the Professor tells him it is a long way from Burundi and Marc is surprised he remembers him. The Professor hints that he should start a collection and Marc tells him he already has.
    When they get to the right spot the Professor motions Malika to go with Marc as he stays behind a bit. He is throwing Marc a bone to see what he does.  The two climb up to a high lookout and Marc catches one viper. The professor watches, but can't make it up and calls Marc over to give him a hand. The Professor then tries to pick up the next snake with a stick, but is having no success and is getting frustrated. Marc says he is hurting it and just reaches down and picks him up.
    On the way back to the museum the Professor notices Marc looking at Malika in the rear-view mirror and motions to her to move out of his line of sight. When he next looks up he is surprised to see her gone and runs off the road a little. "If you are tired, I can drive.", the Professor tells him.
    Meanwhile Marc's python has escaped into the apartment laundry room and is captured and killed. At the same time there is a bizarre sexual game going on at the Professor's house. He sits and watches Malika in a mirror and tells her to get on with it. She puts her leg up and begins to remove her stocking and he yells at her - no, no, no. "Are you disobeying me?", he asks her. He goes behind her and she tells him no.
    Marc arrives in time to hear the news and see the police hauling out his dead python. The neighbors have no idea that it is Marc who has all the snakes there. The next day he gets to see Max again when the body is brought to the museum. When Roger wants to cut it open he yells at him and Roger tells him snakes aren't his family and leaves. As Marc is leaving he runs into Malika in the parking lot. When she sees he is distraught, she asks what is wrong. He tells her she wouldn't understand and they go off together and he explains. They ride off to a riverbank on his motorcycle and he tells her how he moved there when he was thirteen and didn't play sports or have any friends, except his snakes. Then he has to race her back to the Professor's lab because she is late for work.
    She runs in and he comes in soon after. The Professor knows what this means, but is glad to see Marc. He wants to see his collection and work with him. He says that is fine and has the Professor over for dinner that night.
    Marc's mother comes back from London and she tells him she got the job He is happy for her, but she is upset that his room is dirty. While washing dishes he asks her what she looks for in a man, and she knows he has finally found a girl.
    On arrival Baldwin hits on Marc's mother a little bit, but wants to see the collection first. He has a feeling that Marc has some specimens that he shouldn't have. When he sees he is amazed and jealous at what Marc has. When he sees the Madagascar Boa, he knows Marc is in trouble. "Only a few museums in the world have one of those." Marc thinks he is impressed, but the Professor is using him. "Give it to me as a gift, I can justify it.", he tells Marc. Marc tells him no way. The Professor tells him it would be better to give it to him then to lose his whole collection when the authorities come. At dinner the Professor flirts heavily with Claire and Marc can barely eat. The Professor tells them it is because they have a difference of opinion. Meanwhile Malika meets with her aunt and she tells him to run walk away from Baldwin because he is destroying her, but she won't listen.
    Later the Professor confronts Malika asking if she likes Marc. The first two times she says no, but he knows she is lying. He wants her to bring Marc back to his house and seduce him while he watches. Meanwhile Marc has gotten a note that his dad is in town. He goes over to see him, the first time since Africa all those years ago. He tells him that when you are in love you do whatever it takes and some day he'll understand.
    Malika goes to the museum the next day and has Marc drive them out to the Professor's house on his bike telling him that the place isn't being used because the people who own it are out on vacation. After running around and making him chase her, she takes off his shirt and gets him on the bed. He starts kissing her and she looks at the Professor who is watching from behind a curtain. Soon after he leaves and she throws Marc off her, leaving him bewildered.
    The Professor invites Marc over to his office the next day and tells him his experiments are based on controlling the snakes. Marc tells them that is isn't possible. The Professor tells him that is exactly what Marc is doing when he hypnotizes them. Malika sits next to him and puts her arm around him then the Professor tells her to leave. He tells Marc that if he gives him the boa he'll let her have Malika - she needs him. He refuses saying this isn't about the snake and leaves. He catches Malika getting into a cab and joins her.
    He follows her back to her place and she tells him she was a student in Boston and the Professor came there for a talk and took her under his wing and back to London with him and she is afraid to leave him. They spend the day together and go to her aunt's that night. She gives them the key to the guest house because she looks so happy. They sleep together and spend the night.
    The next day Marc is pretty late for work, but Geoffrey sees the look in his eyes and cuts him some slack. Roger notices what a good mood he is in, but when the Professor comes in he takes off. Baldwin tells the other two people to leave them. The Professor tells him that Malika is important to him and he can't have her. Marc tells him there is no way he can have her. "She can do some luscious things, but you probably don't know that yet. Want me to key you in?", the Professor taunts, but Marc won't give in.
    That night Marc comes home and checks his mother's schedule to find out that she is out to dinner with the Professor. He brings her home and when he hears them fooling around he takes off to see Malika. The Professor tells Claire to stand across the room and take off her clothes. She starts to oblige and he takes off his coat and belt, he holds the belt out making it snap like he wants to spank her with it, but she tells him she isn't into that and takes him down on the couch. After a minute, he tells her he can't go through with it.  Meanwhile Marc finds out the Malika has gone.
    That next day Marc drops the Boa off on the Professor's desk hoping he is happy and so he can get Malika back.
    That night Marc goes over to the Professor's house and breaks in. He finds Malika and the Professor in their bizarre sexual ritual which plays out like the last time, but goes further. Now she is supposed to stab the Professor in the neck with scissors and Marc is sickened. Malika sees him and runs after him outside. Marc tells her she disgusts him and she better go back so she won't disobey and leaves her.
    Marc then goes to see his father, but Beatrice tells him he isn't there. She tells him to wait and takes him out for coffee. She explains to him how hard it was for his father to give up everything, but that once you cross the line and you are in love, there is no turning back. She asks if he loves Malika and he admits he does.
    The next day Marc rides up to the college where the Professor is teaching and Malika is sitting in the class. He goes up to Malika and pulls her out of the class with him. The Professor stops the class and runs out after him, but is too late to stop them. The Professor then races to Marc's house getting there a minute before he does. He tells Claire that he stole something from him and he wants it back. Right then Marc and Malika enter. Marc tells him to go home, he can't have her. The Professor tells him that she stills answers to him. Marc tells him that he no longer controls her. "The experiment is not over!", Baldwin yells. He then asks him if he can handle snakes like he did back in the jungle and picks up a bar and begins smashing all the glass cages including the mamba. Marc jumps on him and they begin to fight. The girls are stunned and afraid to jump in because of the snakes now pouring out.
    When it looks like the Professor will smash Marc's head in his mother jumps on him and grabs the bar away. The snakes have now closed in on the professor and he runs to a corner. Marc flings the mamba out of the way and begins gathering the rest of the snakes. The professor is shaking uncontrollably at this point. A king cobra is threatening the Professor now and Marc grabs it. When all are accounted for he goes for the mamba under the bed. He sticks his hand under and gets bit as grabs the snake. He takes a piece of broken glass and cuts the wound and begins to suck out the poison as they take him to the hospital.
    Next we see a groggy Marc in a hospital bed. His mom, Malika and her aunt are there. They are walking out and Malika asks his mom when he'll get out. She says maybe a day or two and she tells her that is great. Then they are passing by a window and she the sanitarium across the street and there is a nurse pushing the Professor in a wheelchair. 
    In the final scene Marc returns to Africa with Malika, before they get to Burundi they stop by the side of the road and Marc dumps the mamba he smuggled back. The end.

My Review

    What a classic case of a piece of crap movie where Malcolm stands out so much that he seems like the only one on screen. Malcolm is brilliant as the Professor, almost a precursor to Pynchon on Pearl. The only problem is the movie is a jumbled mess. I'll give credit where credit is due though. There is no other film like it. Any time you have a snake in a movie it is some giant stupid hideous mutation like in Anaconda. This movie keeps the snakes as intelligent characters always in the background of the entire film. It isn't some casual thing, it is integral to the story.
    I think the movie fails because it has no idea of what it wants to be or where it wants to go. Too much time was spent on Marc as a boy without us really learning anything. Was that really his first snake encounter in the jungle? If so, how and why did he become a snake expert? What is his fascination? It was glanced right over. Either drop the scenes of him as a young kid or expand them. Why was his dad down there in the first place? Why did his dad ditch his mom and go for a native? Why didn't his dad care about Marc or his marriage? Why didn't his dad ever try to contact Marc? The film plays like a TV movie - there is no cursing, nudity or real sexual situations and only violence at the end. I think it might have been, but never got bought, so instead had to settle for a video only release.
    It isn't so much a boring movie as a pointless one. There are many more questions then answers. Since it isn't a thinking movie like Stanley Kubrick's 2001, it is more frustrating than good. Is it erotic? There is  no sex, romantic or passionate scenes. There is the weird foreplay between the Professor and Malika, but is SO weird and unexplained, that it goes nowhere. It would certainly have been erotic for the young assistant to sexually please her master. Instead of a dominatrix role or even S&M there is some weird pain fantasy occurring. When the Professor takes off his belt to spank Marc's mom and she isn't interested, it shows he can't just have straight sex. I have to assume he can only get off by causing pain. This leads me back to the second bedroom scene with Malika. She is in a lacey lingerie outfit and silky nightgown. When she goes to remove her stockings he yells at her not to disobey. She is supposed to be angry and attack him with a scissor, stabbing him in the neck. Before anything really interesting happens, Marc interrupts, leaving us to our imaginations. But with something so odd, what can you think? Since we saw the Professor liked to use the belt to inflict pain, I think this would be the same ending. She goes to attack him with the scissor, he stops her and is forced to discipline her. Maybe with the belt, maybe with his hands. She is never seen with bruises though, so it might only be to her buttocks. This could've been a highly erotic scene with him spanking her over his knee. Instead we get nothing.
    Is it a thriller? No, nothing thrilling happens. There is no tension. And where is the naked woman from the cover who is wrapped up with the snake? Nowhere to be found. Is it a documentary? No, it isn't based on a true story or anything.
    There is talk of the Professors' experiments throughout the movie. That is why he shows up at the Museum in the first place. Only one time does he even hint ANYTHING at his work. He says that the snakes reproductive systems are very similar to a humans. What does this mean? Is he trying to find a way to impregnate snakes? What!? We don't know, but there is only one other indication. At the end when the Professor comes to Marc's house to get Malika back he yells at him, "The experiment is not over!" Again, what does this mean? I think he found a way to control Malika and wanted to use this technique to control the snakes. This way if he could control them he would no longer fear them. How this would be accomplished is not explained. He plays a lot of games with Malika and Marc, but to what end? He sticks Malika in Marc's face to get him interested only to pull her away and give her back over and over. He lets him have her, then tells him he can't have her because she is important to him. He has Malika seduce Marc so he can watch, but loses interest. Why? I think it is because she was only doing it because he wanted her too, not because she was into it. Does he really want Marc's mom, or is he using her to once again screw with Marc.
    And what about the boa? Baldwin knows he must have illegal snakes and wants to use it against him, but since he hates and fears snakes, why does he want the boa? I think it goes back to the control issue. He controls Malika, he gets Claire to do what he wants, and wants to prove he can take things away from Marc that are important to him. Once again, no reasoning is given as to why he wants to be in control in the first place.
    The whole love story between Malika and Marc is totally flat. They aren't even shown passionately kissing or anything. There is certainly no appeal to the younger audiences. Also, what exactly did Marc do at the museum and where was the place? I guess it was Geneva. Marc goes from wanting to be with Malika, to being disgusted by her, to wanting her again. After all, for no reason she stays with the Professor, even after sleeping with Marc she runs back to him.
    As you can tell, there are so many unresolved issues in every single plotline. Nothing goes anywhere, nothing really happens and the ending is so weak. A couple of snakes get near him, they don't even bite Baldwin and he is put on a funny farm!? How does the world's greatest snake expert do any work if he is scared to death of snakes? That is impossible. It would be like someone who is afraid of heights being a pilot or something. It doesn't add up and they don't explain it. The good news is Malcolm has a main role, so he is seen throughout the film. He isn't killed off early so he gets lots of screen time. He is really, really good here and is it too bad they didn't do more with the film. It was quite short and could've easily been 15 minutes longer. His best scene is when he is trying to extort the boa from Marc and stands behind him while Marc puts it back in the cage. He leaves and then his face comes back on camera right next to Mark's ear making threats and then he goes back out to dinner like nothing happened. Classic Malcolm.

Rating: 4/10

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