Jaws of Satan (1981)

Satan himself releases snakes on a small town, all to get back at the ancestor of St. Patrick. If this sentence makes you say, “And then?” you are the person that this movie was made for.

The majority of director Bob Claver’s work is on the small screen. So if this feels like a TV movie to you, that’s fine. Is that even a bad thing? Not in these parts.

Father Tom Farrow (Fritz Weaver, CreepshowDemon Seed) has lost his faith. His town? It’s getting a new dog track. And then the devil makes all the snakes go crazy! He teams up with Dr. Maggie Sheridan (Gretchen Corbett, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death) and herpetologist Dr. Paul Hendricks to save his town before its too late.

This is the debut of Christina Applegate. Her mother, Nancy Priddy, also appears in the film.

It was shot by Dean Cundy (Halloween), so there are some moments of artistic flourish despite the low budget. There’s also a scene where a snake gets its head shot off that had me fall on the floor in a fit of hysterics.

Honestly, I’ve never seen a movie that somehow rips off Jaws and 1970’s occult cinema at the same time. It also has some elements of rural backwoods melodrama, so if you like that sort of thing, this would be the movie for you. Also — a drunken priest! I’m sure here’s an IMDB search list for that!

Shout Factory released this on blu-ray along with Empire of the Ants. Talk about a double feature!

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