April 11: Upsetting — What movie upsets you? Write about it and share it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn
There’s a moment in Spasms where Oliver Reed twitches and spits like a snake in a yellow cardigan sweater. It’s a quick cut at 1:07:50 and it’s why I love this movie. That and the design of the creature – an ancient, one-of-a-kind blue snake referred to by locals as “the serpent.” It’s pretty damn cool.
Spasms was produced in Canada. It’s based on a book with two main heroes. The first, millionaire Jason Kincaid (Reed) whose brother was killed by said snake on a past hunting trip to Micronesia. The snake bit Jason as well, but instead of dying, he lived and, it appears, formed a telepathic connection with the animal as a result of the venom’s mutation of the brain cells responsible for extrasensory awareness.
Kincaid pays a low-rent-Indiana-Jones-style poacher to capture the snake and bring it to his estate because he is plagued by images of the serpent continuing to kill people. Kincaid lives with his hot niece, Suzanne played by Kerrie Keane from The Incubus (1982.) I never thought I’d see Oliver Reed play a creepy uncle, but it’s the second reason I love this film. It’s pretty obvious he’s in love with her.
Kincaid seeks out the film’s second hero – ESP researcher and psychiatrist Tom Brasilian (Peter Fonda) in the hopes that he can assist him in permanently cutting off the unwanted psychic contact. Kincaid offers to finance all of Brasilian’s ongoing research in exchange.
Suzanne falls for Tom. Who wouldn’t with lines like, “You shouldn’t say ‘crap.” It’s not lady-like.” Poor Kincaid is left alone with nothing but blue snake on his mind. Meanwhile, a snake-worshipping cult sends a heavy out to capture and bring them their god. Turns out he’s not so heavy compared to the snake.
Of course, the snake gets out of its crate and starts killing people. Its venom is so strong that everyone bitten blows up like a balloon and then decomposes very quickly following death.
The shots of the snake are fast, few and far between, but the point-of-view sequences are pretty good, especially the shower kill and the greenhouse chase.
It’s not a bad movie at all, although probably not exactly what people thought they were going to get when they first saw the trailer back in 1983. It’s a must-see for Canuck horror fans, Oliver Reed fans or snake film enthusiasts. I kind of felt bad for the creatures. There he was just chilling out in the jungle, the last of his kind, and all of sudden he’s in America in unfamiliar surroundings. I’d be pissed off, too! TSST!!!!
You can watch the entire film here on YouTube.