Movie Review: Sssssss (1973)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1973 thriller starring Dirk Benedict and Strother Martin.

Synopsis: A college student is offered the chance to be the lab assistant for a well-known but aging and eccentric herpetologist. He accepts the job and quickly falls in love with the scientist’s daughter. However, what he doesn’t know is his new employer is secretly developing a serum that will turn a human into a snake and he is the newest test subject.


This was a film I came across a couple weeks ago and, recognizing Dirk Benedict from re-runs of “The A-Team,” which she has also watched with me, decided to record it. And, we ended up watching this tonight as our regular father/daughter movie night.

To tell you the truth, even though I recognized the lead actor, I did have some doubts about this movie. However, as it turns out, it was actually quite good and even a little creepy.

I think the thing that really makes this movie memorable is the use of real snakes throughout the film. This does add some intensity to the film I wasn’t expecting (I figured it would be like most movies and use puppets) and, after watching it, I have to admit it did make my skin crawl as a result of this.

Benedict’s slow transformation into a snake was also a little creepier than I was expecting. My daughter was seriously grossed out during the scene involving his peeling skin and, as his facial features started to change into something more snake-like, it was actually kind of hard to recognize him.

As is often the case with movies in this genre, Dr. Stoner’s (Martin) motives are, to put it kindly, vague. He’s obviously obsessed with snakes but I’m still a little confused about why he feels the need to turn a human into one (despite his very weird explanation about creating an evolved species).

Also, the ending is a little predictable, especially when he decides he wants (again with no real explanation) to match wits with a king cobra and his daughter (Menzies-Urich) wanted to check out reports of a half snake/half human at a side show. Fortunately, the rest of the movie does more than make up for it.

Sssssss [Blu-ray]

A snake scientist turns his daughter's boyfriend, his lab helper, into a big cobra.Special features Include: -“My Reptilian Past:” An interview with actor Dirk Benedict (17 minu...

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Final Opinion

The premise of the movie seems to be a little weak but, despite a predictable ending, the film is much better than I expected. Unless you are deathly afraid of snakes, I recommend taking the time to watch it at least once.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 06/04/2016, StevenHelmer
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