Calamity of Snakes is continued proof that Unearthed Films is mining deep cuts designed for my tastes. While I have heard of Calamity of Snakes prior to it arriving at AndersonVision, I had never watched in its entirety. That was my mistake.
A Slithery Sensation in Asian Horror
If you’ve ever wanted to witness the unholy union of martial arts and deadly snakes, look no further than 1982’s Taiwanese cult classic, Calamity of Snakes. Directed by Chi Chang, this reptilian extravaganza has, over the years, slithered its way into the hearts of Asian horror fans and underground world cinema enthusiasts alike. With its unique blend of campy horror, kung-fu action, and animal exploitation, Calamity of Snakes raised the bar for both genres and continues to leave a venomous bite on the world of cinema.
A Coiled Concoction of Genres
The film’s plot revolves around a ruthless real estate developer who, in his quest for profit, orders the mass killing of thousands of snakes inhabiting the construction site. Little does he know that his cruel actions will trigger a chain of events that lead to an all-out snake war. The vengeful serpents, led by a giant king cobra, terrorize the developer, his family, and the entire city.
What sets Calamity of Snakes apart from other horror flicks is its perfect blend of genres. The film doesn’t shy away from showcasing some impressive martial arts sequences, thanks to the exceptional skills of its lead actor, Liu Chia-Liang. These adrenaline-pumping action scenes are perfectly juxtaposed with moments of sheer terror, as the slithery villains of the story make their presence known in horrifying ways.
The Serpent’s Impact on Asian Horror
Calamity of Snakes is a true testament to the ingenuity of Asian filmmakers in the 1980s. It captures the essence of both Hong Kong and Taiwanese cinema, combining the best elements of the horror and martial arts genres. The film’s impact on Asian horror cinema is undeniable, as it paved the way for a new wave of creature features that followed in its wake.
The film’s unique premise and the artful way it blends campy horror with serious drama has made it a lasting influence on many Asian horror films that came after. The use of real snakes (a controversial choice, to be sure) adds a level of authenticity and visceral terror to the film that few others have been able to replicate.
Snaking Its Way into Underground World Cinema
While Calamity of Snakes enjoyed some degree of success in Asia upon its release, it wasn’t until years later that it gained a cult following in the West. The film’s unique blend of horror, martial arts, and bizarre animal exploitation elements found a perfect home in the underground world cinema scene.
This cult classic has since become a staple among fans of unconventional and daring films, further solidifying its status as a game-changer in the world of underground cinema. Its very existence challenges the norms and conventions of mainstream cinema, pushing the boundaries of what is considered “acceptable” in the world of film.
A Lasting Legacy
Calamity of Snakes’ lasting legacy can be felt even today, as it continues to inspire filmmakers who dare to challenge the status quo. The film’s unique charm, which comes from its unapologetically campy approach to horror, has left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of fans across the globe. Its influence can be felt in the works of contemporary Asian horror directors like Park Chan-wook and Takashi Miike, who have also managed to blur genre lines and redefine the boundaries of horror cinema.
Slithering onto Blu-ray from Unearthed Films
For those who have been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to witness this serpentine masterpiece in all its HD Glory, then Unearthed Films has a treat for you.
The Blu-ray comes with a commentary and feature length documentary. I loved the documentary almost more than the movie. But that’s because I’m a film history nerd and loved learning about how horror films started in China. Honestly, it’s the kind of supplemental feature I expected to see from Vinegar Syndrome, so extra points to Unearthed Films on that one.
You get multiple cuts of the film that also include an animal cruelty version. I have mixed feelings about it, but the A/V Quality holds up amazingly for a film of its age on the World Cinema stage. The 1080p transfer is stunning, as well as the DTS-HD 2.0 mono track. If that sounds appealing, go ahead and pick up Calamity of Snakes.