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Human Cobras 
Written by: on December 9th, 2009

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1971
Director: Bitto Albertini
Writers: Ernesto Gastaldi, Eduardo Manzanos Brochero, Luciano Martino
Cast: George Ardisson, Erika Blanc, Alberto de Mendoza, Janine Reynaud, Luciano Pigozzi, Aurora de Alba, Luis Induni, Gilberto Galimberti, Miguel Del Castillo, Gianni Pulone, Percy Hogan, Fabián Conde, Benedikte, Fernando Hilbeck

DVD released: January 12th, 2010
Approximate running time: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 Full Frame
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian
Subtitles: English
DVD Release: Mya Communication
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95

Synopsis: An exiled gangster crosses paths with his former associates while looking for his brothers’ killer.

Human Cobras was directed by Bitto Albertini, whose other notable films as a director includes Three Supermen in the Jungle, Return of the Gladiator, The Three Fantastic Supermen in the Orient, Black Emanuelle, Black Emanuelle 2 and Yellow Emanuelle. The screenplay for Human Cobras was co-written by Ernesto Gastaldi and Eduardo Manzanos Brochero, who also collaborated on Case of the Scorpion’s Tail and The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh. The cinematographer on Human Cobras was Emilio Foriscot whose forty plus years as a cinematographer includes films like Jess Franco’s El llanero, Face to Face, Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, Case of the Scorpion’s Tail and Cannibal Terror. Human Cobras score was composed by the ever reliable Stelvio Cipriani, whose more notable scores include Death Walks on High Heels, Rabid Dogs and What Have They Done to Your Daughters? The score for Human Cobras also features a music cue which he had previously used for the film The Frightened Woman.

Even though the premise for Human Cobras sets itself as a thriller, it quickly becomes apparent that this film owes less to the operatic thrillers that were being made by directors like Dario Argento and Sergio Martino during the early 1970’s. The Spy film genre which reached its height in popularity in the 1960’s is the genre which Human Cobras bears the most similarities to with its use of International locations, hand to hand fight scenes and caricature bad guys who let the hero of the story easily get away.

The plot for Human Cobras follows a cat and mouse like structure as every time Tony Garden (the character looking for his brothers’ killer) gets closer to the truth someone else dies. The kill scenes are not particularly bloody and results of the carnage is often shown after the fact. Pacing wise the film moves along at a brisk enough pace and there are enough twists along the way to keep things interesting until the film’s final reveal.

The film features several recognizable faces which include George Ardisson (Hercules at the Center of the Earth), in the role of Tony Garden, Erika Blanc (The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave), in the role of Leslie Garden the murder brothers widow, Alberto de Mendoza (Perversion Story), in the role of George MacGreves the murder brothers business partner and Janine Reynaud (Succubus), in the role of Clara the murder brothers mistress. Performance George Ardisson is the weakest link, luckily the rest of the cast more then holds their own in their respective roles. Overall Human Cobras is a middle of the road murder mystery that retreads familiar territory.

The DVD:

Human Cobras, is presented in a 4:3 full frame aspect ratio. This transfer has been flagged for progressive playback. The opening credits are presented in a letterboxed widescreen. The titles all appear in the frame during the letterboxed opening credits. Reportedly the film’s original aspect ratio is 2.35:1 (Techniscope). While watching this transfer I did notice pan and scanning of the image and several instances where objects (like faces) that were not totally in frame when they should be. Besides the issues with the film’s aspect ratio, the rest of the transfer ranges from average to good with colors, flesh tones and black levels generally faring well throughout. The overall quality of the image fluctuates throughout and there are several instances where details lack crispness / look soft. Also there is noticeable print debris that varies in degree throughout.

This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in Italian and removable English subtitles have been provided. The subtitles are easy to follow and error free. Dialog is clear and distortion / background noise is kept in check.

This release comes with no extra content. Overall Human Cobras gets a mediocre transfer that leaves plenty of room for improvement.

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