Written by: George Pacheco on December 19th, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, November 28th, 1970
Director: Piero Vivarelli
Writer: Ottavio Alessi, Piero Vivarelli
Cast: Nadia Cassini, Beryl Cunningham, Evaristo Marquez
DVD Release Date: December 10th, 2013
Approximate Running Time: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Mondo Macabro
Region Encoding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
New York-born actress Nadia Cassini is a showstopper here on Mondo Macabro’s latest release, the 1970 erotic fable from director Piero Vivarelli known as Il Dio Serpente.
The film-titled here in its anglicized version as The Serpent God-benefits greatly from Cassini’s presence; indeed, the actress was only twenty-one at the time of filming, and her presence leaps off the screen with a rare radiance. Nadia Cassini was most known for her work in sexy, silly Italian comedies throughout the 1970s and 80s-as well as some memorable appearances alongside Michael Caine in 1972’s Pulp and as an Amazon Queen in the 1978 Italian sci-fi epic Starcrash-so to see the actress here in a comparatively dynamic role provides a welcome change of pace for fans who are more used to Cassini prancing around paunchy, middle-aged Italian men in various states of undress.
Of course, Cassini’s performance here as the sexually curious Paola here in The Snake God also possesses tons of eroticism, yet the film’s tone is defiantly different; a steamier and more exotic flavor of spice which fits in perfectly with its Caribbean location. The script from writer/director Piero Vivarelli-alongside co-writer Ottavio Alessi, who directed the 1969 sex/giallo epic Top Sensation–is basic, yet serviceable, as it takes the audience inside Paola’s erotic awakening via a voodoo snake and sex cult, initiated to her by a local girl, played by Italian exploitation stalwart Beryl Cunningham.
The Snake God is a very lyrical film which hinges upon the groovy, bossa nova score of Augusto Martelli. The composers reliance upon native percussion and funky tribal rhythms lends a certain flow to the film, as many of the scenes feature very little dialogue. Instead, Vivarelli and his cinematographer Benito Frattari focus most of their creative energies upon photographing every inch of Cassini and Cunningham, while unhinged and wild ceremonial sequences feature an energetic cast of extras who see no problem gesticulating and gyrating for all they’re worth against Martelli’s memorable grooves. It should also be noted that an instance of real animal violence occurs during one of these rites, where a goat is sacrificially slaughtered to the Snake God himself, Djamballa.
Indeed, although one expects that Vivarelli might, at some point, deviate into parody and comedy with his film, The Snake God plays it dramatically straight for the most part, almost boringly so, in fact. The film is saved by Cassini, however, who presents an erotically charged presence which certifies the actress as (in this critic’s opinion, at least), one of the sexiest screen presences of the 1970s.
Mondo Macabro presents The Snake God in an anamorphic widescreen presentation which preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. The print here is exceptionally good, with little to no blemishes readily available, while the film’s English translated subtitles are equally clear and without error. Extras include the film’s original trailer and an interview with Piero Vivarelli himself, rounding out yet another solid showing from Mondo Macabro, who are truly one of the most unique home video companies out there today.