Theme Song: “Snake Theme” by Tangerine Dream.
It’s a good enough song, though much like the movie it doesn’t know where to go or what to do with itself.
Interesting Dated References: Snake-centered movies featuring Oliver Reed (the other, Venom, is superior).
Best Line: None.
Social Context: If you want to read a really in-depth analysis of Spasms featuring contributions from those involved, please go try to read the unfortunately dark-gray-text on black background analysis at Cool Ass Cinema.
Summary: Society would like you to forget how mind-blowingly high everyone was on cocaine in the late 70s/early 80s. For the most part it was a morally/creatively bankrupt time period, which resulted in many poor judgments forever emblazoned on film.
Just think, a whole group got together in a room with a mountain of cocaine and said, “Yes, we should make that movie about the giant snake that also happens to be psychically connected to Oliver Reed.” Then an entirely different group of people, unhappy with the performance of the first group, got together in a room with a different mountain of cocaine and said, “Hey we should go in and also make the snake satanic and totally scrap all the special effects the other group planned and just generally totally fuck up their movie production.”
It’s mesmerising. Even after all that, some salesman blazed out of his gourd on freebased cocaine convinced people from every continent on this planet to release the movie in theatres.
So Oliver Reed is a millionaire who is psychically connected to a snake that bit him and killed his brother. Reed has visions and decides to have the snake captured so he can hire someone to study it. The capture involves a lot of aboriginal people and unsavory white men wearing Panama Jack hats in foreign locales. There’s also some type of satanic cult trying to intercept the snake, which helps to eat up another 45 minutes of screen time.
Once the snake/demon arrives in the states, Peter Fonda gets roped in to do some scientist shit, which involves taping wires to Reed’s head. Then the snake escapes and goes to a sorority house so the filmmakers could hire some girl to do a shower scene. Fonda acts upset the snake is killing everyone and follows it to Reed’s house. The snake finds Reed and kills him after they wrestle by a huge bonfire for like 75 minutes. Suddenly Fonda shows up with a machine gun and blows the snake away.
– Directed by William Fruet who also did the rape-shaming Wedding in White, as well as Funeral Home and Killer Party.
– Righteous wallpaper in the sorority house. This whole segment reeks of post-production reshoots (no cast from the movie needed, addition of boobs, repeated showing of those boobs).
– The special effects centerpiece of the film occurs when an aforementioned unsavory white man (Al Waxman) is bit by the snake and explodes. Effects maven Dick Smith headed-up the efforts and it makes for a disturbing visual (seen at top of review), but was overly used in all marketing materials.
– There’s also a scene where this girl plays frisbee in her extremely hungry swimsuit and is stalked by the snake, which also seems like a post-production reshoot effort to add more boobs to the movie.
Poster and Box Art: Marketing for Spasms was all over the place. English-language materials tried to make it look like a technological/biological thriller about spasming.
Meanwhile, a lot of the foreign language went with the snake angle.
The Thorn/EMI VHS/Betamax release can’t decide which way to go and presents us with the even more ambiguous slogan of, “Once you see it … you’ll feel it the rest of your life.” This artwork uses images from the only two scenes anyone cares about: the girl showering, and the guy exploding.
Availability: CodeRed released a DVD, but it has fallen out of print, so used VHS or YouTube are your best bet.