Countdown to Halloween: Night of the Cobra Woman

a/k/a Movini’s Venom

Tagline 
ONLY THE COBRA CAN SATISFY HER UNEARTHLY DESIRES

Details
Year of Release:   1972
Genre:   Horror/Thriller
Rating:  R
Runtime:  85 mins./76 mins. (DVD)
Studio(s):  New World Pictures, Embassy Home Entertainment, Scorpion Releasing
Director:   Andrew Meyer

Cast
Marlene Clark as Lena Aruza
Joy Bang as Joanna
Roger Garrett as Stan Duff
Vic Diaz as Japanese Soldier / Lopé
Rosemarie Gil as Francisca, Lope’s mother
Vic Silayan as Dr. Tezon
Slash Marks as Sgt. Merkle
Bert Rivera as Ramon
Jimmy Milanios as Benito
Logan Clarke as Collins
Andrew Meyer as Weston

Synopsis

In the Philippines during World War II, nurses Lena Arruza and Francisca gather medicinal herbs in the jungle. Inside a cave, Movini, a firebrand cobra bearing a red triangle on its chest, bites Lena, who collapses, the red triangle appearing on her neck and her face becoming mask-like. When she regains consciousness it is as if she has never been bitten, and she carries the cobra outside, crooning to it. There, she finds Francisca, who has been raped and shot by a Japanese soldier. With the snake’s venom, Lena heals her friend instantly.

Twenty-seven years later, young scientist Joanna is in Manila to conduct field research in developing an anti-venom to cure snake bites. Her mentor, Dr. Tezon, explains to his students that an ancient Philippine theory postulates that a snakebite’s deadliness arises not from the venom but from the snake’s anger, causing a release of fatal enzymes. Although Tezon attempts to dissuade Joanna from studying the fabled firebrand cobra, rumored to possess its victims’ souls and keep them forever young, Joanna remains adamant, and Tezon informs her that Lena, rumored to own a firebrand, lives in a nearby jungle.

Joanna travels to Lena’s home, where a youthful Francisca rebuffs her. Wandering the grounds, Joanna is spotted by Lopé, a disfigured Japanese man, and races off in fear.  Joanna’s American boyfriend Duff, joins her in Manila.  Duff wants to meet Lena, and while Joanna is working, goes to the jungle, where he is promptly attacked and bitten by Movini. A youthful Lena approaches him and sucks out the venom. She brings him home, where Francisca informs him that Lena saved his life, explaining that Lopé is Francisca’s son, and that his body began to erode after he made love to Lena. Duff asks Francisca to inform Joanna of his whereabouts, and to bring his pet eagle, Dirk back with her. Outside, Francisca tells Lopé that soon she will return with a bird big enough to destroy Movini, and with him, Lena’s power.

Later, Duff finds Lena in the cave before an altar, where she apologizes for Movini’s actions. Soon, Francisca arrives with Joanna and Dirk. Joanna enters the house and, spotting a vial of venom, pockets it. Lena takes an immediate dislike to Joanna and refuses to allow her to see Duff. While Joanna leaves and whispers to Francisca outside, Lena realizes she has stolen the venom, and sends Movini out to bite her. However, the snake accidentally falls upon Francisca, killing her. Joanna backs away in terror from the advancing cobra and manages to open Dirk’s cage. After a protracted fight, Lena watches in horror as Dirk kills Movini. Joanna races away as Lena collapses, her face transforming again into a mask.

Joanna brings the venom to Tezon and they analyze it, discovering a compound within that is indestructible. They inject it into a monkey to determine its effect, then watch as the monkey begins to age. In the jungle, Duff finds Lopé keening over Francisca’s body, then confronts Lena and questions her angrily, but she asks him to hold her and he gives in, making love to her.  Afterward, he realizes that he is rapidly growing old and has been infected by the act of making love, but she informs him that Movini’s venom counteracts the aging process, keeping her young for decades, and that there are a few drops left in the house. After injecting Duff, instantly restoring his youth, Lena tells him he must retrieve the venom that Joanna has stolen. They go to the city, where Duff, again aging, sneaks into Joanna’s lab. When he places the venom vial on the counter, the caged monkey spills it, and Duff is forced to flee as he hears Joanna entering. Meanwhile, Lena is slowly transforming into a snake, a triangle appearing on her neck and her skin turning to scales. She immediately targets a local man with whom to make love, knowing this will restore her youth temporarily, although it leaves the man instantly withered and old.

She finds Duff at a cockfight, and when she is accidentally scratched by a bird, her blood heals Duff, alerting them that she contains the same curative venom as did Movini.  Days later, Lena realizes that she needs a new man with whom to have sex each day in order to remain in a human state, and although Duff grows jealous, she instructs him to procure new lovers for her.  He sets up a date with at a hotel, but the man attacks Lena sadistically, prompting her to become a cobra and kill him. Duff enters and, seeing Lena in her snake form, flees to Joanna’s house. As Lena murders Dr. Tezon to curtail his experiments, Duff makes love to Joanna.  He awakens, however, to find Lena in snake form curled up on the bed, and she hypnotizes him into returning with her to her cave altar. There, she prays to her deity to be freed from her human form. Before transforming into a snake again, Lena informs Duff that he will always be safe and young as long as he protects her, and when she dies, he will merge with her for eternity. Unwilling to be bound to her, he vacillates, allowing Lopé enough time to burst in and attack Lena.  Although he chops her snake body into five pieces, she rejuvenates as five snakes and kills him. As his body falls into the altar pyre, the cave bursts into flames. Duff flees into the jungle, followed by Lena’s five snake entities. Just then, Joanna returns to the jungle and is soon surrounded by the five Lenas. Upon hearing her scream, Duff, deteriorating rapidly, entreats Lena to take him instead of Joanna. Joanna wants to stay to help him, but he insists she leave, then submits to Lena’s bite. As he awakens, young and healthy, he strokes Lena.

Trailer:

Notes

According to a June 1972 Hollywood Reporter news item, New World Pictures hoped to develop Night of the Cobra Woman into a half-hour television show for the 1973 season. That show was never produced.   Source(s):  TCM; DAARAC.org.