Countdown to Halloween: Night of the Cobra Woman

a/k/a Movini’s Venom


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

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


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.



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;

Countdown to Halloween: Vampire in Brooklyn

A Comic Tale of Horror and Seduction

Year of Release:   1995
Genre:   Comedy/Horror
Rating:  R
Runtime:  100 mins.
Studio(s):  Eddie Murphy Productions, Paramount Pictures
Producer(s):  Eddie Murphy, Mark Lipsky
Director:   Wes Craven

Eddie Murphy as Maximillian / Preacher Pauly / Guido
Angela Bassett as Detective Rita Veder
Allen Payne as Detective Justice
Kadeem Hardison as Julius Jones
John Witherspoon as Silas Green
Zakes Mokae as Dr. Zeko
Joanna Cassidy as Captain Dewey
Simi Kali as Nikki


An abandoned ship crashes into a dockyard in Brooklyn, New York, and the ship inspector, Silas Green, finds it full of corpses. Elsewhere, Julius Jones, Silas’s nephew, has a run-in with some mobsters. Just as the two goons are about to kill Julius, Maximillian, a vampire who arrived on the ship, intervenes and kills them. Maximillian infects Julius with his vampiric blood, thereby turning Julius into a decaying ghoul, and explains that he has come to Brooklyn in search of the Dhampir daughter of a vampire from his native Caribbean island in order to live beyond the night of the next full moon.

Dhampir is NYPD Detective Rita Veder, who is still dealing with the death of her mentally ill mother (a paranormal researcher) some months before. As she and her partner, Detective Justice, investigate the murders on the ship, Rita begins having visions about a woman who looks like her, and starts asking questions about her mother’s past. Rita is completely unaware of her vampire heritage, and believes she is losing her mind like her mother.

Maximillian initiates a series of sinister methods to pull Rita into his thrall, including seducing and murdering her roommate Nikki, as well as disguising himself as her preacher and a lowlife crook. Max,  in these disguises, misleads Rita into thinking Justice slept with Nikki, making her jealous and angry with him. After saving Rita from being run down by a taxicab, Maximillian takes her to dinner. Rita is taken with Maximillian’s suave charm, and while dancing with her, he bites her.

The next day, Justice finds Rita in her apartment, having slept all day.   Justice informs Rita about Nikki’s murder, and vows to help understand her visions, as one correctly foretold Nikki’s fate. Rita forgives Justice, but she almost bites him in the neck during a passionate kiss before catching her disappearing reflection in a mirror, and realizes she is becoming a vampire. She confronts Max about the changes occurring within her, and deduces he is also responsible for the murders she and Justice are investigating. Rita further finds out that Maximillian was sent to her by her father; his death at the hands of vampire hunters was what drove Rita’s mother insane.

Max tries to convince Rita that she will be happier as a vampire instead of remaining in the human world. Justice plans to rescue Rita from Max, and seeks advice from Dr. Zeko, a vampire expert they visited earlier in the murder investigation. Zeko explains that he knew Rita’s mother while she did her research on the vampires of the Caribbean islands, and she surrendered to evil by falling in love with Rita’s father. To avoid becoming a vampire, Rita must refrain from drinking the blood of an innocent human victim; also, Maximillian must die before the next full moon. Zeko gives Justice an ancient dagger with instructions to either kill Maximillian or risk being killed by Rita.

When Justice reaches her, Rita is lying inside Max’s coffin, almost completely changed into a vampire, and threatens to bite Justice. Justice and Maximillian fight, at which time Justice loses Zeko’s dagger. Maximillian encourages Rita to kill Justice and complete the transformation, but she rejects life as a vampire and drives the dagger through Maximillian’s heart, causing him to disintegrate. Rita and Justice then embrace with a passionate kiss.

Meanwhile, Julius, now completely decayed, enters his master’s limousine. He finds Maximillian’s ring and puts it on, instantly transforming him into a fully intact member of the undead. Overjoyed, he tells Silas, “There’s a new vampire in Brooklyn, and his name is Julius Jones!”, as both of them drive off into the night to parts unknown.


Stunt performer Sonja Davis was fatally injured performing a 42-foot backward fall.  Source:  Wikipedia;; syfywire.


Countdown to Halloween: Boo!

You’ve Been Chosen

Year of Release:  2018
Genre:  Horror/Mystery
Rating:  NR
Runtime:  91 mins.
Studio(s):   Midland Entertainment
Director:  Luke Jaden


Jaden Piner (Caleb), Rob Zabrecky (James), Aurora Perrineau (Morgan), Jill Marie Jones (Elyse), Charley Palmer Rothwell (Ashton), Dwight Henry (Memphis).


A torn suburban family refuses to heed the warning of an innocent prank left upon them, releasing an unknown supernatural force to wreak havoc.

Boo! starts with an innocuous prank note, popular with kids to share with their friends at Halloween.  In Detroit Halloween 1980, a man carries the mysterious chain letter.  The unnamed character disappears into his house, terrified. Once inside he is caught up in a furious cataclysm of light and sound, culminating in his apparent off-screen suicide.

Back in present day, the same note and a mysterious package are left on the doorstep of a family having breakfast.  The note reads:

You’ve Been Boo-ed!
The air is cool, the season is Fall
Soon Halloween will come to all,
Terror and horror, spooks galore
Tricky witches are at your door.
The spooks are looking for things to do
In fact, one bought this boo to you.
Excitement comes and ghouls like you
Copy this note and make it through.

Parents, James and Elyse are struggling to keep their family together.  James is a religious zealot who is blind to his family’s needs and dismisses anything that does not a line up with his ideology.  A child from Elyse’s past that she could not save haunts her. Besides their marital problems the other members of the family also contribute to the instability of the home with their own internal conflicts. Morgan, a teenager, battling with the thoughts of her own extinction, wonders if it would matter to anyone. The youngest son, Caleb, systematically strings together his repressed fears and emotions in an artistic representation of hellish inventions.  The two children with their formidable concerns go unnoticed by their parents who are oblivious to their own children’s suffering. By not passing along the chain letter, the evil inside the house flourishes while the family battles their internal demons. The family must band together in order to stop the unimaginable terror.  Source(s):  Black Girl Nerds; Film Threat.


Drums O’ Voodoo

a/k/a Louisiana
a/k/a She Devil
a/k/a Voodoo Devil Drums
a/k/a Voodoo Drums


Year of Release:  1934
Genre:  Horror
Runtime:  70 mins.
Studio(s): Sack Amusement Enterprises
Director:  Arthur Hoerl


Laura Bowman (Aunt Hagar), Edna Barr (Myrtle Simpson), Lionel Monagas (Ebenezer), J. Augustus Smith (Amos Berry), Morris McKenny (Thomas Catt), A. B. Comathiere (Deacon Dunson), Alberta Perkins, (Sister Knight), Fred Bonny (Brother Zero), Paul Johnson (Deacon August), Trixie Smith (Sister Marguerite), Carrie Huff (Sister Zuzan)


Thomas Catt, the proprietor of a “jook,” a Southern cabaret-brothel, desires young, virginal Myrtle Simpson, the niece of preacher Amos Berry and fiancée of the grandson of Aunt Hagar, the local voodoo high priestess.

Although Catt threatens to expose Amos’ past to his congregation if he refuses to “give” Myrtle to him, Amos resists Catt’s attempts at blackmail, while Aunt Hagar activates some of her voodoo spells.

Later, during one of Amos’ spirited revival meetings, Catt bursts in and, after drawing his razor, announces that he has come to claim Myrtle. Defied by both Aunt Hagar’s grandson and Amos, Catt starts to reveal to the congregation that Amos had once murdered a man. In the middle of his exposé, however, Catt is struck by a bolt of lightning and is blinded, a fate that had been predicted by Aunt Hagar. Catt is then smothered in a pool of quicksand, and Myrtle and Amos are at last freed from their tormentor.



The New York State Censor Board records from 1934 indicate that the film was retitled The DevilDrums o’ Voodoo was re-released in 1940 under the title She Devil.  In 1981, the film was found in a warehouse by historian-producer Alex Gordon.

The screenplay was based on the stage play, Louisiana, by J. Augustus Smith.  Most of the all-black cast, including playwright J. Augustus Smith, also appeared in the stage play, which was produced on Broadway by the Negro Theatre Guild.  The play was one act long and was only performed eight times, partly because of the criticism of Brooks Atkinson of New York Times.

Modern sources list the title as Voodoo Devil Drums and Voodoo Drums.  Additional cast members from modern sources include James Davis (Brother Zumee), Ruth Morrison (Sister Gaghan), Harriet Daughtry (Sister Lauter), Bennie Small (Bou Bouche), Pedro Lopez (Marcon), Jennie Day, Gladys Booker, Herminie Sullivan, Lillian Exum, Edith Woodby, Mabel Grant, Marion Hughes, Madeline Smith, Theresa Harris, Dorothy St. Claire, Eleanor Hines, Pauline Freeman, Annabelle Smith, Jacquiline Ghant, Annabelle Ross and Harriett Scott (Members of the Flat Rock Washfoot Baptist Church), Cherokee Thornton, Arthur McLean, DeWitt Davis, Rudoph Walker, Marvin Everhart, Jimmie Cook, Irene Bagley, Sally Timmons, Beatrice James and Marie Remsen (Voodoo Dancers).  Source(s):  TCM, DAARAC,org, Movieposters.


Chloe, Love Is Calling You

a/k/a Chloe


Release Date:  4/1/1934
Runtime:  62 mins/54 mins (DVD)
Black & White
Studio:  Pinnacle Productions
Director:  Marshall Neilan



Georgette Harvey (Old Mandy), Olive Borden (Chloe/Betty Ann Gordon), Reed Howes (Wade Carson), Philip Ober (Jim Strong), Francis Joyner (Colonel Gordon), Augustus Smith (Mose), Molly O’Day (Joyce, the Colonel’s niece)


Mandy, a voodoo practicing nursemaid, returns to the swamps of the Everglades with her half-white daughter Chloe and helper, Jim Strong, to exact revenge on Colonel Gordon, the man she believes is responsible for the lynching of her husband Sam fifteen years earlier. The widowed colonel, whose daughter Betty Ann drowned in the swamps around the same time that Sam was killed, lives with his niece Joyce and oversees the family turpentine factory.  As Chloe, Mandy and Jim near the colonel’s home, Chloe expresses doubts about her Black heritage and rejects the proposal of the devoted Jim.

Wade Carson, the new “Yankee” foreman of the turpentine factory, meanwhile, impresses the colonel when he discovers shortages at the factory and establishes that Mose, one of the employees, has been stealing from the company. After Wade fires Mose, Mose swears revenge and then tries to force his attentions on Chloe. Wade comes to Chloe’s rescue, however, further aggravating Mose and Mose prepares to shoot Wade but is stopped by Joe, who is then crushed to see Wade walk Chloe home.

Later, while Mandy and Mose join forces and plan their voodoo revenge, Chloe and Jim argue about Chloe’s attraction to the “white northerner.”  Then, on the anniversary of Betty Ann’s disappearance, Mandy leaves voodoo switches on the colonel’s doorstep and initiates a drum-beating ceremony. During the ceremony, Mandy, who is also concerned about Chloe’s interest in Wade, drugs her tea and orders Jim to take advantage of her subsequent stupor to assure their marriage.  Jim refuses to seduce Chloe, but after seeing Wade kiss Chloe, he confronts Wade and tells him that she is half-Black and therefore “off-limits.”  Although Wade is reluctant to believe Jim about Chloe, he takes seriously his warning that Mandy and Mose are plotting against him and the colonel.

The Colonel and Wade then break into Mandy’s cabin and there discover clothes that Betty Ann was wearing the day she drowned. When Chloe identifies the clothes as ones she wore as a child, the colonel becomes convinced she is his daughter. Mandy, however, denies that she kidnapped Chloe to replace her own dead child, and the colonel’s niece, Joyce, who is attracted to Wade, also expresses doubts about Chloe’s white parentage.

At a party in her honor, a confused and distraught Chloe flees into the swamps, while the colonel and Wade, determined to prove their hunch, send the local doctor to dig up a grave that the colonel believes contains Mandy’s black baby. Meanwhile Mose ambushes Chloe in the swamp and brings her to Mandy’s voodoo ceremony, where they plan to sacrifice her.


Wade and the colonel, however, arrive in time to save Chloe, after which the doctor confirms that the baby buried at Mandy’s house is black. At last assured of her “whiteness,” Chloe is free to pursue her romance with Wade.



Ohio banned the movie as “harmful.”  White actress Olive Borden plays Chloe, who is trying to avenge her Black father’s lynching but along the way falls in love with a White man who works for Col. Gordon, the rich factory owner who orchestrated the killing.  Later she discovers that Gordon is her biological father and that she is white.  The lynching, though not shown in the film, may have factored into Chloe’s censorship.  But the narrative twists trick audiences into believing she is black and then insists (on a string of unstable evidence – most notably, the dress she wore as a child) that she is white and can marry a white man.  Chloe was unlike Imitation of Life in that it admitted interracial desire and sex:  it accepted (perhaps because of its New Orleans setting) the premise of a half-caste “creole” Negro and allowed both Black and White suitors to pursue Chloe.

Source(s):  TCM;; Cinema Civil Rights: Regulation, Repression, and Race in the Classical Hollywood Era.


Four Shall Die

a/k/a Condemned Men

Release Date:  10/15/1940
Genre:  Crime
Studio:  Million Dollar Productions
Directors:  William Beaudine, Leo C. Popkin

Niel Webster (Pierre Touissant), Mantan Moreland (Beefus – Touissant’s Chauffeur), Laurence Criner (Roger Fielding), Dorothy Dandridge (Helen Fielding), Vernon McCalla (Dr. Webb), Monte Hawley (Dr. Hugh Leonard), Reginald Fenderson (Hickson), Jack Carr (Lew Covey), Jess Lee Brooks (Bill Summers).

Helen Fielding, heir to the fortune of the late millionaire Roger Fielding, Sr., has broken off her relationship with the unscrupulous Lew Covey to pursue a romance with reporter Bill Summers. Covey, determined to get at Helen’s inheritance, vows to win her back. When Hickson, a friend of Helen’s, tells Dr. Hugh Leonard and Covey about a visitation he had from his dead mother’s spirit, Covey expresses disbelief and bets Hickson that he can’t prove the visitation took place so Hickson takes the men to Dr. Ronald Webb’s spiritualistic parlor.  There the voice of “Momba,” an angry spirit, warns Covey that he will die later that night. The spirit also portends the deaths of Hickson and Leonard, telling them that they will die one day apart from each other following Covey’s death.  The spirit of Helen’s dead father, Roger Fielding, Sr., also visits and warns that his son Roger Fielding, Jr., will be the next to die.

Later that night, Helen discovers Covey’s dead body in her room.  They agree not to tell the police about the death, and instead call on the famous detective Pierre Touissant and his assistant, Beefus, to help solve the case. The following night, Hickson is shot to death by a man named Jefferson after a violent quarrel.   Hoping to escape from his predicted fate, Roger takes the advice of Webb and plans to set sail for Argentina, but Touissant and Beefus prevent him from leaving.

Eventually Touissant exposes Webb who had planned all along to frighten everyone with fake apparitions and phony murders in order to get the inheritance. Covey and Hickson, who are very much alive, arrive with the police, proving Touissant’s explanation was true.


The plot summary was taken from a synopsis contained in the file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library.  According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, “Pierre Touissant” was the name of the “grandson of Toussaint L’Overture, Haitian general who defied Napoleon.”

This film is presumed lost.

Source(s):  Matinee Classics; TCM;; Wikipedia.