Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actor: Queen Cobra
Director: Razor Digital
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Studio: Razor Digital Ent Release Date: 04/15/2008 Rating: Nr
CRANKEDONCINEMA.COM review by Jamie Lisk
Lewis Schoenbrun | 05/24/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Lewis Schoenbrun has toiled in the movie industry for nearly two decades, mostly as an editor, on everything from "Scarecrow Gone Wild" to Julia Roberts' starrer "Mystic Pizza", with the occasional foray into the writing and directing end of the spectrum. He's rubbed shoulders with some major Hollywood players over the years but for the most part, he enjoys working on low-budget projects because they allow him to have maximum creative control. "Queen Cobra" is his latest offering, an amateurish-looking film that is not altogether bad, but is surely not something he'd likely call his best. Might I add that it was also produced by David Sterling. Fans of indie cinema, like myself, know that when you see David Sterling's name attached to a project you are assured two things; heavy-schlock value and plenty of b-movie-stylized fun. For those not in the know, David S. Sterling is a b-movie heavy hitter who started during the shot-on-video days and has had his hand in literally hundreds of indie films since then. With cheap production values and a hurried shooting style, his paw prints are all over this flick, for better or worse. For the casual observer out there who might happen upon this sitting on a video store shelf, "Queen Cobra" swaggers along like one of those Saturday morning creature features we all grew up watching, and for that reason, it's not altogether bad.
Dr. Hall (David Alan Graf), the mad scientist of mad scientists, the kind of white-coat who cackles with glee as he reveals his deep dark plans, yeah, you know the one, well, he is working on a secret government project that'll change two adorable acid-spitting Cobras (one is called Marge and the other Homer) into living breathing snake people hell bent on destruction. After receiving word that his funding is going bye bye, Dr. Hall goes mad (or maybe, madder) and decides to off a big-busted female student, Rita (Ashika Gogna), who has stopped by for `extra tutoring'. To bring his experiment to fruition, Hall first needs a DNA sample, so, in that regard, Rita comes through nicely in a pinch. Things go haywire however when Hall's intolerable son, Kenneth (Monte Hunter), stops by and accidentally becomes lunch for a just-waking-up Homer. Distracted trying to save his kin, the good doc doesn't notice as Marge slithers free of her aquarium case. Thanks to that impromptu blood transfusion earlier, or at least that's what I'm guessing, Marge, the snake, transforms into an ugly, scaly humanoid monster, thus giving us `Queen Cobra' of the title. Courtney (Danielle De Luca) and Jack (Jim Saviano), as a pair of horny lab assistants helping out after hours to get their grades up, are quickly caught in the middle of a bloodbath as Queen Cobra goes on a rampage in search of the doctor and the secret contents of his suitcase.
"Queen Cobra" is odd in that it seems to spend a lot of time developing minor characters and storylines that really go nowhere. The subplot involving Piya Tolani (2006's "Blood Legend"), as Dr. Hall's cheating wife, is the most egregious example. Why the writers determined that it was important to develop her scheming, gold-digging character as well as that of her handyman boytoy Daniel Schiller, is beyond me. The only reason I could figure is that it afforded the producer the chance for some extended shots of Piya in her undies and a bra, not to mention a memorable lesbo-rotic stroke session with Ashika. Monte Hunter (2008's "The Curse of Lizzie Borden 2: Prom Night"), as Hall's smarmy son, is also an example of wasted character development. A few scenes early on where he defines how prickly he is, in hindsight rings pointless considering that he's third up on the film's kill rotation.
The production values on this project were, apparently, non-existent, as Queen Cobra herself, the gimmick driving this vehicle, seems to be nothing more than a shoddy concoction, an amalgam of house supplies and Halloween party throwaways, namely some Freddy Krueger gloves, body paint, a mask with fangs and some dyed underwear. By sashaying up and down hallways, actress Ashika Gogna (2006's "Hood of Horror") does manage to take-on a snake-like rhythm, and it does help to sell her creature character, but, alas, once the killing starts, you'll be laughing. Queen Cobra seems to kill by massaging her victim's necks, or at least that's what it looks like. I'm thinking it has something to do with the fact that real blades were employed on the end of the gloves fingertips and nobody, including Gogna, wanted to see one of them accidentally puncture another actor's neck. One scene where the `queen cobra' spits acid, melting the arm of a slow-witted security guard, was really quite effective but was, sadly, under-utilized. Make-up proved to be another issue, and it involved paint not being applied to the area of skin just under the glove, which is quite visible during several scenes. Identifying exposed human skin on what is supposed to be the film's monster centerpiece, especially when the audience is not looking for it, surely is the fastest way to pull them out of the film. The editing also could have been tighter, something I find shocking considering that Lewis Schoenbrun makes his bread and butter editing movies. There's a boom-microphone visible in at least one shot and the audio quality is touch and go in the film's early part. There's also an endless parade of stagnant hallway shots used to define location. Some more creativity could have been employed to better establish location than by cross-cutting to the same shot over and over. Factoring in the low-budget nature of the film and the unknown exterior forces that can come into play during production, I guess you have to settle for what you can get when you can get it. Negative footage also abounds, sometimes to define the POV of the snake and sometimes, just for effect. It comes off looking like a David Bowie music video circa 1986, if you ask me.
Danielle De Luca (2007's "Blood Mask: The Possession of Nicole Lameroux") and Jim Saviano (2006's "The Curse of Lizzie Borden"), the film's two leads, aren't bad and they do seem to enjoy each other, all of which makes the early part of the film at least watchable. Compared to just about everyone else here, they positively shine as actors. Since the majority of the cast are untrained or are simply friends of the director, it's not a surprise to notice that many of them seem to be straining to remember their lines. Jonathan Estrada, as Courtney and Jeff's laid-back roommate, Ron, just trying to watch a movie and eat his always-full bowl of popcorn but having no luck, is mildly amusing. Truly an exercise in constipated acting, for sure, but a nice diversion from all the running and yelling. Character-actor David Alan Graf (2003's "The Hazing") seems to be having a great time, hamming it up and being just the most calculating scumbag mad scientist caricature he can be. Taking cues from the masters like Bela Lugosi and Colin Clive, Graf offers up a slightly stiff, but always enjoyable, sleaze ball turn. First time actor Ryan Ford as the deadly-serious Agent Augustyn, seems to have stepped out of a completely different movie. He is memorable even though his part is quite minor.
Typical of the kind of film usually being offered by Sterling Entertainment, "Queen Cobra" isn't going to win any awards but it might work as a nice diversion for folks who enjoy this kind of movie."