[Meta]Morphin’ Time

Asia’s the setting. Just Asia, 1945. Nowhere special, just Asian enough to give Cult of the Cobra an exotic cultural vibe. Or, something to tantalize war vets into paying their way into theaters.

Cult of the Cobra is an immediate post-war story, the main characters all servicemen, back in New York after their tours ended. It’s less about showing Asian elements than fearing them. There’s a lingering anxiety, even as non-Asian as Cult of the Cobra often seems, designed to instill fear in foreign… anything. Soldiers won a war, but brought another back with them to the America’s shores. Hilarious, were it not so steeped in irrational fears.

Cult of the Cobra spends most of its runtime ruminating on deaths in ponderous conversations

In the opening scenes, eventual TV regulars Richard Long and Marshall Thompson (with others) tour “Asia,” eventually invited to see a hidden religious ritual – it’s more a Cirque du Solleil routine. Imbued with a curse, it’s clear most of these guys won’t make it out of Cult of the Cobra alive. Faith Domergue, exotic enough to be a cobra woman to only the casting director, stalks her pray, falls in love, and kills some people, boringly so.

There’s a little cold war tension there. Like a Body Snatchers story, Cult of the Cobra places a disguised enemy among us. Domergue acts strangely, refusing drinks and cigarettes, as if refusing scotch or smokes is somehow un-American (or “Asian”). At best, this is a pallid mystery, the victims known before their deaths, the agitator obvious from the earliest frames.

Occasionally Universal’s formula can win out. Not here though. Bud Westmore earns an effects credit, generally making him responsible for dancing a rubber snake on a string, the few times it’s seen. Mostly, it’s a shadow, or a point-of-view shot. Domergue enters metamorphosis once, seconds before the end credits roll. Cult of the Cobra spends most of its runtime ruminating on deaths in ponderous conversations. Romantic flourishes aren’t a catch either.

B-tier aspirations stuff this xenophobic lark, marketable on title not content, along with a promise to deliver GIs fighting a monster. That’s sort of true, less a lie than an exaggeration. Fights happen, dreadfully unexciting, and desperate for any real chills. Cult of the Cobra draws people to the cult, if only because something – anything even – interesting is happening there rather than in New York.

Video

Scream/Shout Factory presents a well rendered HD image for this Blu-ray debut. A little inconsistent, if likely faulted on the aging source rather than this 2K master. Consistent grain lets detail flow, sometimes sharp with detail above expectations. Close-ups commonly produce high fidelity texture, representative of the resolution.

Dense black levels keep depth potent. A little clipping at times in the brightest areas isn’t anything significant. Gray scale still maintains excellent, clean gradients giving the cinematography some energy.

A few scratches aside, the print suffers few complications. It’s stable, shrugging off any gate weave. Restoration took care of any dirt. A nice presentation, if unremarkable in this era of 4K masters.

Audio

A mostly stock score sounds great, certainly a challenge considering age and the borrowed elements. Highs, including cymbal clashes, excel in their clarity. While lows lack punch, that’s expected.

Dialog within this DTS-HD track doesn’t endure static or popping. Defects disappear, much like dirt/damage on the visual side.

Extras

An all-star team of Scream Factory regulars combine their powers to handle this one, headed by Tom Weaver, briefly joined by Steve Kronenberg, David Schecter, and Dr. Robert J. Kiss. Aside from that, trailers and an image gallery.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Cult of the Cobra
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Movie

Evil snake worshipers bring their wares to American shores in Cult of the Cobra with middling results.

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