- Following on from Of Snakes and Women! (Part One)
The mythology of the snake woman, at least in its Asian aspect, is the subject of a new film by Jennifer Lynch, director of Boxing Helena (1993) and Surveillance (2008). Lynch is probably tired of being referred to as “daughter of film auteur David Lynch” — but, you know, you can’t escape your family, especially when one of them is famous and you decide to work in the same field. Interestingly, she made history in 2008 by becoming the first woman to win the Best Director award in the history of the New York City Horror Film Festival, for Surveillance — which, oddly enough, is more crime than horror. (We should perhaps ignore the Worst Director Razzie Award she won in 1994 for Boxing Helena.) She appeared in her father’s surreal nightmare film Eraserhead (1977) at age 9 and was production assistant on his Blue Velvet (1986). She also wrote the bestselling Twin Peaks tie-in novel The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer (1990).
Her latest film veers into full-blown fantasy-horror territory, but uniquely she is directing it in India, working with two of Bollywood’s biggest names — Mallika Sherawat, who headlines as the shapeshifting naga, and leading man Irrfan Khan, who recently appeared in Slumdog Millionaire.
The film is called Hisss!
The Curse of the Cobra Goddess – anytime man desecrates or violates the cobra, they are doomed to suffer the petrifying curse of the snake woman, of death and infertility. Only respect and worship can keep the population safe and the women fertile.
Over 4000 years ago the inhabitants of the Indus Valley sculpted the image of the shapeshifting snake. These half cobras, half human creatures were said to inhabit an awesome, mysterious temple, made of material unknown to mankind, deep within the jungles, far, far away in the legendary spice forests of the Malabar Coast. Children grew up hearing about the story recounted to their grandfathers, by their forefathers about an ancestor, who had journeyed to the edge of the world, and came back to recount a frightening story about the Snake Goddess and her mate…. and from here the legend travelled across India, and the far east along the silk route – passed on from generation to generation for thousands of years until this day.
It is the year 2008, an American man, named George, packing high tech gear, and evil intentions, makes the arduous journey into the heart of the forbidden forest. He captures a male cobra the size of a large python when he’s at his weakest, while mating. Little does he realize when they embark on testing this mysterious creature in their high-tech lab, what horror and destruction awaits him…. (Official website)
From all appearances the film is set to be as sexy as it is creepy, with the beautiful Mallika already known as a sex goddess in her own country. The excellent make-up SFX of Robert Kurtzman — who has worked on a slew of genre films, in a history that includes genre classics/favourites from Evil Dead II, From Beyond, A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child, Bride of Re-Animator, Tremors and In the Mouth of Madness, through to Thir3een Ghosts, Bubba Ho-Tep, Undead or Alive, Ang Lee’s Hulk and much else besides — transforms Mallika from this:
and from this:
Pressed to describe the film, Kurtzman said:
“HISSS is a real Hindi horror movie! Mallika transforms from a serpent into a human in order to find her lover. She needs to mate to carry on her kind, basically, and it’s sort of like CAT PEOPLE in that sense. She goes from being a serpent to a beautiful woman, and then she experiences the real world through human eyes—seeing big cities and stuff like that. But she comes across some evil people in her journey to find a lover, and gets rid of them in all sorts of odd and interesting ways.” (Fangoria)
The newly released official trailer gives every indication that the film will be unique, with a Lynchian sensibility transposed into a Bollywood mystique.
Several creepy and effective shots of Mallika as the naga have appeared, giving a strange surreal quality to the image of the film that pre-publicity is creating.
All it all, the film looks like one we can anticipate as being a classy and unique experience.