Tuesday, June 5, 2012
A Frank Review of "Stanley" (1972)
The Short Version? Snakes on a First Blood. Wait-- what?
What Is It? "Thriller."
Who Is In It? Alex fucking Rocco.
Should I See It? God, no.
1971's Willard quite successfully played on people's (mostly women peoples) innate fear of rats (or mice, as the case may be) and their creepy introverted masters. In ripping it off, Stanley went up the food chain for a more widely reviled critter, the rattlesnake (plus water moccasins, in a coolish scene.) Unfortunately, the slithering stars are severely hampered by all the humans ruining everything. Chris Robinson plays a nutcase Vietnam vet whose only love in the world is snakes. The Godsfather's Alex Rocco plays the main villain, who I caught not too long ago in Blood Mania, and he has more to do here. Rocco pays slimy dudes to capture snakes for commercial exploitation (like this movie!) and they already killed the vet's daddy when he got in the way. The vet goes on a 'roaring rampage of revenge,' except with hissing, and the snakes do all the real killing, but there's definitely a rampage. When the vet runs out of legitimate targets, he just starts dicking with people in general, so you know this is going to end badly.
Stanley has some alright gonzo shit going on, but Chris Robinson handles the snakes so comfortably, it gives them a serene aura that cancels out their menace. Each snake attack is telegraphed minutes in advance, so you know who's going to get it and how every time, smothering the life out of any semblance of suspense. I was amazed/horrified to learn that all the snakes were real, which makes this a serpentine snuff film. Watch living mice swallowed whole, rattlers blown to pieces by a shotgun, and snakes beaten savagely by the body of one of their own used as a whip. It's batshit there at the end, but also senseless and inhumane. The film is awkward and padded like most '70s grindhouse garbage, and I couldn't recommend it for that alone, but I'm doubly mortified by actual harm being inflicted in the pursuit of squatting this turd out.
If you must, you can see the full feature for free...
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