Halloween Havoc!: RATTLERS (Boxoffice International 1976)

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I’m not a big fan of snakes. The slithering serpents have given me the creeps since I was a kid. Needless to say, any movie about the crawling creatures (or with specific snake scenes) never fail to send shivers down my spine. Movies like ANACONDA, VENOM, and SSSSS just make me squeamish. (No, I did not see SNAKES ON A PLANE. Too chickenshit!) I can now add RATTLERS to the list of reptilian terrors. Though the film isn’t all that good, it did what it was supposed to do: scare the beejeezus out of me!

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A series of snake attacks befall a California desert town and Sheriff Gates (Tony Ballen) calls in LA herpetologist Dr. Tom Parkinson (Sam Chew). The marauding rattlesnakes are striking unprovoked, and have already caused three deaths. Tom is given an assistant to take photos in the desert. She’s Ann Bradley (Elizabeth Chauvet), a Women’s Libber. Tom, of course, is your typical male chauvinist, unhappy about taking “a girl” with him. This results in some “topical” banter between the two, but you know they’ll fall in love by the end of the flick. The duo find out there’s been some deaths on the local Army base, run by Colonel Stroud (Dan Priest). Also on base is the medical officer, Captain Delaney (Ron Gold), who’s somewhat of a drunk. Tom and Ann discover the snakes have been exposed to CT3, an experimental nerve gas that causes “manic behavior” in the rattlers. The deranged Colonel is responsible for stashing the CT3 in an abandoned mine, and tries to cover his tracks. He gets what’s coming to him, the snake threat is ended, and the lovebirds go to LA for Chinese food.

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RATTLERS is average 70s drive-in fare. The boring talking scenes just serve to set up the unnerving snake attacks, which are handled well. While no classic, if snakes make you jittery, you’ll want to give this one a look. Like I said before, it did what it was supposed to do. It did its job. It scared me. You can’t ask for anything more from a horror film, right?

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