Rattlers – USA, 1976

‘What a horrible way to die!’

Rattlers is a 1976 American horror feature film produced and directed by John McCauley (Deadly Intruder) from a screenplay co-written with Jerry Golding. The movie stars Sam Chew, Elisabeth Chauvet, Tony Ballen, Dan Priest, Ron Gold, Darwin Joston, and Gary Van Ormand.

Harry Novak, head of Boxoffice International Pictures, was the executive producer.

Rattlers was one of many 1970s ‘animals attack’ ecological-themed horror movies, such as Frogs, SquirmEmpire of the Ants and Piranha.

When two young boys are savagely attacked and killed by a legion of rattlesnakes in the Californian desert, the local sheriff (Tony Ballen) calls upon herpetologist Doctor Tom Parkinson (Sam Chew), a Los Angeles college professor, to discover why the snakes are displaying abnormal aggression and swarming behaviour. The sheriff teams Parkinson with feminist war photographer Ann Bradley (Elisabeth Chauvet).

As more people in the desert town are killed by the abnormally aggressive rattlesnakes, Parkinson’s and Bradley’s investigation leads them to a nearby army base. However, the commanding officer, Colonel Stroud (Dan Priest), becomes evasive when a mysterious mineshaft is mentioned…

Reviews:

“A nice night at the drive-in — laughs, shivers, and groans included. The snake attack scenes induce goosebumps by nature alone, but can’t shake their obvious defects — unconvincing edits, a thin supply of snakes, and out of focus shots. That sets us up for an endless run of healthy bad acting chops and laffs…” Joseph A. Ziemba, Bleeding Skull!

“It was fun enough. It had lots of fun attacks and ridiculous touches like the woman who has to take a bath this very minute […] The movie also features more than its share of supporting actors who come in here and there to deliver unexpectedly genuine performances, and it wraps itself up right on time.” Cinema de Merde

“Some of the snake attacks are scary and will probably make you hate these slithering critters after viewing it, but most of the scenes are sloppily shot, substituting unconvincing Rattler stock footage in some instances. Rattlers is a passable time waster that doesn’t compare to the more fun AIP films of this sort.” George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In

“The plotting of Rattlers is stiffly mechanical, the dialogue ranges from mediocre to substandard, and the characterizations are inconsistent. For every quasi-credible scene, there’s something quite silly. That said, the movie more or less delivers when the time comes for proper suspense scenes…” Every ’70s Movie

” …the acting is merely adequate, the plot is pretty standard but gets weaker as it goes along, and some parts of it are horribly cliched. The scare scenes are only so-so as well. Still, even with this, you get to like the characters enough that it helps you get through it.” Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“Although the sheer pleasure of seeing a parade of stupid people get bitten becomes muted by a talk-heavy Act 3 and an abbreviated, anticlimactic ending, these Rattlers aren’t for show — they kick ass.” Rod Lott, Flick Attack

“Between the investigating and bickering we get some rattlesnake attacks on unsuspecting victims. Maybe if you have a great fear of snakes they’ll creep some people out, but for the rest of us they’re average at best. It’s routine stuff – someone looking around, seeing the snakes, screaming, panic, rattler strikes.” Haphazard Stuff

“After about the half way point the movie becomes insanely hilarious from the out of the blue trip to Vegas for an romantic date between the duo, to an solider bursting into a tent filled of snakes and spraying the floor with a machine gun magically not injuring either of the two people inside the tent with his blind barrage of bullets. Although it hasn’t aged well at all it is still a great choice for sharing some laughs with friends and reminiscing about the genre’s early roots.” Ted Brown, The Liberal Dead

Rattlers could have been much better than it turned out to be. The overabundance of stock footage coupled with profoundly wooden performances combine to sink this one to the bottom. The pointless subplots with the military and the contrived conflict between the leads (he’s a sexist and Bradley is a feminist) really feels out of place in a killer snake movie. I repeat: this is a killer snake movie…show me snakes!” Dennis Gisbeck, Monster Shack

“The snake attack scenes are often crudely filmed and plotted, but if you’re afraid of snakes, you won’t care. Despite what technical flaws they may have, they worked on me and they will probably work on you too.” Oh, the Horror!

Choice dialogue:

Doctor Tom Parkinson “Well let me tell you something young lady. If I had my choice in the matter, you’d be sitting on your liberated ass back in the office in that sheriff’s department…”

Cast and characters:

  • Sam Chew Jr. [as Sam Chew] … Doctor Tom Parkinson – Scarab; 10 to Midnight; Time Walker
  • Elisabeth Chauvet … Ann Bradley
  • Dan Priest … Colonel Stroud – Moon of the Wolf
  • Ronald Gold [as Ron Gold]… Captain Delaney – Helter Skelter
  • Al Dunlap … General Hinch – Killer’s Delight; Point of Terror
  • Dan Balentine … Pilot Hawkins
  • Gary Van Orman … Woodley
  • Darwin Joston … Palmer – Time WalkerThe Fog; Eraserhead; Circle of Fear TV series
  • Cary J. Pitts … Sergeant
  • Eric Lawson … Guard – King Cobra; Rumpelstiltskin; Skeeter;
  • Tony Ballen … Sheriff Gates – Welcome to Arrow Beach; Circle of Fear TV series
  • Richard Lockmiller … Deputy – The Aliens Are Coming
  • Jo Jordan … Mother – The Last Resort
  • Scott McCartor [as Scott McCarter] … Rick
  • Tipp McClure … Plumber

Filming locations:

Mojave Desert, California, USA

Running time: 

82 minutes

Double-billed with Bug (1975): “two horrible movies”

Snakes on HORRORPEDIA

Image credits: Retro CharlotteWrong Side of the Art!



Categories: 1970s, ecological horror, snakes

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

1 reply

  1. Personally, I love this one.

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