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Snakes in Movies
 
Curse of the Yellow Snake (Der Fluch der gelben Schlange) 1963
 
Spoiler Alert !

Some of these pictures and descriptions may give away plot details that you might not want to know before watching the film.
 
Curse of the Yellow Snake Curse of the Yellow Snake Curse of the Yellow Snake
Curse of the Yellow Snake Curse of the Yellow Snake
Curse of the Yellow Snake Curse of the Yellow Snake Curse of the Yellow Snake
Curse of the Yellow Snake Curse of the Yellow Snake Curse of the Yellow Snake
This German flim (a "krimi" or crime thriller) is based on a 1926 novel by Edgar Wallace, a prolific and very popular British thriller writer of that time. If you can get past the shameless racism, the movie is interesting for its crazy camerawork, including whip pans and circling camera shots, its film noir-style with lots of darkness and shadows, and its weird electronic background music. There's also an attempt at comedy that completely fails. It also includes my favorite kind of snake scene - with a snake used as a weapon.

In literature and movies of Wallace's era racist Asian people were often depicted as villains, especially in American silent movies. This 1963 film also depicts that era's racism. The plot involves a fanatical cult of Chinese people bent on dominating the world, led by Fing-Su, who claims to have four million slaves who will follow his orders. Fing-su is played by a European actor in "yellow face" makeup. The cult believes that whoever posesses a golden statuette of a snake on the Day of the Dragon will win any battle he begins that day. So they do whatever they can to get the snake, including murder. Fing-su is the mixed-race half brother of the movie's hero, Clifford.

Clifford travels to London from Hong Kong to meet a woman his stepfather arranged for him to marry, for financial reasons. (He ends up falling for her younger sister, Joan.) As far as we know, Clifford is an unshaven bum who stole the golden snake statue from his stepfather. Joan brings him a package she says was delivered by "a Chinese." He opens it and finds a wooden box inside. He opens the box and sees a snake then throws the box to the floor. The snake crawls out of the box. As everyone freezes in terror, Clifford pulls out a revolver and shoots the snake. That's when we know Clifford is the hero of the movie.

We also see several shots of the golden snake statuette. Earlier we saw some Chinese men steal it from a coffin in Clifford's stepfather's pagoda in Hong Kong. Then we saw Clifford steal it from them at gunpoint. In London we see Clifford hide the yellow snake in his friend's house, but some Chinese cult members steal it. He steals it back. They steal it back. This-back-and-forth goes on until the end of the movie.

I don't know what kind of snake is used in the live snake scene but it doesn't appear to be anything venomous. As far as I can tell they actually shot the snake, or maybe used a small bit of explosives to imitate a gunshot wound. You can see a hole in the snake with some blood dripping from it, and the snake is disfigured and injured or possibly dead after it stops moving.