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Snakes in Movies
 
The Veil Episode 4: Food on the Table (1958)
 
Spoiler Alert !

Some of these pictures and descriptions may give away plot details that you might not want to know before watching the film.
 
This is a short episode of a TV show that was included with other episodes in a feature length film in the 1990s that was made to be shown on late night horror movie shows. It's a ghost story that features a snake and a lot of talk about hundreds of snakes that boarded a ship and killed people, but it's mostly about the relationship between the captain and his wife, who he plots to murder so he can marry another woman who has inherited a lot of money.

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Boris Karloff stars as Captain John Elwood, a sea captain who returns after a long trip to Florida, where hundreds of poisonous snakes boarded his ship, killing two seaman.
We see the captain packing his clothing into a large suitcase. He leaves the suitcase open and when he goes to get more clothing we see a snake crawl into the suitcase and quickly crawl down into the clothing. He closes the suitcase and tells his first mate Mr. Logan (Russ Bender) to bring his things to his home.

Before going home to his wife the captain goes to the club where all the sailors hang out. They have heard about the snakes and ask him to tell the story, which he does:

Inkeeper: "How about those snakes John? When are you going to tell us about them?"
Captain Elwood: "Soon as I get something to wash the salt out of my throat."
"All of a sudden there they were, slithering up the lines and the gangplanks like so many fiends of Hell. 'There's hundreds of them!' somebody yelled. 'See that they pay their passage before they come aboard.' I said. Nobody would have been hurt, but some of the fools tried stamping on the snakes with their bare feet."

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Mr. Logan brings the captain's suitcase to his wife Ruth (Kay Stewart) and she learns about the snakes.

Ruth: "I was so worried, what with the hurricane and reports of the plague."
Mr. Logan: "Oh it wasn't the plague ma'm, just a lot of poisonous snakes that came aboard while we were in Florida."
Ruth: "There was talk that some of the men died."
Mr. Logan: "Aye, two seaman. Three others were bitten but we saved them."
Ruth: "It must have been a terrible experience."
Mr. Logan: "We were finding snakes, ma'm, all over the ship, two weeks after leaving the wharf."

Ruth goes to the seaman's club to confront her husband, and causes a scene. The two go back home. She opens the suitcase and is bitten by the snake, which falls out on to the floor. Captain Elwood grabs a fireplace poker and beats the snake to death with it. Ruth falls to the floor, but she survives.
When she wakes up, he tells her that he killed the snake and took care of her hand, and that the doctor will be there soon.
He tells her: "I don't think we'll need him. I'm sure I got all the poison out."

Later, when he's back at the club, the inkeeper tells him:
"It's a lucky thing you were home John. Snakebite's a terrible way to die."
He tells the inkeeper that his wife is going to make a full recovery.

While it could seem that the snake bite was part of the captain's plan to murder his wife, it was just an accident. He didn't know about the woman who inherited a fortune until after it happened and didn't plan to get rid of her until after that.

The snake is a Corn Snake. It's a harmless snake pretending to be venomous, but at least it is a snake that is actually found in Florida. Nevertheless, it's extremely unlikely that hundreds of Corn Snakes or any other kind of snakes would invade an ocean-going ship. Just as unlikely is the fact that he was able to "get all the poison out" and save his wife before the doctor came.


You can read more about the episode and watch it in its entirety on The Silver Scream.