Director – Arthur A. Names, Screenplay/Producers – Arthur A. Names & John T. Wilson, Photography – George E. Mather, Production Design – Sterling Franck
Les Tremayne (Snakey Bender), Janet Wood (Ivy Holden), Bebe Kelly (Cynthia Williams), Richard Kennedy (Burt Holden), Bruce Kimball (Bud Palmer), Alice Nunn (Sis Palmer), Marvin Kaplan (Brother Joy), Cecil Reddick (Constable Al)
In a small Texas town, the aging Snakey Bender loves his snakes more than anything else. He, Burt Holden and schoolteacher Cynthia Williams have sessions every Wednesday night where they play music and dance with the snakes. Other locals regard Snakey as eccentric, in particular storeowner Bud Palmer and his sister who cruelly taunt and tease him. Things start to go wrong all at once for Snakey after Cynthia bows out of Wednesday nights afraid of her reputation at school and Burt decides to get married, while Bud kills Snakey’s favourite snake Lucifer. Snakey snaps and starts using his snakes to kill those that he believes have crossed him.
Fangs is one of a host of Nature’s Revenge films that came out in the 1970s following the successes of the likes of The Birds (1963), Frogs (1972) and Jaws (1975). It should be noted that those films amid the Nature’s Revenge genre that ventured into the theme of snakes amok, which also included the likes of Night of the Cobra (1972), Stanley (1972), SSSSSSSS! (1973), Fer-de-Lance (1974), The Killer Snakes (1975), Rattlers (1976) and Jennifer (1978), all ended up being cheesy and awful. Amongst these, Fangs essentially tries to replay Willard (1971) with snakes – both feature the same plot of someone who has an unnatural friendship with animals (rats in Willard, snakes here) and snaps as a result of constant rejections and bullyings whereupon he uses the animals to take revenge.
Fangs was made in East Texas. It is a fascinatingly torrid exercise. Director Arthur A. Names was previously an assistant director to Ted V. Mikels among others and acted a sound mixer on many Hollywood films throughout the 1970s and 80s. Names sets up all sorts of whacked-out scenes – Les Tremayne and his demented Wednesday night meetings dancing to John Philip Sousa music; Bruce Kimball and his butch sister Alice Nunn making moves to both try and have their way with Bebe Kelly. The most fascinatingly torrid scene in the film is the one where Les Tremayne turns up on Bebe Kelly’s doorstep, complaining that his snake Lucifer is feeling antsy and she accepts him inside, strips down (only seen in shadow silhouette) and lets the snake run all over and then inside her, while moaning in sexual ecstasy. The film proves equally fascinating when it comes to the various revenge scenes with Les Tremayne locking Janet Wood in a dugout and making her watch as he kills people; Alice Nunn being bound to a hoist and dipped down into various wooden barrels and made to guess which one contains a deadly snake; a half-naked Bebe Kelly being tied up in a chair and snakes run all over her until she is bitten; and Bruce Kimball being put in a pit in his underwear and having snakes thrown in with him, each of which he has to whip and kill if he is to survive.