Serpent’s Lair (1995)


USA. 1995.


Director – Jeffrey Reiner, Screenplay – Marc Rosenberg, Producer – Vlad Paunescu, Photography – Feliks Parnell, Music – Vinnie Golia, Visual Effects – OCS/Freeze Frame/Pixel Magic (Supervisor – Ray McIntyre Jr), Production Design – Stuart Blatt. Production Company – The Kushner-Locke Co/WarnerVision Films


Jeff Fahey (Tom Bennett), Lisa B. (Lilith Cameron), Heather Medway (Alex Bennett), Patrick Bauchau (Samuel Goddard), Anthony Palermo (Mario), Kathleen Noone (Betty), Taylor Nichols (Paul Douglas)


Tom Bennett and his wife Alex move into a new apartment. Cats soon congregate around the place. One of those these causes Alex to fall and be hospitalised. While she is away, the previous owner’s sister Lilith comes to pick up her brother’s things and then makes aggressive moves to seduce Tom. He soon gives into the lure of heated sex. When Alex finds out, she leaves him. Lilith then moves in but Tom soon finds himself becoming physically drained. He comes to realise that Lilith is in fact a demonic succubus who seduces men and then drains their energy.

Serpent’s Lair doesn’t come from Albert and Charles Band’s Full Moon Productions but a reading of the credits reveals it could easily have done. It is produced by Kushner-Locke, Full Moon’s regular distributor in the latter half of the 1990s. As with most Full Moon productions, it is shot in Rumania and produced by the Band’s regular Rumanian producing partner Vlad Paunescu.

Despite trying to convince us it is a supernatural film, Serpent’s Lair is really a variation on Fatal Attraction (1987) – there are no actual supernatural elements until the last twenty minutes. The film closely resembles the Spanish Immortal Sins (1992) about a man being sexually tempted away from his wife by a reincarnated witch. As with both Fatal Attraction and Immortal Sins, the film charts black-and-white dividing lines when it comes to female sexuality – seductive, sexually wanton and easily available female sexuality is evil, while good is represented by Heather Medway’s boring but loving and sexually non-assertive wife. There is a quite sexist, very Baptist underlying assumption that woman must be either whores or housewives and that the whore aspect is linked with all manner of diabolical trickery.

These types of films usually have a certain hypocrisy in that their appeal is rooted in the very prurient aspect that they condemn – that is to say, they focus on the sexual desirability of the seductress and shoot the sex scenes in a clearly erotic light. In this regard, Lisa B. has considerable sizzle when on screen. However, in terms of erotic appeal, Serpent’s Lair is utterly dull. For the initial encounter, the film does the almost criminal thing for this type of film – Lisa B. keeps her clothes on and the camera coyly turns away at any hint of naked flesh. This changes somewhat later but the film barely even raises enough steam to fog a window on any icy morning.

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