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Film / King Cobra (1999)

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King Cobra is a 1999 monster movie starring Pat Morita, Scott Hillengrand, and Casey Fallo.

After an explosion in a genetics lab, a cobra-rattlesnake hybrid (nicknamed "Seth") escapes from confinement and proceeds to hunt for prey in a small midwestern town.

This film provides examples of:

  • Acquired Poison Immunity: Pat Morita's character Hashimoto is a snake handler who regularly injects himself with doses of snake venom to develop immunity. He's able to shrug off getting bitten by the giant snake once, but after getting bitten a few more times, he weakens and dies.
  • Attack of the Town Festival: Subverted, despite the upcoming beer festival, Seth never attacks it.
  • Big Bad: Seth, a hyper aggressive 30-foot King Cobra/Rattlesnake hybrid.
  • The City vs. the Country: Brad wants to move to the city because he doesn't want to remain a small town doctor, while his girlfriend Jo is comfortable to remain in the town they grew up in.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The giant cobra is trapped inside a snake cage and apparently gassed to death, but the film ends with a close-up shot on one of the two gas barrels (the one they used), which is actually sleeping gas. The snake wakes up and snarls in fury before the credits roll.
  • Escaped from the Lab: Seth was developed in a laboratory by scientists who were curious if they could splice together DNA from different snake species.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: A young boy comes face to face with the 30-foot snake, but it doesn't eat him, only gives him the biggest scare of his life.
  • Gas Chamber: The final plan to kill Seth involves luring him into a snake cage and gassing him.
  • Gonna Need More X: After a bunch of redneck hunters come across bits of Seth's shedded snake skin:
    "We're gonna need bigger guns!"
  • The Great Serpent: Downplayed. Seth was created from the genes of a king cobra and a diamondback rattlesnake, both of which are medium-sized snakes. After traveling the countryside and feeding on woodland animals for a few years, it's grown enormously and appears to be somewhat larger than a reticulated python.
  • It Can Think: Seth isn't entirely a mindless animal. He blinds someone with venom when they point their shotgun at him, thinks to pop the tires on a police cruiser so the people inside can't escape and realizes that he's being lured into a trap at the end.
  • "Jaws" First-Person Perspective: After it escapes from its prison, the King Cobra's perspective is later seen through a POV shot as it's slithering through the woods looking for something to eat. It becomes apparent just how frickin' big it is when it does the cobra "stand up" pose to tower over a young boy.
  • Knockout Gas: The film ends on a Wham Shot as it's revealed that the giant cobra was merely inoculated, as the gas canister used against him was the wrong one, and only contained sleeping gas.
  • Leitmotif: Seth has a somewhat Egyptian sounding one.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Scientists combine the genes of an African king cobra and an Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, creating an extremely venomous snake with a cobra's hood and a rattlesnake's tailnote .
  • Playing Possum: Seth lures in and kills one of the hunters tracking him by playing dead.
  • Police Are Useless: Two local sheriff's deputees become easy prey for the King Cobra when it attacks their cruiser.
  • Science Is Bad: Seth was intentionally designed to be a hyper-aggressive killing machine. The guy responsible should have stuck with lab rats instead of his personal snake demon project from hell.
  • Shout-Out: Seth is named after the Egyptian god of chaos, storms, and the desert (more commonly known as Set), who is often seen as one of the evilest gods in Egypt's pantheon.
  • Simple Solution Won't Work: This is brought up when Hashimoto starts unpacking various snake-catching tools, and is asked why they don't simply shoot the giant cobra instead. He responds by giving the main character a shotgun and demonstrating how hard it is to actually hit and kill a fast-moving, camouflaged target in a wooded area under pressure before it kills you.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Seth is a stealthy predator whose venom is far more potent than any regular cobra. Of course, the scientist who designed him deliberately made him super-aggressive for whatever reason. He's also 30 feet long.
  • Suit with Vested Interests: When the main characters go to the mayor with claims of a giant cobra hunting people throughout the town, he refuses to cancel an upcoming town carnival because of the bad publicity. It takes the death of one of his closest friends for him to call in back-up.
  • Suspiciously Stealthy Predator: After Seth escapes from his confinement, it takes two years for him to get on anyone's radar. He was actually much smaller initially, and grew bigger after feeding on woodland animals. Throughout the rest of the film, it has a rather frightening talent for creeping up on people without them even noticing before it's too late.
  • Terror at Make-Out Point: The cobra-rattlesnake eats two teenagers who were making out in the woods.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The reason why Seth (the giant snake of the title) is able to escape in the first place is because a scientist abruptly decides that "Progress requires taking risks!" and starts mixing together chemicals behind his boss's back. He blows up most of the lab within a minute.
  • Up Close with the Monster: Happens twice within several minutes as the King Cobra first inspects the seasoned snake expert up close before killing him, then goes after the female heroine and tries to bite her as she's backed up against a tree.
  • The World's Expert (on Getting Killed): Hashimoto, a herpetologist brought in to capture the giant cobra, confronts it in the knowledge that his habit of injecting himself with snake venom will make him at least partially immune to any bites. This works with the first bite, but the snake just continues biting him, resulting in his death. That said, he manages to hold his own and fight it successfully for some time.