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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Snakes > Vietnam > Stanley (1975/BCI DVD/Horror)

Stanley (1975/BCI DVD/Horror)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Film: C



Among the many notable B-Horror films that arrived in the late 1960s/early 1970s was Daniel Mann’s Willard (1971) about the title loner (Bruce Davidson) who is unhappy at home his life, mother and no friends, suddenly finding a psychic (and psychotic) connection and friendship with rats!  A big hit, it inspired a few imitators and a sequel.  The following year brought the actual sequel Ben and William Grefé’s Stanley, about a Seminole Native American (Chris Robinson) returning from a tour of duty in Vietnam and finds out his father was murdered while he was away!


Always connect to nature, he comes home and is suddenly bit by a big snake, who he names Stanley.  No, he is surprisingly not poisoned, but he’ll theoretically be filled with poison when he discovers how his father was killed.  Oooooooo, the symbolism.


From there, he tries to have a love relationship with Suzie (Susan Carroll) as he slowly unravels what has happened and calls on his new friend to even up the score.  Instead of a direct rip-off, the film tries to be different and more hip than Willard or Ben by trying to be more socially relevant somehow.  This cuts into the suspense and makes for an uneven, but interesting film that has more than a few leisure moments and even its own theme song somewhat like Michael Jackson’s hit title song to Ben (which was his first solo #1 hit!) as a singer/songwriter “look at what has happened to our country” kind of song you have to hear to believe.


Helping the film includes supporting cast Alex Rocco (recently then of the first Godfather), Steve Alaimo, Mark Harris, Paul Avery, Marcia Knight and Gary Crutcher, but the snake trainer deserves some credit for making this believable and work.  A few moments drag to its detriment, but it makes for an interesting sit and because of the Vietnam angle, it was obviously censored and ignored for political reasons for a long time, only arriving on DVD 33 years after its arrival and over a decade after the format was introduced.  Horror fans will really want to see it, but you have to see it just to see some of these scenes.



The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is not bad for its age, as shot by Director of Photography Clifford H. Poland Jr., A.S.C., known for his TV work involving the aquatic (Flipper, The Aquarians) plus features like Honeymoon Of Horror, Wild Rebels and Fireball Jungle.  He just passed away in April 2008 and it is great his work is finally reissued.  It has a good look that makes nature a bit trickier to just walk through versus most films, plus some interesting composition and editing.  The print has some fading and wear.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono also shows its age, with some moments of compression, but this is pretty good considering the low budget.  Extras include stills, three featurettes (Dark Side Of Eden – The Making of Stanley, Stanley: Revisited, Stanley Goes Hollywood) and two audio commentary tracks (one by Grefé, who moved on to more films and the second unit on the shark sequences on the James Bond film Live & Let Die (reviewed elsewhere on this site) a year later, and one by screenwriter Gary Crutcher of the infamous Superchick) making for a well rounded disc release.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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