Director: Frederico Prosperi (as Fred Goodwin)
Starring: J. Eddie Peck, Jill Schoelen, Jamie Farr, Bo Svenson .Italy/USA. 1h 37m
After the success of The Curse (1987), an indie effort to breathe cinematic life into the classic HP Lovecraft story The Color Out of Space. An Italian/American sequel, in name only manages to cobble together a strange blend of body horror and romance and in some respects it stands strong as a very strange orphan.
If you’ve ever seen that classic meme showing a pair of signs pointing towards a Spider Farm and Nuclear Power plant and the caption What could go Wrong? The Bite is a prime example of this meme in action. When a young couple Lisa (Schoelen) and Clark (Newman) are travelling across country, after ignoring all the local advice they manage to drive through a territory surrounding a Nuclear Plant which is swarming with venomous snakes, now really, what could go wrong? After Clark is bitten by a random radioactive viper ,he’s saved by a travelling salesman, Harry Morton (Jamie Farr) who just happens to have some anti venom and really cool business cards which puff up like sponges. If this were a Marvel movie then Clark would turn into a superhero and there would be laughs and antics. Luckily Prosperi has a wicked sense of humor and perchance for gory body horror and Clark begins to transform and mutate as his body parts all fester into different entities.
The only early highlight into what is going on surrounds a line mechanic, he gives the hopefully youngster some cryptic tips to get the hell of out town before it’s too late then unbeknownst to them, he is tending to his dog who’s been bitten by one of these radioactive snakes and it looking like the tongue of a Tremors Graboid.. it will make the audience sit up and realise there’s a lot of gore to come.
Sometimes the Body Has A Mind of its Own
The reasons why this adorable couple are travelling across the country with some birds in their car isn’t important but the systematic breakdown of their relationship and sanity is key when the viper strikes from within. Initially it’s thought that after receiving anti venom Clark is gonna be okay, a short stay in hospital and hey presto he’s perfect again, however the couple are plagued by the continuous appearance of snakes but it’s Clarks failing health and mood swings which pushes Lisa over the edge.
Meanwhile along the dusty highway, Harry Morton hooks up with his trucker babe and realises he might have given Clark the wrong anti venom. Using his CB radio and lots of trucker connections he attempts to track the couple down, give Clark the right anti venom and a waiver to stop him from being sued, little does he know that Clarks problems aren’t related to any type of anti venom and Harry might just be driving himself into the jaws of a new breed of deadly killer.
With such a tasty set up and gorgeous characters, Prosperi’s film is still a winner despite it’s now dated struggles, a strange science, whimsical love interests and poor dialogue. It has all the fun of Tremors (1990) mixed with the sinister edge of The Hitcher, except the creepy psychopath is really a venomous biological nightmare. it’s actually survived all these years and still gives me creepy feeling that snakes are lurking all around my home when I watch it, the ability to get under the skin is still on point even if the romantic antics can be off putting, there’s still a lot to get your teeth into.
Related: The Hitcher (1986), The Bite (), Tremors (1990)
Lists: Horror Road Movies, Snake Flicks, 80 for the 1980’s