KING COBRA (1999) Reviews and overview

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‘It moves without sound… thirty feet of pure venom’

King Cobra is a 1999 American science fiction horror film written, produced and directed by David Hillenbrand and Scott Hillenbrand (Transylmania; Survival Island).

The movie features special effects by The Chiodo Brothers (Alien Abduction; Critters franchise; Killer Klowns from Outer Space; et al).

A genetics laboratory run by Doctor Irwin Burns (Joseph Ruskin) to research aggressive behaviour has an accident, resulting in a chemical fire and explosion, and the escape of a thirty foot long hybrid snake with traits of both the King Cobra and the Diamondback Rattlesnake.

Loose in the countryside and filled with the experimental aggressiveness drug, the snake, nicknamed “Seth”, eventually outgrows his woodland prey, it begins hunting the residents of the small brewery town of Fillmore…


“Experienced effects wizards may have worked on this movie, but the snake they create is so cheap-looking that it can only be seen in flashes, lest the low budget draw even more attention to itself. What is it about serial killers or the mutated animals that occasionally sub for them, that makes them seek out the nastiest characters in the script for their next meal?” Derek Armstrong, AllMovie

“Rather than using the limitations of their obvious tiny budget, the Hillenbrand brothers exhibit them embarrassingly. A ‘crowd’ at an outdoor pop concert is clearly about two dozen people […] King Cobra has all the faults of a typical low-budget Big Animal Movie – but none of the charm, wit or fun that the subgenre usually exhibits.” MJ Simpson, Cult films and the people who make them

“CineSchlockers won’t believe the hilarious cameo by Big Gay Erik Estrada. No breasts. 13 corpses. Strip hide ‘n’ seek. Hypodermic closeups. Gratuitous urination. Cobra cam. Behold the chicken-fried lyrics of Axton’s “Seth is the Devil” that begins the final credits. Recommended.” G. Noel Gross, DVD Talk

More carefully paced than most other giant creature vs. man efforts, efficiently acted and boasting an eye-catching monster, King Cobra will not disappoint fans of this type of fare or anyone wishing for 90 minutes of monster-snake thrills.”

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King Cobra is actually a better film than Anaconda. Technically, it is not a CGI monster movie at all. The snake in question is an animatronic one […] The Chiodo Brothers certainly deliver a convincing and effective creation. The snake’s appearances are kept brief for nearly half the film, which serves to heighten its effectiveness.” Richard Scheib, Moria

” there are plenty of scenes which lead nowhere and a couple of plot threads that have no bearing on anything that happens. There’s no sense of fun or excitement at all, and the scenes without the snake really drag the pace of the film down. Also not helping matters in the unserious tone. Either go full out spoof or play it straight…” Popcorn Pictures

“A throwback to old monster movies this manages to be fairly entertaining if you ignore the many plot holes on hand. Wisely keeps the giant snake off-screen for a good part of the film, but when it does show-up it’s okay looking […] It’s not a very good movie, but taken in the right frame of mind it’s not bad.” The Video Graveyard

Cast and characters:

  • Pat Morita as Nick “Hash” Hashimoto – Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies
  • Scott Hillenbrand as Doctor Brad Kagen [as Scott Brandon] – Survival Island
  • Hoyt Axton as Mayor Ed Biddle – Buried Alive; Retribution; Gremlins; Endangered Species
  • Joseph Ruskin as Doctor Irwin Burns
  • Courtney Gains as Doctor Joseph McConnell – Hell’s Kitty; The ‘Burbs
  • Eric Lawson as Sheriff Ben Lowry
  • Erik Estrada as Bernie Alvarez – Chupacabra vs. the AlamoSabrina, the Teenage Witch TV series; Light Blast
  • Nick Jameson as Jurgen Werner
  • Megan Blake as Grace Stills
  • Casey Fallo as Jo Biddle [as Kasey Fallo] – Survival Island
  • Arell Blanton as Jesse
  • Jerry Kernion as Conrad
  • Michael Leopard as Buck
  • Cedric Duplechain as Deputy Bud Fuller
  • Paul Morgan Fredrix as Doctor Pat Kagen

Film Facts: 

This film should not be confused with Jaws of Satan (1981), which was also titled King Cobra.

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