From the DVD case: Vengeance is sworn against six American G.I.’s after they witness a clandestine ceremony worshipping beautiful women who can change into serpents.
Mark says: Tom Markel can’t catch a break. During his last day of service he and his buddies crash a snake cult ritual resulting in a curse upon the gang and the sudden death (cobra bite) of one of his pals. After returning to the states, he loses his girl to his best friend and roommate, Paul. The very same night he meets the woman of his dreams who, it is eventually revealed, transforms into a cobra at will and is methodically knocking off his friends one by one. The brutalities of war must have paled in comparison.
It is difficult to watch Cult of the Cobra without being put in mind of Val Lewton’s Cat People, released thirteen years prior. We have the haunted, alluring woman, in this case Faith Domergue in the role of Lisa Moya, who has the ability to transform into a deadly creature and who fears she’ll harm or kill the man she loves; we have an American leading man, Marshall Thompson (Fiend Without A Face, It! The Terror from Beyond Space) playing Tom Markel, who tries desperately to understand his girlfriend’s hesitancy towards passion; and we have the “other woman,” Kathleen Hughes (It Came from Outer Space) as Julia who stirs jealousy in our shapeshifting friend.
What Cult of the Cobra lacks is the artistry of Cat People. There is no ambiguity as to who or what the killer is, a prime source of suspense in Val Lewton’s productions. Although Cult of the Cobra attempts to use some of Lewton’s techniques (i.e. the false scare often termed “the bus”), it just can’t seem to pull them off in a convincing manner. The suspense created is almost negligible.