Movie Name: Stanley
Studio: Crown International Pictures
Release Date(s): May 23, 1972
MPAA Rating: PG
Seminole Tim Ochopee (Chris Robinson) is dealing with returning from Vietnam and feeling like a social outcast due to his Native American heritage. His only friends are his snakes and in particular his rattlesnake Stanley. When Thomkins (Alex Rocco) decides he wants to start harvesting snakes for making snakeskin products, Tim finds himself at odds with Thomkins and his men…and with a friend like Stanley, Tim might just get revenge.
Written and directed by William Grefe, Stanley is a low-budget horror film. The movie is in the public domain and often can be found in multipacks.
I like animal movies and I like the late ’60s and ’70s horror genre. Even a low budget horror film makes a good comedy and Stanley is much more comedic than it is horrifying.
Stanley obviously is trying to live off the success of Willard. In Willard, the title character befriends rats and uses the rats for revenge. Here, Tim does the same thing…with snakes. The movie tries to make it more political by having Tim as both a Native American and a Vietnam vet, but it seems more like a desperate grab.
Chris Robinson cannot be taken seriously as Tim as a result of the goofy plot. His character is over the top obsessed with snakes and even makes little beds (and crosses when they die). I admire the fact that he did look really comfortable with the snakes and I think it could be one of the harder aspects of the role. Alex Rocco plays his typical slimy self as the snakeskin seeker and you know his fate as soon as you meet him.
The movie does do a good job with all the snakes. The snakes are amazingly placid as they get handled a lot and it looks as if that more than one snake actually bit the dust in this film. The director has said that Stanley survived…as his wallet.
Stanley is bad, but so bad it is good. The movie goes from real to surreal by having scenes like Tim eating dinner with the snakes and making little graves. It then takes a real turn in the final act with Tim just going completely insane and out of character…but viewers can enjoy this unrealistic twist in the humor of it. Stanley is bad, but it is short and worth seeking out for fans of the genre.