Medusa: Queen of the Serpents

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An admission. Medusa: Queen of the Serpents isn’t the film I was after. I was aiming towards plain old Medusa, Anita Rocha da Silveira’s follow-up to Mate-Me Por Favor (Kill Me Please).

Both films came out about the same time and when you type Medusa into Amazon, the covers of both films come up. Both feature a woman’s face and a greenish background. They’re pretty similar. Hence… 

Failure explained. Preamble over, let’s dive into a film that also dives pretty hard, and with great enthusiasm, into its low-budget ethos. It’s all set on a grim caravan site somewhere in low-rent UK, where a trio of working girls – Carly (Megan Purvis), Simone (Sarah T Cohen) and Maura (Nicole Nabi) – look out for each other when they’re not servicing their customers. A madam/overseer in the shape of Val (Nicola Wright) in turn keeps an eye on them. And running things from the top is their pimp/overlord Jimmy (Thomas Beatty), whose swagger suggests he is somebody but his rusted-out old MG sports car says the opposite (its numberplate, starting MGB…, must be worth more than the car).

The story such as it is, consists of the girls chatting between visits from various male clients, Val keeping a vaguely motherly lid on things and Jimmy occasionally turning up, either with a customer or to administer whacks.

As for the “Queen of the Serpents” bit, that’s Carly, who gets bitten by something serpentine in the dark early on and who develops gradually over the film into a vengeful, wrathful creature from Greek myth – Medusa was one of the three gorgons and had snakes for hair. As the men in this movie get gnarlier, and they do, Carly’s inner gorgon comes more into play and she gradually morphs into something reptilian. The special effects required to pull this sort of transition off effectively being a bit costly, this mostly happens in the shadows (sensible).

Jimmy in his car with Carly
Jimmy, a nasty piece of work

For a horror movie it’s bizarrely, refreshingly, much more interested in interpersonal relations than bad shit coming thisaway. And as well as the hopes and fears of Carly and her gals it also takes real time over the portrayal of relentless seediness.

There is no real budget to speak of but the snake’s-eyes contact lenses Megan Purvis wears when she’s going full Medusa are a surprisingly effective (and cheap) touch. But talented people can conjure atmosphere from almost nothing, and there is more than you might expect, thanks to DP Dom Ellis’s moody lighting and composer Rona Castrioti’s drone-laden soundtrack, which gives everything a touch of spooky gloss.

It’s the feature debut of a director who goes by the name of Matthew BC and he’s clearly learning as he’s goes. After this he went on to direct a number of low-budget mockbusters – films passing themselves off to the gullible as part of other franchises, such as Amityville Witches, Mummy Reborn and Alien Invasion.

There is an unabashed “bang it out and then let’s make another one” aspect to it all, which probably comes down to producer Scott Jeffrey, who is also credited as co-writer, editor, casting director, location finder and production manager. According to his IMDb profile, possibly written by himself, he’s produced “114 films in the space of eight years”… and “is now focusing his attention on quality movies.”

This is not one of those – the ending of Medusa: Queen of the Serpents is particularly woeful – though there is talent at work here, in the actors, and the crew behind the camera, and enough moments to applaud in a “she’s behind you” kind of way to make the whole thing enjoyable, if only in a cheesy way.

Medusa: Queen of the Serpents – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

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© Steve Morrissey 2023

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