Serpent’s Lair

Back in the early months of 1995, while I was still writing for The Tennessean, the newspaper sent me to Virginia to cover a boxing match between some Nashville fighter who came and went like a side of bacon. I was put up in a Holiday Inn or Days Inn, and while there I turned on the TV to HBO—at the time quite a visual treat.

Showing that night was a movie called Serpent’s Lair. The plot involved a married couple moving into a new house that, one way or another, belonged to Lillith, the succubus from hell. When the wife (played by someone named Heather Medway) has to go to the hospital (it’s a long story—she trips over a cat, who’s actually Lillith disguised as a cat intentionally trying to injure her), the succubus moves in and tries to seduce the husband, played by an awkwardly starting-to-bald Jeff Fahey. Gradually, Lillith overwhelms the husband with so much sex that, come film’s end, he looks like he’s been beaten down with some sort of spiked vagina stick. He can’t move, can’t talk. He begs Lillith for no more sex, but she demands and demands and demands. Sex feeds her, it seems, in the same way I like Oreo Cookies.

Anyhow, at the time I was just 23 and really lonely, and something about the flick appealed to me. It wasn’t a porno, just stupid like a porno. It didn’t feature any famous strippers, but it did star an actrss named Lisa B. as Lillith. Only later, upon further investigation, did I learn that Lisa B. is actually Lisa Barbuscia, and that she was too humiliated by this piece of festering crap to use her real name.

Here are the things I remember:

• Lisa B. was drop-dead gorgeous, and if she wanted to overtake my body for sex, I would begrudgingly allow it.

• Lisa B. was a horrific actress, and her sex scenes were laughably ludicrous. I’ve had my share of sex. I enjoy it and dig it and all that. But were I having sex with Lillith the Succubus, I’d have to interrupt the action to say, “Uh, why are you cackling?”

• Jeff Fahey looked as if he wanted to be anywhere but filming this thing.

• In one scene Lisa B. wore gold, form-fitting pants.

Anyhow, yesterday I found myself thinking about the fight I covered, and that got me to thinking about Serpent’s Lair. I actually found a site with three clips from the movie. This one below is my absolute favorite, because it seems to be physically impossible on multiple fronts. One, could anyone ever have genuine sex on a rolling office chair? Two, I might be wrong, but it seems to me he’s still wearing pants. Three, it lasts about eight seconds. And I don’t care how badly Lillith craves sex, even she’d walk after this one.

I suppose there’s no real point to this blog, except:

A. Don’t have sex in a rolling office chair.

B. Don’t rent Serpent’s Lair unless you’re 23 and lonely.

C. Don’t hold your breath for Serpent’s Lair II: Attack of the Cats.

PS: Here’s the Variety review from ’95:

Aby-the-numbers grade-B horror pic, Jeffrey Reiner’s “Serpent’s Lair” might find space on busy genre shelves in vidstores or in wee-hours cable slots, but theatrical prospects look as scarce as the film’s scares.
Reiner, whose earlier “Blood & Concrete” held some interest, has loaned himself out as a director-for-hire this time, and result is a capable but conventional chiller of the sort that once dominated drive-in theaters. Mundane film lacks any hint of (intentional) humor that might have made for some fun.
“Serpent” stars Jeff Fahey and Heather Medway as young marrieds who move into a pretty but creepy old L.A. apartment. Before long, an oddly aggressive stray cat shows up, taking an enormous dislike to the wife and quickly tripping her down a flight of stairs.
While wife’s away (in what must be cinema’s longest hospital stay ever for a sprained wrist), another visitor arrives. Lillith (Lisa B.), the supposed sister of the apartment’s previous tenant, has come to go through her late brother’s personal belongings. Before long, this seductress (hint: Lillith and the cat are never in the room at the same time, and Lillith loves lots of milk in her coffee) is draining the life out of the young husband via unending and increasingly violent rounds of sex.
Also in the mix is a mysterious next-door neighbor (Patrick Bauchau), Alex’s watchful mother (Kathleen Noone) and a visiting archaeologist (resident Whit Stillman elitist Taylor Nichols) who knows far more about succubi than an archaeologist should.
Plot spins out of comprehension as the young but very, very tired husband-sex slave begins hallucinating Satanic visitations and other evils. Even with the requisite surprise coda, ending won’t catch anyone off guard.
Performances, like the direction, are competent though uninspired, with the exception of Lisa B. as the succubus — she’s merely uninspired. Sex scenes are standard pay-cable style, and tech credits are as unexceptional as the film’s infrequent special effects.