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The Coils of Death

Slouched down in the faded, overstuffed theater seat, with legs dangling over the back of the seat in front of you, Coke in one hand, popcorn in the other, you're more than ready for "a fascinating adventure into the unknown" full of "nerve-shattering" terror, thrills and shocks, as promised by the poster. "Rising from the depths of a black hell" in Magnascope (the newest challenge to your senses) are "The Coils of Death."

Slouched down in the faded, overstuffed theater seat, with legs dangling over the back of the seat in front of you, Coke in one hand, popcorn in the other, you’re more than ready for “a fascinating adventure into the unknown” full of “nerve-shattering” terror, thrills and shocks, as promised by the poster. “Rising from the depths of a black hell” in Magnascope (the newest challenge to your senses) are “The Coils of Death.”

In two acts containing virtually every horror-film cliche, “Coils” may be the dream play for ’50s monster matinee addicts. It spoofs all the aspects of the genre: cheap production values, paper-thin scripting and, especially, bad acting.

“Coils” is so bad, it’s funny — for the right reasons, most of the time.

The story, a cross between “Tremors” and “Them,” tells of a 120-foot snake (via puppeteer Randy Bristow) terrorizing the small town of Ready Rock, Mo. That’s all, folks.

The stock characters are all here: hero Lance (dashing Joel J. Edwards); the object of his desire Babette (sexy Deborah Stenard); her forbidding guardian and local plastics (as in toxic waste) manufacturer (blustery Dan FitzPatrick); gum-popping, platinum-haired waitress (insightful Jane Clark); and lonesome sheriff Dave (angst-ridden John Goodwin).

There’s even a gawky closet-case gay deputy (hilarious Doug Dale).

The plot is of the mysterious-disappearances/waste-disposal-causes-mutation/bring-in-scientists/poor-hero-saves-all-and-gets-girl type.

Not much new here, except for the technique of Magnascope (glasses provided) whereby the audience sees the monster devastate a train and a school bus –’nuff said.

For the most part, the cast performs well under Jeff Clinkenbeard’s able direction, though it would be much funnier if they took themselves seriously as opposed to pseudo-seriously.

Farce works much better if the cast leaves it to the audience to find the humor, which is pretty obvious in “Coils.”

The Coils of Death

(Attic Theatre, Hollywood; 99 seats; $ 20 top)

  • Production: Goodwin/Stenard/Geiger/Clinkenbeard presents a play in two acts by John Goodwin. Director, Jeff Clinkenbeard.
  • Crew: Sets, Mike Zicopoulos; lights, Thaddeus J. Roenitz; sound, Thomas Rinker; makeup/special effects, Norman Leavitt; original music, Wyn Myerson. Opened June 4, 1993; reviewed June 26; runs through July 11.
  • Cast: Nancy ... Morgan Lee Fae Bob Greenway ... Jeff Clinkenbeard Lance Dickson ... Joel J. Edwards Babette Greenway/Gretchen Dickson ... Deborah Stenard Rock Island Red ... Coleman Moss Cassie/Dr. Patricia Liddenbush ... Jane Clark Rev. Greenway/Caspar Greenway ... Dan FitzPatrick Sheriff Dave Hardy/Professor Claude Liddenbush ... John Goodwin Dep. Sheriff Cliff Walker ... Doug Dale Puppeteer ... Randy Bristow D.J. Raye ... Cyrus H. Farmer
  • Music By: