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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Cobra Woman [Blu-ray]


(Robert Siodmak, 1944)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Universal Pictures

Video: Alive AG / Kino Lorber



Region: 'B'-locked /  'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:10:23.135 / 1:10:36.232

Disc Size: 22,133,165,747 bytes / 41,543,008,094 bytes

Feature Size: 10,570,407,936 bytes Widescreen: 8,928,239,616 bytes / Feature: 21,007,859,712 bytes

Video Bitrate: 14.98 Mbps / W/S: 11.99 Mbps / 35.89 Mbps

Chapters: 10 /9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case (both)

Release date: October 4th, 2013 / January 7th, 2020



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1 / 1.75:1 / 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

LPCM Audio German 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit


DTS-HD Master Audio English 1553 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1553 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps


German, none

English (SDH), none





• NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historian Phillipa Berry
• Theatrical Trailer (2:08)



1) Alive (4:3) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM




Description: On the eve of her wedding to Ramu (Jon Hall), the beautiful Tollea (Maria Montez) is spirited away from her tranquil South Sea island to the mysterious, forbidden place of her birth, Cobra Island. Ramu follows and, with help from his young-but-not-too-bright friend Kado (Sabu) and their chimp Coco, manages to land on the island and avoid capture, which would mean death. It turns out that Tollea is the rightful high priestess of Cobra Island, the first born of two twin daughters of the earlier priestess. Tollea was not immune to the venom of the king cobra, however, so she was spirited away from the island as an infant to avoid her unnecessary death. Now her grandmother, the Queen (Mary Nash), has secured her return. Tollea's twin sister, Naja (also played by Montez), has turned cruel, greedy, and ambitious, and is killing, torturing, and tormenting her people and perverting their religion; Naja must be deposed, hopefully before the volcano on the far side of the island registers too loud an objection to her blasphemies. But Naja -- who is wanton enough to want Ramu for her own pleasure -- and her confederate, the evil, ambitious Martok (Edgar Barrier), don't plan on leaving quietly.



Curtain Mode



1.78:1 Widescreen Mode



The Film:

Maria Montez, Jon Hall, and the ineffable Sabu in an insane piece of high camp (1944) perpetrated by the usually stone-faced Robert Siodmak (The Killers, Phantom Lady). The setting is a tropical island located somewhere in the wilds of Universal's back lot; the story has something to do with twin sisters--one good, one less so--fighting for control of the local tribe of snake worshippers. Few phallic symbols go unexploited, and the gaudy Technicolor is a riot all by itself. Sarong optional.

Excerpt from Dave Kehr's review at the Chicago Reader located HERE

That beautiful land of nowhere which Universal has carved out of the blue for the recently recurring caprices of Maria Montez, Jon Hall and Sabu again rocks to exotic music, the solemn boom of gongs and the rumble of the great Fire Mountain in "Cobra Woman," which came to Loew's Criterion yesterday. And again the submissive audience is witchingly rocked to sleep with as wacky an adventure fable as was ever dished up outside the comic strips. For the story of Cobra Island is being hissed through Universal's glittering teeth—glittering, that is, in Technicolor. And anybody who doesn't believe it can take a hike.

Cobra Island, we hasten to inform you, is ruled by a viperous doll who snake-dances in the sacred temple, surrounded by a bevy of night-gowned toots. She also sends levies of her subjects to be tossed into the fire, and generally behaves so that no one will vote her the most-popular-girl in her class. So it is not in the least surprising when a hurry call is sent for her beautiful and gracious twin-sister to come home from someplace else and grab the throne. It is not in the least surprising—and not in the least out of line—that the good one should be accompanied by her ardent fiancÚ, Mr. Hall, himself appropriately accompanied by Sabu and a chimpanzee. And it is not in the least implausible—provided you're with us up to now—that the whole kit-and-kaboodle should fight like wildcats before the island is finally freed.

Excerpt from The NY Times located HERE

Montez stars in a dual role as the rightful queen of a cobra-worshipping cult and her evil sister who tries to steal the throne. Hall and Sabu, who teamed with Montez on numerous occasions, are on hand to save the good queen. Laughable jungle plot is given a highly stylized, colorful presentation by talented director Siodmak who created some of the best film noir of the 1940s and 1950s before returning to his native Germany where he continued to direct until his death in 1973.

Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Cobra Woman gets a creative package on Blu-ray from Alive AG in Germany.  There appears to be three viewing options - although I had trouble accessing one of them. Okay, we get the film in the original 4:3 ratio, another in 'Curtain Mode' (see the title captures) with red curtains on the side edges to fill the 1.78 screen (this is the one I couldn't get to work through the complete film making me think it was seamlessly branched from the 4:3.) A 1.78:1 widescreen that only chops heads, adds artifacts and minimizes the viewing area is the last option. Let's forget the 'Curtain' and Widescreen - neither are appealing my opinion. But looking at the 4:3, even with a modestly robust transfer - it looks very good - almost exceptional considering the age. Colors are brilliant and depth is frequently apparent. It has dramatically more detail and sharpness than the SD. This 4:3 Blu-ray provides a very pleasing presentation.


Short story; the Kino is better, doesn't go for the 1.78:1 or "Curtain Mode" sticking with 1.33:1 (closer to 1.35:1). The US transfer bitrate is over double that of the Alive - showing in better richer, deeper colors - and this is of premium concern for the film representation. This looks ravishing now - many scenes are visually impressive with more vibrancy (slightly warmer skin tones) and appearing tighter with more layered contrast.       




Subtitle Sample - Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray



1) Carlotta DVD (From the Robert Siodmak Collection reviewed HERE) - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Alive (4:3) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray SECOND

3) Alive (1.78:1 widescreen) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



1) Carlotta DVD (From the Robert Siodmak Collection reviewed HERE) - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Alive (4:3) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray SECOND

3) Alive (1.78:1 widescreen) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



1) Carlotta DVD (From the Robert Siodmak Collection reviewed HERE) - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Alive (4:3) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray SECOND

3) Alive (1.78:1 widescreen) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray THIRD

4) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



1) Alive (4:3) - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM




More 4:3 Blu-ray screen captures












Audio :

Audio comes in a linear PCM track at 2304 kbps or the option of less robust DUB is a similar lossless transfer. It sounds quite clean and clear but nothing is notably deep. There are optional German subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Alive win on the audio with a 24-bit bump over Kino's 16-bit in the original English language.  The score is by Edward Ward (composer for the similar Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, also with The Caribbean Cyclone + Jon Hall) and the uncompressed does wonders on the music which seems crisper and tighter than the PAL SD, I still own. Kino add optional English subtitles on their Region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.



Extras :

I have included a screen capture above of the list of, puffed up, extras which seem to consistent of a pile of irrelevant trailers, German language text screen and a, more modern German short - but only the 'Photo Gallery' seems English-friendly.


Kino provide a new commentary by Phillipa Berry - who I don't know much about or recall hearing a commentary from previously. She has a pleasant accent of is well-prepared sounding very clear and formal in exporting details of the production and stars. I was keen on her observation about Siodmak's The Dark Mirror also having 'good and evil twin sisters'. I thought it was educational with a nice flow. There is also a trailer for the film and similar movies.     


Alive - Region 'B' - Blu-ray



Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray



So Montez seductively sways her booty to hypnotize the Cobra - and hence is the Queen. And she has an exact twin (who doesn't share this ability). Good/Evil rivalry ensues. Great ideas although not fleshed out more thoroughly. I liked the innocence of Cobra Woman - yes, you do have to give a lot of suspension of disbelief - but if you do, it's a fun adventure. Despite the odd attempts of the multiple Blu-ray presentations - the standard is far in advance of SD. Certainly this film is not for the cynical. I was in the mood and enjoyed it.


Kino come out on top - superior video presentation and a commentary... better cover too! Fantasy adventure like they cannot replicate today. Stunning Technicolor with painting-enhanced sets, glorious costuming etc.. For the adult kid in you. Order now. 

Gary Tooze

May 27th, 2014

December 2019






About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze





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