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Hiss hiss bang bang

Can I possibly pick a favorite moment from a movie with as many delights as Cobra Woman? Maybe it was the crusty Scotsman's declaration, "No drug-soaked brain can dream up the horrors of Cobra Island, lad!" It could be the Cobra Island snake ritual, which features natives pumping their hands in Donald Trump's "You're fired!" gesture. I know! It was when High Priestess Naja ("Queen of Technicolor" Maria Montez) did her Vegas-ready dance with a rubber cobra puppet, flamboyantly pointed out sacrificial victims, then flailed about in moves that resembled a dog with a faulty shock collar.

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The High Museum's Fri., Jan. 27, screening of Cobra Woman offers the biggest, most uproarious hoot you can have at the movies this weekend. It's not that Cobra Woman is a classic — exactly. The restored print of the 1944 island adventure offers such a prime example of Hollywood kitsch, aged to perfection, that it's brilliantly entertaining.

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Ramu (Jon Hall), a patronizing white guy hanging around a tropical island for no apparent reason, prepares to marry lovely, vapid Tollea (Montez) when she's kidnapped by a hulking mute (Lon Chaney Jr.). It turns out she's the long-lost twin of the evil priestess, whisked back to Cobra Island to end her sister's reign of terror. Ramu sails to the rescue with young sidekick Kado (Sabu, an Indian character actor whose earnestness often transcends his role's racial stereotyping). It's hard not to notice that Ramu seems more attracted to nasty Naja — and even half-dressed Kado — than his fiancee.

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From its fever-dream fashion sense to its crazy-quilt portrayal of exotic cultures, Cobra Woman provides an invaluable chance to further a movie-goer's comedic education. Such bizarro B-movies inspired generations of humorists, from Conan O'Brien to drag playwrights to the writers of Adult Swim, and Cobra Woman offers the rare opportunity of seeing the real thing on a big screen in all its campy glory. It's an ideal slice of vintage Hollywood cheese, lacking dull stretches or serious ideas to impede the fun.

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And you will have fun. I haven't mentioned Coco the chimp in a sarong, or the volcano that spews ketchupy lava, or the clearly unfinished matte painting meant to represent the Cobra Island settlement. Is there anything Cobra Woman doesn't have? HHHHI

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Cobra Woman screens Fri., Jan. 27, 8 p.m. Woodruff Arts Center, Rich Theatre, 1280 Peachtree St. $5. 404-733-4570. www.high.org.