HBO film ‘Alabama Snake’ tells story of Scottsboro snake-handling pastor’s attempt to kill wife

Photo from "Alabama Snake" courtesy of HBO

The crime took place Oct. 4, 1991.

Posted: Dec 9, 2020 5:41 PM

A movie premiering at 8 p.m. Wednesday on HBO and available for streaming on HBO Max tells the story of an Alabama preacher who is in prison after being convicted of trying to kill his wife with a snake.

“Alabama Snake” is about Glenn Summerford, who remains imprisoned after being convicted of trying to murder his wife nearly three decades ago.

Summerford pastored a snake-handling church in Scottsboro.

His wife was bitten twice by a snake in 1991 after her husband forced her to stick her hand inside a cage of snakes.

Summerford had accused of her having an affair with another preacher.

HBO describes the film like this:

"Alabama Snake” explores the mystifying events leading up to October 4, 1991, when an unusual violent crime was reported in the otherwise sleepy town of Scottsboro, Alabama. Darlene Summerford had accused her husband, Pentecostal preacher Glenn Summerford, of forcing her hand into a rattlesnake bed in an attempt to kill her.

“The documentary weaves between the past and present to unravel the details of the investigation and trial that unfolded and includes interviews with those who knew Summerford best, speaking to his history of violence and spiritual redemption. Interviewees include Darlene Summerford; Marty Summerford, Glenn and Darlene’s son; Doris Summerford, Glenn’s ex-wife; and former detective Clarence Bolte, the lead investigator on the case. Central to the film is local historian Dr. Thomas G. Burton, whose career has been spent studying the culture, beliefs and folklore of Pentecostal snake-handling churches and whose audio interviews with the preacher are featured along with footage filmed inside the community itself.

“A case that remains shrouded in mystery to this day, ALABAMA SNAKE paints a chilling Southern Gothic portrait of a man whose demons have haunted his family and their community for decades.”

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