ANACONDA (1997) 

Eric Stoltz
Jennifer Lopez
Jon Voight
Ice Cube
Kari Wuhrer
Jonathan Hyde
Owen Wilson
Vincent Castellanos

Luis Llosa



Time: 92 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Horror

I'd sure like to get my hands on what the producers were smoking when they came up with the idea for this film. There is nothing about this movie that is the least bit scary – unless you count the acting. A whole lot of money must have changed hands to make the actors agree to be in this. There's no way it could have looked like a good career move, even on paper. I'm aware this film made a lot of money at the box office (I saw it for free on HBO and was VERY bored that night), but I just don't see how. Maybe if one of the lead actresses was naked. That would give some people something to enjoy. However, this film has nothing but bad effects and even worse dialogue. How could so many viewers be wrong?

The plot is as follows: A documentary crew rents a boat and sails down a South American river trying to find a lost river tribe that has never been filmed before. They pick up a strange guy, stranded on the river, who captures snakes for a living. He commandeers the vessel to chase after a giant snake that kills its victims by strangling the life out of them. Our heroes spend the rest of the film running/swimming away from said snake to stay alive. That's it. Nothing more. Quite engrossing wouldn't you say?

On top of the lackluster plot, there's nothing exciting or particularly scary about the snake attacks because they're not a surprise. How can they be? These people have nowhere to hide. Choices for safety: ratty old boat in the middle of a river or dense jungle swamp. Since no weapons exist to combat full body crushing, they're essentially up the creek. The people are just hamsters waiting for their turn to be lunch. Plus, it's no secret who's going to live and die. The A list talent (for this movie) Stoltz, Lopez and Ice Cube are injured but live to tell the tale. The B-listers, the people whose names I don't know, get crushed and swallowed by a foam-rubber model. Jon Voight, being the bad guy, gets to die several times.

"Is it just me or does the jungle make you really, really horny?"

Now it's kind of understandable why Stoltz did the movie (besides the money): he gets to kiss Jennifer Lopez and his character is unconscious throughout most of the bloodshed due to some dirty dealings by Jon Voight's character early on in the film. He doesn't have to fight the big snake and that alone will keep his career out of the toilet. Lopez was still a rising star and she gets to kill the bad guy in the end, which in a horror movie is the right character to be. Voight's performance was downright ridiculous. With an accent stolen from Brando in APOCALYPSE NOW, he is so horribly over-the-top, it's not to be believed. I don't know if this was the way the role was written or just his interpretation of it, but either way it's embarrassing.

The effects were fair at best and couldn't fool a three-year-old on their first foray into the theater. It was very obvious when they used computers and when they used a puppet. I don't know which was worse. The best shot, however, had to be the camera angle from inside the snake as it was swallowing Voight's character whole. It really helped me to understand this tortured creature's inner pain. I have no idea why they did this. Maybe to make the creature seem more real. Instead, it made Jon Voight look even more silly, if that's possible. I have to give them credit though for trying to be creative.

For whatever reason, most humans are drawn to horror movies. We enjoy the exquisite torture of being scared out of our skin. Since most of the good villains have already been taken, it's easy to see the allure of this flick. Not many films star killer snakes. There's a good reason for that even if they do creep out a lot of people, they aren't exactly "scary." Even if you've seen every other horror movie, don't give in to the boredom. You might be intrigued by the cast, but, trust me, this is a film they wish they could erase from their resumes.

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