Snakes On a Boat! – Anaconda (1997)

anaconda 1
Taking people’s natural fear of snakes, as most people tend to be afraid of them, and multiplying it exponentially, Anaconda aims to scare the living daylights out of viewers and would have succeeded if not for the ineffective CG of 1997. The makers of the film did their very best to do so and there are moments where the suspense builds up and delivers a few shocks along the way, but as a horror movie, it would find itself hard pressed to truly scare anybody in any fashion.

anaconda 2That does not make Anaconda a bad film, only a bad horror movie because the final product actually turned out to be a lot of fun with some performances from the cast, namely Jon Voight, to carry it along. One of the better things about the film is that aside from the giant anacondas, they did not have to rely upon special effects to tell their horror story and if they had stuck with that route, perhaps it would have turned out quite differently. Director Luis Llosa and cinematographer Bill Butler used mood and lighting to give it just the right atmosphere and while not frightening per se, the desolate river and dense jungles of the Amazon, while beautiful and serene also send shivers up the spine for it hides dangers unknown and those far too numerous. There was a lot of suspense and tension present, with you never knowing just where or when danger might strike, or even from whom. One could expect the dangers of the jungle and be somewhat prepared for them, but nobody ever expects their fellow man to be just as capable of causing harm and that betrayal of trust is usually more shocking than anything else. anaconda 3Boiling it down, it was the situations of the film where most of the horror came from and not necessarily the snakes. So maybe it is not a bad horror film after all, but it could have used a little help, notably special effects, to be a lot better than it was.

Jon Voight would make the viewer a little uncomfortable with his spot-on performance as the creepy tour guide who has ulterior motives. You can never quite tell what the man is up to, but he is especially scary whenever he sets his sights on you, with one standout moment when he is leering at Jennifer Lopez that makes you feel just a little bit dirty. While Voight was the best of the bunch, Lopez was good as the heroine of picture with Ice Cube and Eric Stoltz turning in some decent performances as well. The story and script were solid but it would have been nice to see something just a little more original than a spin on the Creature from the Black Lagoon and other ‘in search of’ films.

The movie did turn out to be lot of fun though as it is not every day that you get to see people being crushed and eaten by giant snakes and that made all the better due to how half-ridiculous they looked. There have been other films featuring giant reptiles and insects and all of them made to greater or lesser effect and when stacked against them, Anaconda is actually not all that bad.

3 out of 5

2015 Edition

First EntryTrapped in the… – Valley of the Dragons (1961)
Second EntryCan You Feel the… – Tremors (1990)
Third EntryBeauty and Danger Collide in… – Viking Women and the Sea Serpent (1957)
Fourth EntryDance the Night Away in the… – Village of the Giants (1965)
Fifth EntryIt Was a Time… – When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970)
Sixth EntryDo Not Fall Into the Grasp of… – The Giant Claw (1957)
Seventh EntryWho Knew They Could Give Birth? – Tremors 2: Aftershocks (1996)
Eighth EntrySo Many to Choose From – The Loves of Hercules (1960)
Ninth EntryShould Have Stayed Down Below – Up From the Depths (1979)

Last Year’s Creatures…

Giant Monster Gamera (1965)
The Monolith Monsters (1957)
Gamera vs. Barugon (1966)
Tarantula (1955)
Gamera vs. Gyaos (1967)
Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)
Gamera vs. Viras (1968)
The Cyclops (1957)
Gamera vs. Guiron (1969)
Monsters (2010)
Gamera vs. Jiger (1970)
The Killer Shrews (1959)
Gamera vs. Zigra (1971)
The Deadly Mantis (1957)
Space Monster Gamera (1980)
King Dinosaur (1955)
Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995)
The Black Scorpion (1957)
Gamera 2: Attack of Legion (1996)
Them! (1954)
Gamera 3: The Revenge of Iris (1999)
The Giant Gila Monster (1959)
Gamera the Brave (2006)
Frankenstein Conquers the World (1966)

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