Let’s go to the jungle.

Anaconda is a dumb movie. I remember thinking it was dumb when I saw it in theaters. While we might all want to just trash this movie, let’s also remember this made about 150 million dollars at the box office.

The 90s were weird.

We follow an oddly star-studded documentary crew as they search for a hidden tribe in the Amazon. Terri (Jennifer Lopez) seems to be the organizer with her cameraman Danny (Ice Cube) and a Professor Steven (Eric Stoltz) will be doing the investigation. There are more characters, but who cares, right? Most of the rest of the crew serves as early fodder for the big ass snake.

However, the most important cast member, psycho snake hunter Serone (Jon Voight) comes on board after his boat is marooned. Voight owns this role and is clearly having a blast. If nothing else, the film is great because of the faces he makes. He serves as the driving force to stop the search for the tribe and instead look for a big snake that would be worth a lot of money. Not sure where to put this, but Voight’s accent in this movie is a mixture of Tony Montana and everything in Deliverance. The show stealer is his fucking psycho face though:

My notes for this film include “This fucking cast,” “Jon Voight’s fucking face,” “What the fuck,” and “Why the fuck?” My wife wanted me to mention that the fireflies are obviously Christmas lights, but of all the oddities in this movie I found this one to be less egregious. Anyone with any background in zoology would laugh at this film’s incoherent and nonsensical approach to snakes. Any anthropologist would take issue with the original project. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that no research was done, but I was, I’m ashamed to say.

There is an ambition in this film that I think we must appreciate. They wanted to make a big blockbuster about a giant super-snake. Everything in this movie is just plot crap designed to push us towards more set piece moments where the CGI noodle will knock off another annoying character. I think they made Voight a villain, so they didn’t have to utilize the snake as much to keep tension.

The weirdest part about this one is that the motivations of the characters don’t make a lot of sense. Voight’s hairbrained scheme is about forty steps too complicated to be logical. Even the documentary crew (pre-Voight) seem terribly unprepared. I know, I know I should not expect much from the horror genre, particularly a PG-13 90s horror film, but they didn’t even bother here. I’m not sure if the laziness of “fuck it, good enough” being the rationale behind every decision the characters make is admirable or not. They don’t even try to explain away the logical holes, but they also seem to not care that they exist. The over-the-top audacity of it all is oddly endearing.

The effects are atrocious. The snake looks more like a blown up hose than anything predatory. Why they made the damn thing shriek and scream like a monster is beyond me. Don’t forget, this came out four years after Jurassic Park, but the quality of the effects is significantly worse. Oddly, the film does have some practical effects (mainly with explosions) that look okay. I’m not sure how you could build an animatronic snake but even something basic would have been better. There’s a reason we don’t see much of the shark in Jaws…

Despite this being an absolute mess of a movie, it is oddly entertaining, and is fun to watch with friends. If you’re looking for something to give the old MS3TK treatment to this one should be added to your list.

Oddly, I found myself surprised at this movie in some ways. We have a horror film with a Latina woman and African American man lead where neither are oversexualized, and they aren’t meant to be love interests. For a genre that is still struggling with racial issues, this movie blows it out of the water in this front. Despite the numerous faults of this movie, it did this right, and I think that is important to note.

While this movie isn’t a deep thinker, we had a lot of fun laughing at it. It is obvious that the cast enjoyed the film, and for campy horror it serves its purpose.

It’s free to watch right now. Bring pizza (and beer).

2 thoughts on “Anaconda (1997) Film Review

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