Snakehead Terror (2004)

Snakehead Terror (2004)

The fish are really biting

A small town put poison in their lake to get rid of snakehead fish that were eating everything and thus ruining local fishermen and tourism. After the snakeheads were apparently killed, some locals began dumping human growth hormones in the lake in an attempt to quickly repopulate it with fish and save the economic fortunes of the town. However some snakeheads survived being poisoned and the hormones mutate them into huge killing machines, with insatiable appetites for human flesh.

 

I’d never heard of snakehead fish before but along came a couple of similarly-themed low grade horror flicks which featured these weird fish as the main predators Frankenfish certainly wasn’t the worst genre film ever made and now comes Snakehead Terror, another formulaic but entertaining attempt to turn these fish into man-eaters. The Sci-Fi Channel was going to be quick to swoop on any new creatures for their trashy ‘monster on the loose’ flicks to feature and this is their offering. Considering the quality of their films over the last couple of years, Snakehead Terror is like The Godfather of monster flicks.

You’ve seen it all before with a film like this. Snakehead Terror follows the same formula: in fact THE standard formula for 90% of the monster-on-the-loose flicks released since Jaws created it back in 1975. It doesn’t matter whether its snakes, piranhas, spiders, crocodiles – you name it, there’s hundreds of films out there which follow this simple formula and the Sci-Fi Channel has the monopoly on them. Some can be quite effective when handled correctly – others just look like pathetic rip-offs. Well thankfully Snakehead Terror does a bit of both. It manages to rip-off countless other films and it’s predictable as the sun rising but at least gives a go of itself in the meantime. I think it’s down to the title creatures and not knowing much about them.

These films are only as good as the monsters that star in them and I’m not in a minority to say I’ve had my fill of crocodiles, sharks and snakes. Apparently this is based on a true story about a town in Maryland which suffered from an invasion of snakehead fish, a species not native to the area, which caused havoc. So the town poisoned and drained the lake to get rid of the menace. I’m sure these real fish didn’t grow to alligator-sized man-eaters and started stalking victims on land but the real story is weird in its own right. The snakehead fish themselves aren’t the most menacing monsters throughout this film but with the help of some decent gore effects, you’re able to see the damage they can do first hand and the threat they pose. They’re amphibious too which spices things up nicely when characters think they’re safe on dry land. Sadly the CGI effects let the fish down in a big way and the more we see of them on land, the worse they look.

The film has a reasonably short running time and it zips along very quickly, not leaving too much time between someone being snacked upon by the fish. It’s played straight from the start which was probably the wisest thing to do given the story about killer fish which can walk on land! Not one to stray from formula, the film follows the beaten path as expected with an odd curveball or twist thrown in for good measure (it’s not a good time to be someone’s boyfriend in this film). The acting is solid too, with no one really bringing their one-dimensional characters to life but on the other hand, not just sitting back and getting a pay cheque.

Bruce Boxleitner is the faded ‘star’ attraction of the film and ticks all the boxes as the local sheriff. The only other casting note worth mentioning is that the town’s doctor is played by none other than William B. Davis, most famously known as the sinister ‘Cigarette Smoking Man’ from The X-Files. It’s amusing to believe he’s playing the same character here as he did on that show and that the snakehead invasion is all some secret government experiment and cover-up! The film is not one to play around with formula though so he’s just there to give his medical opinion on matters of a decomposing body nature.

 

Snakehead Terror has more of a story and original feel to it than the majority of similar films. It follows exactly the same formula as it should, ticks all of the necessary ‘monster on the loose’ boxes and runs like clockwork. But there’s something fresh about it and I believe it’s simply down to the snakeheads themselves. They are nasty pieces of work which are made all the more deadly through a series of gory moments. One of the Sci-Fi Channels better films.

 

 ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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