Tag Snakes

Snakes on a Train (2006)

Snakes on a Train (2008)

100 Trapped Passengers.. 3,000 Venomous Vipers!

A powerful zombie curse causes a young woman to be devoured from within by snakes. Her only chance for survival is the shaman uncle of her runaway lover and the two hop aboard a train destined for Los Angeles. Unfortunately for the rest of the passengers, the snakes hatch inside her and spread throughout the train.

 

The internet phenomena known as Snakes on a Plane conjured up such a whirlwind of interest that it was only a matter of time before some bright sparks came along and decided to spoof what was pretty much a spoof anyway. And it wasn’t going to take much to come up with the cheesiest title possible. Snakes on a Train probably took all of two minutes to think of. What’s next? Snakes on a Bus? The sheer stupidity of the title of the bigger budgeted flick is going to open the floodgates in the future for these type of names. I mean the original story didn’t exactly take ages to write did it – throw a bunch of snakes on board a plane with Samuel L. Jackson and you’re set. So it’s not like the writers here were going to try and top that with anything. And they don’t even try.

The problem here is that the over-simplified plot of Snakes on a Plane has been meddled with. Now there are Mayan curses to contend with, transformations and magic. It adds more stupidity to the film, especially when plenty of things happen out of left field simply because they have to in order to further the film. Guys: keep it simple and easy and you wouldn’t have that problem.

The bigger budgeted Snakes on a Plane (commonly known as SoaP) was simply a B-movie with a big budget and an A-list cast. That was pretty much the whole novelty value. So when you replace the big budget and A-List cast with no budget and Z-List cast, you’ve taken out anything that people would remotely want to watch your film for. The Asylum isn’t known for their high budgets and production values and it shows. The snakes look like Playstation sprites and the film has a grungy, handheld camera feel to it which cheapens everything. You never get the feeling that these people are on board a train. The sets are dimly lit and sparse. Only at the beginning and the end of the film is it based outdoors. You’re never even given a glimpse out of a window at the passing scenery. The train is grotty and I wouldn’t want to shell out my cash travelling on something that looks like it belongs in India (you know the sort of trains where hundreds of people clamber to hold onto the sides).

“100 passengers…3,000 venomous vipers!” goes the tag line. Exaggerations don’t come much bigger than this. I counted about ten people on board the train but at least there was a variety of stock characters with pointless subplots that go nowhere. There’s a bunch of illegal immigrants hiding on the train, a conductor with a ridiculous moustache, some stoner guys, a pair of hot chicks, a family, a rather seedy-looking cowboy and an even more sinister-looking Middle Eastern. They’re all given a brief few moments to talk about some subplot and gain minor character development before they’re put to the back burner. At least one of the hot chicks gives some much-needed gratuitous nudity in a rather pointless scene with an undercover cop.

But where are the damned snakes? There were no where near three-thousand vipers either. They were supposed to be rattlesnakes too! But since when did rattlers grow to about the length of a finger? These tiny pitiful snakes could be stood on, let alone considered a threat, and they remind me of those sweet snakes you can get in the shops. The snakes do get bigger as the film goes on but I want to see big snakes to begin with, not little jelly snakes. Completely underwhelming is the snake quota here. At least SoaP used plenty of CGI snakes to fill up the background to make it look like the plane was crawling. Here it looks like the outbreak is confined to one measly compartment.

The film is reasonably gory though which does add a little extra exploitation factor to proceedings. There is a heart ripping moment (pretty slick) and the snakes have an annoying habit of tunnelling into the wrists of their victims (quite a few gooey times I have to add). The finale beggars belief too with a giant snake and a magic necklace coming into play. It has to be seen to be believed.

 

Snakes on a Train is a terrible cash-in. It ditches the tongue-in-cheek stupidity and novelty value of Snakes on a Plane and tries to play it as straight as possible with devastatingly bad consequences. Low on budget, low on talent and definitely rock bottom on entertainment.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Snakeman (2005)

Snake Man (2005)

Pure venom.

An expedition to the Amazon discovers the remains of a man they later determine to be over 300 years old. A second expedition is sent down there to find out why he managed to live so long and to locate a remote tribe who may be his modern day ancestors in that hope that they may also possess this seemingly eternal youth. However the expedition is beset by problems and the helicopter crashes during a thunderstorm. Stranded in the jungle with little hope for escape, the expedition then comes across a giant multi-headed snake that the tribe worship as a God and protector of their secret. When the expedition begins to get closer to the secret, the snake god Naga begins to kill them off.

 

Don’t have any sympathy for me, please. I just can’t keep myself from watching such abominations as this. It’s like an addiction. Some guys get addicted to cocaine. Some are attracted by the lure of cheap hookers. For me, it’s an unhealthy obsession with watching as many monster flicks as possible within my lifespan. So is it any wonder I start to rant and rave once I’ve watched another turkey. It’s not like I’m surprised to find out that the film sucks. Like driving past a car crash, you can’t help but take a look and see what has happened. Well put a giant snake on the front of a DVD cover and that’s my car crash right there – I can’t help but look and either rent or buy.

A giant multi-headed snake would have been a kick ass monster had it been done properly. I keep saying multi-headed snake because depending on the scene, the snake has an indifferent number of heads and grows more throughout the course of the film. At one point it has three heads and then in the finale it has about eight or nine! It’s also THE SINGLE WORST SPECIAL EFFECT EVER. I mean I’ve seen some clunkers in my time but this CGI monster is the worst thing to crawl out of a computer since that annoying fat plumber Mario! Words can’t describe how utterly poop this monster is. Worst is to come during the attack scenes where the snake heads have to pick people up and start tearing them apart in mid-air. Again words can’t describe how bad these scenes are. You know, I’m just going to recommend this film to everyone just so that you can understand ‘words will fail you’ upon viewing this monstrosity. I’d rather we all be struck in silence than just me having to rant on here about how bad it is.

The snake has an ability to change shape and size at any given time, usually depending on the scene. Need it to tower about the tree line to show how huge it is? Right we’ll make it super-huge for this scene. Need the snake to hide in a small river? Cue the reduction on the computer. Or how about chasing some people in underground caves? You’ve got it, let’s make it lean and mean. Computers have a lot to answer for but surely anyone in their right mind would be able to pick these silly inconsistencies out during post-production? The snake is also rewarded with its own POV shots ala Predator with the camera simply having a lime green filter stuck over the top to make it look like the snake is zooming in on its kill.

The film blows when the snake is on the screen so spare a thought for the scenes in which the snake isn’t around! They’re unbelievably boring and dull. I guess they need a story to pad out around snake attacks so the whole tribal thing is mainly nonsense. The tribal leader speaks perfect English even though his tribe has never been in contact with humans. At least they can further the story by having each character communicate with each other with relative ease. The tribe mainly consists of white guys in fake tan or at least the guys with speaking parts. Everyone else looks like they live in the jungle.

Stephen Baldwin yawns his way through the film. If he’s the best ‘action man’ that they can get for these terrible films, then they’re really scraping the barrel. He was never a great actor to begin with an was always overshadowed by his brother Alec. But between this and Shark in Venice, he’s slowly turning into my nemesis! If I see his name on a future sci-fi horror, then I’ll be sure to skip it.

 

Snakeman is terrible. I’m actually glad that the CGI was rubbish because a decent multi-headed giant snake would deserve better than a low grade straight-to-TV movie. Alas that is not the case so the snake, Baldwin and the rest of the cast and crew deserve as low as mark as I can give.

 

 ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Lockjaw: Rise of the Kulev Serpent (2008)

Lockjaw: Rise of the Kulev Serpent (2008)

Terror Unearthed

Sick and tired of his father beating him and his mother, young Adam stole an ancient stick from a voodoo priest and drew a picture of a snake-like creature biting the head off his father. Little did he realise that the monster would come to life and kill his father. Years later, Adam is now married. But when his wife is killed in a hit-and-run by five friends, he digs the stick back up and draws the monster again to take revenge.

 

The film is basically a rehash of Pumpkinhead, only with a different creature taking revenge for some misdeeds. The setup isn’t too bad in all honesty, especially if some innocent person is the victim of a tragic accident because at least there’s a character to sympathise with. Unfortunately this film has no clue about to handle that story and what we get is yet another really crappy low budget creature feature with a snake. CGI snakes are so oversaturated now and Lockjaw: Rise of the Kulev Serpent doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary.

There’s little in the way of proper script as some really stupid contrivances happen simply to further the plot. The most notable one being the fact that no one in the car realises they have just ploughed through a woman crossing the road despite the huge thud she makes off the bonnet. I mean at least have one of them realise, stop for a moment to get their act together and then just drive off in fear of what may happen if they are arrested. But they just drive on, blissfully unaware of the storm that is about to head their way. Is it a little harsh for the guy to wish revenge on them in light of this? It’s not like they knew what happened. They could have pleaded ignorance but I doubt that would have stopped the monster. If they had realised and stopped to help, would that have helped matters?

The rest of the film involves the characters doing typical teenage stuff (smoking, drinking, having sex, wandering off outside in the dark, etc) whilst the monster makes an occasional appearance to eat someone. The finale falls short of delivering anything although it’s not like the rest of the film promised a big pay-off. The CGI snake looks as crap as the rest of them. It’s funny that despite being one of the first films to feature a CGI snake back in 1999, Anaconda is still the daddy of the snake flicks. The rest of them, mainly from the Sci-Fi Channel, have featured appalling special effects. They should be getting better and more convincing over the years, not progressively worse. This snake has a big crocodile-like head which makes the whole thing look silly as opposed to scary. It’s not particularly well fed either which was a great disappointment. The attack scenes are typical of these snake flicks which means that the snake will rear up for a moment, pause and hiss, allow its victim to stare in horror for a moment before being swallowed whole. I much prefer people being chewed up, bitten or slowly constricted and attacks to last more than a brief moment. Milk the deaths, draw them out a bit to make the audience feel the pain of the victim and empathise with them in their moment of death.

DMX gets top billing but it’s almost a glorified cameo from him. Expect some gruff delivery, lots of weapon handling and some pretentious ‘bad ass’ dialogue from him and little else. The other actors are bland and just not really with it. Wanting them to get eaten is a blessing in disguise. You know a film has failed to deliver even the smallest mercies when the only worthwhile reason to watch is for the hot chick to get her top off – and when that fails to materialise, you know you’re in trouble.

 

Lockjaw: Rise of the Kulev Serpent is one of the poorest Sci-Fi Channel features out there but when you’ve got company like Raptor Island, Warbirds and Lake Placid 2, then it’s not really hard to be any worse.

 

 ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Mega Python Vs Gatoroid (2011)

Mega Python Vs Gatoroid (2011)

Screaming, Scratching, Biting… And that’s just THE GIRLS!

A nest of pythons is freed into the Florida Everglades by a group of animal rights activist. But these snakes soon grow larger than normal and begin killing off the local alligator population. Determined to stop the threat of the snakes and maintain the natural balance of the everglades, local park ranger Terry O’Hara hands out permits to allow hunters to shoot the pythons and keep their number down. When the ranger’s fiancé is killed by the snakes, she obtains an experimental serum, injects it into dead chickens and then starts feeding them to the gators to increase their size so that they can fend off the snakes. But with the pythons happy to eat gator eggs, the serum finds its way into their system too. Soon both the pythons and the gators are growing to gigantic size, threatening everyone.

 

It’s a ridiculous plot but barrel scraping springs to mind when I think of the two giant monsters that do battle in this one. Fresh from their antics with mega sharks, giant octopi and a crocosaurus, The Asylum are back for another contrived, unashamedly awful and ultimately pointless ‘versus’ film. In fact the title should be pluralised as there’s not just one mega python and gatoroid but a whole score of them on either side. It’s a clash between two genetically-enhanced reptilian armies and only two washed up 80s pop stars can save the day!

There’s little to differentiate Mega Python Vs Gatoroid from any other CGI-monster fest of late. The CGI gets worse as each new film is made and you’d get more bang for your buck out of a PC game. Not only do the snakes and gators look really fake, they recycle the same animations time after time. CGI blood is used. Human actors tangle with themselves as they wait for the computer guys to do their thing in post production. You know the score. CGI overkill has gone to the extreme in these low budget efforts and most of the time, effects seem to be implanted into the film simply for kicks when physical practical effects would have made more sense (such as the scene in which a guy is trapped underneath the dead body of a snake – watch as his hand glides through some poorly-rendered CGI when a rubber prop would have been much more believable). A slew of minor characters are fed to the monsters and the repetitive nature of each death only adds to the tedium.

Remember when the shark in Jaws only killed a handful of people? Or Michael Myers killed four people on-screen in Halloween? Less was more and you always felt more threatened. Now it’s just a race to get as many people eaten in as little time possible. Surprisingly enough, I was going to comment on the DVD cover which shows a city being destroyed by giant monsters. Unlike the other CGI monster versus films of late, Mega Python Vs Gatoroid actually does contain footage of a city being attacked by the monsters. It’s literally only a minutes worth of screen time but at least it shows them doing a little bit of damage to Miami. There is also an in-joke thrown here somewhere as one of the monsters takes out a blimp with The Asylum written on the side – it’s probably the highlight of the film in an amusing way.

Hold up though! Giant monsters beware because on hand to save humanity are a pair of 80s pop stars. Deborah Gibson and Tiffany, both teen idols in the 80s, each takes the side of one of the monsters and thus the film turns into some sort of bizarre tag team match with Gibson protective of her snakes and Tiffany desperately trying to help the gators. They both try and one-up each other which leads to the eventual catfight between the two and then realise that they need to stop their bickering and join forces to stop both sets of monsters from running wild. Dialogue throughout the film references both of their singing careers which will either leave you cringing if you know the words or completely in the dark if you’ve never heard of them before. But in a film where the actors should be winking at the camera at the silliness of it all, they play it straight. The tongue-in-cheek catfight between the two is arguably the highlight of the film, rather pitiful when you consider it’s supposed to be some giant monsters duking it out.

The scene resembles everything that the movie should have been – silly, daft and with a knowing sense of humour. Instead, it feels like an isolated scene. When all is said and done, it’s nice to see two older women playing the lead roles in a film like this instead of your typical twenty-somethings. And in a film that is scattered with moments of oversized CGI monsters, it’s sad that the biggest things on display are Tiffany’s silicone-enhanced breasts which attempt to escape her top at every opportunity. Just when things couldn’t get any more bizarre, there’s a really random cameo from Mickey Dolenz, formerly of The Monkees. See, the film doesn’t just cater for the 80s market but the 60s market too!

 

Mega Python Vs Gatoroid is yet another awful CGI monster mash-up which scrapes the bottom of the barrel for scraps left behind after the recent onslaught of rubbish ‘versus’ films. The sight of former pop stars Tiffany and Deborah Gibson (who apparently had a real life rivalry back when they were in the limelight) taking each other on and then teaming up may have some appeal to former fans of their music but for any lovers of monster movies, stay well clear of this mess.

 

 ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Anaconda 4: Trail of Blood (2009)

Anaconda 4: Trail of Blood (2009)

Bigger, Faster, Hungrier

Determined to make amends for her previous mistakes, Amanda heads into the Carpathian Mountains to destroy the research of a fellow scientist who has been trying to create an anti-aging formula using the Blood Orchids. However once again the experimental anacondas that he was modifying with the Blood Orchid escape into the mountains and begin to cause carnage.

 

The third sequel to Anaconda takes a dramatic nosedive for the worst (if at all possible) even after the dreadful mess that was Anaconda 3: The Offspring. Why? Well it’s sad to say it but this film really needed David Hasselhoff. He gave the previous sequel a little cheesy edge whereas this one just goes straight for the generic killer snake formula. If you’ve seen one killer snake film then you’ve seen them all and this one is no exception. See, the memorable thing about the last one was that it had The Hoff in it – whether that’s good or bad is irrelevant but at least I remember it. However this one is no different to the likes of Boa Vs Python or Python 2 in which stock characters run around the woods for a lot of the running time.

I’m really struggling for comments to make on this one in all honesty. It’s just so bland. It’s just so ‘meh’ that it pains me to even think I bought this (and promptly re-sold after watching). At least the original two films were set in the jungle where you had rivers, canyons and the sweltering heat. They gave some credibility to the notion that these giant anacondas were living in remote parts of the Amazonian rainforest. But here the snakes are just set loose in someone’s back woods. You know the sort where college kids go to make their first zombie movie. This film finally pushed me over the boundaries of tolerance towards the continual use of filming in Eastern European countries. Fair enough it’s all well and good to shoot in these places. But I’m just sick of seeing rubbish Romanian or Bulgarian two-bit actors clogging up most of the supporting roles in this type of film. Their accents are usually thick and heavy and they’ve got as much charisma as a wet paper bag filled with dog turds. I’m sick of seeing the same setting for every one of the Sci-Fi Channel’s monster movies. These European woods aren’t the scariest places to be lost in and they all blur into one.

The snakes look as bad as ever. This time not only do they constantly change their size but they seemingly smile at the camera! The attack scenes are animated terribly and the gore is all CGI once more. I never realised that snakes usually bite the heads off their victims first – whatever happened to the coiling, the crushing and the slow digestion that Jon Voight’s character suffered in the first one? Once again the snakes have had a stealth gene inserted into their DNA which means they can sneak up on anyone, hang from trees or move through bushes and wooded areas without making a sound. Their appearance is nice and shiny and they don’t create shadows, trails on the floor or give any indications that they were actually there. It’s a wonder the humans actually manage to kill them in the end!

Crystal Allen reprises her role as Amanda from the previous film and yet again does the ‘cute scientist in a tank top’ role to perfection but you’ll buy her as a scientist as much as I ever bought Gordon Brown as a Prime Minister. John Rhys-Davies turns up again to get paid. Maybe he enjoys these low budget shindigs? And the rest of the cast is filled with Romanian wannabe actors with really bad accents and all clearly auditioning to be the next bad guy in a Steven Seagal flick.

 

Anaconda 4: Trail of Blood is so bad that I can’t even think of a decent summary. It’s just a nothing flick which could easily be any other snake film with the Anaconda mantra slapped on to trick people into thinking that it’s a sequel of sorts. It’s demonstrative of the Sci-Fi Channel’s sloppy and generally poor attitude to making even average films any more.

 

 ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Anaconda 3: Offspring (2008)

Anaconda III: Offspring (2008)

They can smell your fear

In a secret research facility, two giant snakes are being bred by a brilliant scientist. But when the wealthy financier behind the experiments pushes the snakes too far, they escape from the facility, hungry, heading for civilisation and expecting a litter. Ruthless snake hunter and mercenary, Hammett, is hired to track the snakes down before it’s too late.

 

The second sequel to the modestly successful (and let’s face it, mildly entertaining) Anaconda sees The Hoff himself, David Hasselhoff, pitted against a deadly CGI snake duo. It’s a major comedown after watching Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube and Jon Voight tussle with the snake back in 1997 but eleven years later, who really cares? The film series has been confined to the straight-to-TV basement bin and rightfully so. It’s not like we haven’t seen this thing recently (Python, King Cobra, er…Boa Vs Python, etc) and there’s only so much originality a giant snake flick can have. The Sci-Fi Channel has resurrected this series for financial gain as it has nothing to do with the earlier two films and could have been just another snake film had it not been slapped with the Anaconda moniker. Damn them and their endless supply of cheap killer animal flicks!

The film follows the standard ‘killer animal escapes remote science lab’ plot to the wire. We’re shown the security measures at the facility, only for them to be broken moments later. We’re shown plenty of security guards and personnel standing around in non-speaking parts only to be fed to the creatures when they escape. We are told plenty of facts about the snakes to make them appear more threatening and intelligent than they really are. Then as soon as the snakes are free we’re given numerous token characters to throw into danger. If you’ve seen one of these killer snake films, then you’ve seen them all. And if you haven’t seen one, then please don’t start!

The snakes look really bad. It’s almost as though CGI is getting progressively worse when it should be getting better. The snakes stick out like a sore thumb from the undergrowth they are supposed to be hiding it. Weather, lighting and natural conditions seem to have no affect on these snakes as they are exactly the same colour and shape every time you see them – sort of like a shiny piece of piping. They can strike from anywhere without the slightest rustle of a bush or breaking or a branch. This flick also has the unfortunate tendency to use CGI gore effects instead of a bit of make-up and corn syrup. I guess that has something to do with the snakes deciding to bite people’s heads off instead of crushing them to death, like anacondas are supposed to do. It does manage to eat a few people whole including an unlucky farmer who goes into his barn to investigate a noise, knocks himself out cold and then wakes up to find himself half in the snake’s mouth.

Whether you love him or hate him, Hasselhoff does have a massive fan base and its cheesy films like this that cement his ultimate B-grade celebrity status. He’s not the greatest actor alive but he’s entertaining enough in his roles be it charming the pants off a hot chick or trading punches with someone. Surprisingly, he’s not actually that bad here and his whole persona fits the mercenary role of Hammett to a tee. He hams it up and overacts but why not? He knows the film is just a pay cheque and at least it gives the viewer a few chuckles and cringes along the way. He doesn’t have a lot to do in the film though so it’s a criminal waste of his ‘talents.’

John Rhys-Davies has a small role as the financier who causes the snakes to escape. He could have played the role in his sleep such is its complexity. All he needs to do is remind everyone of how much money the project is costing, that he wants results and that he wants everything covered up when the snakes get out. I keep forgetting that he was Gimli in the Lord of the Rings trilogy so why the hell he’s returned to these cheap schlock sci-fi horrors is beyond me. Crystal Allen does her ‘hot blonde scientist in a tight white tank top’ thing to perfection which had me hooked. It’s a pity that the film just wastes her character with sloppy interaction with Hasselhoff’s mercenary.

 

Even giant snakes know not to Hassle the Hoff. It’s a sad state of affairs to claim that the Hoff is the best part of your film but that’s the only claim to fame that Anaconda 3: The Offspring is going to get. It’s arguably one of the Sci-Fi Channel’s better killer monster flicks but that’s like saying you’d rather kiss a turd than drink wee. Either way you’re screwed.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Mega Snake (2007)

Mega Snake (2007)

Run for your life!

Les Daniels loses his father to a deadly snake bite and grows up fearing snakes. Things are complicated when his younger brother accidentally unleashes a mysterious snake from a local Native American snake dealer. Once loose, the snake begins to feed on small animals but as it begins to grow and grow, its hunger becomes greater and starts eating the local residents. Now Les must overcome his phobia and protect the town from the deadly snake.

 

Sometimes I wish studios would just give me some “Create Your Own Creature Feature” PC software and let me design my own film with a load of pre-filmed scenes ready to splice together, a choice of stock characters to pepper my film with and lots of token special effects of different monsters because it seems that’s all they’re doing nowadays, especially when it comes to the Sci-Fi Channel. They’ve got to be using one of those random “Name Generator” pieces of script you see across the net (you know the ones – give me My Porn Star Name, My Mafia Name, My Native American Indian Name, etc). It’s a case of stick X amount of various monsters, X amount of the same plot, X amount of washed-up or bit-part actors and then wait and see what the user comes up with when they click start. Mega Snake has to be the product of such a tool. There’s no question.

Most of the time, it’s too easy to target these films and it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. There’s clearly an audience for them – hell I’m one of the first in front of the TV whenever they get released and as much as I hate the majority of them, it’s either them or nothing. I love my monster flicks and I’ve lost all faith in the mainstream Hollywood blockbuster release system so these low budget creature feature films are like a pair of shoes that used to fit me but are a little tight now – I don’t want to throw them out because they were my favourite shoes at one time but I know that wearing them will be bad for my feet. Not quite sure how I’ve managed to go off track but I hope you get the idea.

Mega in name but not nature, Mega Snake shares a similar title to the likes of Mega Piranha and Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus but the only thing mega about this is the smell of rubbish. Actually I’m a bit disappointed as to how the poster portrays the size of this snake. At no point does it ever grow bigger than skyscrapers, destroy cities or take on the might of the US military ala some form of snake version of Godzilla. It simply grows as big as the rest of its reptilian brothers that clog up the Sci-Fi Channel’s creature features – hardly anything more ‘mega’ than the snakes in the Anaconda sequels. And since when did snakes come with Mogwai-like instructions on how not to feed them? This snake has more instructions than an old school Russian tape recorder so it was inevitable that some dumb schmuck was going to break one of the rules at some point.

As soon as the snake escapes (which is fairly early in the film), then the plot just falls into a regular series of snake attacks. For some reason, the Sci-Fi Channel has decided that all of its killer snakes must simply feed off human heads. The studio’s entire snake flick output feature reptilians which just eat the heads of their victims and leave the rest of the body. I’m not sure when snakes became such fussy eaters but it is rather annoying to see, especially during a laughable scene where the snake attacks a carnival ride. The CGI looks slightly better than some of the other snake films but it’s still overly shoddy. The snake’s skin is constantly the same colour and shade, no matter whether it’s in shade or blazing hot sun. It’s smooth and shiny exterior is also highly out of place with the surrounding woods – there is no way something as bright as this would be able to hide in the woods without being spotted.

Typical of these Eastern European-shot creature feature films, there’s a multitude of generic material on display. You’ve got a couple of backwoods dwelling rednecks eager to blast everything away with shotguns. There’s a goody-two shoes ex-girlfriend who still harbours feelings towards the main character. The hero who can’t get his life together and is in the midst of some mid-life crisis is present. Last but not least, we can’t forget the local mayor who wants to keep the town open during a festival and refuses to believe that there’s a monster problem, leading to the inevitable snake attack during the festival. Also typical of these films is the cast full of Eastern European actors trying to sport American accents. Apart from the lead characters who look like they’d rather be anywhere else, the supporting cast have been picked up on the cheap from some dodgy Bulgarian casting agent. Most of them are there purely as snake fodder but the script could at least give us some interesting characters we care about instead of a slew of stereotypes.

 

Mega Snake is best watched with a crate of beer and a few annoying friends to poke fun at anything and everything. It’s about the only entertainment you’ll garner from watching another overly clichéd, generic and lacklustre Sci-Fi Channel creature feature.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Copperhead (2008)

Copperhead (2008)

The deadliest killers are always cold-blooded

A stranger arrives in a small town in the Wild West and warns them all that thousands of copperhead snakes are heading in their direction. No one believes him at first and he has a run-in with the local outlaws. But soon the town must band together when they realise he was telling the truth.

 

Meh – the killer snake sub-genre is quickly becoming one of my least favourite although it’s not like it was ever my favourite to begin with. Like zombie films, there’s only so much you can do with killer snakes (be they giant ones or just normal-sized) so when you’ve exhausted all possible settings and plots, what do you do? Why not do what the zombie genre has done with Undead or Alive and set it back in time in the Wild West? That put a novel spin on the stale zombie theme and it was pretty quirky watching the two genres collide (albeit it in a low budget sort of way).  As atrocious as Copperhead is, the Wild West setting gives it that little extra novelty value. I’ve seen it dubbed Snakes on a Wagon Train in some quarters and although that may be a little too ambitious, the film still does manage to deliver enough of the western setting to give it an edge over similar fare.

Ironically enough, the best bit of the film is the opening twenty minutes or so with the stranger heading into town to confront the gang that killer his friend and warn the town about the snakes. It’s standard western fare with the saloon, poker games, grizzled bartenders, sheriffs with twirling moustaches, shoot-outs and such like all coming to the fore. The sets look suitable, the costumes fitting and the whole thing looks like a professional TV-movie western. No frills or expenditure, just something that looks believable. The western stereotypes are all played up pretty early with the cowardly sheriff, the feisty whores, the dangerous gunslinger and his dim-witted yes men and, of course, the mysterious ‘Wild’ Bill Longley who rides into town and cleans up. The dialogue is all very cliché but at least it sounds like an old western and not just one with a load of modern dialogue. The score sounds like an cheap Sergio Leone western knock-off but it does what it has to do.

So far so good you’ll think but that’s because the snakes haven’t arrived yet. The shoot-out in town is the film’s highlight (which is brief but does as much to rip-off The Good, The Bad and The Ugly than anything else on show here) and things go downhill quickly from there. As soon as the snakes show up and start biting the extras, the film shifts into some goofy sub-par Tremors knock-off. The dialogue becomes less serious, some of the characters develop silly traits and the film just goes off the rails. The surviving townspeople decide to fight back with what they can so cue a visit to the local shopkeeper/inventor who has loads of gadgets waiting for them including a crude flamethrower and a Gatling gun. They’re all set for a showdown against the snakes but what should probably have been the finale actually turns into some run-of-the-mill action scene in which some minor characters get killed off and the rest of the survivors barricade themselves up in the saloon.

So now we’re in Night of the Living Dead territory as the snakes try to get in. But there’s one last surprise for the audience as it turns out there’s a giant snake on the loose too. I see no reason for them to have included it in here as the smaller snakes were doing just fine on their own. The killer snakes are all CGI and they look rubbish too. But what did you expect? There’s also a huge Copperhead snake lurking around too which looks like exactly the same snake as every single giant CGI snake ever made. The Sci-Fi Channel just rolls the same animation out over and over again and simply change the colour.

As per usual with the Sci-Fi Channel, the film was shot in Eastern Europe (Bulgaria to be exact) and features a whole host of bad supporting actors who butcher the English language at every opportunity. At least Brad Johnson, as Bill Longley, makes an effort and is pretty decent in the lead role. Although like the majority of the film, he works best when he’s in western-mode and not in giant-snake-mode. Billy Drago, a veteran of ‘weasels, runts and generally unpleasant people’ characterisations (his most famous role being Frank Nitti, the assassin from The Untouchables) pops up as the leader of the outlaw gang but unfortunately he’s run out of town way too early and before the snakes arrive. The banter between him and Johnson is pretty good during the card game so it’s a shame that this was thrown out of the window too soon to be effective.

 

Copperhead is the same old crappy giant snake flick in a western setting. It’s got a few ok moments and the Wild West setting certainly helps but at the end of the day, once you’ve seen one of these duff snake flicks, you’ve seen them all. Not the worst one out there and definitely worth watching over any of the dreadful Anaconda sequels (or pretty much any killer snake flick released since Anaconda).

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Boa Vs Python (2004)

Boa Vs Python (2004)

Get ready to rumble

A rich hunter imports a giant python from South America in order to turn it loose in a private reserve and have a bunch of wealthy hunters pay big money to come and join him hunt it. Unfortunately for him, the python breaks free during transport and takes up residence at a water treatment facility. The FBI daren’t risk sending in agents to kill it so they enlist the help of Dr Emmett, who has been raising a giant boa constrictor in a lab, and decide to get the boa to track it down and kill it.

 

Jumping on the “versus” bandwagon that seems to be rolling since the success of Freddy Vs Jason and Alien Vs Predator isn’t a good idea when your two main draws are relatively unknown B-movie monsters. It’s not an official sequel to Boa or Python 2 but considering that the director David Flores was the editor involved in both of those films, it’s highly convenient that he should decide to pair them up to fight each other. Hardly going to rank up there with the greatest of cinematic tussles like King Kong Vs Godzilla, Boa Vs Python is pretty much the same film as the other two, only with two snakes instead of one.

I’ve got a big beef with the plot though. I don’t know about you but if I ever had a giant snake on the loose, the last thing I would do is RELEASE ANOTHER GIANT SNAKE to track it down. This obvious plot discrepancy aside, I’m guessing we’re supposed to root for the boa constrictor since it was brought up by the good doctor and the python is the one doing all of the evil stuff. The two snakes don’t actually fight each other until the final ten minutes and even then the fight only lasts for a moment or two before it’s unceremoniously stopped. I don’t know about you, but when I sit down to watch a film called Boa Vs Python I demand just a little more for my money.

The snakes aren’t given that much screen time anyway, even if they’re not fighting each other. Considering we have two snakes, I expect twice as much footage as I would if we only had one snake. Even snake versus human action is lacking and quite a few kills either happen off screen or you just see someone getting dragged away before they’re finished off. What happened to cheap CGI effects showing us the CGI monsters ripping off the heads of their victims? The effects look as bad as one would expect, with both snakes being different colours so you can tell the difference (clever, eh?) so why they couldn’t extend this to a few moments of cheap CGI gore is beyond me. This is pushing it a bit but maybe they could have shown us the scene from the poster in which the two snakes are fighting amongst skyscrapers with a helicopter shooting at them. As expected, that scene is nowhere to be seen in the final version of the film.

At least the film has some non-CGI eye candy in the shapely shapes of Jaime Bergman and Angel Boris, two former Playmates, who act as the token scientist and the token slut respectively. Only one gets naked but its soooooo obligatory that I almost went mad with laughing as Angel Boris soaps herself down slowly in a bath tub, guiding her hands slowly across her breasts and…………sorry getting a bit carried away there. Yes it’s the most obligatory naked scene you’re going to come across ever – she even spends the next five minutes naked too. Jaime Bergman looks too nice to be a out-and-out scientist (you know, the Denise Richards type of being hot-to-trot but too good looking to be believable as a nuclear physicist). However for someone who works with dolphins, she does have that endearing bubbly charm where you know she’ll care for her animals and soppy stuff like that. But who cares. She’s a former Playmate too so why couldn’t she have been contracted for a shower scene or something.

Also of worthy note is Adam Kendrick, a Brit who plays the rich hunter. At one point he strips off his shirt to reveal his massively bulked up and glistening body in front of the snakes (how the heck did he manage to oil up under his shirt?) and then proceeds to go mental with a flame thrower, torching anything and everything in sight, including numerous FBI agents! It’s not exactly an actor’s flick but at least the females manage to liven things up a bit if the titular snakes are sorely lacking in appearance.

 

Boa Vs Python is a total cop-out of what was going to be a piece of crap anyway. It just ended up depriving us of the only thing that would have redeemed it – some actual snake versus snake action. I dread to think of whatever CGI monsters they’ll pit against each other next. Oh wait, I’ve just seen the trailer for Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus…….

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆