Snake attack!


In no particular order, Rant! articulates and analyses cinema’s most horrific creatures – from all genres of film.

Anaconda, Luis Llosa’s 1997 adventure-action-thriller, got rubbish reviews but exacted retribution by becoming a box office blast; debuting at #1 in the US, where it remained for two consecutive weeks, and even spawning three sequels. Clearly, critical acclaim is not an essential ingredient for the procreation of a badass film fiend!

Anaconda‘s plot can be précised as follows: do-gooder scientists embark on search for native tribe; doo-gooder scientists adopt the help of enigmatic stranger; enigmatic stranger is a baddy; baddy has ulterior motives; baddy pisses off snake (a rather large snake); snake seeks vengeance; do-gooders get caught up in fight for survival. Premise of plot: when you look for trouble, trouble will bite you in the ass. The originality astounds.

Anaconda is easily mocked but the fact is: a vengeful, hungry, behemoth of a reptile, slithering secretly in nature’s undergrowth in search of prey, is pretty damn horrific – a great way to magnify fear is to magnify the object of that fear. So, “well done” Luis Llosa; against the odds, Anaconda does terrify.

On a more serious note, what Anaconda is a great example of is nature fighting back. The film’s mammoth creature serves as a great metaphor for nature’s wrath. Human kind has invaded the natural world for aeons… and then we get pissed off when nature retaliates. Not so long ago, wildlife officials in Florida, USA, began issuing permits to snake experts in a first-ever state-sanctioned python hunt, in order to contain the expansion of the pesky constrictor. The number of pythons in the region has exploded in the past decade to potentially tens of thousands, and scientists believe the snakes were introduced when pet owners freed their snakes into the wild once they became too big to keep. They also think some Burmese pythons may have escaped in 1992 from pet shops battered by Hurricane Andrew and have been reproducing ever since. So typical! Human invasion screws up the natural order; nature reacts accordingly and what happens? Man gets pissy and nature is consequently raped every which way.

In the film, the distinction between the J-Lo (and her cronies) and Jon Voight is diminutive – the motivation for their respective behaviour is different but each party is invading a space that does not offer welcome, rendering both ‘goody’ and ‘baddy’ equally immoral. If you hunt a snake it’s going to strike back – perhaps not in so exaggerated a manner – but retaliate it will. And instinct is not inappropriate. Nature was here first and the laws of fairness dictate nature’s supremacy. But, sadly, we know this is usually not the matter of fact – global warming, extinction and deforestation are a few of many examples that serve to illuminate nature’s extreme disadvantage. At the film’s end, Ice-Cube beats the anaconda with an axe until it is finally slain. Nice. But the point couldn’t be truer.

Kill it until it’s Dead with a capital D.