Welcome to a new feature! I will be having a gander at often-overlooked movies. I’ll dust them off and give them a chance to impress. So, let’s get going with my first Bargain Bin Review.
Anaconda is the story of a loveable, misunderstood giant snake that is mercilessly tormented by a bunch of documentary-makers. All it wants to do is devour Jennifer Lopez and Ice Cube, but for some reason they object. Just to warn you, there will be many spoilers ahead. But, given that this review is for a fifteen year-old film, I think you can forgive me.
The movie starts off by killing Danny Trejo. His boat is attacked by some kind of nasty creature and, faced with a choice between a gooey painful death or taking his own life, he decides to shoot himself in the head. Generally, it seems as though poor Mr Trejo gets the raw deal in situations with killer beasties, such as his early demise in Predators. Here, though? Well, his character probably caught wind of the script coming his way and decided to off himself. Oh, how I wish I could join you.
After a wonderful bit of pan-pipe music, we’re then greeted to the ragtag bunch of filmmakers. First up we have J-Lo and the dashing anthropologist Eric Stoltz. They are off on the noble endeavour of documenting the existence of a rarely-seen tribe in the Amazon. The makers of Anaconda, though, have no such artistic temperament, shown by the fact that the moment you see Miss Lopez she’s, for some reason, wearing a very skimpy nightgown. Who knows, perhaps I am being too cynical and that is perfect attire for the Amazon.
They are joined by Ice Cube, the angry cameraman and one of the few voices of reason within the entire film, the production manager and attractive-but-not-famous-so-will-definitely-survive Kari Wuhrer, the constantly aroused sound guy (played, amazingly, by Owen Wilson), snooty English presenter Jonathan Hyde, and the unbearably sleazy and definitely-not-sketchy ship captain (Vincent Castellanos). If you have made any early presumptions about who is likely to survive this film, you are probably right.
Only a short while after they set off on their journey, they find a boat sinking into the river. They rescue the lone occupant, a Paraguayan snake-catcher played by Jon Voight. I’d just like to take a moment to tell you exactly how frickin’ creepy this guy is. He’s like if The Joker from The Dark Knight and Tommy Wiseau had a South American middle-aged lovechild. The only way he could be creepier is if he was naked the entire time, his greasy ponytail flapping in the breeze. You half expect every scene to end with him having sex with some kind of reptilian creature.
Don’t believe me? Well I took the time to make a brief compilation of a few of his weirdest moments in the film. Take a look.
In spite of the fact that their new guest is clearly not a very nice man – shown by the way that ominous music starts every time he’s visible and the fact that he is constantly staring at everyone in an outrageously evil way – they decide to welcome him aboard, and even listen to his advice on their journey. The only two crewmembers that don’t seem to trust him are the aforementioned sceptic Ice Cube and the Indiana Jones-wannabe Stoltz.
Of course, this means Stoltz – the only man willing to tell Voight “you know what, let’s not take that meandering route through the Amazon that you say will lead us to our destination” – has an accident after trying to clear vines from the boat. Incapacitated, Voight takes command and lets the crew know of his real motive: to catch a ruddy great big anaconda. Choosing not to listen to Ice ‘Voice of Reason’ Cube, Sleazy Captain, Owen Wilson and Snooty English decide to join in on the plan. First stop on their whirlwind tour of idiocy? The remains of Danny Trejo’s ship.
Unsurprisingly, this does not end well. The sleazy ship captain is the first to go, chomped right outside the boat. Owen Wilson is next. Having already survived a failed attempt at a sex scene on the shores of the Amazon at night (surely the best idea anyone has ever had), he finally succumbs to the wily Jaws wannabe.
Apparently the death of Owen was enough for the rest of the crew to decide enough is enough with the creepy ponytailed guy. J-Lo seduces Voight – in one of the most awkward-to-watch scenes I have ever seen – as the rest of the crew pounce. Tying him up, they think they’re safe. Unfortunately for them, the giant snake hadn’t quite forgotten about their previous attempts to turn it into handbags, and attacks, enjoying Snooty English as a rather fine brunch. Voight uses this as a way to escape, killing poor not-as-famous-as-J-Lo in the process.
Lopez and Ice Cube manage to fight off the anaconda and, with the help of the woken-from-his-illness Stoltz, manage to knock Voight into the river and escape. Stoltz, unfortunately, doesn’t even have time to whisper “you guys seriously trusted the weird snake catcher? Seriously?” before he once again succumbs to his wounds and passes out.
Without his guidance, the wonderful J-Lo/Cube duo are captured by the soggy but still dangerous Voight. He uses them as bait to catch a mega-snake, covering them in monkey blood. For some reason, we need to see Voight kill two monkeys over the course of this film, as if to prove that he is such an evil madman.
Thankfully, the anaconda decides, halfway through suffocating Ice Cube and Lopez, that it would rather go after the creepy-looking guy sneering at it in the corner. It eats him, spits him back out again because apparently he tastes as bad as he looks, and instead goes after J-Lo. Between them, Lopez and Ice Cube manage to trap the snake and blow it up. In spite of being set on fire, exploded, and thrown fifty feet in the air, our plucky jungle friend tries to eat them one more time, and is bludgeoned to death by Ice Cube, who apparently was sick and tired of goddamn snakes at this point.
And that’s about it. Anaconda, as you may imagine, is a bad movie. It sits awkwardly between its A-List budget and B-List plot, and as a result it is absolutely brilliant entertainment. It’s a trashy, violent, stupid mess with bad performances and a hackneyed plot, and I enjoyed every bloody minute of it. Anaconda is the only place to go if you want to see Ice Cube attack a giant snake with a pick-axe, all the while with an incredible pan-pipe soundtrack.
Interested in more? Be sure to head over to GeekClique.net, where future Bargain Bin Reviews will also be hosted.