Anaconda: I don’t want none unless…actually I just don’t want none.

1997 was the year of sequels. Speed 2, Jurassic Park The Lost World, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (don’t worry, I will eventually get to that one for you), Alien Resurrection, Batman and Robin. As we know, all these films were shite. Sure, we got Con Air, we got Face/Off, The Fifth Element, Spawn (shuuuut up), and Starship Troopers. But there were no creepy crawlies worth mentioning whatsoever. Somehow, at the end of my 13th year, I had gotten a touch bored of watching people shoot each other, and I needed something else. I needed monsters. I needed blood and guts and inhuman terror. I also needed Ice Cube (I always need Ice Cube), and when we made our regular Friday night trip to the video shop, both of those things were staring back at me from the top row of the horror section.

Now, we told you this is an action movie blog, about action movies. We’re only two weeks in, and I’m going off on a tangent. But you know what? I’m not ignoring monsters, because when you ignore the monsters, you also ignore the opportunity to revisit 90s CGI and tear it to fucking shreds, and I don’t think you want me to do that, do you? I think you need to know precisely every awful thing about this film that a revisit in 2017 makes painfully obvious, don’t you? Of course you do – it’s JLo and Ice Cube and Jon Voight and a massive rubber snake. And you do now anyway because I watched it and I refuse to suffer alone.

Even if those reasons aren’t good enough for you, there is action. Stuff gets blown up. There’s guns, fire, knives, and fighting. I think it counts. And it’s terrible, which is why you’re here. You don’t want to hear me talk it up, and quite frankly if I ever start praising Anaconda as a cinematic masterpiece, you’ll know it’s time to take me out back and shoot me, before I become a danger to myself and the movie watching public. I’m reviewing movies I rented from the video shop twenty years ago, there was absolutely no promise they’d all be good/bad-good/good-bad ones. There are gonna be stinkers, honkers, absolute dog shit ones. And this, my friends, is one of those.

When I was a kid, I was proper into the bad nature. You know, sharks, snakes, spiders, centipedes. Shout out to the BBC documentary series Nightmares of Nature for making me what I am today. If you’re not familiar, look it up. Just vicious reconstructions of different animals trying to kill unsuspecting tourists, surfers, and generally stupid knobheads wandering around in places they shouldn’t be. This had come out two years previously. I was 10. 10 year old me sat an inch from the telly as it was explained how a crocodile rolls it’s prey in it’s jaws like a fucking washing machine of death, and then drags it back to some nest and eats it a week later. Meter long centipedes that paralyse you, for no good reason. Komodo dragons that cause whole villages to build their houses on fucking STILTS because they will eat your pets and babies if you leave them laying around. And of course, the illusive anaconda, 40 FEET long, that crushed you, swallowed you, then puked you up and ate you again just for shits and giggles. I had the book and the series on video, obviously. And now I was going to be able to see a film where all that happened, but with gore, and suspense, bad dialogue, and our Ice Cube. My life was complete. What with having my heart broken by that Matthew Broderick Godzilla six months previously in a trip to the cinema on my actual birthday, I was well overdue a reptilian horror. I was owed this. So I handed it to my mother, she rolled her eyes, we collected our spare ribs, and home we went.

I’ve still got this book. I wrote my name in it in purple biro.

The film starts with some helpful blurb about what an anaconda is and what it does. Presumably in case you’d somehow made it to the cinema to see the film Anaconda without knowing what an Anaconda was. Cheers mate. This film was directed by Luis Llosa. You don’t know who he is and neither do I. The only other film he directed that anyone could possibly give a shit about is Fires In The Amazon. So actually this might be the only film he’s directed that anyone gives a shit about. The maestro is Randy Edelman, who does The Simpsons and every single Tim Burton film, so the soundtrack to the first scene, which is Danny Trejo shouting into a radio, then climbing the mast on his own boat and shooting himself in the head for no visible reason, is pretty hectic and weirdly inappropriate.

The story goes a team of “National Geographic” photographers and filmmakers are pulled together by the greasy Eric Stoltz to document a long lost tribe supposedly living in the darkest corner of Amazon city centre. JLo is one of them. They all fancy her. Her nipples are out all the time. There’s a rude sexist Brit, played by that guy who was in The Mummy, and Titanic as a rude sexist Brit. Also Cadbury off Richie Rich (don’t you look at me).

Ice Cube’s first line is “Today is a good day.” I can only imagine the cheers from the movie theatre patrons as he dropped that absolute banger. I always really wanted him to look at the camera and wink like he does in Friday, but apparently this film is already taking itself way too seriously for anything like that. Oh fuck, and Owen Wilson is in it too, playing himself in every single movie. Total wimp with a nice indie haircut. Snake poacher Jon Voight and his disgusting ponytail join the party just down the road after his boat supposedly runs a ground in a storm. His accent is horrible. This combined with the aforementioned ponytail and the fact that he makes weird eye contact with the boat driver guy elicited instant distrust in me, and still to this day, I cannot look directly at Jon Voight on the television, or take a middle aged man with a ponytail at face value. Guys it’s so greasy and wispy, look:

Our first sighting of the Anaconda happens whilst everyone is having a jungle party and Jennifer Lopez and Eric Stoltz are snogging. The Anaconda, notorious for it’s speed, what with weighing hundreds of pounds and that, darts across the jungle to squeeze up a jaguar. So squeezy in fact that it’s eye pops out. Again, the music is unsuitably comical. I don’t remember thinking this about the music at the time, but I do remember picking holes in the wildlife inaccuracies and nearly ruining it for myself. Probably snorting and pushing my really thick glasses up my nose.

Next morning everyone is hungover and got a proper strop on. Ice Cube is listening to his own music. Of course he is.

As the group near their long lost Amazonian tribal village, they start seeing totem poles everywhere of people being swallowed by giant snakes. It doesn’t seem to fuss them much, and they just carry on looking at nothing in particular through their binoculars, and smiling amongst themselves, presumably at the fact that Jon Voight’s accent has now changed from French-ish, to Paulie from the Sopranos.

Despite his warnings and the MASSIVE CARVINGS OF PEOPLE BEING EATEN BY SNAKES, Owen Wilson and his fluff girlfriend with that popular 90s shiny bob hairstyle and highlights that look like a bird has crapped on her head, whose name either they never actually said, or I forgot in the instant it was uttered, pop out for a midnight wander. She decides she also wants a snog. In the jungle. In the pitch black. Some animal runs at them and you’re supposed to think it’s the snake, but it’s just a big pig. Paulie Voight shoots it for them. Crisis averted. I’m sure the Cineplex turns to each other and laughs in relief.

Smarmy Eric Stoltz goes diving like a show off and a giant poisonous wasp “appears” in his diving mask. Meanwhile Jon is on the boat smiling at JLo like she’s the last sausage in the butcher’s shop window, so that clears that one up for you. Eric goes into a little coma and thank fuck really, cos he wasn’t doing much for me, not even in 1997 when I thought anyone with floppy hair was a catch. What was that kid called, from Seaquest? Him. He had the floppiest hair of all. You can google it, but I’m not going to, because if there’s anything a re-watch of this film has taught me, I was a teenage idiot who didn’t know anything good.

Alright, I did look, it was Jonathan Brandis. I think he’s dead now.

The storyline of the film is unnecessarily complicated, and not one character, bar Cube, is actually likeable in any way once you get half an hour in, so let me just break it down for you/do the ludicrous deaths:

Turns out Paulie Voight just wanted their boat to find the giant snake, and not one of these wet blankets had the stones to call him out. I knew he did from the start because of his ponytail and the way he was staring at Jennifer’s hooties.

First goes Matteo the boat captain, all scrunched up and swallowed whole, obviously no one hears any of the kerfuffle despite the fact the snake for some reason makes a noise like a roaring lion/stuck pig mash up, so my sweet beloved O’Shea goes back to help him. Much like I imagine 1997 me did, 2017 me shouted “No!” at the television, but it’s ok, cos he comes back alive with a bloodstained flash light. Still no one calls out Ponytail Jones.

Another thing I didn’t remember was just how much moody “looking” there was in this film. Owen Wilson sides with Voight and everyone looks at him moody. His shit girlfriend looks at him and one solitary tear runs down her face. Jennifer Lopez looks at him with her one facial expression, then goes to sit with Eric Stoltz, who I FUCKING FORGOT WAS STILL ALIVE.

Owen Wilson goes next complete with underwater snake shot of him in the belly showing through the skin, presumably where the movie’s budget went.

JLo decides the only way out is to try and seduce ponytail. She puts on brown lipstick and touches his hand, even though you know he smells like grey bacon and guano. It works, they hit him over the head and tie him up.

Next death is shit girlfriend who pops in to revenge stab him and he triangle chokes her to death with his legs in less time than it takes to recite the lords prayer, and takes her knife. Thank FUCK.

Whilst all this happening, pompous Brit gets the squeeze, an absolute cinematic non-event. Even at the time, and loving the monsters the way I do, I remember thinking that snake absolutely phoned it in.

Ponytail gets chucked in the river and they think he’s dead. He’s not dead. He covers JLo and my boy in monkey blood and the giant snake comes down from the roof to eat them, but decides on him instead. He gets crunched up, swallowed whole, wiggling his little feet, then barfed up 5 minutes later when he WINKS at Jlo, before dropping dead.

No one else dies, except the snake. They set it on fire. The flaming snake writhes in agony, on the water. Did you hear me? Yes, the water. Then it goes down all sizzling and makes a noise like a washing machine coming to the end of it’s cycle. The end.

I appreciate you making it this far, really I do. I know it’s early days for Marked For Justice. But much like I did in 1997, I just needed a minute away from the explosions and rear naked chokes, I needed some time with a monster, and that is exactly what I got. A giant man eating snake, in a festering compost heap of a film. The honest truth is I had obviously blocked A LOT of what is wrong with this film out of my brain, and I wish I could say it was at least humorous being reminded. It wasn’t.

4 out of 10. 3 for Ice Cube and 1 for how hard I laughed when I remembered wasp coma Stoltz wasn’t dead. The only thing we could really get out of this is that there’s a “my anaconda don’t want none unless you’ve got buns hun” / JLo’s massive backside joke in this somewhere, but I’m too frazzled by how toss this was to find it. Let me know in the comments if you’ve got anything, I do love a dad joke.

My face at the end of this film.

3 thoughts on “Anaconda: I don’t want none unless…actually I just don’t want none.

  1. lol glad im not the only one who forgot stoltz was still alive, recently rewatched anaconda (as well as every hellraiser to date, would love to see your take on any of the films > 2), and yeah its hellride bad (thats too modern for marked for justice, but definitely deserving of the the treatment). Can remember 13 year old me thinking this will be badass its got the guy from the prophecy in it, and ice cube, how i was wrong

    • Just forgot he was in it for a large chunk of the film. I don’t remember hating it at the time, which is most troubling.
      Hellraiser is on the list, and probably the most awful of the sequels as I can’t remember if they’ve seen them all or not.
      Glad you’re enjoying!

      • Hellraiser 5 – Inferno and Hellraiser 6 – Hellseeker are bloody awful, the one on the space station isnt that bad, its no worse than Jason X any way (although thats a bar a primordial dwarf could vault with ease) 7 and 8 dont really count as they barely have any pin head in it (8 was actually a totally different film some distributor picked up and some how thought editing in 7 mins of pin head would make it a hellraiser….)

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