then we could call this mildly entertaining adventure film
a "sequel" to a surprisingly successful earlier movie about
a giant snake. If you felt that Anaconda left some
unanswered questions, however, be warned that the plot of
that film gets dismissed early on as "urban legend." Since
the first film strangely catapulted Jennifer Lopez into
stardom, we only wish that were true. Here's hoping that
if Anacondaseses gets made, Anacondas: The Hunt
For The Blood Orchid will not be so similarly discarded.
on its own with a sssslightly borrowed title, this movie
turns nature into a sssserial killer. Instead of ssssex-starved
teens wandering in the woods, we have money-starved scientissssts
floating down a river in Borneo. A pharmaceutical company
has a lead on a chemical that could possssssssibly be a
fountain of youth. The catch: it comes from the rare blood
orchid, found, naturally, only in Borneo, blooming only
once every sssseven years (apparently all at the same time)
for six months. And they only have two weeks left to
find a sssspecimen!
anybody else hear that hissing?
between giant anaconda attacks that frighten even tigers
in the opening sequence, the film works as a sort of jungle
quest film. The group of scientists prove a diverse but
two-dimensional lot. Because it's also coincidentally the
rainy season, no reputable charter boat will travel upriver.
Luckily, the roguish Captain Johnson (Johnny Messner) will
take them on his rustbucket.
him roguish is too kind. Messner plays Johnson pretty grimly,
with the only twinkle in his eye reserved for his howler
monkey, Kong. It's somehow refreshing, since Johnson tends
to have the most pragmatic view of all the characters. Though
possibly the hero, he doesn't even resort to clever one-liners.
After all, life in the jungle is way too difficult to keep
your ironic distance.
falls to other characters, though most of the time the script's
few chuckles come out of characterization rather than quips.
Some might consider it amusing that the staff geek Cole
(Eugene Byrd) is easily excitable. Then again, he has reason.
Once the anacondas make themselves known, they are a pretty
freaky sight, and at least twice as believable as the CG
hyenas in Exorcist: The Beginning. As I am tired
of horror movies featuring characters that have apparently
never seen any other horror movies, hearing the obnoxious
Dr. Ben Douglas (Nicholas Gonzalez) hum the theme to Jaws
just before getting swallowed by a giant snake comes as
a welcome twist.
if any of us ever get cornered by some sort of mutated freak
of nature, our knowledge of horror films won't really help
our escape. And, just as the characters do in this film,
any friends we have with us will likely stand there screaming
for about thirty seconds before running away as fast as
they possibly can. Maybe you have braver friends.
props go to a fairly clever script, written by several people
including the team that wrote Robocop and Starship
Troopers, Michael Miner and Edward Neumeier. No wonder
it has touches that turn conventions upside down. Almost
every time a character says or does something that smacks
of cliché, another character calls him on it.
direction, too, is serviceable. At the helm, Dwight H. Little
has a decent sense of how to use overhead shots and other
clever reveals without over-using them. Since he worked
on some pretty effectively creepy television shows, like
Millennium and John Doe, it shouldn't be surprising.
On the flip side, the performances have that feel of "we've
got to get it done in a week, people," that often plagues
hour-long television. Everyone is stolid, but not necessarily
that serve as the epitaph on Anacondas: The Hunt For
The Blood Orchid. It's not necessarily that good, but
it's also not that bad. True, it should have gone directly
to video, but there are still bigger wastes of time in theaters