107 min., 1972
Written by Gary Crutcher
Directed by William Grefé
My rating: ★★
Lovers of snakes, stay as far away as possible.
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We meet our “hero,” Tim, as he is walking through the Everglades. He walks by a rattlesnake that decides to bite him. Stopping, he sits down and asks the snake, “Now why did you do that?” We find out that that is his pet snake Stanley and that Tim has a whole bunch of snakes. Not really a collector as much as a snake hoarder, but he really does love each one, especially Stanley and its mate Hazel. People come and go from Tim’s place so we can learn about him. He is a Seminole Indian, he fought in Vietnam, and his father died while he was away. Is any of this really important? Not really.
He supplies a doctor with snake venom and a stripper (who looks like she’s in her 80s) with snakes to dance with, always saying to take care of them. After we learn all about Tim and his relation with snakes, we learn that “some fag fashion designer in Paris publicly stated that animal skins is in now” so Tim must deal with the hunters and their boss. Things start to go out of control and Tim starts to lose his mind, leading to the over-the-top (and extremely harsh to snake lovers) finale.
Before I get into anything about acting or effects, I would like to make public my feeling on animal cruelty in movies. Understanding back in the ’60s through the ’80s that animals in film were there for, more or less, a prop. So killing a snake, pig, bird, etc. was nothing to be worried about, until animal lovers started to raise their voices and shout at the top of their lungs “no more.” The film industry then stopped killing animals for the sake of a movie. I whole-heartedly agree that animals are not just props and should not be killed for a film. I hear a lot, that if you buy or watch a movie that has cruelty in it, that you are saying it’s okay or promoting violence toward animals. I strongly disagree. If you watch any classic movie, you will see some very bad things, but which at the time were completely fine. Racism, sexism, animal cruelty, and even child labor are all present. Does this mean that every time you watch a classic movie you are saying “racism rules”? No, you are watching a product of the times, and the past should not be erased from existence. Just learn what went wrong, and change.
Now the actual review begins.
The acting in this movie is total shit. The only actor that does a half way decent job is Chris Robinson; he really pulls off the love for snakes (sometimes too well) and Tim’s descent into madness with a strong sense of reality. Everyone else is just rotten, going way too far or not even trying. One actor cannot save a movie and this is proof.
The special effects are okay for the time and kept to small doses. Little snakebite marks and some pyrotechnics is about all there really is. Then there are the reality effects. It’s really hard to judge what’s a good effect here. How do you compare a snake getting shot with a shotgun when it is getting shot with a shotgun? Is it a good effect? Well, it definitely is getting shot, so the reality effects are great…I think?
The use of real animals is always a plus in my book. All of the snakes are extremely beautiful to look at, and there are a bunch of different ones. You can’t beat a bunch of snakes in a pool, swimming around attacking someone, or when Tim is going into the doctor, Stanley is resting his end on the car door and looking like a sad dog wanting to go with its master. CG would just fuck it all up. So, top marks on the use of actual animals.
This plot is of the usual animal revenge one, but with the spin of Tim helping out the snakes, killing anyone that does harm to any snake. Not just Tim’s snake, but any snake. It’s kinda nice to see animals getting revenge on assholes, fully deserving of death or not. The other part of the plot is Tim’s madness, which is handled very nicely.
In the end, the movie is only worth watching if you don’t care about snakes and are looking for a way to waste about a hour and forty-five minutes of your time with bad acting, a really bad fight scene, and some very bad jokes.Have You Read...?