Anacondas: Hunt for the Blood Orchid DVD Review

It's probably surprising to know that the monster-happy 1950's never brought with them a giant snake movie. Considering a good portion of the population is terrified of them, it should be an easy way to scare an audience. Leave it to the 1990's to provide this service. Along with "Anaconda," the Sci-Fi channel provided us with "Python" and "Python 2." Now in the new millennium, we get another one, "Anacondas."

A pharmaceutical company has discovered a rare drug that could possibly extend a humans life indefinitely. After the initial samples are destroyed, there is no other choice but to head back to Borneo to secure more. With a short blooming season, one that only occurs every seven years, the team must move quickly. Slowing them down is a group of anacondas that have been affected by the mysterious flower through the food chain.

Though the marketing and assorted interviews will have you believe this is a sequel to the 1997 thriller "Anaconda," that's nothing more than a lie. Yes it does have giant snakes that eat people, but there isn't a single mention of any characters, places, or things from the original to be had. It's completely on its own for better or for worse.

There's a distinct lack of anacondas in this film. The giant snakes appear and then disappear in rapid fashion, giving the audience very little of what they came to see. Not until the final moments do you ever get a decent look and even then, the mixture of various special effects techniques just gives them an overly fake sheen that a 6-year old can point out.

This offers up plenty of opportunity to develop the rather mundane set of characters, but there's hardly a believable performance of the bunch. Johnny Messner leads the group through the jungle in hilarious fashion, spouting off terrible dialogue and educating the group on how the oversized mutants feed. Why would you provide information like that to a group who just watched their friend get eaten alive?

Most of the group simply exists as food (not surprisingly) and of course all means out the jungle are cut off. Yes, it's incredibly predictable and clichÈd including the one character that doesn't seem to get the fact that giant snakes are out there to eat him. It's also obvious that some of the roles were meant to be filled by a returning cast as we get an Ice Cube and Jennifer Lopez look-alike. Neither adds much to the film.

This is nothing more than a direct-to-video feature that somehow managed to nab a theatrical run. Ignoring some of gorgeous photography of Fiji, that's exactly how this one feels. The paltry $25 million budget means the snakes do look a little better than some of the tripe on video store shelves, but that means very little. There's some mild entertainment to be had here, but only if you're a huge fan of this genre. (** out of *****)

To satisfy everyone, there is a 2.40:1 widescreen and pan & scan (yuck) transfer on the same side of the disc. This is a disc all over the place, ranging from near high-definition broadcast quality in one frame, to an overly grainy, despicable mess the next. There isn't a scene in the movie that doesn't vary wildly from one moment to the next. Things do seem to pick up later on, but then the black levels fall off and the transfer fails in that manner too. (**)

Home theater buffs will have some fun here, certainly more than their video counterparts. Rain has never sounded this good, mostly due to some fantastic separation in the rear channels. Countless moments, including a great scene in a cave, showcase spectacular movement in all the speakers. The slithering snakes offer up a few moments to be proud of, though the bass is a bit light throughout. Ambience is also key to any jungle movie, and you'll hear plenty of animal calls when there is a quiet moment. (****)

Extras are sparse; though it's amazing we got anything at all. "Creating Anacondas" looks at how the snakes were created and there are a few surprises. Most of this featurette is taken up with interviews and behind the scenes footage is minimal. Eight minutes of deleted/extended scenes are tossed on and all they did was add to the agony of the actor's performances. Add in a few trailers for upcoming features and you've seen everything. (**)

Good creature features are so hard to come by these days. Their heyday has long past and stuff like this proves it. It does nothing special, follows all the usual plot points, and tosses in some useless characters as feed. If you go in expecting anything else, then it's simply your fault.

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