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Film / Anaconda

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"People go up river, big snake is very hungry. Guess what happens."
— The NZ Listener's twelve-word review of Anaconda

Anaconda is a 1997 monster movie with an All-Star Cast ranging from Owen Wilson to Jon Voight to Jennifer Lopez to Ice Cube on the hunt (in their own various ways) for the eponymous giant snake. Largely notable for Jon Voight as Paul Serone, chewing up scenery with a far greater appetite than any serpent could muster. Frank Welker did the titular beast's vocal effects.

There were three sequels which oddly enough Arc Welded itself across three movies:

  • Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004): Which had a company sending a team into Borneo to find a flower that was supposedly the fountain of youth. Not surprisingly they have to contend with the numerous anacondas to get it.

  • Anaconda 3: The Offspring (2008): In which one of the anacondas was captured and experimented on to find out its longevity. It escapes, breaks out its mate and goes on a rampage (made more deadly due to the fact that these anacondas have spear tails from the experiments... no we're not making that up), some mercenaries are sent to get it back. Notable for starring David Hasselhoff.

  • Anacondas: Trail of Blood (2009): Which continues where 3 left off. The offspring of the previous anaconda is found and used to help make the flower. The anaconda breaks out once again while the employer from the last movie sends more mercenaries after the scientist who took the anaconda for his own to get the fountain of youth serum. All the while a previous character from the last movie is looking to destroy it. Yeah its just as confusing and convoluted as it sounds. Oh, and the snake can regenerate in this one.

The latter two movies were direct-to-video, and all three sequels are considered worse than the original. A fourth sequel (Lake Placid vs. Anaconda), a crossover with Lake Placid, was released in 2015.

"Starred" in a RiffTrax Live show on October 30, 2014.

Has nothing to do with the Nicki Minaj song.

These films provides examples of:

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  • Affably Evil: Zig-zagged all the way to Hell and back. While Serone is Obviously Evil, the movie plays with the question of whether he is this or Faux Affably Evil. His Graceful Loser wink near the end doesn't clear matters, either.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Oh so very much, all in the name of the Rule of Scary. Among other things:
    • Anacondas are found in South America, not Borneo (on the other side of the world).
    • Anacondas get huge, but they spend the majority of their time in the water, only going on land if necessary. Water provides the buoyancy to allow them to grow massive.
    • The opening title crawl claims that anacondas grow up to 40 feet in length. While there are anecdotal accounts of anacondas (& other large constrictor snakes) growing up to 40 feet or longer which is probably what this claim is based on, most herpetologists consider this implausible note ; there are reputable claims of anacondas growing up to 26 feet long, and an anaconda skin recovered from the Brazilian jungle reportedly measured 32.8 feet, but 10-15 foot snakes are far more common. Scientists believe that claims of even larger snakes may originate from skins and other remains that were stretched or distorted when preserved as well as general exaggeration and/or misidentification (some of the aformentioend claims get rather ludicrous, describing snakes of up to sixty feet or even over a hundred feet). There is at least one species of prehistoric snake which did grow that large, Titanoboa, but it went extinct about 58 million years ago note .
    • They do not move at the speed of a cheetah in chase. They can strike that fast, but not chase things that fast, even in water.
    • Folklore and anecdotes aside, there are no verified cases of anacondas consuming humans, although a snake 30-40 feet in length would certainly be capable of doing so.note  It is highly unlikely that they would actively stalk humans, though, especially after encountering life-threatening resistance each time.
    • They do not eat multiple preys the size of a human being, one after the other. After consuming a meal like that (which can take hours), the snake will find a secure location where it will remain immobile for months to digest its food. (Though the film may be playing that straight since there is more than one anaconda.)
    • They hiss, but they do not squeal/roar.
    • They certainly do not regurgitate their prey just so they can hunt again out of sheer sadism. They sometimes do this for safety purposes, such as when they are threatened by a predator and they can't afford to be lethargic by having such a big meal in their stomach, or if they find their meal is too big to eat.
    • The faces of the movie anacondas look more like the faces of vipers and other venomous snakes than actual anacondas or other pythons because the former look more intimidating.
    • Though some snakes have been known to do otherwise, anacondas don't swallow their prey while it's still alive. Studies have shown that constrictor snakes (including anacondas) are able to recognize a prey's heartbeat, and don't stop squeezing them until they feel it stop, and then they swallow it.
  • Asshole Victim: Even though Paul Serone's death is painful, he absolutely deserved every last second of it for being a massive prick to everyone around him.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Danny Trejo's nameless poacher in the opening is attacked by an Anaconda intent on eating him. When it corners him at the top of the boat's mast, he shoots himself to prevent it from digesting him alive.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The Anaconda would be the most logical choice as the main villain and kills the most people, but Serone manipulated everyone to capture the snake and murdered a fair number of people for profit himself. Also, the snake is just an animal acting according to its nature (or at least nature as it exists in the film), and is not truly evil.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The team leader is knocked unconscious by a poisonous wasp near the beginning of the film and remains in bed for much of the remainder. He eventually reappears to fight off Paul Serone, who was about to kill the others for costing him the Anaconda's prize by killing it.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Subverted. Danny Rich, the Token Black guy, is one of three survivors.
  • British Stuffiness: Westridge is a classic 'nineties movie Brit — posh, stuffy, slightly snide and faintly ridiculous.
  • Celebrity Paradox: An Ice Cube song is heard on the radio. The one listening to the song is Danny Rich, the character played by Ice Cube.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Serone set up one of his partners to die (as seen in the prologue, but we don't learn this til later), then cheerfully betrays his other original partner. The people on the boat? Them, too.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The Anaconda's killing method is downright horrific and Serone's Breaking Speech hurts matters; Snakes Are Evil is certainly at play here. Dying at its hands according to one expert involves being constricted by the snake's coils so hard that eventually your bones break and your veins burst. That is if you are lucky like Westridge. If not, You will be slowly and painfully Eaten Alive afterwards, to be slowly digested or spit out again.
  • Dead Star Walking: An odd variation. Despite Eric Stoltz getting fourth billing and (at least at the time of release) being the movie's best-known actor after Jon Voight, Steven gets taken out of action fairly early on, and while he technically survives until the end, he has so little impact on the rest of the plot that he might as well have been killed. Unless you count the aforementioned Big Damn Heroes moment. Serone would have killed the last two surviving members of the film crew otherwise.
  • Determinator: Paul Serone has one objective on his mind: capture an Anaconda and sell it to a rich buyer. He will do anything and sacrifice anyone to achieve that goal, even after he is presumed dead.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Even if Serone had caught the snake, there was no way he could have kept it alive and transported it.
  • Due to the Dead: Subverted. Serone was a former priest, so he holds a eulogy for a recently deceased crew member after the Anaconda devours him in front of everyone. However, his prayer is so half-hearted and insincere that he just comes off as a prick instead, especially since Serone is directly responsible for the guy's death and his weeping girlfriend is sitting right next to him.
  • Dwindling Party: The cast gets picked off by the Anaconda one by one. It turns out that Serone had set this up from the start; the crew were his bait for the snake all along.
  • Eaten Alive: Rather contrary to how real Anacondas behave, the one in this film seems to eat its prey still living after constricting them for a short while. Serone even gets spit out and has just enough energy left to wink at the heroine.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Serone has no issues killing women.
  • Evil Poacher: Paul Serone is a Paraguayan former priest who decided to become a snake poacher in the Amazon instead, capturing them for rich clients. It is revealed that he has been manipulating the whole crew from the beginning. He was using them to capture the Anaconda.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Subverted. The tied-up Serone is about to be murdered by a vengeful Denise because he let the Anaconda eat her boyfriend, and he seems willing to accept his impending death. He gives her some advice on never looking your victim in the eye. He is just using it to catch her off-guard and strangle her with his thighs.
  • Fanservice: Very early on in the movie, there is a scene of Jennifer Lopez in a see-through slip with nothing on underneath.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Serone can be very personable when it suits his purpose.
  • For the Evulz: The opening scroll implies that the Anaconda itself is sadistic, as it regurgitates its prey just for the pleasure of hunting and killing something again. It actually does this in the climax with the other villain Paul Serone, and he is still alive after having been devoured.
  • Graceful Loser: Oddly, Serone after he has been eaten. He engages in some friendly Gallows Humor when the anaconda regurgitates him for a moment, winking at the protagonists.
  • Greed: Serone wants to take the Anaconda alive so he can sell it. He doesn't care how many people have to die for him to capture it.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: Jennifer Lopez is seen firing a bolt-action rifle in semiautomatic fashion. In reality, that kind of rifle requires you to manually eject each round, after each trigger pull. Serone is seeing actually doing this, with the same gun, moments later.
  • Hazardous Water: The Amazon water is downright lethal; besides a giant man-eating reptile making it hazardous to even move in, the characters also mention various other nasties that could attack a swimmer, like parasitic fish and poisonous wasps.
    Gary: There's something down there.
    Serone: I know.
    Gary: No, I really mean it.
    Serone: I really mean it too.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Westridge distracts the Anaconda, so Terri and Danny can get back to the boat safely.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: After Serone tries to feed a bunch of people to the biggest Anaconda to capture it, the Anaconda escapes from its restraints and pursues him instead, eating him whole.
  • Honey Trap: Terri tries one of these on the manipulative Serone, who by then has pretty much taken over the whole expedition. Double Subverted, as it is so obvious (she has shown nothing but contempt for him up to that point) that Serone knows immediately that they are trying to distract him to knock him out. He catches them and kisses her anyway, but gets knocked out by a second guy, whose involvement he didn't foresee.
  • Hungry Jungle: Going to a rainforest can very easily result in getting devoured by anacondas.
  • Impending Doom P.O.V.:
    • Played straight in the opening, with the Anaconda pursuing Danny Trejo's nameless character around his boat, shown from its own POV.
    • Played with in a later scene, as the looming creature coming after Gary Dixon and Denise Kalberg turns out to be a wild boar, not the snake. She would turn up later.
  • Instant Drama, Just Add Tracheotomy: The team leader puts on some scuba gear and gets in the water to fix the motor, but is stung by a poisonous wasp which blocks his throat. He is quickly hoisted back on board and saved by Serone, who performs an impromptu tracheotomy. It is later revealed that Serone staged the entire incident to manipulate the crew to follow him to the Anaconda's feeding grounds and serve as bait.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Westridge. He may be an ass when it comes to shooting a documentary, but he is also very protective of the crew.
  • Just Desserts: Paul Serone gets eaten by the same Anaconda that he was hunting for most of the movie, and to make it even more karmic, this is right after a failed attempt to feed two of the heroes to the giant snake.
  • Kill It with Fire: In the climax, they try to kill the largest Anaconda by setting it on fire after it is trapped in a factory chimney. This ends in a bit of Infernal Retaliation, as it still goes after them while on fire, before it slinks away in the water. Even that doesn't kill it, and it takes a pick-axe to the skull for the Anaconda to ultimately die.
  • Large Ham: Jon Voight. Doubles up with Evil Is Hammy.
  • MacGuffin: The objective of the expedition is to film a documentary about a native tribe. They are not seen until the very end, and are about as interchangeable as a pot of gold.
  • Male Gaze: Serone's, er, lustful?, glances at Terri will freeze your blood. He is that creepy.
  • Mirror Character: Serone gives Denise some friendly advice on murder. Then he promptly breaks her neck. His method of execution parallels the other villain of the film, the anaconda. They are both vicious, relentless predators who seem willing to pursue their prey to the ends of the Earth.
  • Mouth Cam: Serone eventually meets his end to one of these, as the Anaconda eats him alive.
  • Murderous Thighs: Serone provides one of the rare male examples of this trope, showing that he and the anaconda aren't so different.
  • The Mutiny: The crew eventually figures out what Serone is up to. He quickly nips this in the bud by presenting a gun and later bitchslapping Westridge around when he shows even a hint of insubordination. He is successfully overthrown in a later attempt.
  • Neck Snap: Bizarrely, the Anaconda uses this on its first victim.
  • Never Bring A Knife To A Gunfight: At one point, Ice Cube hilariously brandishes a pocketknife, as if he is going to use it against the gun-wielding Serone. He clumsily loses the knife anyway, a few seconds later.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When the crew successfully knocks out Serone, they suggest throwing him in the river and leaving him to die. Terri, however, suggests that they should just tie him up. Leading up to Denise who, when about to execute a tied up Serone, supplies him with the knife to escape when he gets the drop on her and kills her.
  • The '90s: Painfully apparent with female cast members' looks: dark plum lipstick combined with overly-pale foundation, dry, frizzy hair (dyed red hair with a blonde fringe a la Geri Halliwell), big blousey shirts and shorts etc.
  • Noisy Nature: The Anaconda on occasion hisses, but if injured or in pursuit of our heroes, it will squeal and wail.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: In the opening, the Anaconda attacks a nameless poacher who was piloting a boat full of captured animals before he kills himself. When the expedition later runs into his boat, it is completely empty, with not a sign of life. They investigate, only for nothing to happen until a guy who got lost is picked off without anyone but Serone noticing.
  • Obviously Evil: Paul Serone is a creepy, suspicious guy from the start and awfully handy with killing things, but no one suspects him of any ulterior motives until he has already put himself in charge. Jon Voight does everything but cackle with an Evil Laugh or twirl a mustache.
    Michael J. Nelson from the Rifftrax edition: Does this guy have to grow a handlebar mustache or tie someone to the railroad tracks? He's EVIL!
  • River of Insanity: The search for the Amazonian tribe doesn't go quite as planned....
  • Sinister Minister: Serone mentions that he was a priest before he decided to become an Evil Poacher. He claims he wasn't even bad at his job, he just wanted to "explore the world"... which apparently involves catching giant, man-eating snakes and feeding people to them.
  • Smug Snake: Paul Serone. In addition to being a Manipulative Bastard, you could probably count the times that smug smile leaves his face on one hand. If you were missing a thumb.
  • Snakes Are Evil: Just in case the audience isn't already unsettled by gigantic snakes trying to eat people, the film asserts that anacondas will regurgitate their still-living prey after swallowing them, just for the malicious pleasure of eating them again. This happens to the human antagonist in the climax.
    "You brought that snake... you brought the devil!"
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Westridge's poshness is sort of a mask for a coarse personality, though.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Gary. His girlfriend "Baby Bird" falls in the water, and he instinctively jumps in after her. However, it becomes apparent this was totally unnecessary, as she has no problem swimming on her own. She makes it back to the boat just fine, while Gary takes several extra seconds to get out of the water, and gets eaten. If only Gary had just thrown out a rope or something, and stayed put...
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The Anaconda seems to find man the tastiest meal, with its feeding grounds even scattered with the dusty remains of human bone. Serone proves himself to be just as determined to catch the Anaconda, using anyone he can as bait.
  • Tail Slap: Too many examples to count. Suffice it to say, the Anaconda uses its tail as a primary weapon almost constantly.
  • We Can Rule Together: Serone suggest to Gary Dixon that they should become partners so he can help him catch the Anaconda. Gary looks forward to getting rich off it and filming the whole thing. He gets bitten for his troubles, with Serone sacrificing him without a second care.
  • With My Hands Tied: The crew ties Serone's hands behind his back, but they didn't count on his Murderous Thighs.
  • The Worf Effect: The Anaconda is established to be a dangerous predator when it makes short work of a black panther.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Serone kills a woman with his Murderous Thighs.
  • You and What Army?: During a verbal spat between Danny Rich and Westridge, the latter makes this retort after Cube told him he could kill him without breaking a sweat. Rich just counter-replies with Your Mom.
  • Your Mom: Said by Danny Rich to Westridge.

    Anaconda 3: The Offspring 

    Anacondas: Trail of Blood 
  • And I Must Scream: The main villain, right after giving himself immortality, gets eaten by an immortal snake and never gets out.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Humorously subverted by one of the characters. The giant snake is bearing down on him and bullets won't stop it, so he pulls the pins out of two grenades and screams, expecting the snake to swallow him and explode...but it just slithers away instead, leaving him to explode by himself.
  • I Gave My Word: When Murdoch has Jackson hostage and successfully forces Amanda and her group to trade a serum for his life, he actually lets them all go and allows them to drive away in a jeep. He gets attacked by an anaconda shortly thereafter.
  • Taking You with Me: Subverted when a Mook faced with a nigh-unstoppable giant snake pulls the pins from his grenade-belt and waits for it to swallow him, so they'll blow up together. Hot on the scent-trail of someone else, the snake slithers right past the guy, who's so dumbfounded that he forgets to throw the grenades away and blows himself up.

Alternative Title(s): Anacondas Trail Of Blood, Anaconda 3 The Offspring