Terribly Awesome!: Anaconda

Just another Manic Monday? Wish it was Sunday? Nothing beats a case of the Mondays like a camp-out. And we ain't talkin' s'mores, sing-a-longs and psycho killers. We're talking about getting in touch with your guilty pleasure zone. That's right, every Monday we'll be bringing you the best of the worst. It's gonna be awesome - and terrible! - all at the same time.

Photo: movieposter.com

It's clear that Hollywood has no problems cashing in on our fears. I don't just mean fears of vampires, zombies and ax-murderers. I mean spiders and bats and crocodiles and sharks too. So it's no surprise that they took our fears of slithery snakes and amplified them, literally, in 1997's Anaconda. Because, y'know, why not make us fear the waters of the Amazon River? So much more logical than the monster under the bed.

In Anaconda, Terri Flores (Jennifer Lopez) and her camera crew are filming a doc on the river, along with snake hunter Paul Sarone (Jon Voight), pretty much in the middle of Nowheresville, South America. Totally safe and sane, right? It's all fine until one day, filming and wading through the water, cameraman Danny (Ice Cube), Sarone and captain Mateo (Vincent Castellanos) step into viscous snake territory. While Sarone and Danny make it back fine, Mateo gets "held back" along the way and yes, becomes a snake snack. Failing to realize the stupidity of their idea to film a doc stranded in the Amazon, encircled by an man-eating anaconda, they decide to stick around make the snake the star of the doc instead. Smart, right?

It's become a film infamous for its cheesiness and even revered for it. I mean, what could be cheesier than a film crew getting picked off one-by-one in a swampy jungle by a venomous snake as they over-dramatize terror and continue to make stupid, ill-fated decisions? Well, maybe changing the setting to a plane...

Why it's terrible:

The snake
It's so fake. Maybe he'd pass for a hand puppet, not so sure about a man-hunting, blood-thirsty snake.

Photo: source unknown

The acting
With a cast primarily of recording artists and unknowns, what did you expect? Of course, not everyone sucks but when a tense scene is punctuated by an unheard of actor in accent with wide eyes and a straight face saying "It's deadly," you can't help but laugh.

The little snake
What the hell. Seriously. A little wormy snake attached itself to Warren's finger and for some reason beyond logic, he can't use his other hand to pry it off. No, he needs someone else to do it.

The greasy dude
I just wish our "deadly" Mateo would shower. I know it's the Amazon and I know people get sweaty but J-Lo manages to look perfectly powder-pressed, there's no reason you need stringy, greasy hair draped over your face and a Vaselined body. Please, just jump in the water.

Photo: source unknown

The other greasy dude
This time, I mean Sarone. He's so evil and pervy and disgusting. Yeah, he's supposed to be repulsive but I just can't take it.

Photo: source unknown

Why it's awesome:

The snake
It's hilarious to see everyone run in fear from a rubber hand puppet.

Photo: allmoviephoto.com

The intro
"Tales of monstrous, man-eating Anacondas have been recounted for centuries by tribespeople of the Amazon Basin, some of whom are said to worship these giant snakes.

Anacondas are among the most ferocious--and enormous--creatures on Earth, growing, in certain cases, as long as 40 feet. Unique among snakes, they are not satisfied after eating a victim. They will regurgitate their prey in order to kill and eat again."

So overdone it's the perfect preface to the cheese ahead.

J-Lo before she was J-Lo
This was Jennifer Lopez when we still remembered her as a fly girl. She'd just done Selena and the diva image was far from sight. But then there was Ben and Gigli and "Jenny from the Block" and too much hairspray and mascara. Then she moved into the rom-com genre and just as Marc Anthony was in the midst of a divorce, she began to appear with him. She also hasn't had a hit song since 2007 and before her most recent The Back-up Plan she hadn't been on the silver screen since 2006. Let's just say things looked a lot more promising in 1997.

Photo: allmoviephoto.com

Owen Wilson
Now, unlike J-Lo, since Anconda, Owen Wilson has delivered. Before Anaconda, he teamed up with bro Luke in not-too-shabby Bottle Rocket. OK, so maybe his minor role in this film was only a tiny step up from his spot in The Cable Guy and whole lot less funny, but it's nice to the beginnings of the guy that later rocked it in Zoolander and The Royal Tenenbaums.

Photo: source unknown

Sarone's wink
What? Did that guy just wink? Did the evil perv get swallowed whole by an anaconda then regurgitated then wink at us? Yes, yes, he did.

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