“Is it just me or does the jungle make you really, really horny?”
Long before Samuel L. Jackson grew tired of those mother fucking snakes on that mother fucking plane, there was a different monstrous reptile flick about a snake preying on traveling humans. Journey with me to a time in which the Nintendo 64 was hot shit, Third Eye Blind really wanted something else, and opening windows in the third act of a film couldn’t save you from snakes of any kind: 1997.
TWENTY YEARS AGO (let that sink in), Anaconda squeezed the life out of the world in April of 1997, eventually pulling in $136 million on a $45 million budget. Directed by Luis Llosa, the film employed a dynamite cast that featured Jon Voight, Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Eric Stoltz & Owen Wilson. Centering around a documentary film crew on the Amazon River, Anaconda didn’t fare spectacularly with critics – but there’s a giant snake, so who the shit cares?
A long way from the block, Jennifer Lopez stars as Terri Flores, the director of a documentary about the long-lost Indian tribe, the Shirishamas, on the Amazon River. When her crew’s boat is overtaken by Paraguayan snake hunter Paul Sarone (Voight) in order to hunt and capture the world’s largest snake, Flores and her crew must fight to survive the insanity of Sarone and the wrath of the almighty anaconda.
Garnering six Razzie Awards nominations, Anaconda was widely suggested to be a bad film. However, beloved, highly-regarded and borderline heroic film critic Roger Ebert awarded the film 3 ½ out of 4 stars, calling it a “slick, scary, funny Creature Feature, beautifully photographed and splendidly acted in high adventure style” and teasing that the love story between Voight and the snake brought him to tears several times. The late, great Roger Ebert loved Anaconda. Suck it, haters.
Here are some other fun facts about Anaconda:
- Gillian Anderson and Juliana Margulies were the first choices to play Terri in the film, but they passed due to scheduling conflicts with The X-Files and ER.
- Jean Reno was eyed for the role of Sarone.
- Nominated Razzie’s included Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Voight), Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst New Star (the animatronic snake), and Worst Screen Couple (Voight and the animatronic snake).
- Four of the six Razzie Awards were lost to Kevin Costner and The Postman.
The box office success and popularity among fans led to Anaconda receiving several sequels, one of which is a crossover with the Lake Placid franchise. Though the sequels are each fun in their own right, none would (or could) match 1997’s miracle in quality. It’s to die for.
Will you be watching Anaconda to celebrate its 20th anniversary? What are your favorite snake movies? Ssssound off in the comments and let us know!