Anaconda is a horror film. The plot centers on a film crew for National Geographic, who are kidnapped by a hunter, who is going after the world's largest anaconda, which is discovered in the remote jungle. Though a modest box office hit, the film was critically panned. It was followed by the sequel Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid.
While shooting a documentary about a long-lost Indian tribe (including the legendary Joel Arkhurst), the Shirishamas, on the Amazon River, director Terri Flores (Jennifer Lopez) and members of her crew—including cameraman Danny Rich (Ice Cube), production manager Denise Kalberg (Kari Wuhrer), sound engineer Gary Dixon (Owen Wilson), visionary Warren Westridge (Jonathan Hyde), anthropologist Professor Steven Cale (Eric Stoltz), and captain of the boat Mateo (Vincent Castellanos)—come across stranded Paraguayan snake hunter Paul Serone (Jon Voight) and help him, believing he knows how to find the tribe they are searching for. While trying to free the boat's propeller from a rope, Cale is stung in the throat by a wasp inside his scuba gear, leaving him unconscious. With that, Serone takes command of the boat and the crew. They are then forced to help him achieve his true objective—hunting down and capturing a record-breaking giant anaconda he had been tracking.
Mateo is the first of the crew to be killed by the anaconda, which wraps around him and then breaks his neck near a boat where a poacher (Danny Trejo) had been killed at the beginning of the film. The others try to find him while Gary sides with Serone, who promises if they help him find the anaconda, he will help them get out alive. Later at night, the anaconda attacks the boat. When Serone attempts to capture the snake, it kills and eats Gary, leaving Denise devastated. The survivors overcome Serone and tie him up. When Denise attempts to kill Serone for Gary's death, he gets the edge and strangles her to death with his legs before dumping her body in the river. The anaconda returns and kills Westridge and coils itself around Danny, only to be shot in the head by Terri. An enraged Serone attacks Terri, only to be incapacitated by the newly awakened Cale, who soon loses consciousness again. Danny punches Serone, knocking him into the river.
However, Terri and Danny are soon re-captured when Serone catches up to them. He dumps a bucket of monkey blood on them and uses them as bait in an attempt to capture a second, larger anaconda. The anaconda appears and wraps around Terri and Danny and begins to suffocate them. They are caught in a net by Serone, but the snake breaks free. Serone tries to escape, but the anaconda finally manages to coil around him and suffocate him. Terri and Danny cut their bonds and watch in horror as the anaconda slowly swallows Serone whole. Terri finds a nest of baby anacondas in a building, but the snake arrives and, after regurgitating the still twitching Serone, chases her up a smoke stack. Danny traps the snake by pinning its tail to the ground with a pickaxe. Danny ignites a fire below the smoke shack and burns the snake alive. The burning anaconda is sent flying out of the building and plunges into the water where it sinks. As Terri and Danny recuperate on a nearby dock, the snake appears one final time. Danny repeatedly beats the anaconda with an axe until it is dead.
Afterwards, Terri and Danny reunite with Cale, who begins to revive on the boat. As they float down the river, they accidentally locate the natives for whom they were originally searching. They realize Serone was right and begin filming their documentary as the film ends.
- Jennifer Lopez as Terri Flores
- Ice Cube as Danny Rich
- Jon Voight as Paul Sarone
- Eric Stoltz as Dr. Steven Cale
- Jonathan Hyde as Warren Westridge
- Owen Wilson as Gary Dixon
- Kari Wührer as Denise Kalberg
- Vincent Castellanos as Mateo
- Danny Trejo as Poacher
- Frank Welker as Anaconda (voice)
Gillian Anderson and Julianna Margulies were the first choices for the role of Terri Flores (whose last name was originally Porter), but they passed due to scheduling conflicts with both The X-Files and ER respectively before Jennifer Lopez signed on. Jean Reno was considered to play the part of Paul Serone, until Jon Voight was cast. The filming took place in the mid-spring and summer 1996.
Anaconda received mixed to negative reviews upon its release. Some critics did praise the film's effects, scenery, and tongue-in-cheek humor, but many criticized the acting, "forgettable" or "cardboard" characters, inaccuracies, and "boring" start. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a "rotten" rating of 38%, based on 48 reviews. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 37 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
Roger Ebert awarded the film 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and called it a "...slick, scary, funny Creature Feature, beautifully photographed and splendidly acted in high adventure style. The love story between Voight & the snake brought me to tears several times." Despite the initial reception, Anaconda has since become a cult classic, often viewed as so-bad-it's-good. The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made. Part of the negative reception was the frequent calls from the surrounding houses near the set, complaining of foul smells from Jon Voight. Ice Cube, Krys Stoff, and Jon Voight would disappear from the set to be found in the trailer using marijuana. When returning to the set Jon Voight wouldn't be able to recite some of his lines so they were given to Owen Wilson as nobody cared enough. This ultimately led to the firing of Stoff which angered Ice Cube as he declared in an interview with the Daily Star on April 20 "I almost quit and gave up on that movie because they fired my friend for something I did, I mean he's not even allowed on the set to see me. My agent begged me to let it go and just find a new blunt roller...and I did...but this movie almost didn't have Ice Cube in it because of my everlasting love for weed."
The film opened at #1 with $16.6 million in its first weekend and remained at the top spot in its following week. In total, Anaconda went on to gross $136.8 million worldwide, making it a sizable box office success more than recouping its $45 million budget.
- Anaconda at the Internet Movie Database
- Anaconda at AllMovie
- Anaconda at Rotten Tomatoes
- Anaconda (film) at Wikipedia
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