We’re all stuck in the house, right? There’s never been a better time to dig into those retro movies that you’ve always wanted to watch, but never had the time for. Personally, I'm a bit of a retrophile and tend to watch more older flicks than newer ones. On Fangirlish, you can now look forward to a retro review from me each Wednesday in this column. I’ll be highlighting one throwback movie a week, offering a spoiler-free review of the film, any throwback thoughts from my childhood, and where you can watch the movie yourself. Sit back, relax, and enjoy #WayBackWednesday.
When I was a middle school kid, I begged my mom to take me to see Anaconda. My mother, having quite the aversion to snakes, flat out refused. I had a fascination with snakes and movies with giant snakes, despite being afraid of them. I took to the belief that if you were afraid of something, you should try learning more about it in an attempt to make yourself less afraid.
I’m sorry to say that no matter how many books on snakes I checked out of the library, I never became any less afraid of snakes. I like to look at them. I think they’re pretty, and I enjoy watching giant snake movies. Do I want them crawling anywhere near me? All the NOPE. Stay behind the glass, Nope Rope!
Today’s #WayBackWednesday film was one I rented numerous times as a kid and enjoyed revisiting this week as an adult. I’ll be focusing on all kinds of horror movies this month for October, starting with the highly underrated monster subgenre this week. Check out the trailer for Anaconda and we’ll get started.
As I mentioned before, I had a fascination with giant snake movies as a kid. From the 1994 Jungle Book to Anaconda, I rewatched both multiple times because I was both fascinated and terrified by the snakes in those films. Anaconda tells the story of a research team, looking for a lost tribe of people in the South American jungle. Picking up a “hitchhiker” along the river who has lost his boat, our research team gets more than they bargained for. In their quest for a lost tribe, they encounter the god the tribe worships, the anaconda.
As a kid, what drew me to Anaconda, was, of course, the anaconda, despite my fear of Danger Noodles. As an adult, I got whiplash from all the double-takes I did as the names of the cast flashed across the screen. Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Eric Stoltz (Back to the Future), Jon Voight (Deliverance), Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers), Jonathan Hyde (Jumanji), and not to mention Frank Welker as the voice of the anaconda.
If you’re unfamiliar with Frank Welker, just trust that he’s been in practically every animated feature ever made since 1969. The man is a king among voice actors; you’ve probably not seen him, but you have heard him. The cast is both fabulous and a bit on the random side. It doesn’t matter to me. It’s really fun to watch all of these folks play off of each other in an absurd giant snake movie.
Anaconda had pretty good practical and CGI effects for the time. Admittedly now, 20+ years later, they look a little dated, but honestly, that just increases the appeal for me. I love watching how they use the animatronic snake and then blend the animatronics with CGI shots. Personally, I’m a big fan of practical effects, so of course, the animatronic shots are my favorite, but there are a few CGI scenes that I remember making me jump as a kid.
They were just as fun to watch as an adult, and while I didn’t jump this time around, I still got the same adrenaline rush. It’s nice to know that even in the 20 year gap since the last time I saw this film, the movie can still elicit that same reaction. I think that’s the mark of an effective horror film.
While I do my best to keep my #WayBackWednesday reviews spoiler-free, I feel I should provide this one slight spoiler for Anaconda because of a trigger warning. However, it occurs in the opening scene and does more to set the ominous tone of the movie rather than ultimately playing into the actual plot of the film. Consider this your SPOILER WARNING as well as a TRIGGER WARNING.
In the opening of the film, there is an off-camera suicide. As I mentioned, this scene does not play into the ultimate story of the film, so I don’t feel bad about spoiling it, but I do want to be sensitive to those who might be triggered by suicide. If you want to avoid the scene, you can fast forward to about the 5-minute mark to avoid it altogether.
Want to watch a few more monsters this Halloween? Like giant snakes? Want to watch an incredibly random cast in a horror film that has a seemingly limitless number of sequels and an apparent reboot in the works? If you want any of that, check out Anaconda. It will wrap up all of those things for you.