This week, I checked out a rapper-fighting-a-giant-snake flick, and no … it was not Anaconda or any of its four sequels.
But before I get into the flick I watched, let’s process something.
The 1997 flick starring J.Lo (then known by her Christian name of Jennifer Lopez), Ice Cube, Angelina Jolie’s dad (who, as all Mutants know, was in Deliverance) and the guy who got axed from the original Back to the Future, in Hollywood terms could be considered the first in a franchise.
Guys with more money than most of us will ever see wearing $12,000 sneakers could conceivably have $5,000 lunches in Beverly Hills (or would they save money and just do it over Zoom?) and then talk about how to acquire and then monetize the Anaconda “IP.”
Someone, if they haven’t already, might also be inspired to create an NFT based off the crummy CGI (hey — it was revolutionary for 1997) snake as it ate Jon Voigt in the hopes of re-monetizing the digital assets of the film.
Personally, I’d be more interested in an NFT showing the black mamba from the three-and-a-half-star Venom, the third flick Joe Bob ever reviewed, biting off Oliver Reed’s whangdoodle, and if that hasn’t been turned into a GIF yet, someone should get on that. If I remember right, it slithers up his pants and then finds what it thinks is competition and reacted accordingly. There is a REASON all those hunchbacked nuns went crazy in Ken Russell’s oft-banned The Devils for Ollie and we can be 98.76% sure that it WAS NOT the stylish holy frock or the sweet mustache that Ollie was sporting. Rather, it was the caliber of his catapult, so the snake got scared at what it saw in Oliver Reed’s pants, bit him approximately 95 times in the crotch and he fell through a table and started twitching around and died before Klaus Kinski could kick him in the head.
And speaking of people prone to explosive masculine expressions, the flick I watched this week was Carnivorous “starring” the late rap star DMX (“Party Up” is the one I’m most familiar with) who spends most of his 10 minutes of actual screen time scowling at people driving past his porch, swinging a machete in a sugar cane field and acquiring a bazooka from two guys he knows named Willie and Mad Dog that he can use to attack the voodoo-fueled giant serpent with a gator’s head that’s been killing folks around his vicinity.
But Amir Valinia, the top-billed director (his name came before the title card, DMX’s name and everybody else, including the producers), realized that he needed more than 10 minutes of DMX footage and a three-minute bazooka fight at the end to have a whole movie, so after making the introductory credits go for three and a half minutes, he stuck on a prologue without telling us it’s a prologue — no sepia tone or card saying this was happening 30 years ago or anything — to give us some more story beyond “DMX fights snake.”
Basically, Alan, a kid who has an abusive dad, and the girl he likes wander around in the neighborhood outside, break into the house of the local voodoo practitioner and Alan takes a voodoo skull box that has an alligator head glued onto a voodoo-powered black Sharpie. He draws a picture of his drunken dad getting eaten by a giant serpent with an alligator head so rescue his mom from being slapped around, and that drawing summons a giant serpent with an alligator head that eats his dad.
And then we don’t know whether it’s still a prologue or not, because there’s not a card saying “30 years later.” So after seeing Alan’s dad get drug underneath his truck, we meet five box-of-rocks college-aged kids who, after throwing food at each other and engaging in antics expressing various levels of horniness, are going to go to a family camping retreat once Kelly, this nerd guy with glasses, comes back from college to be the fifth wheel.
The character scorecard is thus:
Kelly (the nerd with glasses with the crush on Sam who everyone’s waiting on);
Sam (the good girlfriend);
Curt (Sam’s boyfriend — redneck with the constant trucker hat, even when trying to aardvark his friend’s girl);
Clayton (the meathead jock guy who’s Curt’s friend and OK with sharing his girlfirend);
Ashley (the horny blonde who’s with Clayton)
and Winston (Curt’s high-school age brother who wears ball caps backwards, has a skateboard irrevocably glued to his person and stows away unnoticed for at least six hours in the back of the kids’ truck so Amir can have another person show up in the third act).
After the late-teenage meat pile into their lifted 1980s Bronco, we now realize that the prologue was a prologue when we check back in with older Alan (Louis Herthum, The Last Exorcism) and Becky (Lisa Arnold) who are still living in the same house Alan grew up in post serpent summoning. Becky hears some hissing while she’s searching for some Miracle Gro in the shed, but it just ends up being the voodoo box Alan buried out by the shed 30 years ago or whenever the first scene happened, so she puts some headphones in to drown out the noise, grabs the Miracle Gro, has a brief conversation with Alan and then gets hit by the college kids’ truck while getting the mail. Everyone’s wearing headphones in the truck and not paying attention, so they don’t stop. Alan’s pretty bummed and his art skills haven’t improved, but they’re good enough to re-summon the gatorhead serpent and so it goes after the kids after they reach their really dumpy getaway near a sugarcane field.
DMX plays Nick, aka “Sarge”, the son of the original voodoo guy, who knows everything to do once he hears there’s a serpent loose and can get a bazooka with just a phone call. The folks expected to predictably perish because of their questionable moral actions do, and so let’s just get to:
Best Ordnance: Sarge gets a bazooka and is not afraid to use it.
Best Attack: When the giant serpent sneaks into the house (its voodoo powers give it the ability to open multiple doors), turns all the power off and then gets Clayton (David Pullman) from behind while he and Ashley (Victoria Vodar) are testing the durability of a mattress.
Best Attempt to Deal With an Unruly Work of Art: When older Alan tries to kill his drawing dead by stabbing it with a butcher knife.
Best Way to Worm Your Way into a Gal’s Heart: Kelly (Wes Brown) takes Sam (Lauren Fain) out into the night so they can go smoke some pot and kindle a relationship.
Best Bet to Not Have Received Concealed-Carry Training: Ashley can handle a lot of things, but she sure can’t handle a gun.
At least at an hour and 13 minutes (not counting the end credits), it’s 10 minutes shorter than Things, which could mean the difference between a viewer wanting to stab his or her eyes out or just shaking their head. Including the mandatory half-star deduction because of no garbonzas present, we’re looking at a one-star CGI snake flick. Even the people watching it for the snake aren’t going to like it because the snake has an alligator head.
It’s available under its alternate title Lockjaw: Rise of the Kulev Serpent to stream on TubiTV or on Amazon Prime or the DVD was going $2.31 on Amazon last I checked.
Check it out, maybe?