Snake Island (2004)



Starring William Katt, Wayne Crawford, Kate Connor, and Japan Mthembu

Directed by Wayne Crawford


Ever see the "Whacking Day" episode of "The Simpsons" where the citizens of Springfield plan to go around with clubs in order to beat up all the snakes in town? Well, the final 10 minutes of Snake Island plays out like a live-action version of that episode come to life, only Homer Simpson and his baseball bat have been replaced with William Katt with a cricket club running, tumbling, screaming, and swinging it like someone on a violent LSD trip.

I honestly can’t say that Snake Island is a good movie. When not in total goofball mode the plot is pretty generic. Heck, the biggest name in the film is a guy whose career peaked about 20 years ago. There really isn’t much suspense even when the movie actually tries to be suspenseful. And just look at that atrocious cover art. For crying out loud, there aren’t even any rattlesnakes in the movie! Yet despite all of this I’m actually shocked to say I enjoyed the hell out of Snake Island. I first reviewed Snake Island back in my Creature Corner days and said then that it was one goofiest nature gone amok movies I’ve ever seen and really is one people should seek out if they’re in the movie for such a flick. It remains an undiscovered gem sitting on video store shelves that fans of cheesy b-movies should go out of their way to give a look.

A group of tourists heading to their destination down an African river make a brief stop at "Snake Island", this tiny island that has been virtually abandoned for 30 years ever since the mysterious death of the owner of the island’s only resort. "Snake Island" gets its name because of its large snake population and pretty much the only people currently inhabiting it are a handful of snake poachers. Our group of potential victims include a newlywed couple, a Naomi Campbell-like model, a man-hungry Liz Hurley type, several tour guides, and the Greatest American Hero himself, William Katt, who plays a novelist that from the sounds of things is supposed to be along the lines of Peter Benchley. We can also toss in a Peter Jackson look-a-like as the island’s head snake poacher. They all end up trapped on the island overnight unaware of just how dangerous all the slithering around them will prove to be. It isn’t long before it becomes apparent that the wide varieties of deadly exotic snakes that overpopulate the island have joined forces with only one goal in mind: KILL ALL HUMANS THAT DARE TRESSPASS ON THEIR LAND!

Now for about the first half-hour or so, Snake Island plays out like every other film in this genre. Then, from completely out of left field, the wackiness kicks in big time. Next thing you know, things go right back to being a standard killer snake movie. And then all of a sudden, here we go again. Things constantly jump back and forth from straight-laced nature gone amok movie to intentionally gonzo nature gone amok movie. It definitely keeps you on your toes, not to mention entertained.

Before the end of the movie you will witness the following acts of cinematic insanity:

- Snakes that seem to understand English and take insults personally.

- A screaming fat man spinning around while a dozen or more rubber snakes dangle from his torso

- A scene involving a man’s erection that, well, let’s just say it redefines the term "trouser snake."

- A drunken striptease that inexplicably turns into a drunken naked lesbian make-out session.

- A drunken William Katt getting in on the drunken naked lesbian make-out session. (The moment he starts unbuttoning his shirt is without question the film’s scariest moment!)

- Quite possibly the first time in horror movie history that a late-night skinny dipping scene does not end in carnage.

So many fake scares and scenes involving snakes jumping out at people that it appears to be self-parody.

- Characters being told that even though the island is overrun with poisonous snakes they will be just fine as long as they "stay on the path" because apparently the snakes will not violate the sovereignty of this walkway.

- A dream sequence involving talking cobras that pull a "Three Tenors" by singing an operatic number about why they hate humans.

- Snakes that somehow have the physical capabilities to hide corpses in closets.

- A Darwinian Theory about why the snakes are behaving the way they are that would probably make Charles Darwin spin in his grave.

- An army of snakes vs. two people on a riding lawnmower.

- An all-out serpentine assault on a cabin in which the people inside will quite literally use everything that isn’t nailed down as a weapon to smash them with.

- You’ve just survived an all-out serpentine assault and have momentarily driven the snakes away but they are guaranteed to come back at any moment. Do you really think it would be a good idea to nap until the sun comes up before making your escape from the island?

- And as stated before, William Katt with a cricket bat and protective gear running around the jungle like a madman whacking snakes galore.

I think you get the idea. This movie is nuts!

To the filmmaker’s credit, there are no CGI snakes and to that I say "Thank God!" The snakes shown are either completely real, rubber, or puppets and while it’s usually pretty obvious which is being used in a particular scene it doesn’t really hurt the movie because the film’s tone is so schizophrenic its hard to penalize it for not being completely realistic.

Ironically, the last time I saw William Katt in anything was a pretty lame Made-For-The-USA Network killer snake movie called Rattled. The makers of Snake Island obviously knew this as they actually make an off-handed reference to that movie when Katt’s character lectures the remaining survivors on his "experience with the genre".

However, I wouldn’t be finished with this review if I didn’t state my extreme annoyance with the filmmakers for the cop-out ending where a character who was seemingly killed right before our eyes turns out to be alive after all just so there can be a happy ending. Sorry, but that one made zero sense even in a movie as off the wall as this.

Whether or not you’re someone that would be interested in watching Snake Island can be decided by answering one little question: Did you think the unapologetic goofiness of the last half-hour of Shark Attack 3: Megalodon was absolutely hilarious? If so, then Snake Island is your kind of movie. I'll take this over Anaconda any day of the week.


3 out of 5

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