Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Tara Reid, Jonathan Scarfe, Aaron Pearl, Claire Rankin, Don S. Davis, Genevieve Buechner, Corbin Bernsen, Mercedes McNab
Directed by Bill Corcoran
Distributed by Genius Products
Ever notice that whenever a movie features animals tinkered with on a genetic level for cancer research, it's always a species that's lethal to begin with? It's always a creature that's already got a mouthful of fangs or is highly venomous, and then when the scientists are done messing with its DNA to speed along their cancer research, they always end up making the animal bigger, stronger, deadlier, just in time for it to get loose. It's never ducks or goldfish or koalas or panda bears or something more docile. I’m sure if it were any of those, no doubt the Sci-Fi Channel could find a way to make a mutant nature gone amok movie about it. But until the day comes that we're graced with the Sci-Fi Channel original movie Pandamonium, the likes of Vipers will have to suffice.
Universal Bio Tech has developed a major breakthrough in cancer treatment from the venom of deadly horned vipers. The unscrupulous CEO (Corbin Bernsen, making good use of his patented "I'm a conniving creep in a position of power" voice) had the snakes' DNA altered to accelerate the research, leaving them with a mutant species of extremely aggressive, highly poisonous vipers.
Mean little suckers they are with their horned heads and constantly snapping jaws. Their snakebites appeared to cause about as much blood to fly as a stabbing victim. These snakes can even leap into the air and pounce on people. There were moments where victims would be flailing about with multiple snakes hanging from them looking as if their bodies just sprouted tentacles. They're man-eaters too; don't ask how though. Nasty little buggers, but, hey, if it'll cure breast cancer...
A failed attempt on the part of some individuals to steal the snakes leads to the serpentine devils getting loose into the drainage system and out into the small Pacific Northwestern island community of Eden Cove. The CEO sends in a research scientist to deal with the situation even as he plots with Homeland Security to launch a poison gas air strike on the isle and its unsuspecting populace.
Amongst the unsuspecting populace of Eden Cove is Tara Reid. Her performance here can only be described as positively Tara Reid-ish. She runs a plant nursery and grows pot on the side - rather far-fetched given Reid's real-life straight edge lifestyle. If you're tuning in to see Miss Reid become snake bait, you're going to be sadly disappointed.
Reid's character used to be romantically involved with a local named Jimmy; he joined the military after they broke up and got killed in Iraq. Jimmy's dad is the local doc (the late Don S. Davis), who is in the process of interviewing a young doctor (Raising the Bar's Jonathan Scarfe) new in town who himself just happened to be a friend of Jimmy's. The moment the young doc and stoner plant girl lock eyes for the first time, you just know romance is about to bloom. Somewhere in heaven Jimmy is smiling, or so they probably tell each other.
The vicious venomous vipers waste no time claiming victims, including Mercedes McNab ("Angel", Hatchet) and the only minority couple to make the mistake of venturing out to this otherwise lily white community.
It won't take long before everyone in the tiny town realizes they're under siege by poisonous snakes; the number of snakes seemed to increase or decrease depending on the scene. Things take a bit of a Dawn of the Dead turn with the characters holed up in a singular location trying to keep the snakes out while attempting to formulate an escape plan. It doesn't help when killer snakes are crawling atop a glass ceiling and some dumb ass with a shotgun decides to take a shot at them. However, it does help when you have a jerry-rigged flamethrower at your disposal called a "mongoose".
Get it? Kills snakes ... They call it a mongoose, an animal known for its snake-killing prowess. That should tell you how seriously the movie takes itself. If not, then when someone blasts a snake's head off and another character hands them the headless serpent saying, "now you got yourself a belt" should.
If you're looking for a scary snake movie, look elsewhere. Heck, if you're looking for a good snake movie, look elsewhere. The premise is highly derivative of a billion similar films. You can pretty much figure out who'll live and who'll die, the characters are all of the stock variety, some of the acting is rather dubious, the clunky dialogue rarely rises above perfunctory, and the computer-generated snakes are laughably fake looking; and yet, I kind of liked Vipers. It's a fun, fast-paced slitherfest; total junkfood for the soul that’s easily digested for 90 minutes and then quickly erased from memory. Much like the surviving characters at the end who all laugh and smile as if they’ve completely forgotten about the ordeal they just went through and how many of their friends, family, and loved ones they watched perish.
Vipers is the sort of nature gone amok movie that if it had been made 20-30 years ago, we'd be looking back on it today saying it may not have been a very good movie but we enjoyed it anyway.
3 out of 5
0 out of 5
Discuss Vipers in the Dread Central forums!