Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004) / Horror-Adventure
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, scary images and language
Running Time: 93 min.
Cast: Johnny Messner, KaDee Strickland, Matthew Marsden, Nicholas Gonzalez, Eugene Byrd, Karl Yune, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Morris Chestnut, Andy Anderson, Nicholas Hope
Director: Dwight H. Little
Screenplay: John Claflin, Daniel Zelman, Michael Miner, Ed Neumeier
Review published August 30, 2004
If there's anything more difficult to believe than that it took three people to write the first Anaconda, it's that it took four to write the superfluous sequel. I suppose the biggest question that comes to mind in hearing that Anaconda would have a sequel is, "Why?" Were there really people clamoring for more fake snake action, particularly with a different cast, crew and locale? There is absolutely no correlation between this and the first film, unless you think that snakes attacking people on a river boat constitutes a sequel. Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid isn't really a worse film than its predecessor -- in fact, it may be a bit better in some ways. However, the lack of recognizable actors, and in particular, the absence of Jon Voight, makes this a much more tedious trip.
The premise of this round concerns the search for the rare Blood Orchid, which only blooms for a few weeks every seven years. These rare flowers have been shown to have regenerative properties that could conceivably allow people who regularly ingest the substances within to live forever. With everyone in the world wanting some, this would be the biggest discovery of all time, so a crew of scientists working for a powerful pharmaceutical company are sent to Borneo to get as many samples as they can before the flower's time runs out. However, luck isn't on their side, as they enter the arena in the middle of the storm season, and the only man who will help them owns a rickety riverboat. On top of this, the wildlife is often deadly, the most lethal of which are the large anacondas that have begun to congregate in the region for their regular mating ritual.
Anacondas is at its heart a very standard horror flick, pitting together a varied cast of eccentrics that get picked off one by one as the film progresses. The question isn't which of the characters will meet their makers, but who will go first and how, and unlike the boat in the story, the writers adhere strictly on their designated course until the very end.
The biggest problem here, as in the first Anaconda, is that there really isn't anything scary about the film at all. We've seen these snakes before and yawned, and while director Dwight Little (Murder at 1600, Marked for Death) chooses to keep them offscreen much of the time, tension is never achieved, and certainly not any element of surprise.
Absolutely nothing new here, folks. Even those few that loved the first film will probably be disappointed -- no J.Lo, no Ice Cube, no Owen Wilson, and no Jon Voight. What is here is large computer generated snakes and yet another silly slasher movie formula to lull you into ambivalence.
The blood orchids of the film's title arise every seven years and grant those who partake of them a chance at everlasting life. Coincidentally, Anacondas has come out seven years after the first entry, but the only result is that you're 90 minutes closer to the end of your own life with absolutely nothing to show for your time spent. Let's hope that the year 2011 passes with no resurrection of this stinker of a franchise to drain away any more of it.
- Followed by two direct-to-TV knockoffs, Anaconda III: Offspring and Anacondas: Trail of Blood.
©2004 Vince Leo