It's hard to believe, but the original Anaconda was released in theaters over 11 years ago. This trashy yet fun movie envisioned a ragtag group of celebrities including Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Eric Stoltz, Jon Voight, and Owen Wilson doing battle with a giant anaconda. The film became a cult success, and in 2004, an equally entertaining sequel came out. While lacking the star power of the original, Anacondas: Hunt for the Blood Orchid had a nice B-movie ambience and rather ludicrous visual nods to the classic film The African Queen.
Now it's 2008, and Sony Pictures has acquired two new sequels, apparently produced back-to-back, for home video release. Of course, the Sci-Fi Channel, always eager to air bad creature feature movies, has already shown the first of this venomous pair of movies, Anaconda 3: Offspring, and now it gets an uncut R-rated go-round on DVD.
So, does Anaconda 3: Offspring have the same goofy B-movie charm of the previous entries in the series?
Anaconda 3: Offspring is by no means unwatchable, but it lacks the humor of its predecessors and feels too similar to the dozens and dozens of other killer creature flicks that have been produced over this past decade. By this point, just about every scary-sounding snake has slithered into its own film franchise: Boa, Python, King Cobra, Komodo, Vipers, and so on and so forth. Anaconda 3: Offspring is clearly low budget and offers the same fast-movin' and fake-lookin' snake mayhem that one would expect from movies of this ilk. Nothing more. Nothing less.
The advertised star of Anaconda 3: Offspring is the Knight Rider himself, David Hasselhoff. Here, he plays Hammett, a mercenary called in to take out a pair of 60-foot anacondas that have escaped from a research facility. It seems that a wealthy businessman (played by genre vet John Rhys-Davies) has been funding research into the blood orchids of the last film - the only connection offered here to the first two movies - and rather stupidly antagonizes the giant snakes in his captivity with a flashlight, initiating their frenzied escape. Hammett and his ragtag crew roam around the wooded wilderness around the facility hunting the two snakes, accompanied by Amanda (Crystal Allen), a herpetologist responsible for the creation of these genetically enhanced killing machines. Oh, and one of the anacondas is pregnant - so of course time is of the essence in their hunt.
Fans of Hasselhoff will probably be disappointed in the sense that he really isn't in this film as much as you might expect. The Amanda character is the true heroine and receives much of the film's focus. Both Allen and Hasselhoff deliver okay performances. They have a tendency to overact, but hey, it's a cheap horror movie. Who's keeping score?
As I said earlier, there isn't much here that distinguishes Anaconda 3: Offspring from the many other similar snake-themed movies out there. Nothing much except the gore is a bit more pronounced. According to the back cover art, this movie is Rated R "for bloody violence," and they're not kidding. There's a surprisingly large amount of it. At times, in fact, Anaconda 3: Offspring feels more like a cheap slasher movie than a Saturday afternoon creature feature. This bloody violence tends to fall into two categories: halfway decent and occasionally elaborate make up, and completely fake-looking CG blood spurting during anaconda attacks. Because of this gore, the film lacks a sense of humor that's much needed. The Hasselhoff character provides a little, but it doesn't really work successfully and isn't enough.
Rent it, if you're interested.
Anaconda 3: Offspring is given an anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen presentation. The image is okay - but I thought details could have been sharper throughout. Otherwise, there didn't seem to be any major visual defects.
Two audio tracks are present here: an English language Dolby Digital 5.1 and a French language Dolby Digital 2.0. Not surprisingly, the English language track is the default setting. It sounds very rich, and outdoors scenes offer a dynamic soundscape of nature and sound effects.
Subtitles are also available in English and French.
Sony is traditionally generous when it comes to trailers, and this disc is no exception. A Previews gallery offers up trailers for Anaconda: Trail of Blood, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, Anaconda, Zombie Strippers, Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach, Tortured, The Lazarus Project, Linewatch, Moscow Zero, Resident Evil: Degeneration, Boogeyman 3, Vacancy 2: The First Cut, The Grudge 3, The Devil's Chair, Termination Point, Deep Winter, Felon, The Art of War II: Betrayal, The Fall, and Buried Alive. In addition, commercials for the blu-ray disc format and fearnet.com are included.
All that advertising is it for extras, however. Nothing related to Anaconda 3: Offspring is made available on this disc.
Sheer silliness from start to finish, Anaconda 3: Offspring delivers - and, of course, fails to deliver - about what you'd expect from a killer snake movie that debuted on the Sci-Fi Channel. There's a little more gore, perhaps, than usual, and a little less David Hasselhoff than the cover art would have one believe. Rent it, if you're interested. Considering there's an Anaconda: Trail of Blood movie on the horizon, I'd suggest holding off on buying this if you're a collector. Something tells me an Anaconda boxed set will probably be offered after this film's sequel comes out.