Friday, September 20, 2013

3. Snakes on the Silver Screen

Because many of us are already squeamish about the squamous, snakes are ready-made ingredients for many horror entertainments.  There have been numerous films that either include them as props or feature them in some monstrously exaggerated form.  Advancements in movie special effects allowed snakes to take center stage, especially after 1995, when computer generated imagery or CGI became increasingly prevalent in a variety of films. 

Anaconda (1997) is an early example of the application of this technology, and there have been numerous imitators since.  Overall, CGI techniques have been a boon to the snake monster movie industry.  Live snakes have proven to be temperamental and unreliable actors, possibly because of their poor enunciation and limited dramatic gestures. With CGI the possibilities for serpentine mayhem seem unlimited.

An entertaining list of recent and past snake films may be found at .  (I will always have a special place in my heart for last year’s Piranhaconda, produced by none other than Roger Corman.)  You can never have too many horror movies with snakes.

Snake Movie Sketch
It seems an awesome movie could be made that includes a meteorite, a giant radioactive snake, evil criminals, and an overly ambitious police detective.  Freudian movie critics might have a field day with this film, were it ever made, but this is not about repressed sexuality—much—but about truth, justice and the American way.

A meteorite crashes not far from the home of a young boy.  Since the movie is initially devoid of any adults, he investigates the site alone and recovers a large glowing egg from among the smoking rock fragments.  It later hatches into a glowing, radioactive space snake.  Being quite small, and often very still, the boy’s parents assume the infant space snake is a borrowed glow-in-the-dark toy. The child is uninformative about its origins. 

Because of its strange bioluminescence, the snake serves at times as a nightlight—albeit one that glides around the room a lot—and a bedside reading lamp.  The boy feeds the snake bugs and small frogs, and protects him from an inquisitive cat.  The boy and the space snake grow up together, gradually forging a telepathic link.

Eventually the snake escapes, but lingers protectively in the neighborhood.  Strange things begin to happen.  Increasingly larger creatures begin to disappear from nearby yards, beginning with the annoying cat.  A dog that chased the boy on his bike one day mysteriously vanishes.  On Halloween night, the local bully is traumatized by what appears to be a gigantic glowing green serpent.  Older now, the boy begins to connect these events and understand their significance.

As a young man he goes off to the police academy and eventually becomes a detective.  He is astonishingly successful in ridding the streets of dangerous criminals—often the bad guys are eaten even before their pretrial hearings.  There is perhaps some concern about due process and the right to a trial, but the quiet, invisible work of the space snake certainly gets the wheels of justice turning more swiftly.  His colleagues in the department are envious of the young detective’s success.  He is understandably reluctant to tell them about his partner in crime-fighting.

Then one day, the young detective is unjustly passed over for a promotion.  Human nature and snake nature being what they are, the detective telepathically commands his serpent partner to do away with his departmental rival.  This is the first of several ruthless actions he takes to advance his career.  Soon not only the police department but the entire city government and local citizens begin to fear him.  He becomes a cold, calculating reptilian tyrant, bent on spreading his oppressive rule by fear.  The glowing space snake, now enormous and voracious, enthusiastically carries out his master’s evil whims.  

Fortunately for humanity, a junior colleague who is much more sensible, ethical and compassionate—that is, a woman—has determined the source of the evil detective’s power.  She herself has nurtured the hatchling of a meteorite crash since her early childhood, a large, even more enormous, glowing radioactive space eagle.  (Sort of like the “la Carcagne” in the 1957 film The Giant Claw, only more patriotic.)

In the climactic showdown between good and evil, the depraved detective and his giant space snake are carried off in the giant talons of the space eagle to her secret nest, where they are presumably devoured. The earnest young professional becomes a super heroine, and inaugurates a new movie franchise.  (This movie only needs a name.)

Hey, it’s Friday night.  Nothing has to make sense.

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