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ANACONDAS: HUNT FOR THE BLOOD ORCHID

SYNOPSIS:
Deep in a Borneo jungle, an extremely rare red orchid – the blood orchid – may hold the key to producing a youth-preserving -and big money making - serum. When a gung-ho group of scientists embark on the treacherous journey into the jungle to harvest the orchid during the rainy season with just two weeks before it disappears again for seven years, they realise that more than the weather and thick jungle separate them from their treasure. The giant anacondas of the region are close to their mating season, and the males are testy, hungry – and deadly. They are larger than normal because they have been eating the orchids as part of their diet…which proves the science, but doesn’t help the scientists.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Filmed in Fiji, finished at Fox Studios in Sydney at the sound and editing facilities, Anacondas is as much fun as it is scary. A perfect date movie, in fact, in the tradition of the great B flicks of Saturday afternoons, when young guys would take their molls to the movies, preferably the back row, and when things got scary on screen, they could be the macho man offering a protective arm, shoulder, hand…to their date. Swoon.

Moving on to modern times, the dates are not that innocent but the movies remain a primary place for dating. Anacondas, a sort of sequel to the 1998 Anaconda (that one set in the Amazon and starring Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Eric Stoltz, Jonathan Hyde, Owen Wilson, directed by Luis Llosa), takes things a fraction more seriously, and does the anacondas a bit bigger. But the aim is the same: a thriller creature feature in which the tension amongst the team in the jungle is used to counterpoint the tension of the deadly snakes.

Snakes make wonderful baddies, don’t they, with their mythic baggage down the ages, their ability to slither in and out of water and or land, their spiritual associations and their extraordinary powers, from the physical to the poisonous. Anacondas harnesses all that, but it also has a decent script in which the characters are (within the context of the genre) pretty well formed, and the main requirement of the director is to keep the pace up and the tension rigid. With terrific locations and top pictures; manageable Fiji stands in for deadly Borneo.)

This time, the cast is lesser known but it’s also a different mood: where Anaconda had a darkly humorous, tongue in cheek feel some of the time (including the famous end-shot with Jon Voight going down the throat of a giant anaconda, winking) this film takes its humour in more traditional form, but it’s a major asset to the film. 

With many Australians involved in production, the film looks and feels different to Hollywood product in a subtle but important way, including the marvellous Nerida Tyson-Chew score. This orchestral work is full of colour and power and invention, without taking us too far from the expectations aroused by the genre.

Director Dwight Little cleverly keeps the snakes well tamed behind the scenes for much of the time: he obviously knows that less is more in this context. He also works the inter-team tension beautifully, to balance the external threat and to give us a decent stab at working out who will die first. You can’t make this sort of movie without a bit of that, can you…

Performances, too, are notable, grounded in reality and (for the most part) kept in check. It’s an entertaining, funny and edgy film that is a good example of its genre and a terrific escape from the grind of daily drudge… therapy on an adrenaline stick.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

SOUNDTRACK

ANACONDAS: HUNT FOR THE BLOOD ORCHID (M)
(US)

CAST: Johnny Messner, KaDee Strickland, Matthew Marsden, Eugene Byrd, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Nicholas Gonzales, Karl Yune, Morris Chestnut

PRODUCER: Verna Harrah

DIRECTOR: Dwight Little

SCRIPT: John Claflin, Daniel Zelman, Michael Miner, Edward Neumeier (story & 1997 screenplay by Hans Bauer, Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stephen F. Windon

EDITOR: Marcus D'Arcy

MUSIC: Nerida Tyson-Chew

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Bryce Perrin

RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 7, 2004

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: February 23, 2005







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