Let’s go back to a slightly older time, not implying it was a better time per se, just saying that back in the late 90s – early 2000s you still could make B-movies about snakes with good effects and released widely in theathers, and this is true for Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Archid.
Though worry not, even if you didn’t see the original Anaconda (which we covered sometimes ago), this is a stand-alone sequel with a completely different cast and a completely separate plot, with directing duties handled to Dwight Hubbard Little (Marked For Death, Free Willy 2, Halloween 4).
Aside from proving than indeed what it’s old it’s eventually new again, there’s the fact that today this kind of sequel would never reach theathers, heck, not even the first/original movie would.
The plot this time concerns a group of researchers sent on an expedition in Borneo by a pharmaceautical company to seize the titular “Blood Orchid”, a flower which they believe can be used to create a sort of “fountain of life” potion or whatnot. But as the group finds out, the Borneo is also home to extremely big anacondas, which apparently have reached that gargantuan size due to an increased longevity brought upon by the blood orchid being part of the food chain there.
Orchids made snakes bigger and older, basically. Wonder if it works on monkeys.
I will admit that this movie already has the odds stacked against it, with the absurd and surprising star studded cast of the first Anaconda giving way to…. a quite respectable one, with less recognizable faces (with exception like Morris Chestnut of Boyz N The Hood fame and Matthew Madsen, the latter also going from the live-action Dead Or Alive videogame movie from a role in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet), but still, quite solid performances.
The characters mostly tend to fall on the stereotyped side and often can be annoying (the more likeable character is the borneo pet monkey Kong, not even joking), but aren’t total dumbasses and can actually make some sensible decisions or manage to survive the odds. Okay enough for the purposes of this kind of movie, honestly a bit better than usual, we had a lot dumber and cannon fodder-prone characters in movies about giant animals bent on eating them.
The story it’s cliched in a different way but also is lower effort stuff overall, with a similar climax despite the plot starting out from technically different premises. Works to sustain itself for its 90 minutes runtime, nothing stellar, not that anybody expect, but it’s a weaker narrarive than the first movie, all thing considered, as it’s hard to escape comparisons with the original, despite being just another movie about anacondas eating people in the jungle.
This time the snakes are (almost completely) CG, none of that great mix of animatronics and CG the first one had, a sign that the budget clearly wasn’t as big this time around.
Still, i’ve seen so many 2010s and 2020s monster movies that would kill to have the same level of quality for the monster’s CG, or in terms of production value and cinematography, and while the anaconda attacking are computer animated entirely, the effects for the rare shots of dead, cut open anacondas are practical, gory enough and still look pretty dang good.
But still, even though it’s arguable not as good as the first Anaconda (yeah i said it) in pretty much every way, Anacondas: The Hunt For The Blood Orchid it’s still a decent killer snake flick, in itself, delivers in entertaiment and has some quite satisfying moments, like the main anaconda getting dosed with gasoline and then set on fire from the inside by a flare, resulting in “aesplosion”.
Despite the fairly negative reviews, it was a financial success, so Anaconda III did happen 4 years later…. not in theathers though.