A thoroughly acceptable, none-too-serious little horror film that benefited from mixing up-and-comers such as Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson with slumming stars like Jon Voight and Eric Stoltz, 1997's Anaconda hardly cried out for a sequel. Where could the titular anaconda go from there? He's too small a star to go toe-to-toe with Freddy or a Predator, and even the most undiscriminating horror fan would cry foul at simply watching him devour yet another boat full of uncomfortable-looking actors. It took years, but finally, someone remembered the power of the letter "s," thus paving the way for Anacondas: The Hunt For The Blood Orchid. See, instead of one anaconda, Anacondas has more than one. Incredible, but true.
The film also has something called a blood orchid, a rare plant that blooms once every seven years in remotest Borneo, and which may produce the secret of eternal youth, leading to, as one character breathlessly puts it, "the biggest medical discovery in history." Soon, about a half-dozen scientistsmore than would seem necessary for the job, if the film didn't need to feed a few of them to snakesset off in search of the orchid in an unsteady boat captained by the frequently shirtless Johnny Messner, a Han Solo-like river rat with a pet monkey named Kong.
A more dynamic screen presence than most of the cast, Kong earns his keep here. Director Dwight H. Little (Marked For Death, Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home) cuts to Kong whenever he needs to set the mood, perhaps sensing that the monkey can do a better job of conveying fear than the stiff D-listers who surround him. The actors look wet and unhappy, but no one ever seems particularly terrified. This may have to do with the difficulty of acting against nonexistent special effects, but even if the cast had seen the finished product, they would have had a hard time cowering in fear. When the CGI snakes finally arrive, they look like they've just returned from a guest spot on Charmed; if the film had cut any more corners, it would have had to borrow graphics from an old Intellivision game. Look for that in Anacondas 3: The Search For Even More Desperate Actors And Cheaper Snakes.