WRITERS: Jerry Golding, John McCauley
DIRECTOR: John McCauley
STARRING: Sam Chew as Tom
Elisabeth Chauvet as Ann
Dan Priest as Colonel
Ron Gold as Delaney
Al Dunlap as General
Dan Balentine as Pilot
QUICK CUT: A man and woman go off into the desert investigate mysterious happenings in the desert, and run afoul of the military. Oh, and snakes.
Tom - A herpetologist who’s a nice guy, a little sexist, but not too unexpectedly for the time this was made. Smart, loyal, and determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Ann - An unfortunate trope. She’s supposedly feminist, but comes across very often as a damsel in distress, while also trying to be independent and work in the field she wants, instead of being a Holly Homemaker. Points for trying, but it’s a half measure at best.
Colonel Straud - A calm, helpful colonel who is only too eager to extend every courtesy to the doctor and photographer, despite everyone saying he’s an angry grump.
Delaney - The doctor on staff at the military base, who is sweet on Ann, and also genuinely helpful, while having secrets of his own.
TRISK ANALYSIS: Welcome back, Triskelions! This week, it is long past time to dip into a 50 pack, pluck something at random and hope for the best. And this time out, 'the best' is Rattlers, a 70s snake attack movie. We are rolling the dice on this one, and hoping we don't come up snake eyes. I literally just came up with that pun after typing ‘rolling the dice’.
The movie kicks right off with two kids asking their mom if they can go play in the canyon before dinner. After getting permission, the kids quickly proceed to slip and fall to their death at the fans of a group o snakes that bite the shit out of them. Thank you, movie.
After falling into the stock footage, we cut over to a school where Doctor Tom is working on a project that will allow him to send people back into their own past to relive events and learn from their mistakes
Wait, that can't be right...OH he's a herpetologist, and I'm sure he'll be checking out the slithery problem throughout the rest of the movie.
He's got a lot of snakes in storage for various classes, that freak a lot of fellow teachers out, when they're not tapping on the glass, and oh good, one of them escapes.
And bonus, the snake escapes while another professor is playing with his pigeons, so it looks like snack time for snakes!
Fortunately, Tom wanders in, and he goes into full on snake whisperer mode waving his hands around trying to keep it distracted until he can grab the cobra behind its hood.
Meanwhile, Howard is standing there, trying to remain still, and through the magic of poor editing, he seems to keep jumping around.
And I love that once Tom grabs the snake, you never SEE him with the snake, because NO WAY would they let their lead actor handle a real cobra.
Once the snake is safely put away, Tom asks Howard if he's all right, and of course he isn't! He keeps transposing in time and space!
Tom gets called in by the sheriff to confirm the kids are covered in worm sign, and they immediately note that things are off with the mass attack.
We also hear about another victim, an old man, who was attacked by snakes. As the sheriff gets something to drink, Tom asks, "Did you find anything strange about the old man?" "Coffee?" ...What was strange about the coffee?
As Tom goes wandering around the canyon to look for evidence of the snake attacks, a teen pulls in at his house, just in time for dinner...huh. The kids at the start were about to eat dinner. The snake attacks are happening at dinner time!
Everyone, stop eating your dinner!!
Rick heads out to the barn to get his dad for dinner, but all he finds is a den of rattlers that attack him, burn down the barn, and then they invade the house, killing his mother as well.
Following this latest attack, the sheriff calls Tom back in to officially hire him on, but he doesn't know if he can do it...he has classes to teach! And so much paperwork! Oh, so thrilling.
But Friday comes, Tom heads down, and meets his photographer lady, Ann. But Ann is a *woman* and the movie reminds us of this fact by having every man be very sexist to her.
On the one hand, the movie gets props for giving a woman an important role. On the other hand, they undercut her at every single turn by having characters go UGH WOMEN?? which is realistic to a degree, but so backwards.
But hey, one step forward, two steps back I guess!
Our heroes get a call from another snake attack, a glider pilot was attacked and barely escaped. He gives them a lot of information, including where he was attacked.
This is all they need to determine the snakes are traveling somewhere in a line, and to trace the attacks back to other points of interest.
While they set up camp for the night before reaching where the glider went down, the movie sets up yet another random person to be attacked, when a plumber makes a late night call, goes into the crawlspace, and gets bitten.
And the movie keeps up the sexism with the woman he makes the call to being all "Oh gosh, I'm not very mechanical!"
Once the snakes are done with the plumber though, they climb up the pipes and right into the bathtub where the woman is soaking. It's great, and terrifying. I love it.
But back with our heroes, they have traced the snakes back to Fort Walton, a nearby military base. So they head there to meet with Colonel Straud to see if they can offer any help.
And the military is very helpful! Which is how I know this is a work of fiction. There is no WAY the government is ever this helpful with anything. Ever.
The colonel thinks they are there to ask about a corporal, but they've never even heard of the guy. And everyone is pretty surprised by all of this.
We continue the investigation, as they ask the base's medical examiner, Delaney for any information he has, and from there they go off to borrow a helicopter from the army to check out the area.
There's this weird bit where they keep saying Straud might help them, but only if he's in a good mood! But he is coming off as SO VERY HELPFUL that I want to know where this bad mood comes from.
While Tom goes flying, Ann heads out to photograph the area where Billings was attacked, and on her way back, comes to believe there is a snake in her jeep. We're never sure if it was real or imagined though, and I think the movie wants to play it up as 'hysterical silly girl'!
Oh, and the chopper pilot off handedly mentions that a few weeks back he helped move a container of something, he doesn't know what because he's a good military man who follows orders, and Tom's wheels start turning.
Tom heads back to the base, and barges in on Straub's important business, and questions him about the buried canister. Oooh now I see what they mean about his attitude.
I am dubious that a tent can be used as a darkroom.
While our heroes bed down for the night, some soldiers drive around until they get attacked by snakes, because we need to pepper in as much random people as possible to kill.
But at least there's some fun to be had with this attack, as they argue that it looks like the tire was bitten by a snake. !! AND IT'S FRIDAY THE 13th!! Happy coincidence!
Early that day, a soldier comes to Camp Doctor Tom and wakes up our heroes, to drag them back to the base after the attack.
Since they found this attack so quickly, they head out to where the soldiers' bodies were found, and hope they can find the tracks before the wind blows them away.
They follow the tracks to a cave that probably connects to the old mine where the canister was buried. Eventually they find all the snakes, and run like bats out of hell, with the slithering hissers literally nipping at their heels.
Once they're out, Ann has a bit of a freakout for doing this thing, because she's a silly girl. "Golly, I am such a silly girl who wanted a real independent job! I was so wrong!" Siiigh.
And then Tom asks her out. Is 12 minutes from the end of your movie REALLY the best time for a date? Pacing, what's that?? And is this really the appropriate time??
They CLEARLY have sex, such a twist after how much he yelled at her. But then Ann wakes up hearing something outside, and WHATEVER COULD IT BE?? Gasp, surprise, snakes.
Fortunately some soldiers appear, and in a HILARIOUS bit of action, we watch one barge into the tent and start gunning down snakes around the civilians. I love this.
Meanwhile, Straud is burning papers to cover his tracks. Doctor Delaney comes by to challenge the general, and we find out the magic weapon is called CT3...but that doesn't matter. I'm calling it trioxin. But I do love that there's more of this stuff, dumped into the ocean, and now we have an impending threat of angry sharks and whales.
I wanna see THAT movie.
The colonel gets pushed to the point where he kills Delaney, and makes a run for it. Dr. Tom shows up on base, meets another general looking for Straud to bring him to justice for his illegal experiments, and they all head up to the mine.
A shootout ensues, and the sheriff hits Straud before he can lob a grenade, which explodes in the colonel’s face, causing the mine to cave in and explode around him.
We're pretty much done here, except for picking up Ann from the hospital following a snakebite in the tent. Because we couldn't have a woman around the final gunfight.
And it ends on an ominous shot of a cave, with a rattling coming from within, hinting that it might not really be over.
Keep watching the snakes!!
Video: For a 50 disc pack movie, it’s not terrible, but it has this weird red tint through much of the movie, and is very scratchy. But, still very watchable, compared to other movies I’ve seen.
Audio: There is this CONSTANT scratchy sound, which was distracting for much of the movie, but also not so bad as to ruin it.
Body Count: A nice little pile of bodies, although many are random people we don’t care about.
1 - Doug falls and gets bitten by snakes, three minutes in.
2 - And his friend is next.
3 - Dude gets bitten then fried (His dad is dead, but we never see it.)
4 - Mom gets killed too, off camera.
5 - Plumber gets bitten.
6 - Mom gets attacked in the tub
7 - Soldier gets bitten and dies.
8 - And his friend joins him shortly afterwards.
9 - Delaney shot by Straub for his coverup.
10 - Straub gets shot defending his trioxin
Best Corpse: My favourite death is the mom in the bathtub. SO terrifying.
Blood Type - F-: Absolutely nothing to speak of. Actors and snakes never ever interact, there’s no effects, no bites, nothing.
Sex Appeal: Nothing!
Drink Up! Every time there is rampant sexism.
Movie Review: I’ve said before, somewhere, maybe here, that I am no fan of animal attack movies. Some I can have fun with, like Grizzly, but most bore me, because they’re so normal. Give me the weird stuff like Sharknado or Roboshark, or even stuff without sharks. Rattlers is…not bad. I wish it did more. The story is okay, the investigation flows well, and it culminates nicely. But not interacting with the monsters hurts the movie, and it’s too random. The leads aren’t bad, but it’s ultimately just kinda there, but with a little 70s simple charm to it. I don’t hate it, but it’s just okay. Two out of five darkroom tents.
Entertainment Value: There is some decent camp here, especially once Straud starts becoming unhinged, and the culmination at the mine is fun. Watching them fight stock footage is a hoot. But again, you can sense there’s more they could have done. Three out of five escaped cobraaaaAAAHHH!!