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Case Number 00954

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Python

Fox // 2000 // 100 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // March 2nd, 2001

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All Rise...

I think I saw this movie when it was called Anaconda. Snake movie lover Judge Patrick Naugle hands down his decision. Wait...did I just admit to seeing Anaconda? That's like admitting to a store clerk just why you're buying that jumbo tub of Vaseline™: to keep ants out of your worm farm, of course.

The Charge

Sixty feet of pure terror!

Opening Statement

First there was Anaconda. Then there was Lake Placid. Now comes…Python! From the people who brought you…umm…a couple of sequels to Children Of The Corn comes this terrifying, gruesome and somewhat laughable tale of what happens when man…messes…with NATURE!! (cue big, swelling horror music here). Starring some washed up '80s character actors and a very CGI looking snake, Python is just right for you cheesy straight-to-video fans. Fox takes a bite out of the big reptile genre with a heaping handful on this DVD.

Facts of the Case

Opening with a cargo plane carrying the world's largest snake THEN a woman giving another women oral pleasure is never a good idea. You really have nowhere to go but down. Alas, no one told the filmmakers this, so, of course, we open with a cargo plane carrying the world's largest snake and a woman giving another woman oral pleasure.

The plane carrying the title character (whom I shall affectionately refer to as "Fluffy") goes down in a big bang and, as chance would have it, Fluffy escapes into a small town where he attacks two women camping out. The next day the local law enforcement find the badly decomposed body of one of the women and suspect John Cooper (Frayne Rosenoff) of doing away with the girl (on account they found him at a local swimming hole with the girl's pet snake). John is already on the bad side of a local cop named Greg (The Karate Kid star William Zabka) because he is now dating Greg's ex-girlfriend Kristen (National Lampoon's Vacation star Dana Barron).

Oh, such a tangled web they all weave.

No one thinks these murders could be the work of a sixty foot python until Dr. Anton Rudolph (Mr. Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund) walks in and starts quippin' "Yo, there's a Python the size of Nebraska 'round these parts." He imparts this wisdom on Special Agent Parker (Casper Van Dien) and the decision is made to blow up the snake via a large, straight-to-video looking army of men.

At the same time the law enforcement team is sniffing around looking for answers as more dead bodies start piling up (including a very obnoxious Jenny McCarthy). They soon deduce that this is not the work of some whacked out serial killer. No, this looks like the work of something much larger…and much more evil. Finally, they come to the decision that O.J. Simpson is responsible. HA! Just kidding. No, they too realize that this is the work of Fluffy. Suddenly the small town becomes one big smorgasbord for Fluffy as local after local is gobbled up.

Now it's up to some semi-handsome B-actor teens to stop Fluffy or risk the sudden fate of being slowly digested inside Fluffy's "stomach of love." Will they succeed? Will Fluffy win? Is that really the same guy who played Johnny in The Karate Kid?

The Evidence

Can there BE anything scarier than a 60-foot python? I mean, aside of the acting in this movie. The answer, of course, is yes. But in the confines of this film, we're stuck with Fluffy. And boy, is Fluffy big. He has huge fangs, a colorfully evil body and a head the size of sofa. Yet, as I watched Python, I felt no fear. For you see ,Fluffy is completely a CGI (computer generated image), and as anyone who saw Star Wars: Episode I knows, that spells F-A-K-E.

Now, I'm not really making a huge complaint about this. I knew going into this film that the budget was comparable to a pack of bulk toilet paper from Sam's Club. I wasn't surprised to see the snake looking like he'd crawled out of a Nintendo game. It's been a long time since I've seen a cheesy movie like this and actually enjoyed it. It seems somewhat rare these days to receive a straight-to-video title and not have it be dull. When watching cheese, I never ask that it dazzle me with unbelievable effects or snappy acting. I do ask, though, that it give me some amount of guilty pleasure. Python succeeds in this area.

Let's start with the snake. Okay, I was exaggerating a bit when I said it looked like it was from a video game. He's not quit that bad (and I am sure you're wondering how I know it's a "he." Well, that's just a little secret between the snake and I). In fact, the snake looks pretty good for a straight-to-video title. Granted, it's not perfect (the snake in Anaconda looked better, but only by a small margin), but the effects do the job and, hey, it's a B-movie, so part of the fun is having B-effects.

The story is, of course, nonexistent. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to come up with the "big, slobbery beast on the loose in a small town" theme and expound upon it. Scenes basically shift from the cops finding bodies to the snake eating more people, then back to the cops finding more victims. Which begs the question: Where does this snake hide in between his meals? Don't you think it would be fairly obvious if a 60-foot python were hanging around your neighborhood?

And the cast…well, what can I say? Dana Barron, who played Chevy Chase's daughter in National Lampoon's Vacation, is about as exciting as deep fried crab cakes, and William Zabka, so menacing as Johnny in The Karate Kid now looks like an older and paunchier version of Lance Bass from N'Sync. Casper Van Dien plays Special Agent Parker with an accent that likes to go in and out every once in a while. One of the great mysteries of the cosmos is how Casper keeps working in films. And, of course, the cream of the crop, Robert Englund. Englund will never, ever be able to shake the one character he will always be known for: yes, I'm talking about the nerd he played on the sci-fi show "V." Well, that and the bit part he had in those Nightmare On Elm Street movies. Here he wears a dashing white suit that makes him look like a drug czar (capped off with a white fedora). Yet, for the most mind boggling of reasons, it all seems so right.

Python is presented in anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1 and, surprisingly, looks very good. For a straight-to-video B-flick this isn't a bad transfer at all (especially compared to other Fox titles). Colors were very bright with no bleeding spotted, and blacks were solid. Only the slightest edge enhancement was found, but nothing to be concerned about. Picture was sharp and crisp…another fine job by the folks at Fox.

Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds great considering the source material. The use of rear speakers is not great, but for a film of this magnitude it's better than nothing. Dialogue is clear and mixed well with effects and music without distortion. Nothing that will blow away your stereo, but for a movie with a budget around the same as Julia Roberts' daily lunch tab it's pretty good.

Fox has added a few nice extras tacked onto Python. To start with we get some outtakes that are really not all that exciting. It's mainly a music reel of footage from the film, so it's not actual scenes or extensions. It's mostly actors flubbing their lines, swearing, then laughing into the camera. Nothing says funny like Casper Van Dien looking baffled.

A still gallery on Python is also included, which consists of some behind the scenes shots and some promo stills. A plethora of Fox theatrical trailers are also included, including ones for Lake Placid, Ravenous, and The Abyss. Two trailers for Python itself are included, and they do a great job of making the film look better than it is. The first is a non-anamorphic full-length trailer, the second a ten second teaser spot. Some cast and director bios are also included in the deal.

The final extra is a pretty good commentary track by director Richard Claubaugh, visual effects supervisor Andrew Hoffman, and visual effects artist Kevin Little. Aside of hearing stories about effects and the shoot, we get to indulge in insightful thinking about the script, such as when one commentator notices, "What's a national security agent doing with a mafia hit man next to him?" The creators of this film realize what they've made, know it's cheese, and that's what puts them heads above people like Jan DeBont who produces high budget schlock like Twister but won't admit it.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

I honestly don't have a lot of negative things to say about Python. I really should. It's shoddy acting, a bad script, and only passable effects. Yet somehow this is a real guilty pleasure. The picture looks pretty good and the audio is decent. If you're not a fan of bottom-of-the-barrel horror flicks then you won't become a fan of Python. But if it's crap you love, welcome to Python.

Closing Statement

Unless you're a super freaky fan of such non-theatrical horror fluff as Spiders and Shark Attack 2, Python isn't worth buying (especially for the price tag of around 30 bucks) and putting in your collection. As a renter this is a great Friday night flick to watch with someone you love. The transfer looks good, the audio decent, a few fun extras…take a bite out of Python. You won't regret it (ummm…don't quote me on that…).

The Verdict

Free to go, because if you and I don't keep renting and buying films like this, they'll stop making them. And we certainly don't want that. What kind of life would you live knowing Puppet Master 87: More Mayhem! wasn't out there for rent?

I rest my case.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 92
Audio: 92
Extras: 70
Acting: 61
Story: 60
Judgment: 75

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genres:
• Action
• Science Fiction

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary Track
• Outtakes
• Still Gallery on Pythons
• Cast and Director Biographies
• Theatrical Trailers

Accomplices

• IMDb








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