Rattlers (1976)

Directed by John McCauley

Written by Jerry Golding, John McCauley

Run Time: 82 minutes

25 Words or Less:

Rattlesnakes get pissed off when the military dumps toxic waste on them.

Hi Lites

Stack Footage

Plenty of stock footage from ancient nature reels, complete with defects in the emulsion; I even think I remember seeing one or two of them back in school. Actors are never in the same shot with any dangerous snake, and who can blame them…but it certainly doesn’t make the movie very exciting.
Reptiles

Sure, lots and lots of snakes…if you like stock footage. There is occasional interaction between actors and real snakes, but the snakes are the typical harmless boa or bull snake varieties just trying to get the hell out of the scene and hide someplace safe.
BS Science

Yeah…he studies snakes so of course he can hypnotize them.

Summary

After the military dumps toxic waste in the desert, the seeping poisons piss off the local rattlesnakes who take action against anything that moves. Why just snakes and not any other type of animal? Who knows? Questions like that are too sophisticated for this material.

After some rattlesnakes kill a couple of boys playing in the desert, the local authorites call in expert herpetologist, Dr. Parkinson, who quickly buddies up with photographer Ann Bradley to solve The Big Mystery. After examining several victims, Parkinson quickly deduces from the snake bites that…are you ready for it?…snakes are to blame. (To add to the general lack of anything remotely exciting, we are constantly told how horibble so-and-so looks after being bitten but we never get to see anything. Not that I need to see pointless gore, but in a movie that revolves around poisonous snakes you think we could at least catch a glimpse of a snake-bite covered body..especially after the script goes out of the way to point out that "it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before"…well…let’s see it then! Sheesh.)

Let me give you another concrete example: 2 Army guys are driving through the desert in the middle of the night and a snake jumps out of the darkness and bites a hole in one of the jeep’s tires! OK, yeah, that’s pretty damned goofy, but boy would it have been fun to see it! Would it have cost that much money to rig up something that looks like a snake biting a hole in a tire rolling along at 50 MPH? (Ok, maybe that would have been a bit insane to even try, but c’mon, give it a shot!)

Well…to make a long story short (it really does seem long for just an 82 minute movie), Parkinson and Bradley discover that the military is behind a big cover up (what a surprise!) which leads them out into the desert. Their trip uncovers a big mess of poison chemicals dumped in a mine which, as mentioned before, has really irritated the local reptile life. When they confront the eeeeeevil General, he goes bonkers and runs into the desert forcing a goofy stand off with the police. After exchanging a few poorly-aimed pistol shots, Crazy General finally takes a bullet to the chest causing him to tumble into the very same mine where the snakes are…who woulda thunk it? With a half-hearted attempt at irony, the story winds down with the stricken General taking a few snakebites before blowing himself up with a grenade. A huge explosion ensues as well,..I guess this means all the snakes are dead. Yeah, sure they are.

With their "work" done, Parkinson and Bradley smile and head off into the sunset without having really done shit. Well, maybe that’s not being fair. He did deduce that victims covered by snake bites were most likely killed by snakes.

Before the final credits, the camera pans to a cave in the rocks where we hear the sound of snakes rattling…ooo…spooky. I was totally expecting a big red "?" to appear, but I didn’t even get that small bit of satisfaction from the movie. Gee, thanks.

Dennis Grisbeck (May 2012)

 

Afterthoughts

“Rattlers” could have been much better than it turned out to be. The overabundance of stock footage coupled with profoundly wooden performances combine to sink this one to the bottom.

The pointless subplots with the military and the contrived conflict between the leads (he’s a sexist and Bradley is a feminist) really feels out of place in a killer snake movie. I repeat: this is a killer snake movie…show me snakes!

All in all, the movie starts out fast, but quickly runs out of steam and gets bogged down in subplots and stock footage before concluding with the tired gunfight/explosion B-movie trope.

To not be totally negative, I want to point out a couple of pretty funny scenes in the movie. In one ‘kill’ scene, a plumber shows up to, er, “fix the pipes” of an attractive woman because she can’t get any hot water for her bath. Answering the door in her robe, she invites him inside and explains that she’s newly divorced then immediately jumps in the tub while he crawls under the house and gets to work…Helloooooo!…This must have served as the inspiration for countless porn scenes. (And where did she get the hot water for the bath…wasn’t that why he was there?)

If you love non sequiturs as much as I do, then you’ll love the scene where Parkensen and Bradley have spent the day examining dead bodies, tracking down toxic waste, dealing with insane Army officers, and setting up camp in the rattler-filled desert before…hey! “Let’s go to Vegas!” says Parkensen! I’m not kidding! It’s awesome. So we cut from the day’s murder and mayhem to a few minutes of Vegas stock footage and our two leads kissing, dancing, eating dinner out, etc. Wow. I’m assuming the Nevada Board of Tourism kicked back some money for this movie…otherwise I have no idea why this just happened.

So, maybe it’s worth 82 minutes of your life just for these 2 scenes. I guess it was…just barely.

Various Shots:

You be dead!

Mutant snakes hate chickens!
Pool party!

Woot!

Check out the poster here

Hey! And look what I found!:

Read more about Rattlers at

IMDB

6 comments to Rattlers (1976)

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