By Peter Martin
As Cleopatra -- or my editor Scott Weinberg -- would say: Kiss my asp if you don't like killer snake movies. My introduction came via Sssssss (1973), which I watched on a Saturday afternoon on my grandparents' old console TV. Pre-Battlestar Galactica, Dirk Benedict was a likable lead and Heather Menzies nearly fried my young mind when she joined Dirk in a skinny-dipping scene, even though it was very PG. What freaked me was when mad scientist Strother Martin tried to transform poor Dirk into a snake.
Yes, yes, a gentle introduction, but I thought I was pretty brave just for watching; the trailer for Stanley around the same time scared the crap out of me -- what can I say, I was a sheltered kid. Once I got a little older and a little nervier, I was (almost) ready for Venom, a nasty, unsettling hostage thriller greatly enlivened by a deadly black mamba. I'm not sure what was scarier: the snake, Oliver Reed, or Sterling Hayden. Wes Craven's Deadly Blessing set a new standard for killer serpents in the early 80s with its indelible scene of Maren Jensen calmly soaking in a soapy bathtub, soon to be menaced by something between her legs ...
Anaconda still makes me laugh out loud. It's totally ridiculous, and totally worth repeat viewings for the smashingly silly CGI giant snake attacks. And, of course, a totally committed Jon Voight, in the best performance ever by an Academy Award-winning actor in a killer snake movie.
(So what's the Killer Animal Database? Venture post-jump to find out!)