REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long
RUNTIME: 91 minutes (Anaconda 3: Offspring), 89 minutes (Anacondas: Trail of Blood)
PLOT: A mercenary-for-hire accepts a mission from a billionaire to capture some dangerous snakes that could possibly help cure a terminal illness. (Anaconda 3: OffSpring)
A genetically-created Anaconda that can regenerate itself due to the Blood Orchid has escaped and must be stopped before it wrecks havoc. (Anacondas: Trail of Blood)
REVIEW: With SyFy's upcoming airing of Lake Placid vs Anaconda I figured I'd try my hand at covering all the other SyFy sequels from both series' leading up to this killer animal mash-up, obviously excluding the three larger-budget theatrical entries in the series (the first Lake Placid and the first two Anaconda movies). But for those dying to know my thoughts on those ones (I know I know, all two of you), I will just say that I personally love all three, with Lake Placid being my top favorite, followed closely by Anaconadas: Hunt for the Blood Orchid, and lastly the first Anaconda.
Now, SyFy has had it's hand in plenty of other big killer snake movies over the years, many of which I've also enjoyed immensely (Python 1 and 2, Boa, Boa vs Python, Mega Snake, and Asylum's Mega Python vs Gatoroid just to name a few). So what sets Anaconda 3: Offspring and Anacondas: Trail of Blood (also known as Anaconda 4: Trail of Blood in parts of the world) apart from those ones, you may ask? Sadly, nothing at all. To the point where they almost fit better as a Python or Boa sequel than they do an Anaconda one, simply for the fact that the snakes in these entries are genetically-engineered and enhanced to include unnatural abilities such as a scythe-like tail and near-instant regeneration – something that would be much more in-line with the Boa or Python movies but feels really tacky and out of place in an Anaconda sequel. I actually prefer to not even think of these as Anaconda sequels so much as just their own separate unrelated series, because that's pretty much what they are anyway.
For instance, there's really no relation or mention of anything whatsoever from the two theatrical entries other than the use of the Blood Orchid flower from the second movie, which is used again in these sequels and is essentially what the main corporation in these are doing tests and experiments on in order to create a 'Fountain of Youth' drug to help cure cancer and other such diseases, something that the President of the corporation (played wonderfully by Sliders Professor John Rhys-Davies) needs for himself as he's dying from a rare disease and doesn't have much time left. Something that works out good for the heroes of the movies simply because he's essentially the main villain of these flicks and as you can imagine, by the end of the second of these SyFy sequels he gets exactly what's coming to him.
Other notable actors in these movies alongside him is Crystal Allen as our main protagonist, who plays the zoo keeper of sorts that looks after the ever-growing snakes for this corporation and tags along with the team of mercenaries that gets hired to track them down after they inevitably escape from the lab and then, continuing into the second of the sequels, is on a one-woman war against the corporation and tries to destroy the last of their research and the last of their snakes before any further harm can come to the residents that live in the area, in addition to B-Movie legend and Baywatch star David Hasselhoff as a rogue mercenary that gets hired by the corporation to hunt down the escaped snakes in Anaconda 3. Oddly enough, The Hoff is pretty much the only interesting and truly fun character across both movies, which makes it all the more disappointing that he's only in the first of the two.
The plots of the movies themselves are pretty mundane and generic as well, which combined with the lack of interesting or fun-to-watch characters really makes it kind of a chore to get through these movies, especially when watching them back-to-back. Offspring had some pretty good potential at times, mostly in the first chunk of the movie when the snakes initially break free of their containments and are sneakily slithering around the researching facility, killing any guard or poor employee that they come across while the building is on lock-down. My first viewing of the movie I thought that the majority of the film would deal with this stuff, and I was A-Ok with that; I LOVE killer animal B-Movies that deal with people trapped in a dimly-lit building or compound with the creature-of-note lurking around and taking them out one-by-one, but to my dismay this portion really only took up about ten minutes of the movie, at most. After that the snakes break free out into the nearby forest and it's essentially just another generic 'soldiers hunt down killer animal in the woods' SyFy movie with little to no plot and, as mentioned above, no real interesting or fun characters to follow aside from The Hoff, who doesn't even really show up to join in the hunt until halfway through the movie. I thought that maybe Trail of Blood would prove more entertaining in that area, and while it's true that it's slightly (only slightly) better due to some well-staged attack and death scenes and a couple more interesting set locations, overall it's essentially the exact same movie just with a group of university students stuck in the middle of everything, but on the flip side it also has the absence of the Hoff around to cheese things up a bit.
As for the giant killer super-powered anacondas that plague our characters across these two movies, the CGI models for them in Offspring are just terrible, and they're integrated so horribly with the actors and environments that it was just painful to watch at times. Hell, the trees and foliage never even move when the snakes move through them! There are times where it almost seems like the snakes are actually ghost snakes with the way they interact with the surrounding environments. I know SyFy Original Movies usually don't have the best of CGI effects, especially when it comes to them interacting with things, and honestly that's usually one of the cheesy aspects I enjoy about their movies, but in this one there was nothing fun or cheesy about it - it really was that painfully bad. Luckily though they stepped it up a bit for Trail of Blood. Still not quite to the level I would prefer, even with these kinds of movies, but certainly better than in Offspring, and it also helps that the design itself of the snake looks a lot more unique and interesting in Trail of Blood than the design of the ones featured in Offspring. And while I bagged earlier on the fact that they, for some reason, felt the need to give these snakes special powers, I have to admit that it did pave the way for some rather fun and bloody death scenes (the sickle-tail is only present on the snakes in the first of these movies while the regeneration was present only on the snake in the second of these movies, but the snake in the second still got some really fun kills in, including one decapitation-by-squeezing).
I guess for those B-Movie SyFy Original fans that are only looking for some mindless admittedly-fun-at-times killer snake action, they'll be able to enjoy Anaconda 3: Offspring and Anacondas: Trail of Blood far more than I did, but for me personally, Hoffman and some pretty fun kills aside, I had a rough time making it through both of these movies, especially where I watched them back-to-back. With that said, the second of these movies was ever so slightly easier to sit through just because the snake design and CGI effects were a bit better than in the previous one, making the scenes featuring the animal a bit more entertaining and easier to get into, plus without all the sickle-tail deaths it felt a little more like a traditional Anaconda movie (well, regeneration aside, that is).
Although now that I think about it, the titles of these movies themselves in fact make little to no sense. 'Anaconda' 3: Offspring features multiple snakes while on the flip side 'Anacondas': Trail of Blood features only the one snake. I honestly can't think of any reason as to why they went that route with the titles, instead of just switching them, or simply do what some other countries in the world did and just call the fourth one Anaconda 4.
4/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward (Anaconda 3: Offspring)
4/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward (Anacondas: Trail of Blood)