The more of them I watch, the better a handle I get on the snakesploitation movie genre — the sort that advertises the snake in the movie as “__ feet of pure terror.” Python epitomizes the genre as well as any other I’ve seen (here the terror is 60 feet long on the DVD case, 129 feet in the movie itself). It contains the usual tropes you find in modern examples of snakesploitation: gratuitous nudity, gore, bad CGI, and ludicrous snake biology that is explained away by mad hand-waving (experiments or genetic engineering that make a fairly innocuous and unaggressive animal into the relentless killing machine required by the movie’s, um, “plot”).

My mandate is to go after the biology, but the more I watch this kind of movie, the more I consider it a lost cause. Because, again, these movies give themselves an out: it’s precisely because this snake breaks all the rules of snake biology that it poses a threat to our heroes and their shitty little town. And the reason the rules are broken is to solve plot problems. Need something to happen? No problem! Have the snake do this! So, in this case, we have a snake that

  1. spits stomach acid on its victims rather than eating them, because, as the director points out, it’s way cooler and gorier than an unidentifiable lump of snake poo a week or two later;
  2. can decapitate anti-vaccine-crusading-but-surprisingly-not-naked-in-this-movie Playmates with a flick of its tail;
  3. despite the fact that snakes use their tongues to smell (in stereo!) and many snakes, including many pythons, have heat pits, cannot see someone standing right in front of them unless they move;
  4. can hear;
  5. despite the fact that snakes have clear scales over their eyes, has sensitive eyes that would have been affected by shampoo if it wasn’t a no-tears product; and
  6. is impervious to explosions, gunfire and blunt force trauma.

Meanwhile, two real pythons make an appearance in the movie: a young Burmese Python is taken camping by one of the early victims — somebody please explain to our soon-to-be-dead girl that, yes, you can leave a snake alone for a weekend — and a baby Ball Python, carried about by Robert Englund’s creepy doctor like worry beads.

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