“This isn’t terrorism; these are snakes!” — Tara Reid, Captain Obvious.

Another truly bad entry in the snakesploitation movie sweepstakes, Viper is a movie that combines poor computer-generated effects with lame acting and frankly ludicrous biology, one whose brief nudity is insufficient to save it. As usual, snakes have to be genetically enhanced to pose any threat; even incredibly deadly snakes, after all, shy away from a direct confrontation if they can.

Amongst the errors are such diverse elements as the following:

  1. Horned Vipers (Cerastes cerastes) do not look like that: for one thing, they’re a lot smaller than that (they’re about two feet long); for another, they’re a lot paler in colour; for still another, their horns aren’t right.
  2. The snake in Jessica Steen’s slideshow isn’t a horned viper; it looks like a young cottonmouth or some South American lancehead-or-other.
  3. As I said in my look at Boa vs. Python, snakes don’t bite and chew like that; they swallow things whole or not at all. They certainly don’t rip big meaty chunks out of their prey like an allosaur. The chomping and feeding — and spurting blood — is utterly stupid.
  4. The movie makes a certain deal out of heat and cold and the fact that snakes are ectotherms; it’s worth mentioning, though, that Horned Vipers, which are found in the desert climates in North Africa and the Middle East, would have a real problem with the Pacific Northwest climate: too cold and, for snakes that derive their drinking water from dew that collects on their own scales, way too wet.
  5. Snakes are escape artists, but they’d be hard pressed to get inside a tent, much less a building that was properly sealed. Honestly, you could secure a room by stuffing bedsheets along the doors.
  6. Snakes don’t growl. Nor do they disconnect phone lines, in my experience.
  7. Antivenom is administered intravenously, not via a syringe. And it usually takes more than one vial. Lots more.
  8. At one point they’re called pit vipers; they’re actually true vipers — no heat pits.
  9. According to my resident marine biologist, fish heads don’t float — especially not that high on the water.

On the other hand, they did get the garter snake, which appears at the beginning, right — it looks like, or is at least consistent with, a female Puget Sound Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis pickeringii).

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