The Netflix Flop That Unintentionally Revived Creature Features

By Robert Scucci | Published


Creature features aren’t for everybody, but Anaconda is one of those films that you need to watch because it’s so unintentionally funny in every conceivable way. Playing out like a B-horror movie with a $45 million budget, this creature feature leaves very little to the imagination, which is the primary reason that critics ripped it to shreds upon its 1997 release.

Despite its resounding lack of critical acclaim, Anaconda quickly became a cult classic and generated a number of direct-to-video sequels that are equally ridiculous. 

Anaconda Starring Jennifer Lopez

jennifer lopez anaconda

Set on the Amazon River, Anaconda follows Terri Flores (Jennifer Lopez), a filmmaker who sets out to shoot a documentary about the long-lost Amazonian tribe known as the Shirishamas.

Before we’re introduced to Terri and her crew, we’re clued into the existence of the titular creature through the film’s opening sequence.

Though the monster isn’t seen on-screen in full until the third act, it’s clearly established that a giant snake will be the primary antagonist. 

The Anaconda Cast

jennifer lopez anaconda

Terri is accompanied by her friend and cameraman, Danny Rich (Ice Cube), as well as her production manager, Denise Kalberg (Kari Wuhrer), her boyfriend, Gary Dixon (Owen Wilson), the documentary’s narrator, Warren Westridge (Jonathan Hyde), famed anthropology professor, Dr. Steven Cale (Eric Stoltz), and her boat’s captain, Mateo (Vincent Castellanos). 

Things Go Off The Rails

Terri’s documentary quickly goes off the rails when she and her crew decide to rescue a stranded poacher named Paul Serone (Jon Voight), who immediately gives off a bad vibe and makes everybody on the boat uncomfortable.

Serone proves to be useful in Anaconda when he saves Cale’s life after he’s stung by a deadly wasp, but quickly commandeers the boat so he can search for and capture the 25 foot snake that has eluded him up to this point in his travels.

Terri and her crew find themselves having to overcome Serone’s tyranny as they fight for their lives in uncharted territory. 

Bad Look For Anaconda


Boasting all of the beats found in a typical creature feature, Anaconda breaks one very important cardinal genre rule: don’t fully reveal the monster unless you absolutely have to because it’s not going to look good.

1997 was a questionable time for special effects, and Anaconda would have benefited from generating its terror from implied off-screen actions instead of trying to bring its monster to life for all to see. 

Critical Failure But Fan Favorite


For its failure to deliver legitimate scares, Anaconda was not a critical darling, earning a 41 percent critical score against a 24 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film has retroactively become a fan-favorite for its willingness to embrace the absurdity of its premise by leaning into all of the tried-and-true genre tropes. Roger Ebert praised the film for being a “slick, scary, funny creature feature,” suggesting that Anaconda was never supposed to take itself too seriously, and that those who tried to view it with a critical eye failed the assignment. 

Commercial Success, Reboot Coming?

Anaconda was a commercial success, however, and earned $136 million at the global box office against its reported budget of $45 million. Given the film’s financial success, four sequels were produced, one of which being a crossover with the Lake Placid franchise.

Recent reports suggest that an upcoming Anaconda reboot is in the works, and will be written (and potentially directed) by Tom Gormican, who co-wrote and directed Massive Talent.

If you’re willing to suspend a healthy amount of disbelief and laugh your face off as a giant snake swallows Owen Wilson whole, then Anaconda will be your new favorite guilty pleasure after you stream it on Netflix.

If you want to take an even deeper dive into the Amazon River, the GenreVision podcast talks at length about this ill-fated, but never boring creature feature.