Snakes on a Plane (2006)
September 14, 2019 12:58 AM - Subscribe
Samuel L. Jackson can no longer abide these detestable serpents on this detestable aircraft.
[Dana Stevens, Slate, 2006]
[Dana Stevens, Slate, 2006]
What’s surprising about Snakes on a Plane is the movie’s commitment to its own schlockiness. It’s not a slick studio vehicle with a few campy nods to old-fashioned B pictures. It actually feels like something that would be playing on network television on a long Sunday afternoon in 1980, interrupted by ads for Ronco kitchen products and starring Vincent Price, Shelley Winters, or Patrick Swayze, or any combination thereof. This schlockiness is owed in large part to the cult following Snakes built up on the Web in the year preceding its release. When the studio realized how hot their cheaply made action flick was becoming even before one frame of it had been screened, they added five days’ worth of newly shot footage, most of it centered on taboo human body parts, with or without snakes attached.[David Denby, New Yorker, 2006]
On opening day in New York, groups of the initiated showed up at theatres in a happy mood, whooping and hollering and urging the serpents to do the nasty. Attempting to enter into the spirit of the event, I found myself put off by the slickness of the production. Intentional low camp always seems wrong unless it’s very funny; in trash, one wants clumsiness, even a certain tackiness, and this movie has the production values and the high-tech fluency of a much bigger movie.[Josh Tyrangiel, Time, 2006]
[Tyrangiel:] Did you have any reservations about doing reshoots to incorporate some of the fans' ideas?[Austin Shinn, TheFilmRoom.org, 2018]
[Jackson:] Not at all. Personally, I think it's great. They saved the movie. Those were things I was saying the whole time we were shooting, saying that we should shoot them anyway just in case you change your mind. And then they were like, "Well, no, we're trying to keep this PG," so they restricted my cursing and restricted the gore. It was kind of a waste of time. It's kind of like them changing the name of the movie. It's stupid. "Oh we don't want to give too much away." Of course you do! You want people to know they're coming to see people trapped on a plane with snakes. You don't want them to think they're getting on Pacific Flight 121, which might crash. Come on! Give me a break. I mean, they wanted to call it Pacific Flight 121. I told them that was the stupidest damn thing I ever heard.
[Black Flame Publishing] also novelized a couple of borderline New Line horror films which meant by sheer luck they had the rights to the sentient meme Snakes on a Plane. Before I get into the book, let me quickly get my thoughts on the film out. I dig it. It’s a funny riff on b-movie tropes with A-movie production values. It’s incredibly shallow but that’s the point. It’s just a joke. So how did it leapfrog all of the Star Wars/Star Trek/Marvel novelizations to produce the best novelization I’ve ever read? This is entirely on writer Christa Faust, a talented writer who took the opportunity to really go full throttle and make this the ultimate disaster movie.[Jeff Leon, Washington Post, 2018]
Every day, the movie became less of a joke and more of a phenomenon, and the camaraderie among fans on message boards and the Snakes on a Blog fan site was palpable. It wasn’t long before the hype crossed over into the mainstream. Suddenly “Snakes on a Plane” was fodder for “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” Keith Olbermann ran multiple stories about it on MSNBC. Parodies abounded across the Internet. People were getting tattoos of snakes and planes. You could buy T-shirts, mugs and more. I bought the novelization in a Borders (remember bookstores?) shortly before the movie’s release and launched into a lively conversation with the person behind the counter about how excited we were for the release. Seeing the movie in a packed theater during that first weekend was an unforgettable experience.