Sometimes when you’re writing about a thing, you learn stuff you weren’t expecting to learn. More times than not, it’s just minor facts that are fun to know for a second but are mostly inconsequential. I’ll give you an example: One time I was writing about Tupac and learned he was named after a rebellious Peruvian leader who eventually had his tongue cut out and his arms and legs yanked from his body by horses. That’s a thing that’s cool to tell someone, I guess, but who really cares?1 Nobody cares: That’s the point.
I suppose the one important thing to glean from this would be to not dick around in Peru.
So when you’re writing, that’s usually the sort of ancillary stuff you end up reading about. But sometimes — sometimes — the things you accidentally learn about are things that are truly important and life-altering, like last week, when I learned about vorarephilia while researching Anaconda.
Do you know about vorarephilia? I can’t imagine you do unless you’re actively involved in the vore scene (I’m not entirely sure it’s called the “vore scene,” FYI). Vorarephilia is a thing where people get sexually aroused by watching humans (or other things) get eaten. It mostly happens in writing or cartoons (there’s lots of anime) but also gets attached to movies like Anaconda because lots of people get eaten in Anaconda. There’s soft-core vore (being swallowed whole) and there’s hard-core vore (being chewed up and all that). There’s a thing about digestion and a thing that connects it to masochism and another thing that connects it to fantasies involving giants. There’s a whole corner of the Internet for it, really.
Anyway: Do you remember Anaconda? I can’t imagine that you forgot it if you’ve seen it, and I also can’t imagine that even if you’ve somehow never seen it the reason you’ve never seen it is because you didn’t know about it, so I’m sure you remember it. It celebrated its 18th anniversary recently, and so that’s why I was watching it and reading about snakes and stuff.2 Let me tell you about the two secretly best scenes in Anaconda.
DID YOU KNOW SNAKES DON’T BLINK???
The secretly second-best scene in Anaconda occurs after we’re deep into the movie and everyone’s allegiances and motives have been explained and Jennifer Lopez and Ice Cube get into a fight with Jon Voight, the movie’s antagonist. They’re all fumbling around fighting on their little boat after Voight has escaped his rope bonds. Voight and Ice are tangled up and Lopez is standing there with a gun waiting for a clear shot so she can kill Voight. Voight, though — he’s a stud. He discards Cube (who is 30 years younger and at least 40 pounds heavier), then turns his attention to Lopez. She takes her gun and points it at him:
And that should’ve been the end of him, except Voight’s like, “Nope”:
DUDE, HE THREW A STOOL AT HER FASTER THAN BULLETS CAN FLY. (Apologies that these are blurry; things happen really fast in Anaconda.)
They were in a life-and-death situation and she had a gun and he had the most uncomfortable kind of chair-weapon and he won. That’s why it’s secretly the second-best scene in the movie: That’s when we see exactly just how powerful a foe Voight is. The secretly best scene, though, is when we see exactly just how powerful a foe the anaconda is, and let me tell you it is waaaaay more dominant than Jon Voight with a stool.
It happens earlier in the movie. Voight and Cube and this guy named Mateo go out walking around in the water. They’re supposed to be looking for fuel for the boat. The anaconda, master of stealth, creeps up on Mateo and that’s the end of Mateo. And that’s also the specific part of the scene that’s important. It’s little, and you have to have watched Anaconda several times to catch it, but look: Here he is about to get got:
Now this is a violent scene, and it’s the second time we see the snake kill anyone, so it’s still kind of an unknown predator. But they’re already lowkey establishing how supernaturally overwhelming it is. The important thing: Notice Mateo’s hair? See how it’s dangling? That’s how he was wearing it before the snake got him. Here’s Mateo as he’s getting super-rolled up into the anaconda’s death squeeze:
See his hair again, whipping about as he gets spun around? Still dangling. Now here’s Mateo after the snake has him and is constricting him:
A PONYTAIL. THE SNAKE SQUEEZED HIM SO FUCKING HARD THAT HIS HAIR WENT INTO A PONYTAIL, MY DUDE. THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS LIONS DIDN’T DO THAT. THE SHARK FROM JAWS DIDN’T DO THAT. ONLY ANACONDA DID THAT. THAT’S REAL, TRUE POWER.
I spent about two weeks watching all of these Man vs. Animal movies, and also watching individual clips of Man vs. Animal scenes in movies that weren’t specifically Man vs. Animal movies. Nobody’s fucking with the bigger snake from Anaconda, not even if we include the dinosaurs from any of the Jurassic Park movies. The bigger anaconda is just too fast, too smart, too adaptable. I thought maybe King Kong could give him a go, but then I read a thing about how gorillas aren’t that great in water so that’s the end of his case. (Additionally, King Kong wasn’t truly a killer, he was just a gorilla in love. The bigger anaconda killed for sport. He was the darkest kind of evil.)
Now that we’re fully prepped, let’s do the Man vs. Animal awards. This will be very important work in the Man vs. Animal field.
The Most Surprising Death: The Kid Who Gets Eaten in Alligator
This is different from the Most Unexpected Death, which is the next award. The Most Surprising Death is an award for the death that you kind of can’t believe actually happened in a movie, which is just a different way of saying it has to go to a kid who died in a movie because that’s the worst.
Second place goes to Macaulay Culkin getting killed by the bees in the woods in My Girl.3 I remember wondering why he didn’t just run away when the bees started stinging him, but I stopped wondering that when I got stung by two bees at once in 2001. Have you ever been stung by two bees at once? It’s entirely discombobulating. It’s not like when you realize you’re standing in an ant pile. You don’t just instinctively run away. When those bees get to stinging you, you really don’t know what TF to do. I got stung, then got stung again, and I was for real like, “WHAT DO I DO RIGHT NOW?” The venom (do bees have venom?) does something to your brain. It turns it into mush. It turns it useless. I don’t know. But I understand, Macaulay.
First place goes to the kid in Alligator who gets eaten by the alligator after his friends push him into a pool where the alligator was hiding. He wins because (a) the Alligator kid was much younger and that matters, (b) Macaulay’s death sort of had to happen for the movie to keep going the way it needed to go, and so while it was for sure very sad, it wasn’t entirely unexpected, and (c) the Alligator kid’s death is considerably more gruesome and 100 percent more avoidable. I really didn’t even think he was dead until they show all the blood come bubbling up in the pool, and that’s a thing that should not come bubbling up after a toddler gets pushed into a pool by other kids.
The Most Unexpected Death: Sam Jackson’s Post Rev-’Em-Up Speech Death in Deep Blue Sea
I hate that it had to be Sam.
(Snakes on a Plane was fun enough, but it’d have been way doper if it were Anacondas on a Plane. Nobody’d have made it off that plane alive. Might as well have called it A Bunch of Dead People on a Plane.)
The Best Pre-Fame Cameo: Alfonso Ribeiro in Ticks
He played the same character here as he did in that one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in which Will said Carlton wasn’t tough enough to hang out in Compton. I’m here for it.
(This movie is very gross, BTW.)
The Best Example of a Bad Movie Leaning All the Way Into Its Own Silliness: Willard’s cover of “Ben”
Willard was a movie about a lonely guy with interesting hair who befriends, then assumes control of, a colony of rats. If you bought the DVD, one of the extras was a music video of Crispin Glover’s Willard covering Michael Jackson’s “Ben.” There’s a scene in the video in which one of the ladies appears aroused by having mice crawl all over her, which is only slightly weirder than the scene in Edward Scissorhands in which the one lady has an orgasm while Edward cuts her hair in the backyard after he cuts her dog’s hair. (I’m not sure how this relates to vorarephilia, or even if it does at all.)
The Person Who Made The Best of a Bad Situation: Tara Reid in Sharknado 2
She got her hand bitten off by a shark and rather than complain like I’m sure Jason Biggs would’ve done, she grabbed some hardware and turned her new nub into a death machine for sharks. That’s the best way you can ever avenge the loss of a body part: turn it into gruesome destruction. I’m only sad she wasn’t born with a penis to get that bitten off by a shark so we could’ve watched her saw a shark in half with a penis saw.
The Most Efficient Kill-to-Killed Ratio: The Hippos from Congo
The hippos collected (what looks like) four kills and a capsized boat in an attack that lasted less than a minute. They also suffered zero hippo casualties (they were shot at, but none died). That’s a way better percentage than the gray gorillas in the movie had.
The Most Believable Animal Attack: When Mercutio From Romeo + Juliet Got Attacked by the Bear in The Edge
No thank you.
The Animal Attack Everyone on the Planet Wanted to See: Liam Neeson vs. the Alpha Wolf in The Grey
1. WHO WINS??????????????????????????
2. Surprise plot twist: The wolf is the beloved former pet of Marco from Tropojë. And he’s come for his revenge.
3. I’ve never wanted anything to happen more in my life than for the ending scene of The Grey to play itself all the way out. I felt the same way watching it that I do when I realize that the game I DVR’ed is going to be about two minutes longer than the recording. It was just total dread. I’m still not over it. I never will be.
4. I would for real pay any amount of money for a ticket to watch a movie in which Liam Neeson goes from movie to movie fighting all the different animals from all the Man vs. Animal cinema canon. The studios wouldn’t even have to get clever about naming them or writing out plots or anything. “How much for a ticket to see Liam Neeson vs. The Jurassic Park Raptor? Oh, $100,000,000? Great. Two please.”
5. WHO WINS??????????????????????????
6. WHO WINS??????????????????????????
7. WHO WINS??????????????????????????
8. WHO WINS??????????????????????????
9. WHO WINS??????????????????????????
10. WHO WINS??????????????????????????
The Most Creative Animal: The Birds From Birdemic
There are four ways these animal monster movies go: (1) You take a bunch of one kind of ordinary animal or bug and the number of them is the overwhelming thing. Good examples here would be, say, Birds or Arachnophobia; (2) You take a normal animal or bug and you make it bigger than it should ever be, either because nature made it that way or because it crawled around in some science ooze or whatever, like in Jaws or Lake Placid or King Kong or Eight Legged Freaks and so on; (3) You take an animal or insect and something happens in a laboratory that makes it smarter and better than anyone expected (Man’s Best Friend, Deep Blue Sea, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, etc). Or, (4) You take an animal or insect and combine it with another animal or insect, and so now we’re into Syfy stuff (Sharktopus, Piranhaconda, Frankenfish). But then there’s Birdemic.
In Birdemic, they took a bunch of birds and made it so the birds can spit acid. They also made it — this is the very best part — so that when the birds dive-bomb people, instead of just pecking at them or whatever, they would for real explode whenever they crashed into things. They even made the dive-bomb noises from cartoons as they went down. The only thing better than combining animals with other animals is combining animals with other dangerous non-animal things. That’s why Sharknado was such a success. We need more of those things. We need more animal + dangerous thing movies. Imagine a movie with bears but instead of claws they had Uzi submachine guns, or snakes with laser eyes, or coyotes that make hurricanes when they howl, or very racist scorpions. Sign me up for Very Racist Scorpions. I’m all in for Very Racist Scorpions.