Rattlers (1976) – A Review
There have been a series of deadly attacks by rattlesnakes. These things are just popping up all over the place, sinking their fangs into people and leaving them dead. The baffled police call in a herpetologist in the hopes that maybe he can figure out what’s going on.
So with a pretty feminist as his photographer by his side they argue, investigate and start to flirt. Maybe this nearby military base can shed some light on what is making these rattlesnakes so aggressive.
With the huge popularity of Jaws came a glut of animal-attack flicks in its wake. I guess we can look at them as sort of updated versions of the radioactive fueled monster movies of the 1950’s. Only instead of these creatures growing to enormous sizes, they’re played a bit more realistically. Or at least attempted to.
Rattlers is a really rough entry in this genre. It’s a nonsensical, badly acted suspense-less horror movie. So if you’re the type who gets entertained by bad movies, is able to find the unintended laughs in watching something making it so bad it’s good and find great joy at laughing at and mocking a movie Rattlers might be your ticket.
If you’re genuinely looking for the rattlesnake version of Jaws – just keep moving along.
I had actually watched Rattlers once before at an evening with the old Mystery Science Theater 3000 and their live show Cinematic Titanic. I never expected to watch this movie again, but I saw it was airing on Turner Classic Movies of all places. Revisiting it without the sarcastic jokes by the MST3K gang wasn’t as much fun, but the movie was still a truly silly movie experience and there are still laughs to be had from it.
Most of the movie consists of herpetologist and gal photographer (she kind of has an Ali MacGraw look about her) driving around the Mojave Desert investigating. They walk, they drive, they fly around looking – for something. I have no idea for what exactly. I would guess some clue as to where the rattlers are coming from, but that would seem awfully difficult from high above in a helicopter.
Actually it’s obviously clear the helicopter isn’t flying with the actors in it, it’s one of those low-angle shots of a stationary cockpit with a solid sky background. And what exactly gal photographer is supposed to be taking pictures of? Again I’m left a bit confused.
Between the investigating and bickering we get some rattlesnake attacks on unsuspecting victims. Maybe if you have a great fear of snakes they’ll creep some people out, but for the rest of us they’re average at best. It’s routine stuff – someone looking around, seeing the snakes, screaming, panic, rattler strikes. There’s really not much gore or suspense to them, so don’t expect the snakes to save the movie
The best attack is the bathtub girl, just because once again it’s so ludicrous. Desperate for a bath this girl just can’t wait for the plumber to fix her hot water. She somehow fills her tub though while he gets bitten under her house. She’s soaking in the tub when the rattlers slither up into the tub with her.
Maybe this scene titillated young viewers in 1976 – even without any nudity. But today it plays as pretty cheesy.
The romance between the herpetologist and gal photographer is also extremely corny and badly done it will get you chuckling. It doesn’t help the actors, especially the actress, are quite bad. It’s not so much acting as just reciting lines. She gives a porno-level quality acting performance.
The sudden detour they take for a Vegas getaway is completely crazy. Like, it just comes out of nowhere. I was thinking there’s this emergency they’re supposed to be helping to stop with these rattlesnakes killing people you know, and then suddenly they’re prancing around Vegas fountains. What a brassy way of including some romance into this flick.
Oh yeah that military base comes into play, but again it’s routine, barely any mystery to be unearthed that you wouldn’t be able to pick out from the first mention of it and just barrels through it to give an explanation to these weird rattlesnakes.
I’m in no way saying Rattlers is a mandatory horror flick that must be watched. I’d say 95% of movie watchers would best avoid it. But to that 5% who relish these kinds of poorly made old movies they might find some entertaining gold here. You should know who you are.
Maybe that number should be closer to 3%…..