About “Snakes on Film”

Ever see a military history buff nitpick a war movie? You know, like when he points out that the Japanese planes used in Tora! Tora! Tora! aren’t really Zeros, but training planes painted to look that way?

I’m like that with snakes.

Scene from 'Snakes on a Plane'Knowing too much about a subject can give you a little thrill when you see it done right on the big screen: the Slashdot nerds just about wet themselves when Trinity used valid UNIX code in The Matrix Reloaded. But it can also spoil the fun, as when this hapless passenger in Snakes on a Plane screams in terror — at a snake that I could immediately tell was an Eastern Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula getula), a common, absolutely harmless pet-store species.

It’s hard to take a scary movie seriously when I can immediately see that the snake they used in the movie is not only completely harmless, but I’ve got three of them in the next room. Or when a snake does something that is a complete and total biological impossibility. Or when a snake from one continent turns up on another — that’s like finding polar bears in the Antarctic.

Since my fun is spoiled by my knowledge, I thought I’d spread the joy by obsessively cataloguing scenes like these on Snakes on Film. Not everyone likes having their fantasy “ruined” — which is to say, explained — but others might find this interesting in a behind-the-curtains way.

If nothing else, debunking the reptile myths that storytellers trade on is something that earnest reptile hobbyists do all the time, and boy are we didactic about it.

About the Author

meJonathan Crowe is fond of movies and snakes, both of which he collects. From his home in Shawville, Quebec, where he lives with his partner, Jennifer Seely, he pumps out projects that reflect his diverse and idiosyncratic interests. These include The Map Room, a weblog about maps, DFL, a weblog about last-place finishes in the Olympics, and Gartersnake.info, a site for garter snake enthusiasts. He is opposed to rattlesnake roundups, colourizing old movies, and mongooses.