Snake Eater (1989)

This was originally posted on Strange Kids Club as part of the So Bad, It’s Good series of articles I contributed to to for a few years.



Take 2 scoops of Rambo, a few good ol’ boys bring a healthy dose of Deliverance with them and a dash of hillbilly mutation ala The Hills Have Eyes, throw it all into a tanktop and a pair of stone washed jeans and you end up with the 1980’s action flick Snake Eater… sort of. This one is quite the mixed bag of influences. A child of the 80’s, and only a decade as confused yet strangely captivating could have produced such trashy cinematic gold, Snake Eater stars Lorenzo Lamas as Soldier (yup, that’s right folks, keep it really simple is the motto this time around), is working undercover for the police after he returns home from serving in the army.

The backstory is that Soldier was a member of the special Snake Eater squad, purported to be the baddest and craziest mothers in the army, and apparently he was too crazy even for the likes of them. Within the first fifteen minutes, Soldier has seduced his undercover drug deal contact (this is a lady contact for those playing the home game), busting out the old school yard classic “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine” to prove he’s not wearing a wire. In Bond-esque fashion, this ends with them doing the nasty on the floor of a dilapidated crack shack. Oh, and that wire that he’s definitely got on him? I’ll let you take one guess where he hid it. Let’s just say that, apparently, you can store more than your grand daddy’s war watch up there.

Anyways, once we’re introduced to our hero we watch him get kicked off the squad for being too reckless. So what does he do? The only logical thing to do – hit up a biker bar and fight the meanest people he can find! It’s a great stress reliever, I highly recommend it! It’s mid-tussle that he discovers his family (because even Rambo has a mom) has been killed in a house boating accident. Upset and wanting answers, Soldier finds out who rented his family the boat and confronts him, only to discover that the house boat fire was more mysterious than previously thought.

Remember how I said there was a dose of some “good ol’ boys” in this movie? Well, here’s where they come into play. They were actually the cause of the “accident,” which in reality was an assault/robbery on the family, ending in the death of everyone except Soldier’s sister, who was taken captive. Maybe you’d be driven to theft and murder too if you spent your entire life eating iradiated fish sticks and trying to get it on with your family members. Oh, the mysteries the swamp holds…

Doing what any Rambo-esque character would do, Soldier sets off up river (isn’t it always up river? Why does no one ever live down river?) to avenge his family and save his sister from the greasy, inbred clutches of the Deliverance rejects. But wait, how does Soldier get up river you ask? Obviously, the answer to that question is a boat made from his chopper bike! Don’t worry though kids, they kept the chopper bars just so you KNOW Soldier means business.

With his new trusty steed, our Rambo ripoff hero now needs to assemble a team. So, he enlists the owner of the boat rental place (the same who made him his sweet ass chopper boat) and the owner’s daughter, The Kid. As any seasoned B-level action fan will tell you, having people with you on a mission can really only end one of two ways for them: death or capture. Thankfully, Snake Eater doesn’t make us choose and we get both!
Turns out our river-dwelling, family-killing, sister-stealing friends like to play dress up with Ma’s bear skin rug and use it as a cover to kill people. This is actually a surprisingly good idea considering the caliber of writing on display, but if you throw everything at the wall, something is bound to stick right? Anyways, a “bear mauling” ensues and one of the cannon fodder *ahem* helpful tag alongs is killed, leaving Soldier and the Kid to be captured.
At this point in the movie, Soldier goes into full Rambo mode, enacting revenge on the swamp-dwelling, Blinky-the-fish-eating killers and rescues his sister. And what does a crazy ex-army badass do to celebrate? Go back to his job at the preceint like nothing happened, setting us up for the hopefully equally entertaining sequel. Snake Eater is pretty much a perfect storm of bad acting, bad dialogue and over the top 80’s action set piece, managing to entertain the whole way through. Hop on your chopper boat and head up river to the nearest video store (they’re out there, you just need to look really hard!) and check this slice of 80’s goodness out.

In conclusion:
A chopper modified into a watercraft? Check!
Not one, but two guys named Junior? Check!
Dress up time with a bear skin? Check!

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