Lockjaw: Rise Of The Kulev Serpent (2008)

JANUARY 20, 2009


I guess it might be confusing to hear me trash a movie like Hit And Run for being inept and having no likable characters, but also praise something like Cathy’s Curse, which is inept and features no likable characters. The difference is, movies like Cathy’s have that certain je ne sais quoi that makes them special in their own weird little way, a quality something like Hit And Run grossly lacks. It’s worth investigating in greater detail (though not by me – I hate research), I think. Because once that special quality is determined, I might be able to figure out which category Lockjaw: Rise Of The Kalev Serpent (DVD title: Carnivorous) falls in, because I even re-watched parts of it and I am still not sure.

For starters, “star” DMX barely appears in the movie, and when he does, he’s by himself or composited into the shot with the other actors. An obvious standin is used for other shots (how often do you see a movie in which the star’s face is hardly ever lit?), and director Amir Valinia makes laughable attempts to get him into the story more through “creative” editing. At one point they just cut to a random shot of DMX slashing some branches in order to make his way through a field, which would be fine if his character wasn’t still at home at this point of the movie.

Another lovably terrible thing about this movie is that it’s really only 68 minutes long. The disc has a total running time of 83 minutes, but that includes the film’s trailer at the top of the film, 5 minutes of out-of-order opening credits over close-ups of random household objects, and a NINE minute end credit scroll (so long that the music runs out halfway through and you watch the rest in silence), which is also not only out of order, but not even consistently written - at one point they swap the order of “title/name”:

So Supervising Sound Editor was the Michael McDonald? Cool.

Then there’s the dialogue. Most of it seems like it was written by a 15 year old with a hardon, but there are some truly wonderful gems here and there that suggest it was actually written by a wiseass PRETENDING to be a 15 year old with a hardon. There’s a random running gag about lamps that got me chuckling, and a guy in the opening scene suddenly says “You possum bastards!” (or “You AWESOME bastards!” – I couldn’t tell, and both are equally amazing) after dropping his keys. Plot development is just as juvenile; there’s a guy who doesn’t seem to mind his girlfriend giving his buddy a pretty hands-heavy lapdance, and another guy who literally skateboards in and out of his scenes (even interior ones).

The best thing though, is the event that kicks off what passes for a plot. Our heroes (let’s just go with it) are driving around, and the one dude is feeling up the girlfriend of the other guy (who is sitting on the other side of her, apparently blind or not too concerned). The two “nice” folks in the group are in the backseat, sharing an ipod via a splitter that the girl had for some reason. And this is what passes for an explanation as to why none of them notice when they run over a woman standing in the road. I’m not even joking, they hit her dead on and no one really notices. The nice girl wonders what the bump was, and wants to check, but the others are like “what bump?” and the conversation ends. It puts the “accident” scene in Reefer Madness to shame.

The movie then becomes a slasher version of Pumpkinhead, albeit with a snake. The husband, who doesn’t really seem all that upset, draws a picture of a snake with a magic voodoo crayon, and then the snake becomes real and goes about picking off the kids one by one. But then he feels bad and decides to try to stop it. DMX plays the son of the guy who the husband got the voodoo crayon from, and for some reason this convinces him to get a bazooka from the local gang (in Iowa?) and hunt it down.

But see, this is exactly the problem as to why I can’t even decide if this movie is “Bad Awesome” or just plain bad. You read all that and it sounds amazing, but it’s actually really fucking boring. The snake carnage only makes up about 20 minutes’ worth of the 68 minutes. Before the guy even draws the snake, we watch nearly 20 minutes of the husband and wife hanging out in their garden and playfully arguing about digging some holes, and almost as many scenes involving the various relationships between our moronic characters. And, needless to say, the snake footage is hardly impressive (though it’s surprisingly better than anything in Anaconda 3). It’s kind of interesting that they use it almost like a masked killer - it even impales a guy while he’s fucking his girlfriend, a move taken from any number of Friday the 13ths – but it’s never particularly exciting or interesting.

But as the saying goes – it’s impossible to hate a movie in which a guy is eaten by a snake and not only survives that but also the close-range bazooka shot that kills said snake.

What say you?


  1. Dude, what about the scene where they figure out that the only way to kill the Kulev serpent is to tape the magical drawing of it to a lamp and then tie a bunch of knives and forks to the top of the lamp to stab it with? And then they go out in the field with the lamp, and the one kid still has his skateboard, and then suddenly the lamp isn't there any more and they kill the Kulev serpent with the bazooka and this plot point is NEVER REFERENCED AGAIN?! I totally hear you on this one. There's a reason this was #2 on Sam Derrick's 2008 list: this movie isn't just bad, it's awesomely bad. See also: Animals!

  2. Awesomely bad or badly bad, now I gotta see it.
    DMX not really being all that much in his own movie sounds like a definite plus to me - Ed Wood would be proud.

  3. Yeah. I'm netflixing this one. Thoughts to come.


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