Anyone that has spent any amount of time fishing through the oldest entries on the site will know that I have a certain affinity for rattlesnakes and rattlesnakes in cinema. Knowing that, one would also assume that Stanley would be my holy grail, the film to end all rattlesnake films. Horror gods, why do you mock me? All I want is for there to be some ridiculously awesome underground rattlesnake movie that no one knows about that I can discover and praise as my new idol. Stanley is the epitome of cheesy, low-budget filmmaking that serves as a cheap cash in on a more popular and better made film. Director Bill Grefe plainly states in the making of that the film was dreamed up shortly after he noticed the box office success of Willard, and that there was absolutely no script and only a string of ideas taped together when the film was being sold.
Let me first commend Chris Robinson for his gut-wrenching bravery in handling live rattlesnakes, even hanging them around his fucking neck!! In truth, I was terrified throughout many of the snake-handling scenes, where there were absolutely no cheap stand-ins, but rather true Florida Brown rattlers with their fangs trimmed. I dont care how fucking safe you think that is, all it takes is for the wrangler to accidentally forget and put one live one in the bunch and your dead. Robinson casually handles several 5' long serpents reaching up to 35lbs, and that is absolutely commendable. Ugh, sends shivers down my spine..
Now, back to the actual review. Stanley tells the tale of a backwoods animal lover, Tim, who seeks revenge against those who have wronged him, using his pet rattler Stanley to do his evil bidding. Oh, and he's telepathically linked to the snake. There is no mistaking that while there was a glimmer of a plot in there somewhere, the overall idea here was never fleshed out, resulting in a painfully slow pace and an abundance of unnecessary scenes that only serve to distract and bore. Given the budget, the acting is forgivable, and Robinson plays a pretty convincing role. Grefe manages to do as much as he can with the few bucks he spent, but there is a serious lack of action that loses any momentum that the snake attack scenes may have built. To his advantage, he was able to use the Everglades setting to give the film a larger feel and attractive background for the characters. As much as I tried to stay involved and interested, however, I just couldnt do it, and found myself tempted to fast-forward towards the end (heresy!!). I highly recommend checking out the featurettes, though, which are infinitely more interesting than the film itself, and are an excellent resource for up and coming indie filmmakers. In the end, this film is only for the hardcore animal horror fans, or nostalgic fans that grew up on low-budget 70s horror.
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