When Indiana Jones climbed into an airplane 25 years ago and escaped a throng of spear-throwing tribal warriors, he discovered he wasn't the only passenger. Coiling at his feet, a boa constrictor hissed a hello.

"There's a big snake in the plane, Jock!" Indy shouted to the pilot, hysterical.

Smiling, the pilot assured Indy that the fellow with the forked tongue was just his "pet"—Reggie—and there was nothing to worry about. Sure enough, Jones survived, and went on to face far more dangerous snakes, escaping unscathed every time.

But I would imagine that even the most accomplished snake handler would squirm at the thought of being trapped on an airplane with a snake on the loose. And what if there were dozens of snakes? What if there were more than four hundred?

So, it's no surprise that when the aptly (asp-tly?) titled Snakes on a Plane opened this week, theaters across the country filled with screams. But, thanks to director David R. Ellis, there was a lot of laughter as well. The cast—including Hollywood's favorite tough guy Samuel L. Jackson, and Juliana Marguiles of TV's E.R.—takes things over the top, and almost anything that could go wrong on that airplane does go spectacularly wrong.

Thanks to the Internet, the movie was a cult classic even before it opened. (One website challenged us to come up with the best sequel idea; suggestions included Kittens on a Kayak and Sharks on a Rollercoaster, but my favorite was Walrus on a Conveyor Belt.) And, according to film critics, the film may not be a classic, but it apparently delivers sufficiently on its promise of madness, mayhem, thrills, and chills. The hilarity has inspired some of them to compare Snakes on a Plane to Arachnophobia and Gremlins.

Russ ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.