Despite the fact my mother is deathly afraid of snakes, I have always has a fascination, and I’ll never forget the time when I was in Grade 5 where we had a snakes and reptiles exhibition at school. I was in my glory, I was able to touch and pick up lizards and snakes. Some native to Australia, others that were not, and nothing too dangerous however there was a small element of fear with the bigger snakes. The most impressive creature was the nicely sized diamond python, the way it moved was hypnotic and the chance to touch it was exciting. This experience just helped with my fascination for these creatures, and in some ways I can relate to host Henry Rollins who also has a deep affinity for snakes.
Snake Underworld is an interesting look at people who share a passion for these creatures, to the ones who own them to others who have illegal possession and to a man who actually injects himself with venom. This documentary is not for the weak at heart, as the dangers of snakes is covered and seeing some of the horrific injuries is hard to stomach at times. The aim of this documentary is show snakes in a different light, and to try and uncover why they are such interesting forces of nature.
Rollins admits he has been intrigued by snakes his whole life, and during the course of things he has owned them. He knows a great deal and he has a strong understanding. He meets other people who own snakes, the first person we meet actually has some one off breeds and their colours and patterns are quite stunning. It then moves on to venomous snakes and one man under went 1000 hours of training and the like in order to be able to own them. It is apparent why this is, and it certainly looks at the dangers of what happens if you aren’t qualified to handle them. They aren’t aggressive but when treated in such a way they wont hesitate to defend themselves, safety is an important issue and this is covered quite well.
Some of the more memorable and shocking moments involve a woman who was outside and without noticing got bitten by a rattlesnake. Her condition was critical and the anti-venom was having a hard time taking affect. Her story is unfortunately one many people have faced and some who have not been so lucky. It is a stern warning that if you are in that territory to watch out carefully. Having spent a few days right in the heart of the outback, with nothing for kilometers, snakes were around. More than anything we aware we had to be observant of if they were around and to calm our fears and move slowly if spotted. At that time the snakes were still and just resting, if they don’t notice you and you let them be your chances of getting attacked are pretty minimal.
The other shocker was the man who actually injected himself with venom, but not just any venom, several types including that of a black mamba (and no not Beatrix Kiddo). We actually see him collecting the venom with Rollins helping him, and then we see him injecting it and how he reacts. Normally this would kill a person, but the man by doing this had built up immunity and was able to fight off the affects a lot stronger. Obviously not recommended but it certainly was eye opening.
I loved this documentary; I only wished it was longer and Henry Rollins being the legend that he is was a great host. He is an incredibly intelligent man, and he certainly stresses all the strong points, in this attempt to give more understanding to snakes. It really works, and this a great watch, proceeds of the sale of the DVD go to National Geographic’s non-profit organisation.
The Australian DVD
Audio/Video: The video is a 16:9 widescreen presentation, the video quality is a little better than what you’d find on TV. It is pretty good but it isn’t anything to write home about. Audio is presented with Dolby Digital 2.0. the audio is fine, it is quite clear and you wont miss anything.
Thanks to Ben from MadMan for his support.