Sometimes, you have to love how real life can inspire fiction. In 2002, snakehead were discovered in a pond in Crofton, Maryland and after the main pond and two nearby ponds were poisoned and they discovered 6 adult and over 1000 juvenile snakefish in the lakes. Two movies were made that aired on Syfy in 2004, today’s movie and Frankenfish, and of course I would wind up owning both of them. Now, Frankenfish was pretty lousy so let’s see if today’s movie, Snakehead Terror, is any better.
The plot: When several snakeheads are found in Cultus Lake, authorities use poison in the lake to get rid of the invasive fish. Two years later, a hunter is out in the woods with his dog when they find the carcass of a bear and when his dog chases after something it sees, it ends up being killed in the lake and the hunter is killed when he follows after it. Sheriff Patrick James arrives at his office and comments to his deputy about the lack of people signing up for fishing licenses when his daughter Amber shows up. Amber tries to tell him that she wants to go to Paris with her boyfriend over the summer when Patrick is called away to the scene of a dead body on the lake. When Patrick arrives at the lake, he sees the mutilated body of the dog on the shore and after shooing away the onlookers, finds a hunter’s vest and arm in the lake. At another part of the lake, Amber apologizes to her boyfriend James and says that she will talk to her dad that night about the trip. The then head to a party on the lake shore and meet up with their friends and James is challenged to swimming race in the lake by their friend Luke. The two boys are taken out to an anchored jetty and race from their back to the pier but as they are swimming, James is attacked by some snakeheads and killed. After taking Amber home and making sure she is ok, Patrick heads to the coroner’s office to see if he has any information on what might have killed Dave and the others and Doc Jenkins shows him a tooth he pulled from the dog and says the only thing he can think of that could do this is an alligator. Patrick heads over to the mayor’s house and wakes him up then talks to him about closing the lake but the mayor balks on the idea, as the town is barely starting to recover after the lake’s poisoning and another bad year will kill it. After checking on Amber, and getting into an argument with her about her planned trip to Europe, Patrick is met by Lori Dale, a biologist that had come down to help identify the tooth that was recovered. After seeing the bodies and examining the tooth, Lori says that it is a snakehead, though one that is abnormally large. That night, a man is fishing on a dock when he sees a baby snakehead getting into his bait bucket. When he stabs it, the baby cries out and an adult snakehead leaps out of the water and rips off the man’s leg while a second one knocks him into the water. The next day, Lori is on the phone at the sheriff’s office to try and get some help when Sammy, a local reporter, over hears her talking about snakeheads and decides to send his photographer to the lake to get pictures while he writes up a story. While Patrick and Lori are at the lake getting water samples, the photographer is at another part of the lake and finds a snakehead but ends up getting killed. That night, Sammy is driving back to the newspaper office when he sees a large group of snakeheads shuffling across the road. He runs over several of them and ends up crashing and as he regains consciousness, he is killed by some of the surviving fish. The next day, Sammy’s story brings dozens of fishermen to the area and Patrick tells his deputies to tell them to stay out of the lake. Meanwhile, Lori is testing the water she collected and finds it contains a steroid, which she thinks is what is making the snakeheads grow so large. Meanwhile, Amber, Luke, Craig, and Jagger decide to go out and hunt down the snakehead to get revenge on James. On the docks, the mayor is arguing with Patrick over his putting up “No Swimming” signs when they see a commotion on the dock. When they go to check it out, they see some fishermen have caught a large snakehead and after they cut it open, a human hand is discovered. Patrick heads out into the lake to see if there are more snakehead and Lori goes with and explains what she found. They find an overturned boat and more signs of people being killed when the boat is attacked by snakehead but Patrick manages to scare them off after killing one of them. As they are heading back, they see Colin, Doc Jenkins’ brother and owner of the bait shop, pouring some chemicals in the water and he runs when he sees them approaching but they find the chemicals are human growth hormone. Back on the lake, Amber and the others try finding a snakehead and almost wreck into another boat when they do find one. As the two fishermen yell at the kids, Craig sees more fish approaching and they start attacking the boats. One of the fishermen is knocked into the water and as Craig tries to help him into their boat, he is dragged into the water and both of them are killed. The other fisherman is killed when Jagger accidenatlly shoots their boat’s engine and it explodes, while Luke is injured and falls into the water and Craig’s boat springs a leak. As a snakehead works its way through the hole in the boat, Amber makes her way to the nearby island and crashes there, then uses the boats propeller to kill the snakehead that bit her arm. They find that Luke had survived but his leg is injured and make their way inland, where they find a cabin in the woods. When they reach it, they find that the people inside have been killed by snakeheads and Amber and Luke kill one that was still in the cabin. Meanwhile, Patrick and Deputy Reese find evidence that Doc Jenkins had ordered the human growth hormone and so Patrick and Lori go after him and capture him. Jenkins reveals he did it to help save his brother’s shop as well as the town, but had he known the snakeheads had survived, he wouldn’t have done so. Back on the island, Amber, Jagger, and Luke head to the beach and light a fire to try and signal for help but they see some snakeheads coming out of the water towards them and are forced to head back to the cabin. Meanwhile, Colin heads to the island to bury the remaining containers of HGH when he finds himself surrounded by snakeheads and is killed. Patrick finds out about Amber being on the lake and he heads out with Lori to find her but as they see Craig’s boat on the beach, they are attacked by snakeheads and end up crashing into the dock. As they leave the boat, they see a whale sized snakehead breach out of the water and try to figure out what they are going to do about that one. Back at the cabin, Amber and Jagger try to find some weapons to use when the cabin is attacked by snakeheads and they try to fend them off but Luke is killed in the process. Patrick and Lori arrive at the cabin and Patrick has Lori rescue the girls while he heads back to the dock, having decided to use the cable for the town’s electrical grid to kill off the snakeheads. Lori rescues the girls, though Jagger receives a mild shock which disorients her, and they head to the dock to find that Patrick has shot the cable loose from the pole and tells Lori and Amber to throw the cable into the lake. As the giant snakehead attacks the dock to try and get to Patrick, they manage to throw the cable into the lake and electrocute all of the snakehead in the lake, including the giant one.
For such an interesting story, you would think they could have done a better job turning it into a movie, especially a cheesy sci-fi one. This movie was honestly not that good. The acting was ok, with Bruce Boxleitner (Patrick), William B. Davis (Jenkins), and Carol Alt (Lori) doing decent jobs in their roles. The story was a little weak with it’s explanations and just kind of half-assed things with the set-up. The special effects were on the weak side, especially when they tried to do closeups of the snakeheads killing people. Alas, it is one of the rare disappointments from a Syfy original movie. It happens from time to time so you will probably want to skip this one and find something else to watch.
Rating: 2 out of 5