Dustin Ferguson’s film Rattlers 2 is billed as a sequel to the 1976 film Rattlers. Probably best remembered now as probably the only PG-rated film the late exploitation producer Harry H. Novak (Wam Bam Thank You Spaceman, Please Don’t Eat My Mother!) was involved with. The plot revolved around a town that comes under attack from rattlesnakes exposed to an experimental nerve gas.
Now 45 years later people are turning up dead from snakebites. At first, it seems accidental, a photographer falling into a nest of the snakes. Then Jessica (Julie Anne Prescott, Final Caller, Axed to Pieces) and Mike (Eric Larsen, Serena Waits) are attacked while camping.
Sheriff Wilson (D.T. Carney, Tales from the Campfire 3, Axegrinder 2) immediately thinks of the original attacks which happened while his father was sheriff. Of course, the Davis Ridge area where the attack occurred is where Commissioner Lewis (Mel Novak, Black Belt Jones, An Hour to Kill) is about to break ground on a new recreation complex. And he has no plans of stopping work on that, despite what the Sheriff and herpetologist Dr. Kaye (Mercedes Peterson, Anna 2, A Life to Choose) tell him.
Rattlers 2 incorporates a fair amount of footage from the original, including its two most memorable death scenes. One of them is used as the Sheriff’s flashback. Much of the rest is condensed into a recap of the film’s events as remembered by Commissioner Lewis. The rest however seems almost randomly spliced in to kill time, and a movie that barely hits the seventy-minute mark shouldn’t need padding.
The film also feels like a semi-sequel to Ferguson’s film The Beast Beneath. Not only does its hare locations and several cast members with Rattlers 2, but a couple of them including Novak and Carney play essentially the same character but with a different name.
Writers Josh Price and Lee Turner keep things in the new footage interesting and moving at a fast enough pace that it didn’t matter how familiar it all was. And, unlike some of Ferguson’s earlier films, it isn’t just a series of random people going into the woods and dying. There are a couple of moments that didn’t work for me. A rattlesnake acting like an anaconda and dragging its victim to her death for example. Showing the original’s bathtub scene and then trying to restage it was another. Even with Brinke Stevens (Eminence Hill, The Slumber Party Massacre) in the tub, it seems like a weak copy, maybe due to the obvious rubber snakes.
Thankfully the final attack at the Commissioner’s firework celebration isn’t ruined by some equally obvious CGI serpents. Watch for some familiar faces in the crowd including Jennifer Nangle (Irrational Fear, That Night), Dawna Lee Heising (Bad President, Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance) and Shawn C. Phillips (Rise of the Mummy, Urban Fears).
The DVD includes a few extras including the host’s segments from the debut showing of Rattlers 2 on WGUD-TV’s After Hours Cinema, trailers, behind-the-scenes footage and some outtakes. You can check SCS Entertainment’s Facebook page for details on ordering the DVD and where to stream it. And, for the curious, I’ve included 1976 original for your viewing pleasure.