Dustin Ferguson’s ‘Rattlers 2’ (2021): 45 Years Later, The Snakes Are Back – Movie Review

Back in 1976, a film called Rattlers was released. Directed by John McCauley, this “science bastardizes nature” film told the story of a group of ticked off, mutated rattlesnakes that were genetically altered after a hushed up chemical spill at the fault of the Army. Forty-five years later, a resurgence of these swarming terrors cramp the style of Californians once again in Dustin Ferguson’s Rattlers 2.

Rattlers, John McCauley
A still from the 1976 film, ‘Rattlers’

Shot both on location and on studio soundstages, Rattlers 2 is directed by Dark Infinity aka Dustin Ferguson (The Beast Beneath 2020 – read our review here) and co-written by After Hours Cinema’s Josh Price and Lee Turner. Thom Michael Mulligan (Amityville In The Hood 2021), Joe Williamson (The Beast Beneath 2020), Saul Mejia (Bubba’s Dead: The Final Massacre 2021), and Jamie Robert MacDougal (Toilet Zombie Baby Strikes Back 2021 – read our review here) produced this venomous snakefest, while Juli Hapney (Joe Bob’s Haunted Drive-in 2020) created the special effects.

The cast includes Malvolia: Queen of Screams herself, Jenn Nangle, Shawn C. Phillips (13 Slays Till X-Mas 2020 – read our review here), Erik Anthony Russo (Toilet Zombie Baby Strikes Back 2021), Moon of the Blood Beast’s Dawna Lee Heising (read our interview with her here), Mel Novak (Eternal Code 2019 – read our review here), Brinke Stevens (Teacher Shortage 2020 – read our review here), Mercedes Peterson (Bloodthirst 2021 – read our review here), D.T. Carney (Lake Of Shadows 2019), Peter Stickles (Deathcember 2020), Scott Butler (Holy Terror 2017), and Apex Predator’s Julie Anne Prescott (read our interview with her here).

What Works

I absolutely love that Rattlers 2 is not only a sequel to John McCauley’s 1976 film, but the 70 minute long ride through the venomous desert is also sprinkled through with clips—used as flashbacks—from the original movie. What a great way to bring on an homage without rattling off (no pun intended) boring exposition speeches. There’s also a shoutout to Jaws with the Commissioner (Novak) not wanting to close the area down for the 4th of July weekend. I like that Professor McCauley is named after the 1976 film’s director… another perfect homage. Plus, there’s the obvious links to Ferguson’s 2020 film, The Beast Beneath, where random people are killed in the desert by something evil that lurks beneath the sand. Erik Anthony Russo, Mel Novak and D.T. Carney all play the same roles (although not the same characters) in both movies.

The score is wonderful as well, a perfectly ’70s ditty full of whimsical pianos and flutes, which helps tie it all together. There’s even a sexual relationship between an older woman and a younger man, which is so anti-Hollywood that I stood up and cheered when I saw them. It’s bad enough that mainstream filmmakers drop women like they’re hot potatoes once they hit 35, but every film relationship they’ve had in their short careers are with a men twice their age. So that fact that Ferguson sees the value and beauty in an older woman this much makes me love him even more.

Rattlers 2, Shawn c phillips
Shawn C. Phillips in ‘Rattlers 2’

Watching Rattlers 2 made me realize just how phallic snakes are and how easily they can fit through a pipe or under a door. Both Rattlers 2 and the first film had women getting attacked while naked and unaware in the bathtub, dropping into the water right between their legs and ready to do some damage. Just thinking about where it could go if left to its own devices is pretty nasty.

Last but not least, there’s this fantastic scene between a rattlesnake and a squirrel. I don’t know if this was from the original film or if it was newly shot. I also don’t know if it was something just randomly caught on tape or if the squirrel is trained in some way. And I don’t really care. It’s awesome and one of the tensest moments of the film.

Rattlers 1976
A still from the 1976 film, ‘Rattlers’

What Doesn’t Work

For someone with Ophidiophobia, or the crippling fear of snakes, Rattlers 2 would send them into a paralyzing state of terror. Unfortunately, I don’t check the Ophidiophobia fear box, so this film isn’t really scary to me. As a matter of fact, my kids had a pet garter snake for ten years—his name was Bob— and one of my favorite things to do was feed him live earthworms. He was so cool how he swallowed them down without biting or chewing. But I digress. I can certainly see where other people would be terrified of these critters, though.

There are also a few times when the film got a bit too ridiculous, like the appearance of the CGI/fake snakes. In a movie about killer snakes, I hoped for something that looked a bit more realistic. Or if not more realistic, then a more tongue-in-cheek flow to the rest of the film. There are also inconsistencies like the fact that Professor McCauley has a computer keyboard on his desk but no monitor or screen to go with it. A few scenic shots could have been edited down a bit as well. While they’re not detrimental, noticing these things took me out of the film a bit.

Rattlers 2 DVD
The back of the ‘Rattlers 2’ DVD case listing all of the awesome extras.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Rattlers 2 is a great homage to the original 1976 film. If you’re already afraid of snakes, then this film will have you forgoing a relaxing bath for months. Rattlers 2 is available for VOD or on DVD though Kunaki.com.

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

Check Also

Friday the 13th

Return To Crystal Lake: How ‘FRIDAY THE 13TH’ (2009) Gave Us One Last Good Slash To Tide Us Over

Whether you consider it a remake or a sequel, Marcus Nispel’s Friday the 13th (2009) was …