Along with spiders, snakes are one of the most feared creatures in our animal kingdom. This seems ripe for some seriously chilling horror picks but surprisingly, snake films extend far beyond the typical creature feature flicks one may expect.
We’ve combed through the archives to bring together our list of favourite movies featuring snakes as the central character – or a key component to the main plot line. As always, if you feel like we’ve missed off one of your favourites, do drop us a comment below!
The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity
The latest Chinese epic opens with a dazzling fight sequence, combining elements of Doctor Strange with grandiose magic as an evil serpent begins to stir, threatening to kill the guardians that have been sent to defend their land.
In this world, demon and human occupy the same space and in true fantasy fashion, our protagonist Qingming just so happens to be half-human and half-demon. He travels to the Imperial City but in doing so, immediately crosses paths with hot-headed guardian Boya, who loathes demons but takes a shining to Qingming.
A murder inside the palace forces them both to team up in order to track who the killer is, leading to a race against time to stop the evil serpent before it’s too late.
Well written and packed full of dazzling set pieces, Dream of Eternity is a pretty decent film and definitely worth checking out.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Genre: Family, Drama, Fantasy
While you could argue that every Harry Potter film could make this list, the second film in the collection is the one that leans into its snake mythology and ideas the most.
With the Slytherin house under the spotlight and something sinister lurking in the depths of Hogwarts, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets sees our boy wizard return to his magical school and caught in the middle of another plot to take his life and bring Voldemort back from the dead.
Chamber of Secrets is arguably one of the least memorable Potter movies but remains one of the creepiest for its portrayal of snakes.
The late 90’s had a knack for delivering a whole bunch of goofy, over-the-top creature features. 1997’s Anaconda was one of those films. The premise here revolves around a movie crew who set out to film a documentary. Headed by anthropologist Steve Cale and working alongside director Terri Flores, the pair find themselves in the clutches of Paul Sarone, who just so happens to be a snake-hunter.
After seizing control of the boat, he takes the pair on an insane mission to try and catch a giant snake. Armed with hilarious CGI and practical effects, Anaconda feels more like a comedy/horror than an outright scary flick but it’s undeniably one of the better snake movies out there.
Snakes On A Plane
Snakes On A Plane is utterly ridiculous but undeniably memorable – mostly for Samuel L. Jackson’s camp exclamation of despair in the wake of snakes being released on (yep, you guessed it) a plane. Specifically, Jackson plays FBI agent Neville Flynn who finds himself on a plane full of deadly venomous snakes.
Deliberately released to kill a witness, a fight for survival ensues as Neville teams up with the passengers to try and thwart the threat.
It’s best not to go into this one with high expectations and take the premise with a pinch of salt. If you can do that, the film does lend itself to some good humour and a couple of golden segments worth sticking around for.
Unlike Anaconda’s patchy practical and CGI effects, the snakes used in Fangs were all real. This will certainly unnerve a lot of people with ophidiophobia, and the film plays on that idea with its central plot.
Fangs follows a cranky old man named Snakey Bender who collects snakes and sells them on to a university. Unfortunately a preacher in town turns everyone against him, prompting ol’ Snakey to exact his revenge by killing off his enemies with different venomous snakes.
There’s nothing particularly challenging or unique about this picture but it is a classic snake romp nonetheless.
Venom is one of those movies that sounds absolutely ridiculous in principle but makes good with a solid execution.
The story here centers on a group of international terrorists who attempt to kidnap a wealthy couple’s child. Unfortunately their plan comes completely unstuck when a deadly Black Mamba stalks several hostages and terrorists, who find themselves trapped in this London home together.
A tense evening inevitably ensues as the deadly snake creeps around the house picking off the different characters one by one.
Venom is a typical slasher/creature-feature flick but despite its simplicity, actually does a pretty good job with its run-time.
Sssssss has absolutely no right to be as enjoyable as it turns out to be. On paper, the premise seems suitably ridiculous but the movie adopts a pretty serious tone throughout, which helps to heighten a lot of the drama in this one.
Our main character is David, a college student who’s out looking for a job. He’s hired by Dr. Stoner as a lab assistant for his research while he experiments on snakes. It turns out though that Dr. Stoner has secretly concocted a serum that can transform any man into a King Cobra snake…and David is going to be his test subject.
There’s a love interest in here too, interestingly in the form of Stoner’s young daughter Kristina, but for the most part this movie plays out as a dark drama with some compelling effects given the time it was released.
Conan The Barbarian
Conan the Barbarian is an absolute classic and has lots of interesting snake mythology at its core. This is also the movie that catapulted Arnold Schwarzenegger into the limelight of Hollywood.
The story here revolves around Conan, who finds his entire village attacked by the evil ruler of a snake cult called Thulsa Doom. After enslaving Conan, our barbarian eventually grows to become a mighty warrior and gladiator, eventually set free.
Determined to avenge his parents, he teams up with a motley crew to rescue the princess from the snake cult and stop Doom before it’s too late.
The movie adopts all the usual fantasy hallmarks for this genre, but it wraps the plot up in a compelling adventure story that’s highly enjoyable from start to finish.
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Although the movie only features a small segment involving snakes, it’s an important one given Indie has a fear of them. Raiders of the Lost Ark is arguably the best Indiana Jones movie too, and the plot here takes place deep in the heart of 1936.
Venturing out into the jungles, the opening to Lost Ark is one of the best in any mainstream movie. After an exhilarating chase sequence, Jones catches wind of a biblical artifact known as The Ark of the Covenant. This inevitably sends Indie off galivanting across the globe from Nepal to Egypt on the hunt for this prize. The only trouble is, a band of Nazis are also on the hunt too.
Well written, beautifully paced and undeniably timeless, Raiders of the Lost Ark is the quintessential adventure movie.
The Sorcerer And The White Snake
Another Chinese picture, The Sorcerer And The White Snake is an action-packed movie, chock full of fantastical imagery, decent cinematography and a compelling story. At the heart of this, the story revolves around a sorcerer called Abott Fahai who finds himself in a battle against a barrage of demon temptresses.
Desperate to save a man’s soul from an ancient serpent, Abott soon learns that this snake has taken up residency inside a woman’s body. What ensues is a desperate fight to stop this serpent from causing havoc.
While not an outright snake movie like some of the others on this list, The Sorcerer And The White Snake is still a highly enjoyable action romp with lots of interesting snake mythology at its heart.
The Jungle Book (1967)
Genre: Animation (Hand-Drawn)
The Jungle Book is a Disney classic and follows man-cub Mowgli who’s raised by wolves but finds he’s no longer welcome when fearsome tiger Shere Khan declares him a threat to the animals he controls. Guided by panther Bagheera and free-spirited bear Baloo, Mowgli sets out on a journey to try and find his own place in this world full of animals.
Among those animals though is a deceptive snake called Kaa, and it’s hard to forget that infamous scene of Mowgli in the clutches of this slippery serpent. While Kaa is only a secondary character in this one, he’s an undeniably memorable addition nonetheless.
So there we have it, our list celebrating the best Snake Movies of all time. Do you agree? Are there any noticeable omissions? Do let us know in the comments below and if we missed one of your favourites, we’ll be sure to add it to the list!