October Horrorshow: Boa, aka New Alcatraz

Behold! Another early 21st century bag of shit from producer T.J. Sakasegawa and actor Dean Cain. This isn’t to say they were a team, working together to conceive, execute, and then release these dogs on the public. There were many more people involved, but in the early 2000s, if one of these men was on a project, then, more than likely, so was the other.

Boa, a direct-to-video sci-fi/horror flick also released as New Alcatraz, comes to us via director Phillip J. Roth and screenwriter Terri Neish, with Roth also getting a story credit. It tells the tale of a gigantic snake terrorizing guards and prisoners at a secret prison in the Antarctic.

The prison is a black site, operated in secret, and meant to house the worst of the worst — terrorists and other political dissidents, and hackers with the ability to disrupt the world’s markets. Never mind that Antarctica is the most hostile terrain on the planet, and that it takes a massive amount of dedication and resources to maintain a permanent presence such as a prison, this flick needed a cool location, and Antarctica fits the bill.

Although the prison has begun receiving inmates, it is still under construction. Drillers are sinking a shaft deep into the earth in search of geothermal energy, when they hit a hollow pocket. The sudden release of pressure causes a massive explosion that kills no cast members, does no permanent damage to the base, and is forgotten as soon as it happens. The important thing is, breaching that underground pocket has released a prehistoric snake with an insatiable hunger for human flesh.

Enter Dean Cain!

He’s not a guard or a prisoner. Rather, in some needless plot convolutions lifted straight from Jurassic Park, Cain plays Dr. Robert Trenton, a paleontologist who, along with his wife, Dr. Jessica Platt-Trenton (Elizabeth Lackey), specialize in prehistoric Boa 2001 movie posterreptiles. They are about to lose the grant that supports their current research, when, out of the blue, they are whisked away from their dig to provide on-site expert analysis of the situation at the prison.

They are joined by some generic special forces soldiers led by Major Larsten (Dean Biasucci), meet up with the warden of the prison (Craig Wasson) and his lead jailer, Sgt. Quinn (Grand L. Bush), and it’s off to the races.

Guards, soldiers, scientists, and, eventually, prisoners now spend the rest of the film wandering around the underground location shooting lots of rounds at a poorly-rendered CGI snake until denouement. You want more plot than that, find a different movie. This isn’t the type of flick that delves into complexities.

Most of the action takes place in one long hallway that looks like the sub-basement of a power plant. In the final act there’s a scene filmed in a large, underground storm cistern. Information about filming locations is scarce on the internet, with the city of Santa Clarita listed as the only location. If I had to guess, this movie was actually filmed in Houston’s Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, but there is nothing online I found to back that up. Grain of salt.

Either way, this is the type of one-location cheapie typical of SyFy in 2001, when this was released. Sci-fi films on a tight budget love nothing more than filming the same hallway from different angles to try and make a location look more expansive than it really is. The result, in film after film, is a bleak, windowless environment of cold concrete, interchangeable with any other random b-movie.

By this point, one might have figured out that I didn’t like this movie. I didn’t. It stinks. There is not a hint of originality or care in Boa. Just about everything in the plot was lifted from better movies, and the whole thing looks like it cost a buck and a half to make. For fans of bottom feeding trash, and/or Dean Cain, Boa is positively gourmet. But for us shitty movie fans for whom boredom is the enemy, it’s a mess.

Boa, or New Alcatraz, falls far down the Watchability Index, displacing the 2002 remake of Rollerball at #357. Films down here are a chore, folks. Think twice before diving in.

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