It never surprises me that studios are willing to give a small amount of money to keep a franchise alive that really shouldn’t still be around. In this case, it’s the Anaconda series, first seen in 1997. Over half a decade later, a sequel was released. Now, in 2008, Sony has decided to give it not one, but two direct-to-DVD releases. The first of these is Anaconda 3: Offspring, which purports to star David Hasselhoff, although that’s mostly a lie.

Hasselhoff is in the movie, but he only becomes one of the main cast members at about the halfway point. Before then, we see him as the least serious hunter/tracker that has ever before been seen, but only in a couple of scenes. He loses this charm once his life is actually on the line, which is a shame because the only joy I was getting from this film was the way he joked his way through every scene. I don’t know if Hasselhoff even has many fans left, but if you happen to be one, don’t go into Anaconda 3 and expect him to be worth seeing — or expect the movie to be worthwhile, either, because it most certainly isn’t.

The plot: That one company from the second film is still kicking, and has actually gotten ahold of the blood orchids that the team failed to acquire. I guess they’ve waited long enough for them to bloom again, or something. It doesn’t really matter. They’ve been messing around with snakes in a lab, a hybrid version of the flower — it’s toxic to anything that isn’t a snake, so they’re trying to figure out why this is — and are breaking countless laws, I’m sure.

One day, a 60-foot snake decides that it doesn’t like captivity and testing anymore, so it makes a break for it. Now, we have to track it and kill it before it can, well, kill everyone else, I guess. It’s really big and has a spike on the end of its tail, and one of the characters (Crystal Allen) knows something that she won’t share with everyone else, so you can really feel the urgency we’re being faced with here. A group of trackers, eventually led by Hasselhoff’s character, is brought in to try to kill or capture the giant snake.

In essence, that’s the entirety of what happens in the movie. They spend almost 90 minutes trying to find and shoot this snake, all while it kills random and specific characters with relative ease. It seems to be impervious to bullets. It can spit blood. It has a spike tail. And we get obnoxious and stupid POV shots to let us know where it is at pretty much every turn, ensuring that it scare us. At least the earlier Anaconda films tried to scare us. This one has unnamed characters shooting at a CGI snake for 90 minutes.

I mention that it’s a CGI snake for a very good reason: it looks absolutely horrible. The snakes in the second movie were mostly CGI, too, but they looked fantastic, especially given its relatively small budget of $25 million. I don’t know what Anaconda 3‘s budget is, but the special effects shouldn’t look this bad regardless of that factor. We’re four more years into the technology and it looks 10 years worse. That’s inexcusable, especially with how often we see close-ups of the snake’s face.

The biggest difference from this film and previous installments is the amount of gore. The two earlier films were PG-13, and worked well in that rating. This one is R, meaning limbs will be cut or bitten off at every opportunity. That would be fine if even the CGI blood was passable, but it isn’t. It’s not even the right color to be believable, but that it’s a single texture that squirts out in copious amounts is ridiculous. I can’t believe that this was actually approved by anyone.

Despite all of this, the film is so boring that none of this awfulness is endearing in any way, shape, or form. B-movies like this — I’m hesitant to actually call it a B-movie, as its quality is far lower than that — are often charming and kind of fun to watch despite or even because of how awful they are. They have creativity that they simply don’t have the budget to produce, but that ambition still comes through and it’s enjoyable. Anaconda 3 is so formulaic that there’s no enjoyment to be had there.

I call it formulaic and yet I wouldn’t be able to describe the “intricacies” of the plot to you. It’s a convoluted and jumbled mess and I don’t know why any of it matters or why characters do things or keep secrets or anything. Things happen without cause, and while it’s possible that it’ll be explained in the fourth installment — which was shot back-to-back with this one — that doesn’t help this film right here and now. If I can’t make heads or tails of the plot of an Anaconda movie, you’ve done something wrong.

Anaconda 3 is a disaster from start to finish. It makes no sense, it has some of the worst special effects I’ve seen in a motion picture produced after the turn of the century, it has actors who couldn’t care less about the project, and it isn’t even entertaining to watch this train wreck occur. It’s all so dull that I have no idea why anyone would even think that making it was a good idea. And the series isn’t even done yet, because a fourth installment was filming as this one entered post-production (if such a thing even happened). Please let the next one be better.