Baby Snakes is a film by Frank Zappa. It’s not a movie in the normal sense, but more like a cross between a documentary, a live concert, and Pink Floyd’s The Wall. With a running time close to three hours, you’ll want to go into Baby Snakes well-rested. You’ll probably get the most out of the film if you go in “reality-altered” as well.
Comprised mostly from material recorded from ’77-’79, Baby Snakes contains both studio and live concert footage from that time. The footage has an unedited “home movie” vibe to it. The scenes are intercut with completely insane clay animation by Bruce Bickford. In an interview conducted by Zappa, Bickford explains how he was once “stuck in a forest by some rocks’ natural magnetism that they had acquired over the ages” and “could not leave until the pot wore off.” Drugs are bad, mmmkay?
To be quite honest, I had a tough time getting into Baby Snakes. I’m not a big Zappa fan and I don’t do drugs, which I think are the most likely intended demographics here. As a fan and lover of all music, the behind the scenes footage was the most interesting to me. The sections where you could see Zappa work (at times seeing the gears in his head turning) were quite enjoyable.
The video quality on Baby Snakes is exactly what you would expect from a documentary mostly filmed with hand held cameras 25 years ago. The audio features a new 4 channel mix which really brings the concert performances to life. Extras are mostly limited to trailers, but the damn movie is 3 hours long people — how many extras do you need?
Zappa fans should jump at the chance to own Baby Snakes on DVD. The packaging is elaborate and stuffed with tons of goodies. Fans of music with an open mind might want to wade lightly into the waters. 3 hours is a tough pill to swallow in one sitting, but there’s plenty of moments of genius hidden within that time frame to make it worth the effort.