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Snakes on the Plains

September 30, 2009

Note to self: Horror Film idea?

Setting: Inwood, Manitoba ˆ a small town in the Interlake area (between Lake Manitoba on the west and Lake Winnipeg on the east) about an hour northwest of Winnipeg. It’s near Narcisse — which has a huge garter snake statue and bills itself as the garter snake capital of the world.

Backstory: The Interlake is riddled with limestone caverns that serve as hibernacula for tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes. They disperse every spring in roiling balls, eight or ten males wrapped around a female, and return each fall to their wintering dens where their collective heat saves them from the frigidly punishing local winters.

Act I: Senior Citizens in an old folks home live peaceful lives at the Inwood Manor. TV. Card games. Sing-alongs.

Act II: A two-foot long garter snake is discovered coiled up in a bedroom slipper. Another slithery creature appears in a toaster. Cue the shrieking violins. One drops off a shower nozzle; more are found in kitchen cupboards, in the halls, behind the curtains. Harmless but creepy ˆ and stinky (some have entered through the sewer pipes), the snakes pose little threat. But the residents take matters into their own hands. They call the press. Reporters with computers and cameras and cell-phones descend on the community. Soon they almost outnumber the senior citizens and the invading snakes. Comparisons between reporters and reptiles flourish. Emboldened, the oldsters take action. An old lady smacks a snake with a ball-peen hammer. Brooms are mustered. Mops. Rakes. Shoes — by the most intrepid. The insouciant local handyman daintily picks some up, one by one, and takes them outside. But a kind of geriatric bloodlust seems to rule the place.

Act III (Denouement): The provincial government springs into action. It sends a repairman in to seal up the cracks in the Manor‚s foundation (not, like the little Dutch boy, with his fingers but with real concrete) and fix the sewer pipes. To the press, it promises to monitor the situation.

Pitch: This fact-based story may need some punching up for a movie-of-the-week (perhaps sponsored by an ecology group or an exterminator). The fact that it‚s pretty much an annual event somewhere in the area will have to be minimized.

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