This is a mashup of 70s muscle car and supernatural revenge action movies. It's pure stupid fun with lots of gore, violence, and gunfire, a sex scene that turns into a shootout without stopping the sex, Nick Cage drinking beer out of a human skull, and, always welcome, a naked girl shooting a gun.
Nicholas Cage in full unhinged psycho mode plays John Milton, who escapes from Hell to revenge his murdered daughter and save her newborn baby from being sacrificed by a satanic cult leader. Amber Heard is a diner waitress named Piper he meets who steals her boyfriends muscle car and goes along for the ride. Heard is a sex bomb for sure, but she's totally believable as a foul-mouthed badass. I'd watch her play the lead in an action movie.
Along with all the mayhem, we also see one of the most unusual (and shortest) snake scenes I've seen. A car runs over a snake. That's all. It's a scene that most people probably barely noticed, but one that I kept wondering about for years after I saw it when flipping through channels on TV, never sure exactly what I saw or what movie I was watching. Until I finally saw the full movie, I remembered it as Cage intentionally driving over a snake, but that's not what happens. Piper is driving, sitting next to Milton as they flee a crime scene in her ex-boyfriend's black 1969 Charger with the license plate "DRVAGRY" when she runs over a snake. There's no reaction or comment from the two because they didn't see it happen, but the camera is placed low on the edge of the road near the snake, giving us a clear view of the car approaching and the tire crushing the snake and flipping it over until it comes to a stop. Then we see the couple in the car. It's quick, but not a throw-away. I think I remembered it because I'm a snake hunter. I've spent many hours driving back roads looking for snakes on the asphalt. When you do that, you become hyper-aware of how many snakes and other animals run across the road and that so many of them get run over. We even have a name for them - "DOR" - dead on road. Most people are not even aware when snakes are on the road so they run over them without ever seeing them, as they do in this movie. (Here's a web page from Save the Snakes about road kills.) Mostly I wondered why the filmmakers would take the time to emphasize such a common meaningless event.
The best interpretation I've found is a comment on IMDB: "When Milton and Piper are driving down the road, they run over a dead snake. This is a foreshadowing to symbolize good overcoming evil (snake=serpent=devil)."
It's true the snake used in the scene was dead before the car hit it, but it happens so fast I think we're supposed to assume the snake was alive before they killed it. Either way, it does sort of foreshadow what comes later. Was the scene actually written into the script?No, it wasn't. The DVD commentary by the director/screenwriter Patrick Lussier and his co-screenwriter Todd Farmer, explains that it was improvised during filming. During the snake scene, this is what they say in the commentary, with a bit of animation and humor in their voices:
Patrick: "The snake was in the ditch. It was already dead. Johnny Martin fished it out with a stick. He said there's a dead snake here, do you want me to put it in the road?"
Todd: "Yes we do!"
Patrick: "Of course!"
Todd: "Yes, of course we do! Any other dead things you can find, lets throw them in the road!"
Patrick: "Dead snake in the road."
This makes it seem like they used the snake just for the grisly effect it adds, but the fact that the scene was not in the script does not mean that the IMDB explanation is wrong. I think the filmmakers found something unusual they could add to bring an ominous and disturbing feel to the movie while knowing that it also adds a bit of subtle foreshadowing.
This may be too much time to spend thinking about a scene that lasts only a few seconds, but the use of the snake is unique and memorable. It's perfect for a Snakes in Movies list, since most snakes scenes are neither unique nor memorable. I can't remember ever seeing another snake scene like it in any movie. There are probably other road kill animal scenes in documentaries and comedies or maybe dealing with a pet that got run over, but I don't recall ever seeing anything as graphic as this or any other scene where a vehicle runs over a snake. If I'm wrong, let me know.
Based on its condition it's hard to say what species of snake is shown other than it's a snake native to Louisiana where it was found and where the movie was filmed. Probably a racer or a rat snake.