Some of these pictures and descriptions may give away plot details that you might not want to know before watching the film.
This is one of those young lovers who become criminals movies, but it has no connection to the much better 1950 movie Gun Crazy. In this one, 16 year-old Drew Barrymore plays a promiscuous 16 year-old high school girl named Anita who lives in a trailer where she is sexually abused by her mother's boyfriend. As part of a school asignment, she finds and falls for a prisoner pen pal named Howard. She convinces a local preacher to give him a job so he can get paroled and come to her town. After he gets out of prison, Howard and Anita go a church service where the preacher asks Howard if he believes in Jesus, then takes out a box filled with snakes. He tells Howard to stretch out his arms then he drapes a snake over his arms, which startles Howard a bit. Then he passes more snakes out to the congregation and everybody gets to handle the cuddly snakes. It's like one of those therapy events where they bring in puppies for everybody to handle, except the people seem to believe that the snakes are poisonous and would bite and kill them if they didn't believe in Jesus. The preacher says: "It's a true test of faith because God spoke to the serpent and said 'The snake has beguiled me." He tells the congregation that if they "truly believe in the power of Jesus Christ the snake cannot harm you and you will have nothing to fear from any of these snakes."
After the service, everybody leaves except Howard. The preacher takes the snake from him then shows him Pee Wee, a rattlesnake that was found by the side of the road after somebody ran over its head. He says she won't bite because she lost her natural desire to do anyone any harm. Then he tells Howard the other snakes were de-poisoned with a potato scraper. Howard says that's dishonest but the preacher tells him the snakes are tools to bring people into the Lord and anything that does that is not dishonest. Then he says he's been bit and it ain't worth it.
Much later in the movie the preacher is preparing a sermon. He hears Pee Wee rattling then picks up the rattlesnake and tells it that it doesn't look so good and he needs to take it to the vet. He holds the snake's head close to his face, then Pee Wee bites him on his cheek. She must have re-found her natural desire to do harm. At the hospital Howard tells his parole officer that the preacher has been bit before so he's built up an immunity. That's the last we hear of the preacher and his snake bite. We never learn if he lived or died.
All of the snakes handled by the churchmembers are harmless snakes, including a black ratsnake, a cornsnake and a milksnake, none of which needed to be "de-poisoned" with a potato scraper. However, the rattlesnake is an actual live rattlesnake (either a pale western diamond-back or a red diamond rattlesnake) that Billy Drago, the actor who plays the preacher, really held up to his face. I don't know why that didn't earn him an Oscar nomination. That took guts, no matter how well they stitched up the snake's mouth or de-fanged it, or whatever they did to it to convince Drago it was safe to handle.