January 30, 2011

Mega Python vs. Gatoroid


Well, if your goal in life was to watch two ex-idols duke it out in skimpy, wet dresses, this is the flick for you.

For the rest of us who don’t care so much about the Tiffany/Debbie schtick, there are fabulously fake giant gators and pythons, and a plot full of WTFery.

Plot Summary

Nikki Riley (Debbie Gibson), who is supposedly a herpetologist, “rescues” snakes from illegal breeders and releases them into the Everglades. The pythons grow to B-movie-monster size and start eating all the gators. Ranger Terry O’Hara (Tiffany) pumps dead chickens full of steroids and feeds them to the gators, so they will also grow to certified B-movie-monster size and eat the pythons. Then it’s pythons vs. gators vs. humans! Oh, and Nikki and Terry catfight a lot. 


Nutrition Facts

Vitamin B-Acting: 90%


Tiffany and Debbie don’t hold back in their manufactured onscreen rivalry. Their sneers, pouts and snarls convey a sensitivity to the nuances of human emotion that is impossible for anybody other than Syfy Original Movie veterans to replicate. Bravo, Tiffany and Debbie! 


An accurate portrayal of rangers' uniforms
 

A. Martinez, in the role of Native American herpetologist Diego Ortiz, does a perfect imitation of a stone statue throughout the movie. His calmness stuns the viewer, particularly while he watches his fellow human beings disappear down the maws of giant snakes.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to Kathryn Joosten, who played Angie the tough old lady ranger. I was quite sorry to see Angie die—but clearly she had to be punished for revealing any vestige of common sense.

Former Monkee Mickey Dolenz also makes a cameo in the flick. I must say, I could really get into watching B-movie monsters taking a bite out of these ex-idols.

Vitamin B-SFX: 90%

The gators, in particular, look faker and faker as the movie goes on. By the movie’s end, they were hardly recognizable as gators in certain scenes. I think these gators may well take the prize as the worst gator SFX in a Syfy Original Movie. That’s saying a lot, considering there are at least a dozen other gator-related Syfy Original Movies…

Hey, the pythons look fake too—don’t get me wrong. But these pythons are better done than the gators, and the pythons in this movie are on par with the SFX snakes from other Syfy Original Movies.

Darn, I really have spent too much of my life watching Syfy Original Movies.

Anyway, there’s a fun bit in the movie when the beasties invade Miami (looks more like a Hollywood backlot to me). A snake attacks a blimp with the Asylum logo on it—Asylum, of course, is the studio that made the movie. 



I also enjoyed the moment when a commuter train goes right into a snake’s gullet. After riding the Washington DC Metro regularly for two years, I wouldn’t be so surprised if that started happening on the Red Line.

Vitamin Fun: 80%


I’d say the second half is the most enjoyable, because that’s when Nikki and Terry really go at each other’s throats, and the SFX degrades steadily. But the plot WTFery (the details will come soon) remains consistent throughout the film.

Sugar: 0%


You know it’s a true, 100% certified Syfy Original Movie when even the death scenes of important characters have no emotional impact whatsoever. (No, I’m not saying who dies.) 


NOO! Not the DOG!
Plot Fiber: 0%

First, no herpetologist in his/her right mind would ever think that releasing more pythons into the Florida wilderness was “right” or “natural,” as Nikki loudly insists during the entire movie. I have nothing against snakes—after all, I actually agreed to let my college roommate keep a pet snake in our dorm room. Florida has such a serious problem with snakes in the Everglades, though, that it really does flout reason to have a herpetologist actively releasing more snakes into the wild. (I also watch too much “Animal Cops: Miami.”) The python-gator problem is real—for more background, take a look here. (Warning—not for the squeamish)

It also makes zero sense that an Everglades ranger would automatically think that fighting giant snakes with giant gators was the way to go. Of course, this movie’s entire raison d’etre is for Tiffany and Debbie to constantly fight onscreen, and logic is not conducive to a good fight. 


Supplements

Since the movie focuses so much on the faux Tiffany-Debbie rivalry, the pseudoscience and political pills don’t have any real effect on the plot. This movie regurgitates the pseudoscience of Mega Piranha, when pseudoscience does appear at all.

January 23, 2011

Coming Next...

Hello folks,

I'd planned to put up a review today, but I am under the weather (been watching too much Bird Flu Horror lately, I guess). The review will go up in a few days when I'm well enough to edit out the illness-induced gibberish.


But exciting news...the newest Syfy Original schlockfest, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, is coming this Saturday! And I will watch and review it, of course! So mark it on your calendars--January 29, at 9 pm EST!

January 9, 2011

The Cat from Outer Space


(Or, Le Chat Qui Vient de L'Espace)
 

Yet another Christmas gift from my loving relatives—thanks, Mom! The Cat from Outer Space was one of my favorite movies when I was a wee sprite. It is a strange experience to watch an old favorite from childhood as an adult—usually I end up wondering how I managed to escape therapy. The Disney live-action “classics” were always corny, but Cat from Outer Space stands out for its sheer stupidity. It also promotes gambling as a cure-all for financial problems.
 

Plot Summary

Zunar J5, later renamed Jake, has to make an emergency landing on Earth. Jake possesses a collar that allows him to communicate with humans, and move things with the power of his mind. Jake then enlists the help of Frank, a physicist, and his friends to get enough gold to power his ship. Meanwhile, an enigmatic criminal named Mr. Olympus wants to get his hands on Jake’s collar, so he can use its powers to become filthy rich. Meanwhile, the military is trying to find Jake, and they act like complete idiots.

 

Nutrition Facts

Vitamin B-Acting: 80%


M*A*S*H fans will immediately recognize Harry Morgan and McLean Stevenson. Morgan plays General Stilton, who hates Russkies, Italians and intellectuals. Did you know that “IQs”—people like physicists, engineers and biologists—spend all their time on tennis courts? Neither did I, until Stilton enlightened me (“Get them IQs off their tennis courts!!!”).  

Stevenson plays Dr. Link, a scientist with a massive gambling addiction. At least 30-40 minutes of this 104-minute film is devoted to gambling: football, basketball, horse racing, and billiards. We also learn that using a magical feline to change the outcome of games to win bets is perfectly fine. Nothing but wholesome life lessons from Disney, yes sir! 
 
Never hide the fact that you're cheating--take pride in it!
Another familiar face is Roddy McDowall, who plays a spy for the mysterious Mr. Olympus. Mr. Olympus is best described as a Brigham Young lookalike in a black leather jacket. Mr. Olympus actually has a cave lair, and travels in a sleek black limousine with a vase of bright red tulips inside. Dr. Link gives us the only clue to Mr. Olympus’ identity: he’s a “power-crazed creep.” Frankly, all that’s missing is Mr. Bigglesworth.
 

In the final analysis, Jake the cat easily gives the best performance in this entire film—sleek, understated and elegant.

Vitamin B-SFX: 75%

 

Typical example of radioactive green
We are talking 1978 here, so the special effects are very dated by today’s standards. The colors of choice for any glowing effects are radioactive green, and a cross between Pepto-Bismol pink and fuchsia (“puchsia”?). The effects really don’t matter much—the cartoonish acting and forced script steal all of the limelight. 
 
Vitamin Fun: 60%


Juste ciel!

 

Well, you can stand this movie if:
 

A) You watch it with English captions and French subtitles on at the same time, as I did. The French adds a touch of class that the movie otherwise lacks.
 

B) You assume that Jake is thinking the following: “Note to self: Enslave all humans as revenge for being forced to wear this incredibly gauche collar.”

"Oh, and annihilate all dogs, too."
Sugar: 5%

This being a Disney flick, we have to sit through the inevitable romance between Jake’s helper, Frank, and the fashion-challenged token female scientist, Liz. (The ‘70s truly were a terrible fashion era.) Romance also ensues between Liz’s cat Lucybelle and Jake.


Plot Fiber: 0%


This 0% rating should be self-explanatory by now.

 

Supplements 
 

Pseudoscience Pill: 50%

Likelihood of choking: 100%

“You know where it’s really at, Jake? Electromagnetism.”


I had to laugh at that line—it sounds so much like the famous plastics line from The Graduate. But that line does sum up the “science” in the film pretty well. Frank and the other scientists read through a list of scientific terms in the first 20 minutes (“gamma rays, radio waves, electromagnetic spectrum, Van Allen belt…”), and then move on to gambling for the next 40 minutes.


At one point Frank mentions the “primal mainstream,” where apparently all the rays on the electromagnetic spectrum mingle happily, on different frequencies.


The primal mainstream will make you FLY...in more ways than one.
My first thought on seeing “primal mainstream” was “HIPPIE ALERT!” Jake’s collar taps into the “primal mainstream,” thus allowing Jake to talk to humans, fly around and do anything he wants.

Yeah right.


Political Pill: 40%


Likelihood of choking: 100%
The Cold War and Mafia references made by General Stilton are particularly charming nowadays, but the best moment of all comes at the end of the film.


We find out that Jake has applied for American citizenship. The judge has Jake recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and during the Pledge, Jake makes the judge float. Is this some grand message about patriotism being pushed by Disney? Or is Jake merely betraying his secret plot to take over the world?

January 3, 2011

Golden Trailer Hitchies

Well, it looks like Vitamin B-Movies has been nominated for a Golden Trailer Hitchie award! (Check out all the other cool nominees!) Thanks, Lost Highway! 

But what I really want to know is: do any of the prizes consist of a leg lamp like the one from "A Christmas Story"? A girl can dream, right? 

In other news, I've been slacking off on the posts due to having to rein in my vicious 50-Foot Santa. (I knocked him senseless with stale Xmas cookies.) The good news is that I will have another post up soon--this time on an old childhood favorite. Even Disney is not safe from Vitamin B-Movie! HA HA HAAA

Tune in this weekend to discover which movie is getting the Nutrition Facts treatment!