Tag The Asylum

Mega Shark Vs Kolossus (2015)

Mega Shark Vs Kolossus (2015)

Nature’s deadliest creature against mankind’s deadliest weapon!

In search of a new energy source, Russia accidentally reawakens the Kolossus – a giant robot doomsday device from the Cold War – which goes on a destructive rampage. At the same time, a new Mega Shark appears, threatening global security.

 

The fourth instalment in the Mega Shark series (and that’s something I never thought I’d hear myself say) sees The Asylum return to their crazy nonsensical shenanigans, devising the most ludicrous films out of the most preposterous ideas and throwing them out there, knowing that their outlandish titles will always generate some buzz. Granted, the first Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus did garner a lot of undeserved media attention when the trailer was released, only for people to realise how truly awful it actually was when the full film hit. It wasn’t just the silly concept, it was everything about the production. Despite critical scorn, The Asylum have gone on to make an ever-increasing number of these type of films ranging from Mega Python vs. Gatoroid to the Sharknado films.

With Mega Shark Vs Kolossus, it doesn’t look like The Asylum are going to change their ways any time soon. Cue the usual cardinal sins: ridiculously fast editing where scenes literally last no more than ten seconds before another cut hits; incidental music which attempts to make the film more exciting than it is; a couple of ‘famous faces’ who have been lured in to starring in such low budget nonsense (Illeana Douglas and Patrick Bachau this time around) where you see them and say “I remember their face but not their name” before going onto IMDB to find out; lots of scenes of military types standing around talking about the shark; lots of scenes of people looking into computer screens in small rooms (presumably the only set); lots of scenes of science-type character talking a lot of science fiction gobbledegook; ropey CGI graphics which don’t even appear to be at PlayStation One level yet; and plenty of camera shaking. I could go on but if you’ve seen one Asylum film, you’ve seen them all.

The major issue, and an obvious one, with Mega Shark Vs Kolossus is that it is clearly the unification of two separate films or ideas. Kolossus was obviously designed for its own film but Mega Shark got slapped in to add some name recognition to proceedings in the faint hope of selling more copies. It’s clear to see because the two monsters exist almost in their own little films for the majority of the running time, with Kolossus being reawakened with all manner of Soviet spies and mercenaries chasing it around and Mega Shark reacquainting itself with the American navy. It’s only in the final third where the two plots begin to crossover and even then the linking material is sketchy at best.

Mega Shark doesn’t actually get to tussle with Kolossus until the end of the film, though this is nothing new as the majority of these big ‘VS’ films rarely deliver until the finale (this goes all the way back to the early Godzilla films where the Big G would spend most of the film travelling to fight the monster-of-the-moment before engaging with it at the end). The fight is as pitiful as you’d expect given that one monster is organic, the other one is a robot with a big-ass laser beam weapon.

It’s a scant consolation prize for someone who has had to sit through the mind-numbingly painful scenes of the human cast emitting what seems to be dialogue from their mouths. But I thought dialogue was meant to develop characters and add something to the story, rather than just seemingly pass the time between these inane sequences of characters talking about the shark or Kolossus. They’re not engaging characters who you want to see prevail. You’ll not remember any of their names at the end. You’ll not see any of them develop as a character from the opening to the ending. They’re literally talking clichés, designed to act as a transition between the frames of footage. It’s awful filmmaking and that’s not a criticism of just Mega Shark Vs Kolossus but of The Asylum films as a whole. I know that few people go into these films hoping for an Oscar-winning performance but isn’t it funny how the most memorable monster movies are those with decent casts, decent scripts and identifiable characters who make the monstrous threat appear more realistic and more threatening (Tremors, Jaws, The Fly, King Kong, The Thing, Aliens, An American Werewolf in London, Predator, etc. – I could go on).

 

Like sitting and watching your best mate play a rubbish computer game for hours upon end, Mega Shark Vs Kolossus is a terrible way to pass the time. Best to hop onto Youtube, search for the best bit and watch it without having to endure the torment of the journey there. Please stop this franchise. Stop it right now!

 

 ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

3-Headed Shark Attack (2015)

3-Headed Shark Attack (2015)

More heads, more deads

A group of scientists are attacked in their underwater lab by a killer 3-headed shark. Then the shark moves on to attack a cruise ship full of partying teenagers. The survivors must band together to try and stop it.

 

I really can’t be bothered wasting my time trying to make the plot sound more exciting than it was because it’s just a mess of appalling writing. OK, so 2-Headed Shark Attack was hardly a high art concept and sold itself on the ludicrous premise alone with predictably dire results. How do you top something so silly? Just add an extra head of course! 3-Headed Shark Attack is somehow even worse than its predecessor. It’s a film which exists solely based upon its premise and where the makers of the film clearly thought “we don’t need to bother with making a coherent narrative which logically moves from A to B because there’s a 3-headed shark in it.” Whilst 2-Headed Shark Attack revelled in its absurdity, treating proceedings with tongue firmly in cheek, this one tries to be too serious.

3-Headed Shark Attack falls straight into The Asylum’s typical formulaic approach – no real plot exposition, gets right into the thick of the action from the opening scene, throws a load of characters with no development into the mix and then just attempts to butcher it together with some awfully choppy editing. There’s literally something going on in every frame of film and it’s a constant assault on the eyes, with some frames lasting seconds before the next edit kicks in. In Asylum films, there’s little room to take time out, get to know characters or build plot – it’s just full steam ahead and it’s so annoying. All you see are people on the screen running away or swimming away from something that’s so badly rendered in CGI that it isn’t even funny. Names? Backgrounds? Relationships to other characters? Nope. Forget that. They’re just faces on film. All they have to do is look into the camera, pretend to stare at something off-screen and then attempt to emote when the time dictates…and they even fail at that.

There are almost three separate films crammed in here and all could have been expanded further. There’s the opening twenty or so minutes with the shark destroying the underwater lab (again, there’s no real point in introducing a load of these one-note victims to kill them off a few minutes later) and forcing the characters to leave the safety of dry land and into a boat (I know, it makes no sense). It’s almost like watching Deep Blue Sea but rushed through in a quarter of the time. Then the few survivors from this end up on a boat full of partying teenagers and the next ‘mini-film’ commences. Finally the survivors from this part then meet up with Danny Trejo’s fisherman character for the last ‘mini-film.’ But that’s what you get with the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach from The Asylum. Just take a chill pill and stretch things out a little more to generate some suspense or tension. At no point during this film did I feel remotely scared, tense or even worried because there’s so much going on, and so much that doesn’t make sense, that it’s hard for your brain to compute. Films need to retain some element of realism in them to allow the audience to comprehend even the silliest of storylines, characters or special effects yet 3-Headed Shark Attack is devoid of realism.

The shark just turns up in the opening scene with no explanation or build-up and then just wreaks havoc, smashing up the lab and eating as many people as possible over the course of the film. It gets to the point of overkill because the shark is always killing people. Remember when only four people (on-screen that is) were killed in Jaws? You don’t need to keep feeding the shark to make it a threat. In fact the opposite happens and it becomes almost a drinking game to see how many people the shark will eat within the next ten minutes of film. The shark looks reasonably good when it’s swimming around doing nothing – the heads are pretty scary and it does look freakish. However as soon as it’s required to do something like breach the water, bite someone or flip into the air, the ropey CGI kicks in. Coupled to this is a soundtrack which doesn’t fit the action and is just there to artificially generate tension and excitement.

Danny Trejo and professional wrestler Rob Van Dam are the two ‘names’ in the film. Trejo is seemingly on a quest to star in every single low budget straight-to-DVD film made in the last two years and has clearly been cast in this for one particular sight gag involving the shark and a machete. RVD proves he should stick to wrestling.

 

It’s like pulling teeth trying to enjoy 3-Headed Shark Attack and considering that there are a lot of teeth on display, that’s a lot of pain to suffer. Those who like The Asylum’s specific ‘brand’ of filmmaking will find more of the same here but for those who want something a little more down-to-Earth, realistic and generally better made, the hunt for a decent killer shark flick continues.

 

 ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Scarecrow Slayer (2004)

Scarecrow Slayer (2004)

He cuts to the chase

Dave and Karl are two friends looking to join a fraternity and are given the initiation task of stealing a scarecrow from a nearby farm in order to join. However, when the farmer finds the friends moving the scarecrow, he shoots and kills Dave. But he doesn’t die and his soul is transferred into the scarecrow, bringing it to life. The scarecrow then sets about killing anyone who gets in the way of his quest to turn his former girlfriend into a fellow scarecrow so that they can be together forever.

 

Sequel in name only, Scarecrow Slayer is just as bad, if not worse in some respects, as the original and even the presence of legendary horror actor Tony Todd can’t save this one from the farmer’s bonfire. I’m not sure who deemed Scarecrow sequel-worthy – certainly the title character had potential to be scary if he hadn’t been totally the opposite by opening his mouth and spouting one-liners and doing all of those silly back flips and combos that he did in the original. Well he’s sort-of back in this one, be it a different scarecrow, and at least the kick ass cover art returns, easily the only part where a bit of talent was noted in the whole production (Todd aside).

Some films just don’t click right from the start and once the credits have rolled and the main story begins, you just know that Scarecrow Slayer is going to be one of those films. Fair enough there are the sub-plots about the college initiation and the story about the scarecrow killing Caleb’s father which kick us off. If only these sub-plots had been dragged out a little more and allowed to run separately for a little longer (or even if Todd was allowed to make more than an extended cameo), then maybe the scarecrow coming alive and killing everyone would have a little more impact. As it stands, these two mildly interesting sub-plots converge too quickly and the scarecrow is unleashed.

The revenge mission that the scarecrow sets out upon is wound up far too quickly and then what is left is a below-par slasher flick with a killer scarecrow slicing up his former friends. What made him so bitter and twisted towards them, since he was supposed to be a ‘good guy’ before he was shot dead? Why kill his best friend and his girlfriend’s mates? If he loves his girlfriend that much, why bother turning her into a scarecrow? It’s almost as if he’s killing people simply because he’s meant to be a killer scarecrow, not a friendly scarecrow. I can’t see any other reason behind it.

Thankfully, the acting across the board (Todd being the exception) is as abysmal as one would expect so when the scarecrow does kill off a few of the characters, you feel like it’s a mercy killing. The gore factor seems to have been toned down from the first flick too, with some cheesy-looking CGI gore moments substituting badly for true make-up effects (though some of the kills are a bit more elaborate overall). Even the scarecrow seems to have been photoshopped in to some scenes via some bad computer animation. He attacks a lot during the day too, totally ruining any sort of suspense or scares that a semi-lit scarecrow might have created in the dark, turning the character into something of a lost party-goer on his way to a fancy dress ball.

I’m still not sure why Tony Todd is in this. Granted he’s hardly the most famous actor in the world and would find more mainstream roles harder to come by. But….that voice! He’s got one of the most commanding, sinister voices I’ve ever heard from an actor so it’s a shame he’s so underused in cinema in general. But back on topic…..why? What did he do to deserve this? Is the family going hungry? Did the producer have incriminating photos of Tony? Did he sign the contract drunk? It’s a baffling choice but by default, Todd is the single best thing about the film. Even in his short role, he manages to lift the material way, way higher than it deserves to be (before it crashes down with a thud after his exit).

I think the worst thing about Scarecrow Slayer, and something that I’ve only found out since watching, is that it was made by The Asylum. You know – the ‘mega-monster’ specialists who bring the world ‘mockbusters’ for a fraction of the talent and budget of Hollywood blockbusters. Even when they’re not ripping off big blockbusters with rubbish like this, their low production values and general lack of interest in making decent films is evident.

 

Scarecrow Slayer is worse than the original but better in some respects i.e. the fact it had Tony Todd in it. I hear that they’re making another couple of sequels to this dire series. Move over Leprechaun because a new “worst franchise ever” has seemingly stepped in your first place spot.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Shark Week (2012)

Shark Week (2012)

7 days, 7 sharks… 1 survivor!

A wealthy sadist traps a complete group of strangers on his secluded island compound where they are force to compete in a horrifying gauntlet against a relentless onslaught of man-eating sharks, each species more deadly than the last.

 

Saw meets Jaws or that’s what The Asylum would lead you to believe with in Shark Week, their latest CGI killer monster flick and next one off its production line of straight-to-DVD offerings. With its assault of colourful cover posters, catchy tag lines, sound byte-heavy trailers and generally over -indulgent self-promotion, Shark Week was never going to live up to anywhere near expectation. But having watched my fair share of Asylum flicks over recent years, those expectations were rock bottom to begin with and, as the case was with the utterly bonkers Nazis at the Centre of the Earth, Shark Week manages to mildly impress – though only because I’m setting it against the Asylum’s own benchmarks of bad film making rather than any feasible rating scale!

At first glance, Shark Week looks the part. In fact it may well be The Asylum’s best looking feature to date. The cinematography is crisp. The location work is top drawer with a variety of desert island settings and dank underground caverns really coming to life. The CGI-rendered landscapes of some of their previous outings have been mainly dropped in favour of actual location shooting which makes all the difference. The production values have definitely been stepped up a notch. Finally, The Asylum make a film which….well actually looks like a film.

Shark Week plays itself seriously, which has been met with some criticism by other reviewers, but I find that the material wouldn’t have worked with a straight-laced approach (not that it works that much better as it stands). There’s a decent idea waiting to come out of this but the muddled manner in which the characters have to go from watery location to watery location is a bit flimsy at best, all the while the motivation for their entrapment is a feeble revenge plot. The constant need to get the characters into the water just reeks of a one-note idea being stretched for all its worth over eighty-six minutes. In the end, you really get the sense that this idea, as absurd as it may seem in this one, would have worked with a bigger budget, better writers – well generally away from The Asylum’s grasp! Or it could have worked with other ‘creature feature’ whipping boys like crocodiles or tigers which would have made the situations seem less forced with the characters being based on land and thus the script needing less reasons to throw them into danger.

Once again The Asylum don’t quite ‘get’ what effectively works in killer shark film – namely the sharks. I was expecting lousy CGI effects and even lousier integration with the natural environment and human actors and that’s what I got. No surprises because my expectations were that low to begin with. Aside from the hammerhead attack, the rest of the attack scenes consist of the same thing: badly illuminated shots, dreadful CGI sharks, characters struggling and thrashing around in the water before they start stabbing at the shark with whatever sharp objects they have and all in the midst of some rapid-fire editing so that you haven’t got the foggiest clue what is going on. It might work once but the repetitive nature of the attacks soon get boring. They’re meant to be the selling point of the film but each encounter with a shark is virtually the same thing despite the novelty of different sharks being used.

I will give Shark Week some credit in that it’s got a decent pace. It seems like The Asylum are learning their lessons and not constantly bombarding the viewer with scenes that last a maximum of a minute before rapidly moving on to the next one. The film tries to draw itself out a little bit, introducing the overall problem quickly but then settling down a little to try and flesh out the characters and develop some sort of story. Whilst the attempts at characterisation and the story being a little ‘deeper’ than normal miss most of the time, it’s nice to see the studio actually trying for a change and they’ll only learn from this in future.

The token ‘names’ amongst the cast come from Patrick Bergin and Yancy Butler as the two antagonists of the piece. Bergin (Patriot Games) does his most-blatant Jigsaw-like impression as wealthy Tiburon – well I’m guessing that’s who he’s supposed to be modelled on, preaching to his victims before their next shark encounter and letting them know of ways out. Bergin chews the scenery well so it’s a shame he has little screen time with anyone else apart from his assistant. Yancy Butler co-stars as said assistant and seems to have the exact same expression on her face throughout the entire film, looking bored and in desperate need of some sleep.

 

Having read the above review, you’d assume that I hated Shark Week and you’d be more or less right. The idea itself isn’t awful, just the execution. But there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on which makes it stand out more than the other Asylum films. It’s not the cast. It’s not the effects, that’s for sure! It’s not even the script. There’s just something here which promises a brighter future for the company. I’ll give the folks over at The Asylum a little bit of credit. Their films are getting better, little-by-little, but getting better nonetheless.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

2-Headed Shark Attack (2012)

2-Headed Shark Attack (2012)

1 Body, 2 Heads and 6,000 Teeth.

A group of students are aboard a Semester at Sea vessel ship which becomes damaged when it hits a dead shark floating in the water and starts to sink. As the crew attempt to repair the damage, Professor Babish decides to take the students to a nearby atoll. What they haven’t realised is that there is a deadly two-headed shark lurking in the region which begins to pick off the students as they enter the water, cutting off their escape route back to the ship. Though the atoll provides temporary refuge, it is soon apparent that it is slowly sinking into the sea. Soon there will be no hiding place from the monstrous two-headed shark.

 

A shark with two heads? Let’s face it fans of monster movies, the idea itself is inspired and definitely catches the attention for a few minutes if only for perverse curiosity of what the end product could be. Not content with increasing the size of their killer monsters to ‘mega’ size with the likes of Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus and Mega Piranha, The Asylum have now decided to add extra heads to their monsters to give them that bonus bite. I’m still not entirely sold on the entire that two heads are better than one is this case especially since they both share the same body but it’s still a great selling point and makes for a kick ass DVD cover. It’s a shame that the film itself predictably fails to deliver anything nearly as inspired.

2-Headed Shark Attack completely wastes the idea of a shark with two heads, simply having the creature do exactly the same thing a normal shark would do, except that it has twice the biting power. Any uniqueness to the creature is seemingly lost apart from the title and the poster. So the film just trots off the usual shark flick clichés. I find it hard to enjoy films when they are this silly. The script is all over the place and everything happens simply to push on to the next set piece, no matter how daft or overblown it may be. I’m still not quite sure why they all had to leave the boat and head to the atoll as the crew were still aboard and it didn’t look like it was sinking. Oh yeah, there wouldn’t be a film if they hadn’t gone to the atoll.

From then on, it’s just finding enough excuses to get the teenagers into the water for them to be fed to the shark. It seems that some characters even throw themselves into the water because they believe that swimming with a two-headed shark is a lot safer than being a boat or dry land. The attack scenes are repetitive and, since the shark gets fed pretty well, you’ll be seeing the same scenarios over and over again. Predictably, the shark itself looks awful. There’s a fake head used in brief flashes during attack scenes but for 98% of the film, it’s all CGI. The shark has the ability to change size at any given situation, being as big as a boat in some shots but then being unable to fully squeeze into a partially-submerged church later on. Taking a cue from Jaws: The Revenge, this shark roars a lot and has the uncanny ability to still exist when it loses a head – did it mutate into the Hydra at some point? The scenes of it chomping through its human prey look exactly what they are – computer scenes. No explanation is given as to why it has two heads: there is some musing amongst the cast but it’s not high on the agenda.

Unfortunately even these moments provide little entertainment as the editing is so frenetic. It’s a trademark of The Asylum’s films to feature ridiculously rapid editing to keep things moving at light speed but it gets too fast and there’s rarely a moment to just sit back and take things in. Sometimes you need that it films. I’m not saying that the material on display here needs you to sit and think but in order to process images and sounds, the human brain needs a rest. Having non-stop rapid-fire editing throughout a film might make it look high-octane entertainment but it’s taxing on the brain.

Directed by Christopher Olen Ray, son of notorious low budget schlock director Fred Olen Ray (with such politically-correct films like Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers and Scream Queen Hot Tub Party on his CV), it’s clear that Olen Ray Jr. has followed in his father’s footsteps with his taste for the female form. Carmen Electra gets top billing, and although she provides a requisite bikini scene and spends the entire film parading around in tight cut-off jeans and a low top, she has a total of about ten lines. I’m sure her fee would have been better spent elsewhere. That said, her body still looks great so no complaints here!

It’s sad to say that the best thing on display here was Brooke Hogan. Despite writing off her performance before I had even watched (having already seen the disastrous Sand Sharks), Hogan does alright in her character of Kate. It’s pretty obvious she’s only getting cast because she’s the daughter of legendary wrestler Hulk Hogan and though she’s decent-ish in this, she shouldn’t give up her day job which is…..erm, being the daughter of Hulk Hogan I guess. She also spends the entire time parading around in a bikini and the script has her doing a lot of running. Go figure. At least the script isn’t making her out to be some sort of scientist. It only has her being a multi-talented handywoman who can fix boats, repair generators and rig crude explosives from oil barrels.

 

2-Headed Shark Attack is a predictably terrible film which relies on its gimmicky notion to sell itself – and then proceeds to do nothing different with it than hasn’t been done in x number of killer shark flicks. Two heads are better than one? Not a chance. Where is Roy Scheider and a couple of pressurised tanks when you need him?

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Snakes on a Train (2006)

Snakes on a Train (2008)

100 Trapped Passengers.. 3,000 Venomous Vipers!

A powerful zombie curse causes a young woman to be devoured from within by snakes. Her only chance for survival is the shaman uncle of her runaway lover and the two hop aboard a train destined for Los Angeles. Unfortunately for the rest of the passengers, the snakes hatch inside her and spread throughout the train.

 

The internet phenomena known as Snakes on a Plane conjured up such a whirlwind of interest that it was only a matter of time before some bright sparks came along and decided to spoof what was pretty much a spoof anyway. And it wasn’t going to take much to come up with the cheesiest title possible. Snakes on a Train probably took all of two minutes to think of. What’s next? Snakes on a Bus? The sheer stupidity of the title of the bigger budgeted flick is going to open the floodgates in the future for these type of names. I mean the original story didn’t exactly take ages to write did it – throw a bunch of snakes on board a plane with Samuel L. Jackson and you’re set. So it’s not like the writers here were going to try and top that with anything. And they don’t even try.

The problem here is that the over-simplified plot of Snakes on a Plane has been meddled with. Now there are Mayan curses to contend with, transformations and magic. It adds more stupidity to the film, especially when plenty of things happen out of left field simply because they have to in order to further the film. Guys: keep it simple and easy and you wouldn’t have that problem.

The bigger budgeted Snakes on a Plane (commonly known as SoaP) was simply a B-movie with a big budget and an A-list cast. That was pretty much the whole novelty value. So when you replace the big budget and A-List cast with no budget and Z-List cast, you’ve taken out anything that people would remotely want to watch your film for. The Asylum isn’t known for their high budgets and production values and it shows. The snakes look like Playstation sprites and the film has a grungy, handheld camera feel to it which cheapens everything. You never get the feeling that these people are on board a train. The sets are dimly lit and sparse. Only at the beginning and the end of the film is it based outdoors. You’re never even given a glimpse out of a window at the passing scenery. The train is grotty and I wouldn’t want to shell out my cash travelling on something that looks like it belongs in India (you know the sort of trains where hundreds of people clamber to hold onto the sides).

“100 passengers…3,000 venomous vipers!” goes the tag line. Exaggerations don’t come much bigger than this. I counted about ten people on board the train but at least there was a variety of stock characters with pointless subplots that go nowhere. There’s a bunch of illegal immigrants hiding on the train, a conductor with a ridiculous moustache, some stoner guys, a pair of hot chicks, a family, a rather seedy-looking cowboy and an even more sinister-looking Middle Eastern. They’re all given a brief few moments to talk about some subplot and gain minor character development before they’re put to the back burner. At least one of the hot chicks gives some much-needed gratuitous nudity in a rather pointless scene with an undercover cop.

But where are the damned snakes? There were no where near three-thousand vipers either. They were supposed to be rattlesnakes too! But since when did rattlers grow to about the length of a finger? These tiny pitiful snakes could be stood on, let alone considered a threat, and they remind me of those sweet snakes you can get in the shops. The snakes do get bigger as the film goes on but I want to see big snakes to begin with, not little jelly snakes. Completely underwhelming is the snake quota here. At least SoaP used plenty of CGI snakes to fill up the background to make it look like the plane was crawling. Here it looks like the outbreak is confined to one measly compartment.

The film is reasonably gory though which does add a little extra exploitation factor to proceedings. There is a heart ripping moment (pretty slick) and the snakes have an annoying habit of tunnelling into the wrists of their victims (quite a few gooey times I have to add). The finale beggars belief too with a giant snake and a magic necklace coming into play. It has to be seen to be believed.

 

Snakes on a Train is a terrible cash-in. It ditches the tongue-in-cheek stupidity and novelty value of Snakes on a Plane and tries to play it as straight as possible with devastatingly bad consequences. Low on budget, low on talent and definitely rock bottom on entertainment.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Supercroc (2007)

Supercroc (2007)

It’s 50 feet long… It’s 25 feet tall… And in 14 hours it will be HERE!

A military unit is sent to stop a giant crocodile before it reaches Los Angeles.

 

That’s the best plot outline I can give for this piece of absolute dreck. From the front cover which looks like you’re getting some Godzilla-like monster movie where the crocodile is smashing cities to the exciting tag line and promises of ‘non-stop action’ on the back, Supercroc promises the world. What it delivers is less exciting and more disheartening than waking up on Christmas Day to find a pair of socks and a pink t-shirt waiting for you from Santa. This is a film where nothing happens for eighty five minutes and you’re expected to class it as ‘non-stop action.’ This film is made for a very specific audience – the likes of me who thrive on these creature features. So when the makers of these films flip off their target audience by defrauding them with promises they can’t keep, well that’s not good business is it? Well we are not entertained or amused in the slightest…..

This is supposed to be a film about a 50ft crocodile that is heading on a rampaging path to Los Angeles. What you get is about seventy minutes of the crocodile skulking around near a lake and some woods before finally heading into LA right at the end of the film for some token ‘monster on the loose on the streets’ shots. Actually when I say the crocodile spends seventy minutes skulking around near a lake and some woods, I mean it’s supposed to be skulking around near a lake and some woods…..you don’t get to see a lot of the crocodile so you just assume that’s what it’s doing. Either that or it’s talking to it’s agent to try and get it booked in Crocodile 3. Stare at the cover for a few minutes or just read the title aloud a couple of times and that’s more crocodile action than you’re going to get here.

The film spends the bulk of it’s time building up this unseen menace, clearly prepping it for the inevitable carnage when it finally reaches LA. Hang on a minute: didn’t they do this in about half an hour in the American Godzilla? And hang on a minute: I thought it was supposed to go on a rampage when it got to LA, not just plod around the back streets for a few minutes without anyone noticing? The crocodile just doddles along, slowly walking from  one place to the next and then occasionally hiding in the ‘dense’ woodland outside LA whilst gun ships and helicopters fly overhead looking for it. They can’t find a 50ft crocodile? Did it suddenly turn into a 50ft chameleon? (note to self – don’t give studios any ideas)

As for the non-stop action, well I think I have found it. Oh there’s plenty of thrilling scenes of people back in the headquarters AGGRESSIVELY talking into their headsets. Or even better there are plenty of shots of characters STANDING around looking like something is about to happen. I mean you just can’t beat the tension! I can’t honestly even name one character from this film – they’re more like narrators than actors as they continually divulge the apparent location of the crocodile and organise units to intercept. We even get to see some of the soldiers SHOOTING at something but most of the time what they are shooting at is off-screen. It’s a film where the soldiers are told that the crocodile’s skin is so thick that bullets won’t pierce it so said soldiers spend the next half of the film pumping it full of lead. Having said this, the crocodile does take out a chopper in the film’s only highlight right at the end. But even then the scene is so badly put together and blurry that it may be the crocodile taking it out or it may just be a really fat seagull, I’m not quite sure (note to self – stop giving studios ideas please!).

 

Supercroc is a giant monster movie without any of the giant monster in it. It’s a film that instead of putting padding around a giant monster, it throws in some giant monster around a lot of padding. In fact this film is the most padded film ever and could easily sustain being squashed underneath a giant 50ft crocodile and survive intact. If you know where to find one or even a 20ft crocodile, please let the makers of this film know so that they can put some footage of it in. And to think I could have fed a family of five in Africa for a month instead of wasting £8 on this inane nonsense!

 

 ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Halloween Night (2006)

Halloween Night (2006)

Based on a true story…

Christopher Vale was locked away in a mental institution after witnessing the brutal murder of his family and suffering horrendous burns as a result. Ten years later, he escapes and heads back to the house he grew up in on Halloween night. A group of teenagers are there having a party and unaware that their fun and games are about to be gate crashed by a very angry and vengeful mental patient.

 

Sound familiar? It better do! Halloween Night is from The Asylum, the great little studio that brings you cheap versions of big budget films, affectionately known as ‘mockbusters.’ Didn’t catch Transformers? Fear not because The Asylum has Transmorphers! Don’t forgetSnakes on a Train. The Day the Earth Stood Still? No, you mean the low budget The Day the Earth Stopped. I think you get the message. No doubt made to cash in on Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween, it’s hard to say which is worse. I’ll probably give that accolade to Zombie’s film since most people expect these Asylum flicks to be little more than weak rehashes whereas Zombie’s film was simply a horribly misguided take on Carpenter’s original story. What makes me laugh even more is the ‘based on a true story’ line that is thrown onto the front cover. This is certainly not based on a true story although based on someone else’s script this most definitely is (Carpenter better have received royalties for this).

Halloween Night is a standard Halloween-themed slasher and runs according to clockwork for the most. You’ll know exactly where the film is headed, what is going to happen next, etc. But the clock ticks and tocks well out of sequence. There are so many things that are left unexplained by the plot and so many questions that are left unanswered, its best not to think about it in all honesty because it will hurt your head. It’s like a lot of the plot threads were thrown in simply because someone had seen them in other slasher films and they thought their inclusion would make for a good film.

Ultimately, I don’t understand why Christopher Vale is actually killing people. Forgetting the obvious fact that this is a Halloween rip-off and the masked killer must kill teenagers, there’s no real explanation given. He’s insane, granted, but that’s not necessarily a prelude to becoming a slasher, especially one who is intelligent enough to do the things this guy does. He’s silent and deadly which works for Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees because they’re big, unstoppable monsters but this weakling is very much human and gets the snot kicked out of him at one point. In another ridiculous moment of how not to be a deadly slasher, Vale is actually taken hostage by someone after a fight breaks out at a fancy dress party and the police arrive. It’s a pretty dire state of affairs when your film’s main killer is actually being held at gunpoint as a hostage.

Halloween Night does have a reasonable body count but there’s little imagination in the way people are dispatched. Thankfully the lack of creativity in the kills is more than made up by the copious amount of blood on display. The Asylum at least know how to let their films get messy. Not only that but they seem to know what makes a good slasher flick. Whilst I’m not the biggest fan of this film, it still delivers the bottom line goodies. And one of the main staple ingredients of the slasher flick is the nudity. Halloween Night throws in a couple of lesbians for good measure within the first ten minutes – a sign of desperation by the writers struggling to find anything worthwhile or a positive statement of intent for the rest of the film? The problem is that everything gets taken too seriously and these B-movie elements could work in the film’s favour if the script allowed it. Part of The Asylum’s main drawback with their cheesy films is that they take themselves too seriously. They’re daft rip-offs and everyone involved in making them knows it except for the script writers. Why not make things a bit more light-hearted? Throw in some in-jokes. Just do something other than play it serious because the material is too daft to take seriously. As a result, everything comes off really stern-laced and bland.

 

Halloween Night is a terrible Halloween rip-off and its bottom of the barrel stuff even on its own slasher value. If you want to watch something like this, why not just stick on the original Halloweenfor the umpteenth time? You’ll get infinitely more enjoyment from watching that again than you would watching this for the first time.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove (2005)

Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter's Cove (2005)

Some Things Should Stay Lost at Sea

Three teen couples off camping for the weekend on a beach stumble upon an old treasure chest. They open it and accidentally unleash undead pirate Jolly Roger, who has returned to Cutter’s Cove to claim the lives of the descendants of his crew that betrayed him years earlier.

 

We’ve had undead Nazis before. We’ve had undead cowboys before. Now along comes an undead pirate. Probably the only slasher film ever to have a pirate as its main villain, Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove tries hard to impress but fails on most counts. It’s got heart but like many of The Asylum’s films, heart does not equal quality. I’m guessing the killer pirate idea was to cash in on the Pirates of the Caribbean series which was in full flow at the time but nowadays The Asylum wouldn’t even go as far as that – they’d just make a pirate film and call it something like Pirates of the Atlantic.

It’s got your standard plot with some horrible undead killer returning from the grave to kill but this rings more of The Fog, with the whole idea of Jolly Roger coming back to claim the lives of the descendants of the town’s founding forefathers. The film is only entertaining when the pirate is on screen and he is thankfully given plenty of screen time. Unfortunately the young couple who inadvertently brought him back to life and manage to escape his beach massacre are the ones who are tasked with stopping him. No one believes them but it’s probably because they’re the dumbest, most lacklustre couple that exist. Tom Nagel looks like your generic good-looking teenage hero whilst Kirstina Korn is simply a hot blonde who can’t act. They’re two of the most bland actors that could have been cast in their roles and really suck the life out of the film when they’re trying to get everyone else to believe that a killer pirate is going around cutting people’s heads off. The scenes with them in and without the pirate tend to drag.

In fact the whole film flags when he’s not around and they don’t really get the pacing right after an opening massacre promises constant bloodshed. Rhett Giles, as the title character, gets to inject a bit of passion into the film as he does the best he can with lots of cheesy pirate jokes underneath plenty of make-up. He’s got the annoying habit of firing off a one-liner before he dispatches his victims and they’re of the pirate-theme so expect to groan a few times. The humour isn’t great though and it would have made the film a lot better if they’d kept him quiet. Why did they need to turn him into a Freddy Kruger-wannabe? He would have worked better as a silent killer because his outfit and make-up looks pretty nasty. The film attempts to create another horror icon with Jolly Roger but he’s too goofy and not deadly enough to really catch on. The Asylum keep plugging away by trying to create a new franchise villain but none of their characters have made the grade yet.

They’re not shy with the blood and guts – one of the reasons people like me watch this sort of film. Jolly Roger has a knack of cutting people’s heads off and there are plenty of decapitations which feature the same fake mannequin heads being sent spiralling through the air. There are other creative kills thrown around too with muskets and in one particularly funny scene, Roger rips the arm off a guy and proceeds to batter him with it. But the problem I have is that a lot of the gore is CGI and looks rather cheap most of the time. Come on, at least go with the make-up and prosthetics if you’re going to gunk it up a little. It’s blatantly obvious which deaths have been computer-assisted and I don’t like it one bit. Jolly Roger is a busy man during the film and he offs four couples during the first few minutes so you’re never really far from another death scene.

On the positive side, the film does throw us some boob action with the pirate visiting a strip club and getting a lap dance of all things. Quite why the stripper just acts like he’s a normal punter and gives him a dance, despite his rotting appearance and wet clothes is another matter.

 

Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove is harmless enough fun but it could have been a much greater throwback to the 80s slasher film had the script been tighter and the character of Roger been taken more seriously. He’s hardly the worst pirate to ever grace film but he’s more Captain Pugwash than Jack Sparrow….if that actually means anything.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Mega Python Vs Gatoroid (2011)

Mega Python Vs Gatoroid (2011)

Screaming, Scratching, Biting… And that’s just THE GIRLS!

A nest of pythons is freed into the Florida Everglades by a group of animal rights activist. But these snakes soon grow larger than normal and begin killing off the local alligator population. Determined to stop the threat of the snakes and maintain the natural balance of the everglades, local park ranger Terry O’Hara hands out permits to allow hunters to shoot the pythons and keep their number down. When the ranger’s fiancé is killed by the snakes, she obtains an experimental serum, injects it into dead chickens and then starts feeding them to the gators to increase their size so that they can fend off the snakes. But with the pythons happy to eat gator eggs, the serum finds its way into their system too. Soon both the pythons and the gators are growing to gigantic size, threatening everyone.

 

It’s a ridiculous plot but barrel scraping springs to mind when I think of the two giant monsters that do battle in this one. Fresh from their antics with mega sharks, giant octopi and a crocosaurus, The Asylum are back for another contrived, unashamedly awful and ultimately pointless ‘versus’ film. In fact the title should be pluralised as there’s not just one mega python and gatoroid but a whole score of them on either side. It’s a clash between two genetically-enhanced reptilian armies and only two washed up 80s pop stars can save the day!

There’s little to differentiate Mega Python Vs Gatoroid from any other CGI-monster fest of late. The CGI gets worse as each new film is made and you’d get more bang for your buck out of a PC game. Not only do the snakes and gators look really fake, they recycle the same animations time after time. CGI blood is used. Human actors tangle with themselves as they wait for the computer guys to do their thing in post production. You know the score. CGI overkill has gone to the extreme in these low budget efforts and most of the time, effects seem to be implanted into the film simply for kicks when physical practical effects would have made more sense (such as the scene in which a guy is trapped underneath the dead body of a snake – watch as his hand glides through some poorly-rendered CGI when a rubber prop would have been much more believable). A slew of minor characters are fed to the monsters and the repetitive nature of each death only adds to the tedium.

Remember when the shark in Jaws only killed a handful of people? Or Michael Myers killed four people on-screen in Halloween? Less was more and you always felt more threatened. Now it’s just a race to get as many people eaten in as little time possible. Surprisingly enough, I was going to comment on the DVD cover which shows a city being destroyed by giant monsters. Unlike the other CGI monster versus films of late, Mega Python Vs Gatoroid actually does contain footage of a city being attacked by the monsters. It’s literally only a minutes worth of screen time but at least it shows them doing a little bit of damage to Miami. There is also an in-joke thrown here somewhere as one of the monsters takes out a blimp with The Asylum written on the side – it’s probably the highlight of the film in an amusing way.

Hold up though! Giant monsters beware because on hand to save humanity are a pair of 80s pop stars. Deborah Gibson and Tiffany, both teen idols in the 80s, each takes the side of one of the monsters and thus the film turns into some sort of bizarre tag team match with Gibson protective of her snakes and Tiffany desperately trying to help the gators. They both try and one-up each other which leads to the eventual catfight between the two and then realise that they need to stop their bickering and join forces to stop both sets of monsters from running wild. Dialogue throughout the film references both of their singing careers which will either leave you cringing if you know the words or completely in the dark if you’ve never heard of them before. But in a film where the actors should be winking at the camera at the silliness of it all, they play it straight. The tongue-in-cheek catfight between the two is arguably the highlight of the film, rather pitiful when you consider it’s supposed to be some giant monsters duking it out.

The scene resembles everything that the movie should have been – silly, daft and with a knowing sense of humour. Instead, it feels like an isolated scene. When all is said and done, it’s nice to see two older women playing the lead roles in a film like this instead of your typical twenty-somethings. And in a film that is scattered with moments of oversized CGI monsters, it’s sad that the biggest things on display are Tiffany’s silicone-enhanced breasts which attempt to escape her top at every opportunity. Just when things couldn’t get any more bizarre, there’s a really random cameo from Mickey Dolenz, formerly of The Monkees. See, the film doesn’t just cater for the 80s market but the 60s market too!

 

Mega Python Vs Gatoroid is yet another awful CGI monster mash-up which scrapes the bottom of the barrel for scraps left behind after the recent onslaught of rubbish ‘versus’ films. The sight of former pop stars Tiffany and Deborah Gibson (who apparently had a real life rivalry back when they were in the limelight) taking each other on and then teaming up may have some appeal to former fans of their music but for any lovers of monster movies, stay well clear of this mess.

 

 ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆