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observation notes: Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus

Is this even necessary at this point? MSvGO is a phenomenon, one of the most Googled trailers of last year and the most noted film in The Asylum's stable. A confirmed sequel has already entered production (Crocosaurus, anyone?) and the film could be considered the beginning of a lucrative new branch in Debbie Gibson's career. Some of us knew about The Asylum before this; now its recognition extends beyond video store clerks, AICN trolls and Fangoria subscribers. Mega Shark made The Asylum "legit," in a public sense, and could be said to have inspired, financially, the non-Asylum mega- monster flicks you're going to hear about in the next year, like this, this, this and of course, this.

So what's left to say? If you're even here, chances are you've seen this movie more than once, so what would be the point describing the plot? Even if you hadn't seen it, the title tells you pretty much everything you need to know. There's a really big shark, an equally large octopus, and they are not happy with each other. Marine fisticuffs ensue. A plane is eaten. Debbie Gibson and Lorenzo Lamas pay their mortgages. Some nerd got to make this thing.

So this isn't a review, per se, it's a nod. I'm doing this blog, and I'm a little late to the party to get a jump on the mega-phenomenon of MSvGO, so I'm just going to say thanks, movie, for being good, and earning your creators the recognition they deserve. Long may you play.

observation notes: Death Racers

The Asylum takes on Jason Statham taking on Roger Corman in this film set in a typically nihilistic American future where crime and death are commerce, and virtue is for the pathetically weak.

Four, two-person teams of cons are racing and killing for their freedom, vying to be the last team standing. By now you're probably thinking, "Okay, well, that sounds interesting, I guess. I mean, it's been done, but this could be special, though he's not really selling it, he's not giving me a reason to see it. Maybe I'll scroll down a little, see if..." Let me stop you right there. You want a hook? You want a little something extra to wet your whistle, leave you thirsty for more of what Death Racers is pouring? Okay, all right, well how about you try this on for size:

One of the teams is made up of Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, the motherfucking Insane Clown Posse. Playing themselves.

Now I'm no Juggalo - I have very sensitive skin and a detectable IQ - but I do appreciate ridiculous assholes who somehow manage to burrow themselves into our culture like chiggers. And man are these guys ridiculous assholes! They got a tricked-out ice cream truck, a couple of hatchets and a cunning knack for linguistics that produces such memorable lines as, "When was that ever in a million-rim-job-years a good idea?" (as though "rim-job-years" are longer? shorter?) and, "That's what I said about your mama last night when I plowed her, except you might not recognize her: I shaved her back" (as though shaving the gentleman's mother's back is somehow a part of the seduction process, a kind of preening foreplay. genius)

The clowns are astoundingly capable within the violent context - gory even by Asylum standards - bringing a very believable psychosis to their roles as thrill-killing speed (the motion kind) freaks. As for the rest of the cast, there's some mohawked cyborgs, fake-ass cholos, an acting wrestler and an all-female team that goes by the name Vaginamyte. I'm going to put that out in the open so you can better absorb it.


This one's got class written all over it. In shit. A delightful gangbang of a movie.

IMDB Recognizes The Asylum...Kinda

I was writing up some observation notes to be released at a later date when I noticed the tab "Block Blunder" attached to the film's IMDB page. Now, I've heard "mockbuster," and I've heard that Mr. Latt prefers to refer to the films as "tie-ins" due to their always-original stories (though the context may be shared) but I've never heard of "Block Blunder." My surprise, you can imagine, when I clicked the link and found this list.

Personally - yep, I'm about to make too big a deal about this - I find the term just plain erroneous. A "blunder," I would imagine, would be something that has failed tremendously, a mistake, an error of economical proportions. Asylum films are anything but. That's why they make them - they're blunder-proof. A block blunder, I would think, would be something like Waterworld, or The Sorcerer's Apprentice, some big-budget studio film that performed well under expectations.

So what's the point, 977, you're no doubt asking yourself?

I'm not really sure. I felt indignant. I wanted to share.

whispers from another cell: News From Within The Asylum

IN PRODUCTION: it's the wet dream of every man who was a teenage pop fan in the late 80's - Tiffany and Debbie Gibson together, in the same film, and cat-fighting no less!

From the director of Pet Sematary and the writer of #1 Cheerleader Camp comes MEGA PYTHON VS. GATOROID! Debbie is the hippie animal rights activist who frees illegal snakes in the Everglades, where they grow to Mega proportions and threaten the indigenous alligator population, protected by park-ranger Tiffany. What the Gatoroid is or how it factors into things is being kept under wraps, but I pray to god it has laser eyes and a hydraulic jaw. Expected to debut on SyFy next year, a trailer should be coming soon. In the meantime, take a look at that cat-fight in production right here.

CULTURE WATCH: If you have the misfortune of watching the Steve Carrell-Tina Fey debacle that is Date Night on DVD, check out the gag reel: in the scene in the apartment of James Franco and Mila Kunis' characters, when the closet is opened and the videos fall, a copy of Killers, directed by David Michael Latt, can be seen quite clearly.

observation notes: Titanic II

There is a certain absurdity that must be overlooked if you're going to enjoy Titanic II, by all other accounts a highly enjoyable film: no shipbuilder in the world would ever, ever, ever name their ship Titanic II. Ever. It's like christening a new space shuttle the Challenger II, or building a summer camp on a Native American Burial Ground - you're just inviting disaster. Seriously, every time they same the name of the ship, I instinctively winced. But this could just be me. However, as it's my blog, I figured this was the spot to voice that grievance. Moving on...

On the 100th anniversary of its namesake's fateful journey, the Titanic II - the brainchild of a young trust-funder - is set to retrace the original route, going backwards this time, from New York to England. Cuz, you know, that's not tempting anything.

The side-story is the impending collapse of glacial shelves in the Arctic, colorfully demonstrated in the film's opening sequence when a adrenaline junkie surfing the waves created by breaking glaciers (classy) is thoroughly fucked when a little too much breaks off.

Enter Bruce (MegaFault, X-Men, Mother Jugs and Speed)Davison, concerned Coast Guard glaciologist, via whose daughter(Marie Westbrook, 100 Million BC, Dracula's Curse), coincidentally a nurse on Titanic II, we meet the myriad supporting cast members who compromise the passengers, a.k.a. the victims, including the trust-funder (writer/director/legacy Shane Van Dyke, who's also responsible for Paranormal Entity and the scripts for 3 other Asylum films), who coincidentally enough has a past with Davison's daughter. Lots of coincidences.

The film alternates between the ship's lavish journey and Davison's dour discovery that shit's going down in the Arctic. Enter Brooke Burns, the hottest scientist since Denise Richards played a Bond girl, spouting a lot of "state-sized" this and "mega-tsunami" that, driving home some Al Gore hit points and otherwise just rocking a fur-lined parka. The gist is this: the ice shelf is set to collapse, and when it does, it's going to ripple the shit out of the North Atlantic, sending killer waves and killer ice toward the Titanic II. Yikes. (nice segue back to ship here via a single ice cube being dropped into a glass of water. subtle.) Basically our villain here is a super wave throwing icebergs. That's pretty fucking cool, and a pretty fucking smart way to tie-in to the original ending and the current ecological state while still being inventive. Hats off on this point, Mr. Van Dyke. I mean, it's the natural equivalent of the speedball, that move the X-Men used to pull with Colossus as the ocean and Wolvie as the iceberg. Fucking insane.

From here the action unfurls, and I'll leave that spoiler-free but to give kudos on the Vernesian lifeboats and triage with a credit card. Nuff said.

Bruce Davison is the perfect choice for his role, curmudgeonly concerned and looking permanently constipated, which works. Brooke Burns is believable, and brought her pink lipstick to the Arctic, which is a nice variation to the color spectrum. Truthfully she's not on screen that much, it's like, "Oh yeah, Brooke Burns," kinda like life.

Titanic II rests its burden mostly on Van Dyke, Westbrook and a strong supporting cast including Wittly Jourdan (Allan Quatermain..., Alien v. Hunter), Myles Cranford (MegaPiranha, MegaShark...) and Matt Lagan ( Princess of Mars, Meteor Apocalypse).

Bottom line, Titanic II is a taut, suspenseful, strangely believable film with great FX, not at all the campfest mainstream media was expecting it to be based on the title. This is no scenario to scoff at, and it's deftly handled by the fine folks at The Asylum. Shit, I liked it more than Titanic, story-wise. And it took half the time to watch, so, there's that.

people will talk: Asylum in the News

Industry-stalwart Variety had a nice article last year about The Asylum's profitability. Interesting side-note about the company in early negotiations with Comedy Central to produce originals. Check out Variety's article here.

MEGA SHARK vs. CROCOSAURUS cast coming together! And what's the strange connection to SUPER SHARK?

So the internet has been fairly abuzz this week with news that Jaleel White (if the picture doesn't jog your memory, attribution won't mean a thing) has signed on as one of the leads of Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus, now filming.

ESPN radio host Steve Mason, a very vocal Mega Shark fan, lobbied a small role for himself in the film, as well. Check out his story here.

Other cast members have also been revealed, including a couple familiar faces: Sarah Lieving, veteran of no less than a dozen Asylum films including Monster, Invasion of the Pod People and The Beast of Bray Road, and Dylan Vox of Titanic II. Oddly enough, both these actors are also in the non-Asylum feature Super Shark, directed by established provocateur Fred Olen Ray, slated for release around the same time. Something fishy's going....oh, even I can't finish that one.

Asylum newcomers fill the cast as well, including Richard Picardo of "Star Trek: Voyager" fame, Gary Stretch, who IMDB describes as "the glamor boy of British boxing," so, cool, and Hannah Cowley, a blonde girl.

MSvC is being directed by Christopher Ray, whose only feature before now seems to be the made-for-TV "Reptisaurus." This is where things get even weirder: Christopher Ray is the son of Fred Olen Ray. So not only are MS and Super Shark sharing actors, and a common villain, they actually share a bloodline. How's that for a scoop?

The waters get rough December 21st.

observation notes: Airline Disaster

So here's the lowdown on Airline Disaster, without ruining the end: it isn't a mockbuster, there's no specific film it's capitalizing on, it's just your basic terrorists-taking-over-a-super-plane-on-its-maiden
-voyage-in-exchange-for-the-release-of-their-terrorist-buddies movie, made atypical by a really neat end that'll get you smiling, guaranteed, and not because it's happy or anything, just when you figure out what they're doing, it makes you smile, slyly.

It's a good story overall, a nice balance of action and intrigue, well-paced and with a couple of hit points that make the plot more than one-note. Point: the super plane's pilot is the President's brother. Double Point: the President's a woman. Triple point: the President is played by Meredith Baxter-no-longer-Birney (the mom from "Family Ties") and the pilot is played by Scott Valentine (Mallory's boyfriend on "Family Ties," also, Carnosaur 3). Weird! Rounding out the cast are some Asylum regulars like Geoff Meed (6 Guns, I Am Omega), Londale Theus (Transmorphers: Fall of Man, 2012: Supernova) and the lovely, talented and ridiculously underused Lindsey McKeon.

Without spoiling anything about the end, I'll just wrap this up by saying all in all, Airline Disaster is a captivating action-thriller on par with any other big-plane-gone-amok film (see Air Force One, Turbulence, Executive Decision, Die Hard 2) and with an ending that might just make you stand up and cheer, depending on how drunk you are. I was pretty drunk. There were tears.

Plus, you get to hear Scott Valentine bellow this line, in reference to his super plane: "Come on, you big beautiful whale!"


observation notes: #1 Cheerleader Camp

In the interest of painting myself as objective a reviewer as possible, and not just a raving fanatic, I will say that comedies by The Asylum don't usually do it for me, as they skimp a little too much on story for the sake of sex, drugs and flatulence. But #1 Cheerleader Camp is a pleasant exception, while still fulfilling, in kind, all the aforementioned detractors.

Basically Bring it On meets Meatballs with a dash of American Pie: Band Camp, the film concerns two young men who somehow land jobs working maintenance at a cheerleader camp. Naturally, they're in it for the perks. And there are lots of perks. Or at least perky things. Take for instance the opening scene, man's best friend: buxom young ladies on trampolines. For real. The film opens the same way The Man Show used to close. And just in case you're thinking, "wow, that's incredibly sexist," uh-uh, nope, it was written by a woman, so, you know, not sexist.

Neither then is the group shower scene, the best - if "best" can be conscienably applied to describing a group shower scene - of its kind since Porky's, nor the sprinkler montage, a rival to Phoebe Cates' iconic pool emergence in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. "How many more references is he going to make?" you may be asking yourself? None.

As for performances, for me the film was made and saved by Seth Cassell, who I really didn't like in Sex Pot, but here found to be more subtle and restrained, thus actually funny. As for the other guy, he was passable, but I was really distracted by the fact that he looks a lot like the douche who plays Ted on How I Met Your Mother. Beyond the principles, there is a bevvy of naked chicks - as though cheerleaders weren't enough, strippers enter about halfway through - a cameo from Mega Piranha hero Paul Logan and Lucy from Dallas (Charlene Tilton) playing herself with unabashed bravado. That's really all you need to know.

A couple choice quotes to give a sense of tone:

"Every time you spooge, you burn like, a 1,000 calories."

"You've never stuck your dick in a watermelon?"

"She's just a girl, one girl who will never let you fuck her while she's going down on another chick."

Perhaps I should have mentioned before now that this blog is not kid-friendly.

Crazy Is As Crazy Does: why i love the asylum

Because Hollywood doesn't make 'em like they used to.

Because sometimes I just want to watch a movie to escape, pure and simple.

Because the blockbusters take themselves a little too seriously.

Because sometimes I just want to watch people get eaten by ridiculously large marine life, long-extinct prehistoric creatures or even dentally-handicapped hill folk.

Because A-list action stars - besides Jason Statham, of course - bore me.

Because E-list actors need love too.

Because it's more fun to be scared of whatever the hell a Gatoroid is, than terrorism, ecological destruction or pandemics.

Because sometimes I want to know the effects are effects. 2012 cost me clothing.

Because The Asylum gives the people what they want - booms, blood and the occasional boob - instead of giving them heavy-handed two-hour commercials replete with body image issues and a false sense of hope.

Because of this.

Because of Tiffany.

And finally, most importantly, I love The Asylum just cuz. You can still do that.