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observation notes: Pirates of Treasure Island

What we have here is a rare and elusive thing, a thing of which until now only rumors have existed, a thing such as the Minotaur or the Loch Ness monster, more myth than reality, yet here it is, in all its shimmering uniquity: The Asylum PG(at least in Canada) picture! 

(WTF to the WTF power!?!?)

Okay, so maybe I'm going a little over the top, but there's something about watching weeks' worth of brutal horror, gory sci-fi, boob-y adventures and whatnot then suddenly switching to something tween appropriate; it's as jarring as walking in on your grandparents, but...opposite. I digress (too much).

This one's a double tie-in, tapping into the pirate popularity resurgence kicked into high gear by Keith Richards and the X-Pensive Winos, but also going to a source of sorts, the original pirate blockbuster, Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island." Either way Disney's calling their lawyers.

Of course The Asylum puts their twist on things: in this version it's young Jim Hawkins (Tom Nagel) who's the treasure hunter, and Long John Silver (Lance Henriksen) is nothing more than a scurvied bilge-rat of a mutineer and privateer with designs of his own on Master Hawkins' treasure. See, as the opening scene shows us, Long John's been on that island before, and not only does it hold great treasure, but also great peril in the form of things Mysterious, Jules Verne Mysterious, not the man, but...shit, this is getting convoluted, even for me; the island has a bunch of big insects on it, like the titular island of Jules Verne's "Mysterious Island." There we go.

So the men set sail, Jim above and Long John below, Jim's lady (Rebekah Kochan) secretly stowed away on board - for spoiler reasons I shan't mention - avoiding detection beneath an oversized coat and a tri-corner hat from under which only a few flaxen ringlets spill. What beautiful lady?

And the lady's just the first of the spoilers that start to unravel once Jim and Long John are finally on the high seas, and L.J.'s set his plan in motion. If that seems fast, it's because this one only clocks in at 80 minutes, a good 100 less than your average Johnny Depp seafarer.

Pirates was written in part and directed in full by - here's a familiar name - Leigh Scott, who though he produced some less-than-fluid fight scenes, managed the chaos and ribald choreography of pirates a'pirating with aplomb. As for the performances, Tom Nagel (Hillside Cannibals, The Apocalypse) was plenty heroic if a little plain-faced, the kind of actor you know considers Chris Evans and Sam Worthington role models, or at least templates. He was the only one who seemed to remember the era the film was supposed to be set in, and as such he stood out, which wasn't always a positive thing. Lance H. (Da Vinci Treasure, "Millennium") as Long John Silver was just plain fun to watch; his pure, animal intensity oddly works in this softer-than-usual setting. It's almost like he thinks he's in a comedy, which amused the shit out of me. The standout, however, for me at least, was the aforementioned Ms. Kochan (When a Killer Calls, Freakshow), who plays the pub-wench-love-interest with secrets to hide very effectively, very...wenchful: buxom, blond and grizzled, the kind of gal who could kick your ass just by thinking about, and look damn fine doing it.

Bottom line, Pirates... is a lighthearted and spry action-adventure, an equal balance of mirth and mortality. As for the PG rating, it's certainly not inappropriate for kids by any means, but, I mean, I wouldn't let my kid see it unless that kid was 10 or so, but I don't have a kid, I have a cat, so what the fuck do I know? Nothing, that's what. But some scenes still might be too intense for younger viewers, especially those afraid of loud noises, large insects, or creepy old dudes (sorry Lance, but you scare children, you know you do.).

inmate profile: Sarah Lieving

It doesn't get any more veteran than Sarah Lieving: in five years she's made twelve (if you count the upcoming Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus, which I totally do) films with The Asylum, including the first seven of her career. Known for her hottie-next-door looks and her strong, playfully brash persona, Ms. Lieving is a palpable threat to steal every single scene she's in, and her ability to blend into a smaller role or triumphantly take the lead is unparalleled among her peers, making her a natural fit in any script sent her way.

Bottom line, Sarah Lieving is the quintessential Asylum actress, our poster girl, our scream-queen with smarts, the Jamie Lee Curtis, the Barbara Steele of her era. Peruse if you will a complete list of her work with the Asylum (because it's so damn impressive):

War of the Worlds
Frankenstein Reborn (2005)...Jessica Halverson
The Beast of Bray Road (2005)...Kelly
King of the Lost World (2005)...Rita Summerlee
Dracula's Curse (2006)...Alex Deveraux
666: The Child (2006)...Erika Lawson
The 9/11 Commission Report (2006)...Valerie
The Hitchhiker (2007)...Melinda
The Apocalypse (2007)...Janis
Invasion of the Pod People (2007)...Louise
Airline Disaster (2010)...Annette Franklin(uncredited)
Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus (2010)...Agent Hutchinson

Sarah's other notable upcoming projects include playing the Wicked Witch of the East in The Witches of Oz 3D, directed by Asylum alum Leigh Scott, and Super Shark, directed by Fred Olen Ray, father of MSvC director Christopher Ray.

Sarah Lieving, consider yourself saluted.

observation notes: Megafault

This one's kinda hard to pinpoint, mockbuster-wise. As far as the plot goes, it's a lot like 2012 in that it deals with a whole lot of tectonic plates shifting at once, threatening to rip the planet apart; but it also shares a plot, and a poster tagline, with the classic sci-fi film Crack in the World. So perhaps it's better not to think of this one as a mockbuster at all; truly, to do so takes away from what it actually is, and that's a rocking and rumbling action pic with real heart.

The story breaks down like this: a routine demolition blasting triggers a real fuck-up in the tectonic plates, producing not a major fault, or even a super fault, but the dreaded megafault. This megafault's ripping up shit left and right all across the country, racing from east to west, headed for California, and god help us then, because once megafault meets the San Andreas fault and all its ornery tributaries, the West Coast is going to drop into the ocean like a greased fat guy dumped into a hot tub from a wheelbarrow, also greased, sending megatsunamis across the Pacific. It's up to three people, apparently, to find a way to thwart the megafault before it can destroy the world: the director of FEMA (Bruce Davison), a feisty seismologist (Brittany Murphy) and the blaster who started this in the first place (Eriq LaSalle). And as if all this wasn't enough, at the same time they're also trying to find the seismologist's husband and young daughter, whose plane went down somewhere in Kansas. It's a cross-country adventure we're talking about here, people, pack your trail mix.

I really didn't find much not to like about this film. The first thing that usually detracts me is too much science, not enough chaos, an unsatisfying balance of exposition versus action. But not so here. There was plenty of science to back up the chaos, but the balance felt right, felt like ultimately Megafault knew what it was, and that's an action movie.

And man what action. The visual effects done by Tiny Juggernaut are among their best work for The Asylum. An especial hats off to the Washington Monument scene, and the petroleum truck sequence. Top-fucking-notch, no matter what studio has their name on it. Furthermore, the widespread, aerial shots of destruction were frighteningly realistic, and though not as intense as a Hollywood spectacle like 2012, somehow they felt more realistic, for its focus not on the major cities, but the heartland, destruction on a local level, and thus easier to relate to, for me at least.

Make no mistake people, there's no camp to this one. It's a full-on, balls-out, mega-disaster pic, and a pretty fucking good one, too. Throw Don Cheadle and Amanda Seyfried in this (you can keep Davison where he is) and you've got a $27 million opening weekend, at least.

And that above statement is not meant at all to detract from the performers that do inhabit these roles, merely to show how popular perception is often more influenced by who's in a movie than what it's about, or how well it's made. Bruce Davison - what can I say? The guy's an ace, every time. And it was nice to see Eriq LaSalle again; I'm sure he's been working, but I haven't seen him since "ER." He brings that same sort of brooding intensity to this role, that burdened, soulful, weary resilience, an unflappable Job. Brittany Murphy, honestly, is the weak spot. I feel bad saying that (you know...). She was capable at most things, exceptional at others (I've always thought that was her Oscar from Girl, Interrupted), but here she's just out of place. She's believable for half of the movie, where she plays a concerned mother desperate to be reunited with her family, but as a seismologist, and an ace one at that, she sounded like she was just reading words to me. Well-written, well-spoken words, I just didn't see her in the role. But this does not detract from the overall enjoyment of the film one bit. Nice work also by Paul Logan (Mega Piranha), who, I've decided, has the best run in The Asylum universe, and Justin Hartley (Green Arrow on "Smallville") as Brittany's husband, a guy who survives a plane crash, multiple earthquakes and a petroleum tanker explosion, among other hardships, and never takes off his tie. That's commitment.

Megafault was directed by The Man, David Michael Latt, who perfectly balances the precision of individuals' fears with epic, sweeping panoramic portraits of the rioting landscape, the film's villain after all.

Engaging, thrilling, and all around pretty fucking awesome. Megafault's the real deal, and a real fun way to spend an hour and a half.

Get Thee To Gacy House!

While the rest of the world is racing to their local, independent video stores for copies of Iron Man 2 (eh.) and Get Him to the Greek (meh.), the true cinephile is foaming at the mouth for the latest Asylum flick, 8213 Gacy House. So do yourself a favor, scroll down a little bit and read my review, then scamper away young ones, and get yourself a night of frightening entertainment. Viva La Asylum!

outside the walls: Non-Asylum Inkings

Just a quick one here, a mini-review for a film coming out on DVD tomorrow, Frozen, written and directed by Adam Green, the visionary force behind slasher-neo-classic Hatchet. Frozen has so far been the sleeper horror hit of the year, and is described in a blurb from Bloody Disgusting's Brad Miska as capable of "do[ing} for skiing what Jaws did for swimming." Interesting blurb, especially considering one of the production companies behind the film is called A Bigger Boat.

Frozen concerns three friends too cheap to pay full price for lift tickets at a skiing resort. They bribe their way on the lifts instead and spend the day shredding the slopes (or whatever the kids call it these days), but when it comes closing time, our protagonists, being the greedy things they are, covet one last run and, avoiding impending weather warnings, bribe their way up yet again. And as greed is a deadly sin, it has mortal consequences: a series of mishaps leads to our heroes getting stranded on the ski lift halfway up the mountain when the resort unknowingly shuts down around them, killing all the lights, all the power. Worse yet, the resort is only open on weekends, and all this goes down on Sunday night. Meaning the resort won't open again for another five days. Meaning no one will be around for another five days. Zoinks.

This is only the first, however, in a series of unfortunate events: the aforementioned weather coming to fruition, they miss being spotted by the last plow, an ill-advised jump shatters both the legs of one of the three and, oh yeah, there's the local carnivorous fauna to contend with.

Part Lifeboat, part Open Water, Frozen's success is due to its inventive script played by a capable cast (Emma Bell - "Amy" in the upcoming AMC series "The Walking Dead" ; Kevin Zegers - Dawn of the Dead '04, Wrong Turn; Shawn Ashmore - "Iceman" of the X-Men franchise, The Ruins), though Zegers is a little to pretty for the homespun beauty of Bell, but that's just nitpicky. This is Shawn Ashmore's best work to date as the snarky third wheel stoner lothario. As an ensemble, however, the cast makes the tension palpable and the terror tangible. The result is a superbly-crafted and incredibly intense, teeth-gritting thriller. Grab a copy on Tuesday with 8213 Gacy House for a nightmare-inducing double-feature.

977's Unsolicited Yet Copyrighted Pitch #2: THE FORGOTTEN CITY

So sometime in 2012 - hopefully before the world ends - Brad Pitt has a film coming out with director James Gray (The Yards, We Own The Night) based on the book "The Lost City of Z," which in turn is based on the real-life story of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who disappeared into the uncharted jungles of Brazil in 1925 with a team that included his own son, all in pursuit of a renowned lost city of lore, a quest that had already killed 100 men before Fawcett ever set foot in the Amazon basin. Brad Pitt plays Fawcett, and such is the reason, it is suspected, for that crazy ass goatee he was sporting for a while.

With that as the basic premise - an explorer goes on a dangerous, obsessive quest for a mythical city hidden somewhere in an unmapped jungle - I humbly present a tie-in, The Forgotten City, a blend of this story, Saul Bellow's novel "Henderson the Rain King." and a dash of King Solomon's Mines.

Richard Dancy is a cartographer - map-maker to the layman - in 1920's Britain, a man in his mid-30's, single and coldly academic. This is the result of his harsh upbringing by a famous explorer and therefore an often absent father, the revered Reginald Dancy, with whom Richard has a strained relationship at best. One day a triumvirate of members from the Royal Academy of Exploration comes with some rather foreboding news for Richard: his father has disappeared during his latest expedition, it has been six months since he was last heard from. Richard knows his father is had mounted his third expedition for the Forgotten City of Kuikugu (kwee-coo-joo), a mythical civilization hidden somewhere in the deepest reaches of the Amazon basin in western Brazil, a place no other civilization exists even today, one of the last entirely unknown regions of the planet. The triumvirate implores Dancy the Younger to lead a rescue mission - since he knows both the maps and the region, having been on the second expedition with his father, a source of their falling out - of himself, two soldiers in the British army, a local guide and an associate cartographer assigned by the academy who just happens to be a woman. Hesitantly, and perhaps at the behest of his estranged-by-association mother, Richard agrees and the film shifts to the jungles of Brazil.

I don't want to give too many twists or turns away, but needless to say the journey through the jungle - using copies of older Dancy's maps, extrapolated from by the son based on what he knows of his father's cartography mindset, the father having taught the son - is arduous at best, beset with danger floral, faunal, native and from within. But I will tell you this: they do find the city, and they do find a culture still living there, ruled by a god in flesh, as far as the natives are concerned. And this god? None other than Reginald Dancy. (this is where the "Henderson" comes in)

The rest amounts to this: the father has discovered the most significant archaeological and sociological discovery of the century, perhaps ever, and in the process he has been mistaken for a god by the primitive inhabitants here, a role he was only eager to play. He's gone mad with power, and instead of sharing this discovery with the world, he wants to horde over it, command it where it is, create a world, a society, a civilization, all of his own. Son wants to bring him back. He won't go. Son wants to go back, then, let people know Reginald is alive, let them know what he's discovered. Reginald won't be having any of that, either, because if the world knows, the world will come, and his idyllic kingdom will be destroyed. So he can't let his son leave. But his son won't stay. So...turmoil! 

The third act I'll keep to myself but to say it's awesome. As for casting, I'm seeing Brian Krause (2012 Supernova) as Dancy younger, maybe Jonny Lee Miller, if they can get him, but definitely John Rhys-Davies as Darcy the elder. The woman I think would be best suited for Natalie Stone (30,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls), and as far as the soldiers go, I'm happy so long as one of them is Geoff Meed (6 Guns, Airline Disaster).

Here's your tag line: "A lost civilization...that will do anything to remain that way."

And if this idea doesn't float your boat, but the idea of tying-in to Lost City... does, you could always just do a supernatural-action adaptation of the story of Hiram Bingham III, the American explorer who rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911. Brian Krause would definitely be suited for that role.

I'm just sayin'.

Yet Another New Asylum Title?

So, I don't know if this is news, or pertinent, or not, but on The Asylum twitter page there have been two new behind-the-scenes photos posted from a production called The Princess and the Pony. Doesn't sound like an Asylum title, unless something quite foul happens to that pony, but it's on the page, and it's billing director Rachel Goldenberg, an Asylum vet who has worked as the first assistant director on eight films, a line producer on six others, and the director of two features - Sunday School Musical and Sherlock Holmes. Check the photos out here and here; not much to look at, but if this is a new Asylum film, and it is as schoolyard/kid-oriented as the pix would posit, this could be an interesting market shift for the fine folks at our favorite production company.

P.S. And i don't mean this disrespectfully, but how old is director Rachel Goldenberg? The photos make her appear teenish. All I could find, info-wise, is this interview from the blog Undead Backbrain, conducted when Sherlock Holmes was released on DVD. So then she's not a teen, she just has incredibly youthful genes, it would appear. Good for her. She also seems to be a Sarah-Lieving-like character over at The Asylum, behind-the-scenes, that is, with a hand in everything. I smell a profile brewing.

observation notes: The Beast of Bray Road

With all the cinematic attention vampires and zombies have gotten over the years, I've always been surprised that werewolves has never sparked the public interest. Sure, there are notables out there like Silver Bullet, Ginger Snaps, Dog Soldiers (you do not want to start a conversation with me about a certain Benicio Del Toro...project.), but contemplate this for a moment: before the Mormon-abstinence-telenovela that is Twilight burst onto the scene, the werewolf movie that most often came to mind for your average American under the age of 40 was Teen Wolf. Now I like Teen Wolf, a lot, I own the double-feature DVD with Teen Wolf Too, I even have a t-shirt like Stiles' that says "What Are You Looking at Dicknose," though truthfully that's more of an Always Sunny thing at this point, but I digress; the point is, there aren't a lot of great werewolf movies out there, and what there are are always low-budget. Hollywood should wake up, make a good old-fashioned werewolf pic, without setting it in a good old-fashioned era. Or making the werewolf some dreamy teenage boy. Or making the werewolves somehow subservient to vampires. Or painting them as pack animals. They are not. And they are not glamorous either, nor well-trained or pleased with their condition. Lycanthropy isn't a privilege, it's a curse. America's youth would do well to remember that.

Anyway, none of this has anything to do with The Beast of Bray Road, except that said film is indeed about a werewolf, a reportedly true one at that. Set in rural Wisconsin, the film starts as all good horror films should: with a pretty girl in a stalled car on a lonely stretch of road in the middle of the night. The requisite forest chase by a partially-seen snarling beast ensues. Screams, ripping flesh, and there's your beast - a cross between a werewolf, a bear and a critter - plus only half of the pretty lady. Bitchin' opening.

Well, this death sends a ripple of panic through the small town the lady hailed from, a bucolic hollow full of eccentric characters like tourism-hungry deputies, scandal-seeking budding bloggers, wanton floozies and all their customary small-town bullshit - remarkably like the setting and resulting feel of True Blood. I honestly caught a lot of similarities, despite this film being nearly six years old - all as seen through the eyes of a local sheriff (Jeff Denton), the standard-issue relocated big city cop with some brooding secrets.

Suspects are investigated but nothing pans out, and meanwhile the bodies keep coming, along with sightings from disreputable sources, leading the townsfolk to rather quickly and without much debate decide it must be the Beast of Bray Road. The scene where the legend was explained was my one problem with the script. I really don't like obvious exposition, and that's all this was. But it was mercifully brief, and truthfully the only (minor) flaw in what I thought was an otherwise great script. The other thing I had a problem with last night - the fact that the other law enforcement officers were actively and intentionally dropping the word "werewolf" to the press in order to drum up tourism - this morning I woke up really liking, I don't know why, it just strikes me the day after as pretty funny, and a believable adjustment to the crooked-cop scenario.

Anyway, from here it's basically cat and mouse: the beast kills, the cops get closer, and so on and so on until there's the final confrontation. As I'd like to keep this a relatively spoiler-free site - the point is to get you to watch the movies, after all - I'll just say that I thought I knew how it was ending, and when I figured out I was wrong, they dropped it on me before I could re-figure, another compliment to an excellent script.

So speaking of the script, it was written by the fantastic Leigh Scott, who also edited and directed the film. I've mentioned Mr. Scott here before, he's worked quite often with The Asylum (Frankenstein Reborn, The Hitchhiker, Transmorphers), and his newest film, The Witches of Oz, got a mention in this blog's first Outside the Walls entry. This was by far my favorite of his films to date. The script, as mentioned a few times, was excellent: it built suspense well, even with a full-reveal of the creature in the first five minutes, it scared you, made you laugh, and the characters - even the minor characters - felt fully fleshed out and were inhabited by capable actors at every turn. Denton (King of the Lost World, The 9/11 Commission Report) comes across as the beefy, jowly lovechild of Zack Braff and Dax Shepard and plays the role with the same sort of dry humor as those idiots, only more subtle, not out for amusement as much as he is diffusement, which isn't a word, but I think you get the gist. Other standouts include Sarah Lieving (the documentarian from Monster and E. Roby's oversexed sister in Pod People) as the sultry bartendress and love interest of Denton's Sheriff; Thomas Downey (Shapeshifter, Ballistica) as the Indiana-Jones-esque cryptozoologist; and Andy Lauer, best-known as "Charlie" on "Caroline in the City," as an abusive asshole.

Bottom line, this film was a lot of fun and a good scare, the result of an outstanding script and charged performances, and, of course, the sharp eye of Leigh Scott. It's my kind of werewolf movie.

This review is dedicated to the great state of Wisconsin.

New Asylum Title!!!

So, my sharp eye caught something new on The Asylum homepage today, under the COMING SOON section in the bottom right corner: a new title, 1st Furry Valentine. Now, I can't find anything else with this combination of words on the internet (aside from the cute little picture below) but rest-assured as soon as there's information to be learned, I'll learn it. And share it. With you. For now, just enjoy the picture.

on the other side is a spot shaped like a fist with extended middle finger.

observation notes: 8213 Gacy House

This is how much I love you, "you" being The Asylum, and my faithful readers: I'm not the biggest fan of ghost stories, mostly because I'm a big believer in ghosts, and seeing that shit onscreen, especially when it's portrayed realistically, that just freaks my ass out. I'm also not a big fan of clowns, especially those who are actually evil. So then you can imagine something like 8213 Gacy House - the latest offering from the fine folks at The Asylum, available on DVD this Tuesday, September 28th - a film built around "crime scene footage" of a group of paranormal investigators that never escaped said house alive, you can imagine how much I did not want to watch this movie, if only for the sake of my own sleep. But watch it I did, for all our sakes, and it scared the shit out of me, for real; I had to drink copious, copious amounts of brown liquor to dull my imagination into unconsciousness. 

How much is that clowny in the window?
The concept, like those of most all quality, super -scary films, is simple enough: notorious American serial killer John Wayne Gacy - the fat one who dressed up like a clown - was convicted of killing 33 young boys, 26 of whom were found buried in the crawl space of his Chicago home, and another three planted out back in the yard. The original house was destroyed during the investigation, and Gacy himself followed a few years later by lethal injection, but you gotta figure - if you're the sort who believes in ghosts, and believes that on occasion they can cling to a place in this world if it is a place they have a great emotional connection to, like, say, it's where they did all their sweet, sweet killing - this place is as haunted as it gets. That's what the team of investigators in this "documentary" figure, at least, and so they go to the new house on the old site with the intention of spending one night inside and gathering all the evidence they can that the spirit of John Wayne Gacy still clings to this ground. Why? I don't know, seems like either way, find him or not, you lose. But as the poster tells you, they find the motherfucker. And how.

This one's pretty much all spoilers from the moment they get inside the house, so I'll be general: this is a truly frightening, spine-curling and nail-gnawing film. I was afraid to leave to go to the bathroom, and as a result almost had the piss scared out of me every three or four minutes. The found-footage effect was an absolute advantage, as I usually think it is, especially in this genre, and The Asylum's commitment to the footage's authenticity - that is, clinging to the ruse that this is real and not scripted, as they did in Monster and Paranormal Entity - is steadfast and does indeed lend a layer of discomfort. Inevitably there will be comparisons to Paranormal Activity, though as noted above, The Asylum has already tied-in to that film, and really, if you're going to slag them off for ripping on the found-footage craze, be prepared to do it a lot more in the coming year, and to names like J.J. Abrams. 

This film conjures scares all its own, thanks to crafty, well-paced direction by Anthony Fankhauser (2012 Supernova) and shall we say, compelling performances from all of the investigators, notably Asylum newcomers Jim Lewis, Matthew Temple, Sylvia Panacione and Brett A. Newton.

Blood, gore, zombies, vampires, wolves and witches, serial killers, stalkers, satanists, cults; these things (onscreen) don't scare me. Ghosts, however, scare the bejesus out of me, so long as it's done right. Therefore, if my level of fear when watching a ghost movie is any indication as to the quality of the movie in question, then 8213 Gacy House is the scariest ghost story I've seen since The Blair Witch Project, and that includes Paranormal Activity (which I thought was mostly just shocking, not scary).

As I said, this Tuesday, September 28th, run to your local, independent video store to rent your copy.

inmate profile: DeeDee Pfeiffer

I am fully aware there are other women who have worked for The Asylum more often than DeeDee Pfeiffer, which I am also aware makes her somewhat of an odd choice for the first female inmate profile. But look at her: sassy, sexy, innocent and sultry; how can I resist?

So much more than Michelle's little sister, DeeDee has been working consistently in film for nearly 30 years, from comedies like Moving Violations and The Allnighter to more serious fare, venturing lately into the sci-fi/adventure/horror realm via films like Blue Demon and her work for The Asylum.

As mentioned, DeeDee has starred in two films for The Asylum thus far, as Greg Evigan's ex and a tectonic driller in Journey to the Center of the Earth and opposite great American hero William Katt in Alien v. Hunter. She brings frazzled beauty and sarcasm-next-door to each role, proving herself a unique and viable leading lady - sexy whether glamorous or not, strong, independent, fiesty and endearingly vulnerable. For my money, I'd watch DeeDee before Michelle seven days a week, and I always would have. Here's hoping she visits The Asylum again soon.

Asylum Alum's Witches of Oz 3D Trailer Now Online

A UK site has delivered the goods on the long-awaited Witches of OZ 3D trailer from writer/director Leigh Scott (Transmorphers, The Beast of Bray Road). Still looking for a release date for this one, so if you're interested, keep your eyes on the official site, here.

outside the walls: Non-Asylum Inkings

So I'll admit it, there are films not produced by The Asylum. There always have been, always will be. These glasses I wear are not rose-colored. They are clear, and occasionally smudged with fingerprints. A sampling of non-Asylum films due soon and news that might spark the interest of Asylum fans. Just remember, Sweet 'n Low ain't Sugar.

Dinoshark Mini-Review

So I finally caught Dinoshark, the Roger Corman-produced SyFy original movie that aired last March, and had a few thoughts:

The plot is nothing we haven't seen before: an ancient shark is freed from Arctic stasis by global warming and then proceeds to satiate a millennia-old hunger, here in picturesque Puerta Vallarta, Mexico.

The FX are pretty shoddy, basically just an extra-scaly shark with a dino-head, but it must have been where all the production money went, because the rest of it looks and sounds, well, cheap. Dinoshark stars Eric Balfour ("Six Feet Under," "24"), who, along with Leonardo Dicaprio, is a constant purveyor of the underchin beard/junior high 'stache combo. And that's about all he does here, show off his facial hair. The film also stars Croatian bombshell Iva Hasperger as an environmental scientist/water polo coach/could-be resort social director, who is not at all believable as any of these things. Dinoshark director Kevin O'Neill, director of the film's predecessor, DinoCroc, should stick to his day job in visual effects, for which his resume is far more impressive: Piranha 3D, Zathura, Feast, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

Bottom line, this is by far not the best shark movie in recent memory (ahem), but it has some pretty sweet moments throughout (re: surfer pluck, internet research leading to sudden bra reveal, jet-ski/para-sailor combo) despite a truly wretched, one-dimensional script (re: girls water polo match in the ocean, Los Muertos Reef as the setting and all of the dialogue. all of it. but the last line, that's the worst, and factually incorrect. should be "extinct," not "endangered." you'll see.), and some excruciatingly lame acting on all fronts. They even steal a chopper scene from The Asylum's catalog. It is not recommended you watch this movie sober, not at all, because it isn't good, not at all. In fact it's quite horrible, almost an insult to the storied career of Mr. Corman, who actually appears in this piece of shit, but otherwise it's a fun little flick to play MST3k to, and absolutely nothing more.

As I said, there's no DVD release yet of Dinoshark, but keep your TV on SyFy long enough and late enough and you're sure to stumble across it.

Baller Primal Trailer Released

Primal, an independent Australian feature from newbie writer/director Josh Reed got its first trailer this month, and from the looks of things, this film is poised to be a Descent-style sleeper-horror hit from across the pond. Primal tells of six friends camping in the outback who trigger an Aboriginal curse via an ancient cave painting, turning turning them slowly but surely into bloodthirsty animals. If the film's as good as the trailer, it's going to be a bloody good time.

Lake Placid 3 Mini-Review

Forget lobster, if SyFy has its way, Maine will forever be known for its grotesquely large and aggressive freshwater crocodiles. Yep, its yet another return to idyllic New England, where once more the citizenry of Black Lake is under attack by a swarm of man-eaters. Connection to other films: our protagonist ("Eureka"s Colin Ferguson) is the nephew of Cloris Leachman's (Lake Placid 2) sister to Betty White (Lake Placid). Thin, but there.

The story goes pretty much the way you'd expect it to, retaining the campy-horror balance of the franchise, thanks largely to the smirk of Colin Ferguson, the most likable hero of the three films, in my opinion (Bill Pullman's too squinty and John Schneider's hair made me hate him). This is also the most contained of the three films, a large portion of the second act taking place in one room, almost like an Ibsen play but instead of the social commentary laced with intense, character-delving arch-plots it has, you know, big fucking crocodiles.

Overall, I have to say this one came off as better than your average SyFy original (Asylum flicks absolutely excluded) and it's certainly better than part 2, which was only okay. The cast is awesome: Ferguson, Michael Ironside (the original "V," Top Gun, Total Recall), Yancy Butler ("Witchblade") and newcomer Kacey Barnfield (Resident Evil: Afterlife, upcoming SyFy original Roadkill), making this one definitely worth watching if you liked the others. Lake Placid 3 streets October 26, the same day The Asylum drops MILF. Interesting double feature...

SyFy Makes it a Werewolf Halloween

So two new SyFy originals just hit the schedule for this October, a pair of pretty interesting werewolf films. First up is Monsterwolf starring MSvC's Robert Picardo as a member of an oil drilling team who taps into a spiritual reservoir of evil while working on Native American holy ground ; and then Red:Werewolf Hunter, which airs the night before Halloween, and in which the supergeek-sexy Felicia Day (Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, The Guild), plays a real-life descendent of Little Red Riding Hood, now, along with her family, hardcore werewolf hunters. Should be a howling good time (c'mon, you didn't think i'd get through the whole think without some sort of lame joke, did you? you should have seen the headlines for this shit around the web; you guys got off easy, believe me)

Dunwich Horror Mini-Review

Pilfered from an H. P. Lovecraft story,(already filmed once) writer/director/Asylum alum Leigh Scott sets his update in rural Louisiana, and stars Griff Furst, Sarah Lieving and Dean Stockwell, who also had a role in the original. The gist of the story revolves around some possessing-tentacled-demon seed-cult situation all started when some hooded dude knocked up his own daughter and she bore twins, one human(ish) and the other the aforementioned tentacled-demon-seed thing. Thirty years later, everybody's full grown and fucking crazy and abducting hotties for squid twin to...well, I don't really know what it did to them, but it sounded gross. All this ties into an even that happened in...H.P. fans, you guessed it...a quaint little seaside town calls Innsbrook (this is related to Griff Furst's character by a colleague of his who just happened to research said event) (Griff Furst's character being the translator sought out by Dean Stockwell and Sarah Lieving to help translate the only complete Necronomicon, also their old partner and Sarah's old flame)(Perhaps I should have mentioned that earlier on.)

Anywho...thanks in part to glitchhy camerawork whenever the squid family's on film, this manages to be a scary, neat little adaptation, if a little muddled with redundant character development. It reminded me of a paranormal installment of "The Librarian," that Noah-Wyle-Indiana-Jones-TNT-movie-series I've never actually seen, but that strikes me as too nerdy to be truly suspenseful or scary. Kinda ditto. Always nice to see Dean Stockwell, though.

No DVD date as of yet, but check your local SyFy listings, it's bound to emerge sooner or later.


...if you're the sort who enjoys a trip to the theater, check out Neil Marshall's Centurion; it's like 300 with balls, and not the sort you expected to see in 300. Marshall (Dog Soldiers, Doomsday) is the UK's answer to Zach Snyder, if anyone asked.

Asylum Posts First Trailer for MILF

Attention sex-comedy fanatics: today the fine folks at The Asylum released the official trailer for their Cougar-appreciation flick, MILF, debuting on DVD October 26th, in which young men bag a copious amount of sexually liberated older women. As if you couldn't figure that out. First impression, looks better than Sex Pot and The 18 Year Old Virgin, could be on par or even better than #1 Cheerleader Camp.

By the way, anyone else notice a certain aesthetic similarity in the above-linked posters, or is it just me?

October 26th, that's the release date. October 26th.

observation notes: Supercroc

"For all of our advanced technology, we have not created anything that comes close to the aggression, resiliency, and overall fighting power of the ancient crocodile."

Truer words were never spoken: this beast clocks in at 50 feet long, 25 feet tall, hungry, ornery, and complete with a rock solid exterior no bullet can pierce. It's Supercroc, The Asylum's capitalization on the croc-craze of '07 instigated by films like Rogue, Primeval and Black Water, and, like those films, it's about a really, really big crocodile. Really big. Revisit the specs above if needed.

The films opens with a platoon of soldiers scouting a wooded area. This didn't make a lot of sense to me until the arrival in the ninth minute of the biggest GD CG croc I've ever seen. It promptly eats the most obvious target - the soldier in glasses - and then most of the others, leaving only one, female survivor, a chick I thought was Erica Pod People Roby until just this moment, when I linked to the IMDB page (Asylum doesn't mention this one on their website. I'm sure it's a legal thing and not, you know, a shame thing.).

The slaughter of soldiers definitely raises the ire of the military. In their investigation they determine a quake a few days earlier in the Pacific must have released this thing of prehistoric parameters from some sort of stasis. So it's really old, really evolved, and really fucking hungry. These are the things that make it Super. By the way, it's the croc that's super, not the CGI of said croc, that's actually kinda not so good, pretty fake, in a Walking with Dinosaurs kind of way. That aside, though, it's a really big fucking crocodile, I can't emphasize that enough: it's city-bus big, twin-engine-plane big. And because of this bigness, plus the attack on U.S. troops (you know we don't play that), the military goes all out in its attempts to slay the Supercroc, a mission that takes on a new urgency upon the discovery of dozens of supercroc supereggs. Dozens. It's a full-on supercroc invasion we're facing here, people!

"Son, I've got a 10,000-pound reptile barring down on a populated area; the last thing I need is comic relief. Understood?"

Yessir. Sorry.

So the croc stalks, and the military tries everything they can think of to stop it, to no avail, and as a result, pretty much everything the supercroc comes across, it eats. We get the genesis of the Mega Shark/airplane scene here when the supercroc lurches from the depths to take down a helicopter. It's a prolonged scene, too, not like the blink-and-you-miss-it Mega Shark takedown.

As for the rest of the film, it's all about figuring out how to kill the oldest, most evolved creature in existence; the word "impenetrable" is used a good half-dozen times, most in the same monologue.

So, as the film really revolves around the girl I thought was Erica Roby, and since I thought she was Erica Roby, most of the notes I took focus on what a startling improvement she made from Pod People. Those are out now. I'll just say the girl that is actually in the film carries it very well, and balances her emotions deftly between bereaved and enraged. Kim Little is the other standout, an Asylum vet (she's got good connections) who brings intensity and credence to her performance as the lady in the know about ancient crocodiles. She's kind of a mix between Sweet Dee from Always Sunny, Angela from The Office and the porcelain-skinned beauty Laura Harris (who by the way needs to be in an Asylum flick, stat.) The other actor who caught my eye was David Novak, but only because he looks like a skinny Robert Forster.

All in all not bad; if you like giant-crocodile movies you'll probably like this one. I could have used more and varied destruction - the film takes place in two locations: the woods and the control room - I mean, you've got a supercroc, you might as well use him. Have the motherfucker taking down skyscrapers, Croc Kong and shit like that. Kudos on the chopper scene, though. That, plus the talented collection of actors, pull this one off.

Dig This Appreciation from The Bay Guardian!

The San Francisco Bay Guardian (a newspaper, for anyone born after 1998) recently published this appreciation for the films of The Asylum. It's a pretty thorough and polite article, full of some fun and interesting facts. Though it's true that no press is bad press, it's always nice to see the fine folks at The Asylum pulling some much-deserved kudos from mass media. Enjoy!

whipsers from another cell: News From Within The Asylum

8213 Gacy House Comes to DVD Tuesday, September 28

Of the 33 people famed serial killer John Wayne Gacy is credited with having killed, 26 were found in the crawl space of his Chicago home, and another three were buried in the backyard. If you're the sort who believes in injured spirits attaching themselves to the physical plane where they suffered the most, then the Gacy House is bound to be haunted as a motherfucker. The house itself was destroyed during the exhumations, but assuming someone rebuilt in the same location, it would be a Mecca of sorts to a paranormal investigator. Well, The Asylum has assumed it for you. Shot mockumentary style like Monster or The Blair Witch Project, Gacy House supposes a team of ghost hunters have come to spend the night in this infamous locale, with truly horrifying and gruesome results.

Gacy House is directed by longtime Asylum producer Anthony Fankhauser, who previously wrote and directed 2012 Supernova. Asylum virgins Jim Lewis and Matthew Temple anchor the cast, with Michael Gaglio (MSvC, Titanic II, 2010 Moby-Dick), and a few other fresh faces bringing the support.

Gacy House, as mentioned, drops on DVD Tuesday, September 28th. Look for my review a few days before.

Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus Enters Post-Production

In prior posts over the last week I've already published behind-the-scenes photos and production stills of the highly-anticipated Mega Shark sequel, bowing December 21st. But the underlying thread between these posts that I may not have emphasized strongly enough is that the film is now in post-production, meaning principal photography has wrapped and now it's all about editing and effects. No doubt at this very moment the magical elves at Tiny Juggernaut are hard at work crafting some bitchin' shark-pluck kill scene to trump the bungee-cord Sharktopus kill. In the weeks to come, we can expect poster art, maybe a teaser, maybe even a full-blown trailer. Until then, we can only do the most difficult thing known to man: we wait.

observation notes: Invasion of the Pod People

How do you scold your favorite child? Probably not publicly, as I'm about to do. But some things...

They should have known better. It isn't The Asylum's fault, necessarily, that the concept of this film, at this point in the history of cinema, is trite and rehashed to fucking death. They were just doing their jobs, the fine folks at The Asylum, they were just giving us what we want, a low budget, boob-and-blow-up-heavy version of a Hollywood blockbuster, in this case Invasion, starring the spirit that inhabits Nicole Kidman's body and the last guy to ever play James Bond. Not the first time this film's been straight-up remade, Invasion was the fourth incarnation, behind Kevin McCarthy in the 1956 version, Donald Sutherland in the Philip Kaufman-directed 1978 version, and the lovely Gabrielle Anwar starring for Abel Ferrara in 1993's abbreviated Body Snatchers. Not to mention the dozens of times it's basic premise - alien seeds come to Earth by one means or another, then slowly begin to infiltrate the citizenry, passing as the people they've killed or, the bodies they've snatched - has been pilfered.

A sidenote here to say I'm somewhat surprised The Asylum passed up an opportunity to use the word "snatch" or any of its derivations in the title. Especially as the film's pretty much lesbian sci-fi erotica.

Set among the world of D-list talent representation, our first introduction to lead actress Erica Roby (Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers, Halloween Night, The Hitchhiker) is her being getting taken (invaded) from behind by some middle-aged dude against a big picture window. This is how they start the movie, figuring perhaps since the rest of it's not going to be that entertaining, they'd better throw in the promise of nudity right at the get-go with some, well, nudity. There are a few scenes between Miss Roby and this geezer, as well as Miss Roby and another miss, but all share the same sense of posed awkwardness and sheer lack of sensuality. She says it herself, in referencing her affair with the old guy, "It's weird." It really is Erica, and I wish there wasn't so much of it. Did you hear that? Did you hear what you just made me do? You made me openly wish for a lack of nudity and sexual situations in a film. Me. That's just fucking ridiculous.

The main nexus for the pod persons' invasion seems to be Miss Roby and associates' office, which in an attempt to look industrial-modern looks like the inside of a steam ship, an actual, working steam ship. It is here that the hot-lesbian boss brings each of her underlings ginger root plants that will inevitably impregnate, devour and replace them all. The lovely and sassy Danae Nason - the film's brightest spot - describes it best, and by "best" I mean the best she can: "It's one of those trendy, new things, it's Chinese or Japanese or some feng shui bullshit." Nicely said. The fact that the original giver of of this gift, this alien seed, was a porn star the agency was trying to sign, leaves a bad taste in my mouth, much like alien seed (note the lack of "must" after "seed." Eyes up people.).

At some point in the film the cops come to Miss Roby, or she goes to them, somehow she becomes the got-to for info on the invasion. I went to the bathroom for a few minutes, made another drink, missed some stuff, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter.

Jesus. Okay. This review is becoming as big a clusterfuck as the movie was. There's just so much insane shit going on at once here, it's hard to explain it coherently, because this shit just isn't coherent. I love you, Asylum, god know I do, but this shit was too much. The acting wasn't great, saved only, as I mentioned, by sultry snarkstress Nason; Miss Roby's character was too doe-eyed, too fresh-off-the-bus-and-fucking-anything-that's-nice-to-her, and Miss Roby's portrayal of her was one-note and phoned-in, as if she couldn't be bothered. I know she's alumnae, but still. And the production values lacked a little as well, especially the sound. But despite all this, it was still a better film than Invasion. There was the ample nudity - which though it may have been a bit too much and non sequitur for me, I realize it's a plus for others - and the, uh, the, well, umm...nope, pretty much the nudity is all this one's got going for it. And there really is a lot of it. At one point a lesbian orgy factors into the invasion, don't really get that one, but who cares, right? I should have put that in the post heading: "Lesbian Orgy Factors Into Invasion." More of a CHUD headline, really though.

There were however a couple of quotes that elicited a genuine laugh from me:

"She's a porn star."
"Well she's a porn star who's sucking the right cock!"


"Are you familiar with guns at all?"
"Maybe you should think about a shotgun."

But the quote I most identified with came the morning after Miss Roby's first lesbian encounter, with her boss no less: "What did I do last night?"

I asked the same question this morning, unable to look my DVD player in the eyes.

Is this the Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus poster? UPDATED 10/20/10

This image has been popping up in a couple places online over the last few days, accompanying articles about the new production stills from Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus, which recently entered post-production. Now, The Asylum has nothing up on their site, poster-wise, and while this bears a remarkable resemblance to the Mega Shark vs. Gigantosaurus poster that went online after flirting around in Cannes this year, I'm not sure if I believe it's the real deal, and not just some photoshop tampering.

Either way, though, it's a cool design and perfectly in theme with the rest of The Asylum's artwork. So real or not, it fulfills the duty of any good poster: it gets your heart racing for the feature.

****so I was wrong, and this is the actual poster, released today, 10/20/10

977's Unsolicited Yet Copyrighted Pitch #1: MAN-O-WAR

Suppose the recent oil spill in the Gulf wasn't a disastrous accident, but rather a cover up? A cover-up for what? you may be asking, What would be worth covering that they'd put our environment at such risk? Why good old fashioned nuclear power, of course, or something like it, some controversial fuel source hidden in a reservoir beneath the seabed that when ruptured spills forth a small quantity of the super juice, the existence of which can't be known by the general public (or competitive nations), so in order to conceal it, a few hundred million gallons of oil are spilled to cover it up. But not before the super juice can infect a swarm of Portuguese Man-O-War, fusing them into a single, mighty, mega(if you will)-man-o-war that then drifts into the gulf stream toward the Atlantic seaboard.

Thus begins Man-O-War.

Our real story begins on Ocracoke Island in North Carolina's Outer Banks, a quaint island town south of the lighthouse at Cape Hatteras. Mac Finn, a strapping young bearded lad in his mid-30's, is returning home after a 15 year absence. He's been living out west, Oregon, a failed writer, a failed husband, now a boatbuilder, returned home in the wake of his estranged father's death to settle the old man's estate and restart his life where he thought he'd left forever. Ocracoke is a small, tight-knit community, everybody remembers everybody, and Mac is met with mixed reactions; those who are happy to see him back in the fold, and those who still view him as an uppity creative type who thought himself better than them and so deserted the island and his father, a widower.

Mac is at the heart of the horrors to come. Over the next few days bodies will start to appear, burned and lacerated, from the ocean. I think I've set it up well enough that you can figure what's killing these folks. From there, without revealing too many gory details or my twist ending (just to say there are only so many ways to kill a man-o-war, I had to get inventive), the man-o-war fucks some shit up, and it's up to Mac and a cast of locals - not scientists, not soldiers, just average people, fishermen and waitresses and drunks - to vanquish the marine monster before it destroys their idyllic community.

Think Jaws meets Eight-Legged Freaks meets Hard Rain.

As for the locals: Ellie Caffrey, waitress at the Red Drum, a small bar on the Ocracoke pier, an ocean-side found-artist, not a native but treated like one, and Mac's potential love interest; Kurt Lund, the curator of a local tourist-trap aquarium, early 40's, more of a carnival barker than a scientist; Red Oldham, brash owner of the Red Drum; Henry Olive, another non-native, a wide-eyed young journalism intern for the weekly local rag covering the deaths; Abram Tompkins, the aging sheriff who for thirty years has had the island under his stern thumb and who just happens to have been Mac's father's life-long best friend, thus making him also Mac's harshest detractor; plus others like a mayor, a deputy, a stoner line cook, a fish mime (a mime that, well, mimes fish), a couple of amiable alcoholics, a bait boy and the requisite chum-in-waiting tourists.

I'm seeing David Charvet as Mac, Lindsey McKeon as Ellie and Seth Cassell as the stoner line cook. I'm willing to give him a shot at redeeming himself.

I'm just sayin'.

Choose Your Side: Awesome New Asylum Merch

The Asylum's always had some pretty awesome swag, but they're really upping the ante in anticipation of the cultural maelstrom to come next year when former pop sensations Tiffany and Debbie Gibson go toe-to-toe in Mega Python vs. Gatoroid. I've linked to a few articles about this already; people do indeed seem to be gearing up for a cultural event akin to Celebrity Boxing or the Speidi sex tape. Leave to The Asylum, therefore, to find the most marketable way possible to capitalize on this fervor: Team Debbie/Tiffany gear.

Three words come to mind seeing these designs: Hell Fucking Yes.

It's official, I now know what everyone on my Christmas list is getting this year (that chill that just ran up your spine is either excitement, or transference from me of my wife's cold stare in my direction. she's so team debbie.).

If I were a betting man, and I am, I'd bet this phenomenon is going to get a lot bigger in the months to come. I'm predicting a back-page Bullseye in Entertainment Weekly for this gear between now and Thanksgiving. Get these awesome designs, as well as every Asylum movie ever's logo on a variety of merch, right here.

Oh, and if you didn't know already...Team Tiffany 4EVA, bitches!

COMMITTED Gets 1,000th Hit!

As of 8 a.m. this morning, COMMITTED logged its 1,000th hit since launching on August 27th. Now, I don't know if 1,000 hits in a little shy of three weeks is good by normal blog standards or not, but it's pretty fucking awesome in my book. Thanks to all y'all who've stopped by, and keep it up! Things are only getting better from here, so tell your friends, families, video store clerks, Facebook profiles, Twitter accounts, still-functioning MySpace pages, message board threads, personal blogs and anyone else who will listen; there are a lot of great Asylum films coming out over the next few months, and it's up to us, the COMMITTED, to help spread the good word.

Thanks again, and really, it only gets better from here!

observation notes: Sex Pot

Sex and drugs - the PB&J of adulthood. And, like youth, too often the best of these are wasted on the young.

Take Sex Pot, for example, The Asylum's answer to Harold & Kumar etc. etc. etc.: magical weed and lascivious playmates are wasted on two dorks with no discernible social skills and a vocal affinity for masturbation.

Problem one: a magic bag of weed, the magic being that it makes women lose their inhibitions and fuck losers. That's not magic weed. That's just weed.

Problem two: women losing inhibitions. Inhibitions have to be had before they can be lost, and judging by the look of these women - yes, I'm judging them by their appearance, they're in their underwear on a movie box, I can do that - any inhibitions they came equipped with were stripped off a long time ago with, well, you can make your own joke here.

As for the rest of it, Seth Cassell - who you may remember I talked up in #1 Cheerleader Camp, but only in comparison to this - and the DJ Qualls impersonator that plays his buddy are perfectly believable as losers, but not at all as stoners (see Cassell's facial expression on the cover. there's a lot of that.). And somehow this makes the film weirdly watchable. The copious boobs help.

And speaking of boobs, they're only a small - well, not small, per se - facet of a script laced with nearly every raunchy cliche you can think of: hot-chick bowel movements, donkey show references, fruit-based mutual masturbation (twice I've used that word now. probably speaks more to the movie than the rest of this review), and lesbian dominatrixes. At times all this together felt a little over the top, too much, almost, but my wife reads these things, and she was sitting next to me when I put this one in - I know, I know - so I have to say that.

Bottom line, this is no comedy to write home about. But it is one to watch in a dark room by yourself with the door locked. If you like that kind of thing. Which apparently people do, because films like this get made all the time.

A couple of choice lines to set the mood:

"You sound like Harvey Milk doing a fucking porno."
(I don't know what this means.)

"Would you take pity on me, man? I have to crawl into a bathroom where the girl I just jerked off to took a big shit."
(keeping in mind this is said to the guy standing next to him when said masturbation occurred. [that's three times])

Even More Mega Shark 2 Photos!!!

So, according to The Asylum's site, principal photography has wrapped on Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus, and to follow up the photos I posted yesterday from their twitter site of behind-the-scenes action, here's a smattering of production stills fresh out of the camera. I gotta tell you, the images of Jaleel White with an automatic weapon are really doing it for me (non-sexually, of course. ew.) Now all we need is an official poster...then a teaser...then a trailer...then...Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus!!!!!!!!! (December 21, 2010)

observation notes: Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg could have learned a lot from this one; when trying to breathe new life into an old character, sometimes it's better to go back to the basics instead of stretching into foreign, bizarre, insulting and childhood-ruining territory. Released to coincide with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls (that's a lot of italics) returned to the source, the H. R. Haggard character Indiana Jones was based upon, Allan Quatermain, for this latest version of the classic King Solomon's Mines.

Twice before this novel has been adapted: in 1950 starring Stewart Granger as the adventurer and the ravishing Deborah Kerr as the client, and again in 1985 as a reaction to the popularity of Raiders of the Lost Ark, this time starring Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone. The Asylum's version falls solidly between the two: not quite as good as the 1950 version (which, incidentally, is one of my favorite films of all time) but markedly better than the 1985 version.

The story's pretty simple: guy finds a map for a treasure hidden in the little explored interior of Africa (this is the late 19th century, give or take); he goes looking for said treasure; he never returns; his faithful sister comes looking for him, engages a famous hunter-tracker-adventurer to aid in her search. And that's where the story really begins, a picaresque expedition on the trail of either great treasure, or great peril.

I'm having trouble thinking what to say next. I have notes about the competent performances, the pacing, the action scenes, this tribal-decapitation-claw thing a native uses on a dude , but truthfully I'm not feeling a lot of enthusiasm toward those things now, the next day. The movie was fine. But that's it. And it's not because it was poorly written or directed or performed; none of these elements were lacking. It was certainly more enjoyable than that soulless ass-rape of a film the franchise guys put out. Thing is, I just didn't care. And remember, this is coming from a guy already biased toward the story. The 1950 version, as I said, is truly one of my favorites, I re-visit it at least twice a year. But thinking about it now, I think it's because that version of the film, like the story, is dated. This version, the 2008 version, though still set in the original era, looked modern - the actors, the action, the effects - and as such felt tepid, tame, because by modern standards the source story doesn't quite hold up to the adrenaline-fueled, high-octane, apocalyptic action films of this era. I mean, Roland Emmerich totally fucked up the entire planet on screen last year; I can't really get it up for a steam engine/truck chase anymore, unless that's the best the era could offer.

Perhaps if The Asylum had gone with an update of the source material, like they did with War of the Worlds, 30,000 Leagues Under the Sea or the upcoming Moby-Dick, I would have been left with a better taste in my mouth. Or perhaps I'm just a cranky jerk today, and taking it out on A.Q.a.t.T.o.S., which really is an entertaining film, if you're into rollicking yarns of yesteryear.

The film stars Sean Cameron Michael (Supernova) as the titular adventurer and Natalie Stone (30,000 Leagues Under the Sea) as the saucy, pouty-lipped sister. Also worth noting that director Mark Atkins edited the film as well, as well as doing his own cinematography. See his inmate profile below for more info.

On-Set Photos from Mega Shark 2!!!

Yahoo!!!!! Fresh from The Asylum's twitter site comes these first on-set shots of Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus, now in production for a December 21, 2010 release. Check out stars Jaleel White, Robert Picardo, Dylan Vox, director Christopher Ray and others in this quintet of snapshots.

Enjoy these now in anticipation of a hopefully soon-coming trailer and then the whole she-bang, an early Christmas (or whatever you celebrate at that time of year) gift to us all from the fine, fine folks at the Asylum.

Viva Mega Shark!

inmate profile: Mark Atkins

You'd be hard-pressed to find a harder working dude in The Asylum's stable (that isn't David Michael Latt) than Mark Atkins. Director, editor, writer and cinematographer, Atkins has had a hand in a plethora of Asylum releases. Check out these stats:

  • cinematographer of 20 films
  • editor of 6
  • director of 7
  • writer of 2
  • visual effects for 3
  • second unit director for 2
A graduate of the University of Central Florida, Atkins first film, Night Orchid, won the Best First Feature Film award at the New Orleans Film Festival in 1997. Since then he has worked - as far as films are concerned - almost exclusively with The Asylum, which makes him not only an Original Inmate, but a true American hero. If you still remember how to use MySpace, check him out here. Or if that's too antiquated for you, hit up his production website for more info on this champion behind the scenes.

Mark Atkins, consider yourself saluted.

observation notes: The Day The Earth Stopped

The only Asylum movie to ever illicit a lawsuit, The Day the Earth Stopped was none-too-liked by the execs over at Fox, who thought the film's similarity to a certain, like-named and worse Keanu Reeves movie generated a "likelihood of confusion" among consumers. I work in a video store (big surprise, I know) and no one, even the mentally challenged or drug-addled, has ever confused Jennifer Connelly for C. Thomas Howell.

Plot in a nutshell: spaceships that look like sperm invade our galaxy and deposit on Earth robots or leftover transmorphers or some shit intent on doing us in. A rogue citizen of this alien race comes to warn us, assuming the form of a hot chick. And from there (as well as to there) it's basically the same movie as the Keanu shitstorm - with the added bonus of a thinly-veiled Christian end-message - slow to begin but once the concept hooks, it's a low-grade FX spectacular, a little simplistic, yes, but the best science-fiction movies often are; survival in the face of impossible, inconceivable odds is often compelling enough on its own, and in that regard, The Asylum's version of this sci-fi classic surpasses the Hollywood version, which is ultimately too political and concerned with rooting itself in a believable environment as opposed to just copping to the fact that it's a movie about a giant fucking robot. Own it, Fox. Their shit looks like a long episode of "The X-Files" with even worse lighting.

C. Thomas Howell is awesome as always, smoldering and compassionately disaffected, a sort-of shlub who's the only one to believe the hot alien. But C. Tom doesn't just rock this one in front of the lens, he rocks it from behind as well (all of that sounded so pornographic, I know, but I'm keeping it) as the film's director, his second such assignment for The Asylum. For a complicated, FX-laden busyfest, C. keeps his shots taut and concise, balancing panoramas of destruction with the tighter moments of chaos that fuel the tension.

Oh, and Judd Nelson finally drags his ass to work with 27 minutes to go to play the boisterously frazzled father of humanity's salvation.

A choice conversational snippet from this one:

"Prove that human life has value? How the hell am I supposed to do that?!"

"Did you ever see The goddamn Lion King!?"