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Calling on the Committed for Help


So this is kind of last minute, which only makes it more imperative we lend a hand. A post went up on The Asylum site today asking for we, the committed Asylum fans, to lend a hand for a good cause. Seems Asylum partner/writer/director/producer David Michael Latt heads up his local Toys for Tots drive, and this year, with a deadline fast approaching, they're woefully under quota. Last year's drive brought in 2,000 gifts for needy and deserving children, while the total thus far this year is a paltry 120 items, far too few. So, it's up to us to help him out and get those numbers boosted by THIS FRIDAY, DECEMBER 3rd, at 4PM

It's super-easy to help out: all we have to do is get a new toy - unwrapped, not requiring batteries, books are okay so long as not damaged - and get it to The Asylum offices by the deadline. Plus, for every toy donated between now and FRIDAY, Mr. Latt will donate one American dollar to an orphanage in Africa. How much helping can one man do?

I know times are tough and the leash is tight for most of us - believe me, I earn below the poverty line, I know - but they could always be worse, and for many people, many children, they are. It's amazing how far 5, 6, 7, 15 dollars worth of kindness can stretch. And it's sponsored by the Marine's, for Pete's sake; regardless of your political or philosophical standpoints, you know you owe them.

So c'mon gang, let's repay a tiny fraction of the enjoyment we've derived from The Asylum by helping them help those who truly deserve it this holiday season. One gift, a bunch of tiny gifts, anything you can do I'm sure would be appreciated. But remember, we only have until THIS FRIDAY, DECEMBER 3rd, at 4PM to get our toys to the address below:

Latt
c/o The Asylum
72 East Palm Ave.
Burbank, CA 91502 

You can also help by passing this info on, posting this link or The Asylum's on your Facebook and Twitter accounts, even your MySpace if you still have one, though no one will see it (zing!) and let all your friends know what's going down. And if you want to know more about the program itself, jump over to http://www.toysfortots.org

Thanks!

977's Unsolicited yet Copyrighted Pitch #6: THE MYSTERY OF FLANNAN ISLES


So the backstory is this: in 1900, seemingly in the middle of a meal, all three lighthouse keepers manning the lonely lighthouse on Scotland's Flannan Isles mysteriously disappeared without a trace, leading to more than a century of paranormal speculation and rational investigation that has still yet to produce a suitable and satisfactory explanation of events. Using this historical anecdote as a jumping-off point, I humbly present the pitch for The Mystery of Flannan Isles: A Charles Fort Adventure.

We open with our three, ill-fated lighthouse keepers enjoying the above-mentioned meal. Outside the weather is frightful, a strong storm is blowing off the sea and bringing wind and rain and crashing waves against the Isles' stone cliffs. Suddenly a frightful sound is heard, a cry like screeching metal or something mammoth screaming. The keepers are startled and exit the lighthouse to investigate. At the west landing, they find significant structural damage to iron railings and wooden platforms, too high above sea level to have been caused by waves. Then the sound again, and - without seeing their assailant - we watch the three keepers picked off one by one by something whose appearance turns the expressions of the hardened men to those of terrified children. The men dead, the sound slinks away, the storm rages on unwatched.

Cut to Eastern Europe, a small village in a mountainous range, gypsy-inhabited but for two men, both dressed in the academic fashion of the day, both in their mid-thirties. They are Charles Fort, paranormal investigator, and his assistant, Stanley Pelkington (who I'm picturing being played by Rhett Giles and Jay Gillespie, respectively), and they are here to investigate some supernatural phenomena such as red rain or strange lights, any of the myriad phenomena detailed in "The Complete Books of Charles Fort," (an outstanding read) that serve to introduce the man and his particular field of study, as well as his assistant's rational, scientific, skeptical and Scully-esque counter-approach. As he is wrapping up his research, a cable comes from London informing him on the occurrence at Flannan Isles. His curiosity piqued, they leave at once.

Once in Flannan Isles, CF finds the locals not at all eager to share what they know about the disappearance, any other disappearances on the island or their suspicions as to the cause of the disappearance, almost as though they are guarding a secret for their own, superstitious curiosity. Every small town distrusts outsiders, especially rural citizens against a cosmopolitan denizen like CF, but they are especially distrustful when they are a centuries-old small community isolated from the rest of the world on a small chain of islands in the North Atlantic. So CF will find little help here. His first obstacle is Finn, the caretaker of the Flannan Isles Lighthouse and a former keeper himself, not returned to the job until the Northern Lighthouse Board can find a suitable, more permanent replacement. Finn won't give any details other than to stir CF's preternatural leanings by admonishing that there are some answers better left undiscovered, some things man wasn't meant to be able to understand, only fear and respect. 

CF begins to study his books on local lore and tests or researches the possibilities rational (washed away, murder/suicide, abducted by pirates) and irrational (ghost ship, sea serpent, fabled monster bird) but it isn't until he meets the daughter of one of the disappeared keepers, the lovely lass Siobhan (The 7 Adventures of Sinbad's Kelly O'Leary) that CF becomes convinced the disappearance wasn't a rational thing at all. Seems Siobhan's old man had reservations about taking the job in the first place because of rumors of a ghostly serpent taller than the isles who appears during great storms and tries to smash the island to bits with the fury of waves. This ghost-serpent is supposedly the reason the lighthouse was erected here centuries ago, at the utmost northwest corner of Scotland: to guard the UK against spectral invasion from the wild, unknown, ephemeral Arctic regions. When her dad turned up missing, Siobhan knew the serpent was somehow responsible. Armed with this new knowledge and teammate, CF and crew investigate the creature and - without giving away too many act two and three twists - discover the only way it can be vanquished is to confront it and capture it in a stone reputed to be it's eye hardened to gem once plucked from its head by the lance of a long-ago lighthouse keeper. So Fort must find this stone, then this serpent, then capture it face to face if he is to save the island from its supernatural threat.

The nice thing, I think, about this pitch is the franchise it opens. Charles Fort, as the link above attests, was a real dude, the so-called "inventor of the supernatural," and, cinematically speaking, a kind of Indiana Jones of the paranormal, a Sherlock Holmes of the otherworld. Fort's books provide dozens above dozens of launching-pads for the sort of steampunk paranormal amalgam we saw in Rachel Lee Goldenberg's Sherlock Holmes. In fact, she'd be a great choice to direct this flagship film. She could even co-write with me, if she wanted; I'm amiably collaborative like that.

I'm just sayin'.

creature feature: MEGA PIRANHA


Piranha are bad enough. Easily the orneriest of fish, they have been regarded since their discovery as among the most ferocious predators on Earth, ones that gave even the great, gallant Theodore Roosevelt pause:

          "Even the most formidable fish, the sharks or the barracudas, usually attack things smaller than themselves. But the piranhas habitually attack things much larger than themselves. They will snap a finger off a hand incautiously trailed in the water; they mutilate swimmers—they will rend and devour alive any wounded man or beast; for blood in the water excites them to madness. They will tear wounded wild fowl to pieces; and bite off the tails of big fish as they grow exhausted when fighting after being hooked... They are the pests of the waters, and it is necessary to be exceedingly cautious about either swimming or wading where they are found. If cattle are driven into, or of their own accord enter, the water, they are commonly not molested; but if by chance some unusually big or ferocious specimen of these fearsome fishes does bite an animal—taking off part of an ear, or perhaps of a teat from the udder of a cow—the blood brings up every member of the ravenous throng which is anywhere near, and unless the attacked animal can immediately make its escape from the water it is devoured alive."

This description, from Teddy's observation notes entitled "Through the Brazilian Wilderness," has mostly been proven inaccurate or at least overblown hyperbole, with the current ichthyological opinion being that piranhas are pretty much like most other fish, just with teeth, but where's the peril in that? Where's the danger in genetically modifying a regular old fish, albeit one with teeth? Nowhere, that's where. So The Asylum and writer/director Eric Forsberg decided - thank god - to go with the old-school model of the piranha as an insane, frenzied pack of maneaters with inhuman speed and insatiable voraciousness, and then, then, they upped the ante even more, twice more, by making said predators not only gigantic, but making them infinitely gigantic, that is, making it so they never stop getting big.

Allow this wonderful infographic by acclaimed designer and interactivity geek Stephen Taubman to help illustrate:


 As stated on the graphic, the biggest problem (for us; for MP it's their biggest advantage), is that they never stop growing. In fact, every 36 hours or so, you can expect each individual member of the school to double its size, which also means double its strength, double its speed, and double its appetite, every day-and-half. By Taubman's analysis, in five days, they're our size; in six days, the size of a giraffe; in nine days, a fucking dinosaur. By my analysis, that means in roughly a month each mega piranha will be the size of the moon. So if they don't eat us, they'll crush us.

But big or not, they're still just fish, right? Nuke the motherfuckers and let's be done with this nonsense, already. 

Ah, ah, ah. Not so quick. Genetic modification isn't just about an increase in size, it's about an all-around performance enhancing makeover. So that giant fish, he's not just giant, or ravenous, or ridiculously aggressive and accompanied by a hundred others just like him, he's also coming equipped with two hearts - two - which means he's got twice the passion we do, and triple-thick skin capable of protecting him from hooks, blades, bullets, missiles, fire, explosives and even high-grade nuclear weaponry. Kicks, however, will stun him. 


So then, let's see here - constantly growing, maniacally insatiable, bloodthirsty, and with a penchant for taking on prey bigger than themselves, including, sometimes, things that aren't even biological at all, denoting another penchant, this one for wanton and reckless destruction. However in the world do you stop such a threat? 


You don't. 


She does:




To see exactly how, you're going to have to pick up a copy of Mega Piranha on DVD, which I for one highly, highly recommend. Who knows? If we drive up DVD sales enough, perhaps we'll get a sequel grudge match. I can't think of a better flagship Asylum film than 2012: Global Warming: Mega Shark vs. Mega Piranha, in which the ice caps flash-melt, raising the ocean levels by ten feet worldwide, leaving very little land and thus an entire planet for the biggest brawl man's ever known. Just sayin'.

Bottom line: mega piranhas are the fiercest product of oceanic genetic modification, hands down, even trumping those psycho-smart sharks in Deep Blue Sea. So before you revisit the big-screen Summer blockbuster this one ties into, check out the mayhem falling like rain in this lower-budget spectacular that manages just as brutal a body count, and all in good, old-fashioned 2D.

(though I wouldn't begrudge the sequel stepping up a dimension; Forsberg worked in 3D for a version of Sex Pot)

R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen

Apparently I'm the last blogger on the planet to hear about the passing of cinematic legend Leslie Nielsen. I heard about it at the bar during a commercial of The Walking Dead. This is especially unnerving for me as earlier this afternoon when, upon arriving home for work, I stumbled upon the last 20 minutes of The Naked Gun 33 1/3 and mused aloud to my wife," Huh, wonder how many years he has left."

A big part of my childhood died today, I was a "Police Squad" fanatic growing up and saw all three Naked Gun films in the theaters. They broke the mold with Mr. Nielsen, a deadpan genius. I will resist the obvious reaction to his death: "Surely you can't be serious."

But in a way, I guess I didn't resist it at all.

Godspeed, Commander Adams

observation notes: Street Racer

The Asylum takes to the asphalt in this high-octane action-adventure in the vein of the Fast and Furious franchise (which is currently in post on its fifth installment, which happens to have a role for Asylum-regular Geoff Meed, who isn't in this at all, so I'm digressing.) that comes complete with its own rap-rock soundtrack!

Our film opens with reckless street-racing youth tearing things up on the open highway to the peril of innocent bystanders, one of which, a promising young boy, is crippled as a result of a racer's negligence. Cut to five years later when the offending racer, the aptly-named Johnny Wayne (Clint Browning), is meeting with his parole officer upon release from prison. The P.O.'s giving Johnny a stern warning about getting back into his speed-junkie lifestyle, but not in the way you'd expect: instead of warning Johnny not to return to street racing, returning to street racing is exactly what the P.O. wants Johnny to do, as, naturally, he's crooked as a three-legged spider and looking to exploit Johnny's illegal abilities for his own monetary gain, a.k.a. he wants to bet on Johnny. Well, seems rehabilitation has really worked on Johnny, and he doesn't wanna race no more, he's out of that life, but P.O., he's having nothing doing with that, and reminds Johnny that one phone call from the P.O. and Johnny's "back where you belong, being somebody's bitch." Thus our central conflict is established.

From here Johnny Wayne goes to his court-appointed job, which is conveniently at an auto-repair junkyard where we meet the requisite voice-of-conscience character, a geeky grease-monkey (Dustin Fitzsimons) who J-dub instantly takes a shine to, and not in the way the P.O. suggested earlier. A trip these two take to a local watering hole later re-introduces Johnny to his old street-racing gang, including his nemesis (Jason Ellefson), the dude he was racing when he crippled that kid. Johnny tries to resist their tempts and taunts, all the while wrestling with his P.O.'s threats, but eventually, as the title demands, Johnny returns to the Life. 

But not before confronting his past, his crime, his victim.


JW serves his community service requirement at the hospital where the kid, now five years older and oblivious as to Johnny's identity, is starting the painful and arduous task of learning to walk again. Johnny - keeping his secret - befriends the kid and attempts to make some small amends by being the support figure the kid needs to persevere in his struggle. Nice cathartic touch of script, this, that turns what could have been a one-dimensional action-drama instead into a layered, honest-to-god character study.

Anyway, JW's back on the racing circuit: flashy cars, trashy broads, bad haircuts and shitty music - the Life. Race one, Johnny nabs the pink slip of a sweet ride, but, as he borrowed his boss' car to do it, he loses his job in the process. But this is only a temporary setback.

As the film progresses, J-dub grows closer to his paralyzed teen victim, and, inappropriately enough, his victim's hot sister (Dorothy Drury). In his second race, Johnny loses, and to a girl no less. Ew. (to his credit, however, she's driving a sports car while he's in some Scion-looking thing; the weight difference alone stacks the deck against him) With nowhere else to turn, he comes clean to his ex-boss, who just happens to be an old racing pro himself, tells him about the rock and a hard place his P.O. has him wedged between, and dag-nab-it if the old guy doesn't come around and not only give Johnny his job back, but pledges to help him trump the crooked P.O. at his own game by teaching Johnny the finer points of technical driving. Thus the Miyagi sequence of the film begins. I don't think I need to explain what I mean by that.

From here on out, spoilers, so I relent.


Overall, I thought this one was better than average, not only for an Asylum film, but for direct-to-DVD action films in general. Hell, I liked this better than I did Tokyo Drift, and I think Lucas Black is one of the most underrated actors of his generation; Lil Bow Wow, too. The racing scenes were excellent, tightly crafted and deftly directed by Teo Konuralp, an editor for Leno, from a toughly gruff and gritty-realistic script by brothers Carey and Shane Van Dyke. Shane, of course, is the writer of Paranormal Entity, Titanic II, Transmorphers: Fall of Man and The Day the Earth Stopped, as well as the director of 6 Guns, while Carey, his older brother, wrote The Day the Earth Stopped with Shane. This is the debut feature script for both. For my money, it's the Asylum scripts by Shane Van Dyke (and Geoff Meed, 6 Guns, I Am Omega, Universal Soldiers) that I dig the most. This film - a lot like 6 Guns and Titanic II - seems to rise above the standard expectations and transcend some barrier between whimsical/absurd and real/dangerously rational. Great performances from a well-rounded and Asylum-experienced cast only helps this.

Clint Browning (Countdown:Jerusalem, Terminators, Mega Piranha) is a great fit in the role of Johnny Wayne: handsome in a dirty way, brooding in a one-track, racetrack way. Visually he comes off as a cross between Desmond "Dexter" Harrington and Jason "Sex and the City" Lewis, and emotionally he fills the screen with empathetic, tragic heroism, magnificently flawed and ripe for redemption.

Fitzsimons (MILF, The 18 Year Old Virgin) as the geek mechanic plays it cheeky, and though he isn't awkward-looking enough to truly inhabit the role, his performance compensates. Other standouts include the aforementioned Ms. Drury (30,000 Leagues Under the Sea, 2012:Supernova) as the sister Johnny falls for (not his sister), Connor Clayton as the crippled kid, and Robert Pike Daniel (9/11 Commission Report, Death Racers, 666:The Child, Freakshow) as "Red," the gruff garage owner with a heart of gold and a racing past himself. 

This one may get lost on the shelves or dismissed as just another mockbuster, but in truth, judged on its own by its own merits, it's an engaging and thrilling and dare I say even touching film, one more worthy, at times, than its tie-in for a sequel. If the recently announced 200MPH: Midnight Racers isn't a sequel to this, I'll gladly draw up a spec for Street Racer 2: 2 Street 2 Racers in 2D. I'm just sayin'.

Another New Title Announced!!!

If there's no rest for the wicked, then the fine folks at The Asylum just don't sleep. Yet another title has been added to their coming soon list located at the bottom left corner of their site's homepage:

200 MPH: Midnight Racers


The title is theirs, the image is mine, and it's anybody's guess as to the plot of this one, other than, of course, the obvious allusion to very fast and most likely illegal racing. But racing what? Cars? Bikes? Boats? Blimps? Is this a sequel of sorts to Street Racer? If so, it could be timed to coincide with the release of Fast 5, the fifth installment in the Vin Diesel-Paul Walker series, or it could just be a stand-alone action flick. I'm hoping for the former, though, because I really liked Street Racer. But so far the title is all the info on this one.

As always, though, as soon as I know anything, you'll know it too!

whispers from another cell: News From Within The Asylum



2010 Moby Dick Released Today on DVD! (Kind of ) Commentary This Weekend!

That's right, today is MD-Day, so rush out right now to your local, independent video store or other legitimate rental source and snatch this one off the racks. Better yet, click over to The Asylum store and purchase a copy. It's well worth it. I've extolled the virtues of this one already, and I'm telling you, $17.99 is a deal for action of this magnitude. The longer I sit with the image of the whale, the more I love it. Melville would have been proud, I believe. 


But you don't have to take my word for it: hit up this link to The Asylum's blog, where they have a list of reviews from around the web. Careful though, spoilers abound, and though the story at origin you might know, there are certain Asylum stamps (courtesy of Paul Bales) on this one you don't want spoiled.


Once you have seen it, indulge in this special treat leaked to me by Trey Stokes himself, the man in the director's chair of 2010MD: Mr. Stokes and some colleagues have been doing weekly podcasts for nearly two years called Down In Front, in which they pick a film to insightfully analyze/savagely ridicule, and this week, they're giving the treatment to MD. Since Asylum movies - as yet - don't come with director commentaries, this will be the closest thing we've gotten so far. Stokes says the podcast will go live Sunday or Monday, and can be heard at www.downinfront.net

And by the by, for those who doubt my commitment to Moby Dick, my utter respect and pure love, not for The Asylum movie, necessarily, but rather the work it's based on, and therefore, in some small way, I guess, any incarnation it takes, I offer the flesh of my right forearm:


I don't make Dick jokes.


Mega Python vs. Gatoroid Gets a Release Date

So SyFy made it official today and announced a long-awaited release date for the Debbie Gibson-Tiffany toe-to-toe grudge match that is Mega Python vs. Gatoroid. January 29th is the date, 9p.m. on SyFy. That's a Saturday night, so tell your lady she's gonna have to either make other plans or kick it at home, because that's the night every man who was a pre-teen in the late 80's has nothing better to do, period. Let the countdown begin.





Less Than One Month Until Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus!

I know it seems too good to be true, but it isn't: as of today, there are exactly four weeks before the most eagerly anticipated non-Wizard sequel of the year hits our hot, greedy little hands. On December 21st Mega Shark is back in action, taking on Africa's deadliest secret, the ginormous crocosaurus. Who will win? Who will lose? How many innocents will die needlessly in the brawl? Hopefully scores, because expectations are definitely high for this one. Still no trailer, but I wouldn't be surprised if one drops in the next 48 hours, seeing as how 2010 Moby Dick is out and MSvC is next in the cue for release. Rest assured, as soon as I see it, you'll see it.

Ahabs of Cinema History

So in an effort to capitalize on the crazy amount of hits my 2010 Moby Dick review is getting - apparently it was the first online - I thought I'd try to keep the ball rolling though the DVD release tomorrow with a look at the many men in cinema history who have tackled the complicated, nuanced, tortured role of Captain Ahab, the obsessed captain of the Pequod who would gladly sacrifice his own life, and even more gladly the lives of his crew, for the sake of enacting vengeance upon the famed, mythical white whale that stole his leg. Not just any actor can attempt such a role: it takes emotional depth, a wicked sneer and a delicate understanding of the fine line between duty and detriment, all of which the following actors have in some way brought to the screen.


John Barrymore, Drew's grandpappy, was the first man to portray Ahab, bringing the captain to the silver screen in 1930. This one's a pretty loose adaptation, throwing in a love story between Ahab and the daughter of Father Mapple, owing to Barrymore's matinee-idol good-looks and, I would suspect, a lack of seafaring footage that only a subplot could cover for. As such, it's not much to seek out unless you're a giant, devoted fan of either Barrymore or the novel.









 Undoubtedly the most famous performance as Captain Ahab - to date, that is - belongs to the great Gregory peck, who donned a chinbeard and pegleg to play the role for acclaimed and esteemed director John Huston in 1956. This is just a classic all around, featuring a script by Ray Bradbury and a supporting role for Orson Welles as Father Mapple. Huston had wanted Welles to play Ahab all along, but Welles was too devoted at the time to his burgeoning alcoholism to commit to such a large part. He would get the chance again, but forever would the character of Ahab become linked to Gregory Peck, even though Peck himself would later admit that at the age of 38, he was too young to play a weathered sea captain at the end of his career.





And as a kind of counter to the above, there is the 1978 filmed version of a stage production by Jack Aranson, which many consider to be the actual finest performance of Ahab. The production itself was named one of the five best one-man shows of the 20th century by Time Magazine. Aranson not only deftly tackles the soul of Ahab with such conviction and assured bravado as to instantly cause 3/4ths of any Masters acting class to drop out, he also - as the term "one-man show" would hint at - plays every other role in the performance. A tour de force by an actor virtually unknown in mainstream consciousness.




You just knew Patrick Stewart was going to play Ahab at some point. The guy's just built for it. And he brought a little change of style with him to this 1998 TNT Original Production: no beard whatsoever. Stewart's Ahab was more a sailor than other incarnation; instead of a tyrant barking orders, Stewart's Ahab was the Pequod, it's course, it's speed, it's handling were all his. Not the most believably obsessed of Ahabs, Stewart nonetheless brought the emotional gravitas the role required. Worth noting that this production was the last appearance of Gregory Peck, who here played Father Mapple.





 Though filmed in 1971 - the last thing Orson Welles would ever direct - this short film in which Welles plays Ahab and all other roles, wasn't released until 1999, after it had been edited according notes for a rehearsal Welles had given. Though brief, Welles fully showcases the timbre and strength of character that had made him Huston's first choice 15 years earlier. Interestingly enough, it was Welles' paycheck from Huston's version that helped finance the play that became this cut.





 Still yet to be released, this 2010 miniseries version stars Ethan Hawke as Starbuck opposite Academy Award Winner William Hurt as Ahab. Since it hasn't aired, the verdict isn't in on Hurt's performance, but I would expect it, given the man and his history, to be a more balanced incarnation than we've seen before, rage both bolstered and offset by sorrow, madness split both ways.








And then there's Barry Bostwick, who I think I've made my position quite clear on. If you need a refresher, scroll two posts down and re-read my 2010 Moby Dick review. In a nutshell? Best performance of the guy's career. While Bostwick's context is clearly the most divergent of the filmed adaptations, Ahab remains basically the same: a man trapped by his own quest for vengeance, a man who can't see beyond the scars - figurative and literal - of his past, and thus a man who has doomed himself but will never realize it.








These roles and actors are to say nothing of the hundreds of times Ahab has been brought to life on stage. Easily one of the most captivating, troubling and memorable characters in all of literature - American or otherwise - and a prime example of how one overwhelming directive can transform not just a man's life, but the man himself, until he gets to a point at which he sees his life, himself, as, in Ahab's own words, "the Fates' lieutenant, acting under orders."

Another Sarah Lieving Interview

This one coming from Moviehole, a nice little website that covers moive whatnots and et cetera. Just a quick interview here, but some interesting tidbits about SyFy, the directing Rays, Mandy Moore and other assorted goodies from the Asylum's scream queen. My only beef? The interviewer comparing her to Casper Van Dien. Ms. Lieving seems much more sane and less religously fundamental than that pretty-boy prince, nt to mention ginormously more talented. Did you see Starship Troopers 3: Marauders? Between the boobs and the prayers, I didn't know what to believe. But I digress. Check out the interview here, and show some love on the comment boards to let Ms. Lieving and the world know Asylum fans support their own!

observation notes: 2010 Moby Dick

Man oh man have I been looking forward to this."Moby Dick" is my favorite novel of all time, and when I heard it was being adapted by my favorite studio, well, let's just say I've been beside myself with anticipation. I mean, as far as American writers go, Melville's pretty much the Godfather, and "Moby Dick" is his coup de grace, and, in my and many others' opinions, the finest work ever produced by an American novelist. So, some pretty big shoes to fill here. Or should I say "mega" shoes? Let's get into it.

The Asylum's version opens in the arctic in 1969 aboard a submarine on which there serves a young seaman by the name of Jonah Ahab (Jay Gillespie, #1 Cheerleader Camp)(love the addition of "Jonah," as in, that dude in the Bible lived in a whale for a while. in the book, it's just Ahab. but Bales, he's cross-referencing his whale lore. awesome!). On the young Ahab's sonar there is sensed something large and biological approaching the sub. He tries to inform the others, even records it's sound, or song, on a Maxell cassette, but his superior dismisses his suspicions as glitches of equipment and inexperience - that is until that something Ahab detected, a gigantic and ruthlessly aggressive white whale, attacks the sub and body slams it down on the ice shelf, killing the majority of the crew in an instant. Young Ahab, as you would expect, gets out alive, but loses a leg.

Cut to our modern era and the coast of California where Cetologist (whale scientist/actress Renee O'Connor, "Xena") Michelle Herman (get it? Ismael and the last name of the author. brilliant!) and her assistant Pip (Derrick Scott) are recording the songs of her specimens in a purple bikini on a boat cutely named "The Coffin," a reference, no doubt, to the buoyant slab of wood that saves Ismael's life in the novel. 

I'm going to tone down mentioning all the little references to the novel, promise, I just wanted to make the point that this script, whatever else it is, is firmly loyal to the original story. Back to it, now:

Said specimens are responding just fine until something below the surface spooks them and they take off. That something, it's revealed seconds later, is a U.S. Navy Nuclear Submarine, the Pequod, whose crew has breached to request - in a rather forceful manner - the services of our whale doctor and her associate. This request comes on behalf of the Pequod's unseen captain, Ahab, now forty years older.

Cut to a nice little scene here where a whale-watching tourist boat is crushed by the underbelly of the great white whale of sea-faring lore, Moby Dick. More on this in a bit.

Back in the sub, the doc is being briefed by first-mate Starbuck (easy BSG geeks, the name was ours first) about the incidents leading up to her specific, shall we say, acquisition by the sub. Seems there's been a lot of weird whale attacks lately, but not by any ordinary whale, oh no, but by a five-hundred-fucking-foot white whale, a whale like no other, a prehistoric megawhale freed from the arctic and now wreaking havoc off the coast of Southern California. Doc dismisses this as ridiculous, impossible, besides, it's a myth, a legend, no one's ever actually seen this thing. Enter modern-day Ahab (the great, gray Barry Bostwick, Animal House, "Spin City"). Not only has he seen the foul leviathan, he's still got its song on cassette (enter your own "Moby Dick" '69 bootleg/Zeppelin joke here). To Ahab, Moby Dick is no mere myth, no slight story made up and meant to scare sailors, oh no, this whale to Ahab is all too real, he feels it in his phantom leg, and over the last forty years he has become quite insane with vengeance (while still being able to hold down a skippership position with the Navy). He will stop at nothing short of this glorious creature's permanent extinction, and that's where the doc comes in: he's been following her work for years and knows that if anyone can use the song he has on cassette to track the real whale, it's her. Doc isn't too pleased about abetting this violent mission, but when Ahab convinces her all they want to do is stop the attacks on innocents, she's reluctantly in.

On shore, an old seaman buddy of Ahab's, and one who served all those years ago on the same sub Moby Dick made mincemeat of (he lost an arm) is being questioned by Navy higher-ups about Ahab's state of mind. Seems the Navy got pretty nervous when Ahab, on his own, tricked out his nuclear sub to become even more dangerous and formidable, and then they got even more nervous when he ceased to make regular check-ins. Navy realllllllllly doesn't like that. Futhermore, these attacks that have been happening, the ones we know Moby Dick is responsible for, well, no one else believes in a prehistoric whale freed from arctic stasis, so naturally, they're blaming these things on the rogue sub captain with the pimped out vessel. Ahab's buddy is commissioned the responsibility of finding his old friend and bringing him in.

In the meantime, however, another sub on the lookout for the Pequod conveniently chances upon the latter vessel, although before it can take action, in another ridiculously convenient chance encounter, Moby Dick is there as well, honing in on the pinging of the former sub's radar, and quickly making said sub no more. Now it's getting personal.

On shore again, Ahab's buddy interviews the only survivor of the whale-watching debacle, a Russian chick who dispels the rumor it was a sub that attacked them, instead blaming the tragedy on a massive white whale.

The Pequod is tracking that very whale at that very moment in the wake of its attack on the other sub. What it finds first is a truly chilling scene I won't give away here, I'll let you experience it on your own, but I will say it's the most illustrative scene - for me, at least - in regards to the sort of dark tone screenwriter Paul Bales establishes here; this is no mere creature feature, it is, as is the novel, a tale of violently irrational obsession, the most shadowed sector of the human soul, played out against a grandiose and horrific setting in which nature comes to personify man's basest attributes, or something like that. The whale kicks mad ass, takes out a bunch of impressive shit.

From here things only get more harrowing. Ahab accidentally invokes further hostilities from his own Navy, but then so does the whale. This does, however, produce the single greatest scene in cinema history involving a whale and a helicopter, undisputed. But after this, Ahab's battle is two-fold: get the whale before the Navy gets the Pequod.

I'm going to leave the rest for you to discover on your own, but I will say that thus far, Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus still pending, this is easily my favorite Asylum production of 2010, and I say that honestly thinking this year has been their best so far. Everything is upped here - the script, the FX, the direction, the acting; The Asylum is just plain functioning on a higher level here. I loved the shit out of this movie, I honestly did.

Paul Bales' script honors the original, changing very little in the way of the story but to modernize it. The result is a story that maintains the venerability of the novel and blends that with the excitement, suspense and terror of an Asylum flick. It's a flawless thing, this blend, complete with inventive twists and imaginative reworkings of the source material - I'm thinking here of The Coffin, Ahab's second peg leg and the awesome harpoon gun Ahab uses (that, according to bonus features, Bostwick built himself one weekend out of shit in his garage. Awesome!) - that help this ambitious undertaking become realized.

As for FX, the whale looks great, really great: tremendous, vicious, formidable and frightening. The centuries' worth of harpoons embedded in its back is a particularly nice touch. The other FX also, the helicopters and subs and whatnot, look a lot cleaner, crisper, all around better, than they did even a year ago. This is not the work of Tiny Juggernaut, as I expected, but of visual effect supervisor Mark Kochinski, a veteran of "Star Trek" and "X-Files" and, yes, "Xena," who also worked on Titanic II and whose FX can next be seen in Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid and Battle of Los Angeles. Sounds like we're going to be hearing a lot about him in the next year. 

As for the actors, there wasn't a weak link in this chain. All of Melville's characters are here - Ahab, Ismael, Starbuck, Pip, Doughby, Bulkington, Queequeg - and the actors portraying them did so with loyalty to the original but also with the flexibility to make the roles their own. Particular standouts include Derrick Scott, Adam Grimes as Starbuck, Michael Teh (Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus) as Queequeg, and, in too brief an appearance, Mike Gaglio as an officer on younger Ahab's sub. Renee O'Connor is acceptable in her role, but truthfully it isn't big enough or given enough development to really judge. Overall, however, she's vibrant and urgent and it's great to see her in action again.

But the real standout, the irrefutable ace in this deck is Barry Bostwick as Ahab. In a word, the man is simply incredible, the best I have ever seen him, so impassioned, so violently desperate and insanely disciplined. He gets Ahab in a way no one else has, really sees the madman at the root of this guy and lets him run loose. Pound for pound, and I say this with the utmost respect and admiration to the eras of moviemaking that have come before us, Barry Bostwick captures the maniacal intensity of a man behind such a delirious quest at least as well as the late, great Gregory Peck (from the John Huston 1956 adaptation). Let the hate mail commence, but I say stovepipe hats off to the man for a truly wonderful and stirring performance.

Man, I feel bushed after all this. I knew I liked this movie when I sat down to write up these notes, but I don't think I knew exactly how much until just now. I've seen a lot of Asylum movies, quickly approaching all of them, and though I have my favorites - I Am Omega, The Beast of Bray Road, Titantic II - this one in time might take the cake as my absolute favorite. And again, I fully admit I'm biased because a) the book's my favorite, and b) so's the production company, but I truly believe this is a great action-adventure, above par when it comes to story and FX (barring a scene or two at the end when some crew are hiding from the whale behind a rock), and anchored with the utmost capability by a strong, fierce lead performance by Barry Bostwick, in my opinion, again, the best he's ever been. 

2010 Moby Dick  was directed by Trey Stokes, who makes his feature debut here. Mr. Stokes, I'd like to see a lot, lot more. A lot.

Kudos!

observation notes: Killers 2: The Beast

One of two Asylum sequels subtitled The Beast (the other being that to 666: The Child), Killers 2, the sequel to the first-ever Asylum production (and also the first feature collaboration between current Asylum partners David Michael Latt, who directed here, David Rimawi, who produced, and Paul Bales, who wrote), opens with Kim Little's character, the only survivor of the first film, now involuntarily committed (ha!) to a mental asylum (double ha!) on account of the horrors from film one of which authorities think she is the sole cause.

As is customary with mental asylums in horror movies - and often in real life - the place is rife with corrupt doctors and orderlies and the patients are more dangerous than one's own psychosis. And speaking of psychosis, the longer KL has to stay in this terrible place, the more she has to suffer the particular horrors of institutional life - teamed with the remembered horror of her recent trauma, teamed with the actual horror of hitmen associated with the drug lord from the first film infiltrating the asylum and attempting to kill her - the weaker her convictions of her innocence, her sanity, grow. I don't want to give too much more away, because this really is a thrilling journey, rich with subtle and not-so-subtle terrors hiding around every corner, lurking behind every shadow.

Kim Little is unbelievably good in this as a sort of fractured Alice in the opposite of Wonderland - sick, crazy, delicately desperate and deceptively dangerous. I've given pretty good marks to Ms. Little in most everything I've seen her in, but this thus far is my favorite of her work. Other cast highlights include D.C. Douglas (Titanic II, Scarecrow Slayer), who plays a frighteningly confident/boyishly professional/naively arrogant doctor, Steven Glinn (The Source, Shapeshifter) as "Jim," the macho, debaucherous, goateed orderly and grade-A prick whose death you long for, and Melissa Renee Martin as a suicidal hot-chick patient.

Overall I found this film to be more thrilling than the first, an all-around cleaner, crisper outing. Kim Little grew a lot as an actress between the films and it really shows, as she carries this with frenetic and frighteningly realistic aplomb. David Michael Latt, who directed the first film as well, also progressed as a director; there aren't as many lighting tricks or claustrophobic framings but still somehow this film feels more confining and menacing than the first, stark instead of atmospheric, more intimate, face-to-face with the madness, and yet still eerily institutional. The scenes where KL's losing her shit were especially well shot, I thought, a kaleidoscope of light and sound and focus and shadow that swirl together to create a truly hallucinatory and maddening impression of a descent from sanity.

The script is the final part of this puzzle, and, like the lead actress and direction, it's gotten much, much better. Bales took an admittedly flat backstory not his own and pulled from it an intense, witty, sharp, shocking, brutal and vibrant scenario with some real choice dialogue that manages the impossible task of adding levity to a most unfunny situation. And he throws in a disproportionate amount of hot chicks for a mental asylum, which only leads - naturally - to a pretty bitching shower catfight.


Bottom line, the promise of the first film is more than fulfilled by this, the second. One of the better asylum-set (notice the lack of capitalization) films I've seen, balancing nicely the delicate seesaw of inner and outer terror. I count this one as "highly enjoyable." Quote me on it.

COMMITTED Helps Foster New Talent

Okay, so maybe the headline is a little overblown, but I discovered last night that actress Jamie Bernadette (MILF) has just set up a new website that features a quote from yours truly! I had some kind words for the lovely and talented Ms. Bernadette following her performance as the non-MILF beauty in MILF, and lo and behold there they are for all the internet to see! Me and Ulli Lommel! So, kind of a big day around here...

In all seriousness, Ms. Bernadette is a wonderful young actress with a lot of promise, and, if COMMITTED's traffic sources are to be believed, quite popular on Google images with the fellas. And who knows? Maybe when she wins her Oscar she'll give a shout-out to the little blog that gave her props when she was just starting out; stranger speeches have been given.

Until then, check out the site and show Jamie some love. Maybe if we send enough traffic her way, she'll do an interview! 

observation notes: Killers

This is where it all began: the very first Asylum production, in their very first year as a company, 1997 - Killers, directed by David Michael Latt and starring Kim Little.

The plot is simple enough: a handful of low-grade, thrill-junkie and just-junkie bikers make a shady deal to buy a bunch of drugs at 1/10th their street value. How come the good deal? Because the drugs are stolen, of course, from the notoriously violent son of a local drug baron. But our junkies don't know this, and to make matters worse, they agree for the deal to go down at this out-of-the-way, practically-condemned, nice and deserted industrial complex.

Junkies. Always doing stupid shit.


Anywho, the deal goes down as planned, but just as it does, the violent son tracks down the thieving dealer, bringing in tow with him a team of severe-looking henchmen, lead by a ponytailed and very angry Paul Logan. This is when the shit begins to hit the fan. The dealer, amusingly named "Speed" - you know, like the stuff he deals - is the first one captured and tortured, but when it's revealed he doesn't have the drugs, our villains are clued in to the fact that he's not the only one in the building, and go looking for some payback...in blood.

As the junkies scatter and try to stay alive, the film's focus falls on the character played by Kim Little, the girlfriend of the head junkie, a pretty, white, rich girl looking for more thrills than just drugs, slumming-it to satiate some no-doubt deep-seeded daddy issues, basically your good-girl-gone-bad scenario, turned thoroughly-fucked by the interjection of murderous henchmen. When PL shoots her man point plank in the head (not a spoiler as much as a necessary plot reveal. the spoiler is...well...you'll see), Kim's character sobers up (somewhat) and realizes that in order to survive this surreal ordeal, she must transform herself body and spirit into that which she fears the most: a ruthless, remorseless, cold killer.


From here it's just a matter of who gets killed in what order, and who's on what side and where the line between those sides is drawn, as well as the lines within the characters between life and death and what each will do for either.


Overall, I found Killers to be entertaining, suspenseful and unpredictably complex for such a simple, subtle, sometimes underwritten scenario. But whatever problems the script has - and there are problems, mostly cliches - this is balanced by tight and intentionally-disorienting direction that really throws the viewer into the mix and helps create a thrilling empathy with our hapless characters. The inventive, always evolving lighting scheme goes a long way towards establishing a foreboding, seemingly boundless atmosphere, as though this building were the only one in the world, and there is no true escape; shots framed through fencing, grates and around pipes and posts add to this sense of claustrophobia. And whereas the supporting actors might have been a little one-note, and trying a bit too hard, the leads turn in nice and developed portrayals that reach beyond the screen and worm their way into your imagination.


Kim Little as the heroine (insert drug joke here) is perfect as the rambunctiously naive poster-girl for lost innocence forced to shed her doped-up and blissfully-ignorant perspective because of, you know, all the killing. If I had one criticism, I'd say she's almost too presentable for the role, almost too good-seeming to have fallen so far, but Ms. Little balances this with an impassioned performance that transcends appearances and gets to what it's truly like for characters of this sort when the veneer of thrill is dropped and one is left facing only survival. I've always been a proponent of Ms. Little's, but this is the most emotive I've seen her, as a woman driven to the edge of sanity and left there to teeter over the abyss. And she kinda resembles a cuter Bridget Fonda, also a plus.


Resident badass Paul Logan is extra badass in this one, the first time I've seen him play the villain (Terminators and Way of the Vampire notes yet to be written), and man is he good at it, incredibly menacing with those thin eyes and permanently-snarling upper lip, the kind of bad guy that makes you piss yourself a little. PL plays it cold, calculating, cruel and efficient. The hair's a nightmare, but hey, it was 1997; in 1997 I had hair down to my shoulders, a patch-plagued hobo-beard and Buddy Holly glasses, so who am I to judge? Bottom line: PL's awesome streak is totally alive.


Other notables include Christopher Maleki as the biker-junkie leader/Kim's love interest (giving a basically competent and emotional performance, though a few shades shy of the asshole he needs to be), Erica Ortega as the other spazzing-out biker bitch, Frankie Ray as the aforementioned Speed and Scott Carson (Scarecrow Slayer, Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill) as the pretty-boy drug-baron offspring. 
Killers was followed in 2002 with a sequel, appropriately titled Killers 2, with the subtitle The Beast. More on that to come.

Almighty Thor Might Have A Writer

If my reading and detective skills are correct, I would deduce from recent postings on his professional Facebook page that Mega Piranha writer/director Eric Forsberg has been given the go-ahead from The Asylum to draft a shooting script for their upcoming Marvel toe-to-toer The Almighty Thor.

On the page, Forsberg notes that his "Norse Gods movie" is moving forward into the shooting script phase. Now, certainly I won't be so narrow-minded as to suggest that Thor is the only Norse God worth mentioning - Vali take my tongue if ever I do - but he is the only one with a competing film due out in the next year, so, my money's on Forsberg as the scripter on this one.

If a script's in the works, then principal photography can't be too far from starting - you know The Asylum: once the ball's rolling, it's fucking rolling. No word if Forsberg will direct as well, but here's hoping - the guy's got a great eye for action.

outside the walls: Non-Asylum Inklings


For your diversity-pleasure, here's a list of non-Asylum films dropping on DVD this month that might have some appeal to Asylum fans. But just remember, as always, Sweet 'n' Low ain't Sugar.


NOVEMBER 2





 Best Worst Movie  (documentary about Troll 2)












Centurion (better than 300 gladiator-esque epic)










Demon Kiss (not sure but has a boob-centric cover and the tagline, "Satan has an Oral Fixation," so....










Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead (horror rip-off of Tom Stoppard's Shakespeare ripoff. funny, scary and Victorian)







NOVEMBER 9

 




Damned By Dawn (zombie flick)







NOVEMBER 23


 2010: Moby Dick
(greatest adaptation ever)
 

NOVEMBER 30


Vampires Suck (Twilight spoof)

  





Valhalla Rising (battle-heavy, sword-swinging Norse epic) 

Mega Shark vs. Giant Dorito!

So you guys gotta check this out. I got an email today from Brandon over at The Asylum, in marketing, with a link to a video the guys shot while Mega Shark Deuce was in production that has been entered in the Dortios/Pepsi "Crash the Super Bowl" ad campaign contest. 

Bottom line, this thing is awesome. Check out Asylum regulars Mike Gagli and Seth Cassell and, of course, everyone's favorite prehistoric shark, hamming it up in the commercial right here, then, just like I asked you yesterday regarding your Netflix cues, tell everyone you know, bombard the shit out of this thing and show The Asylum that we committed are out in full force!

Voting for ads begins in January. Stay tuned here for details!

inmate profile: Erica Roby

Though her acting career only lasted two brief years, 2006 and 2007, Erica Roby left an indelible impression on Asylum fans. All eight films Ms. Roby made were with the Asylum, making her, percentage-wise, the company's most faithful, non-founding employee. From her titular debut in Exorcism: the Possession of Gail Bowers up until her final on-screen appearance in Invasion of the Pod People, Ms. Roby was poised to become a 21st Century scream queen of the highest order - the sort that not only has no problem with nudity, but nor with contrived lesbian scenes* - before bowing out of the limelight and stepping behind the cameras. 

Since leaving The Asylum in 2007, Ms. Roby has worked as a story editor on episodes of "Denise Richards: It's Complicated," and "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew," and most notably as an associate producer on the last season of "The Amazing Race." 

So, unfortunately for her fans, it seems as though things in Ms. Roby's non-acting, professional life are going just fine, making it a likely foregone conclusion that she shan't be returning to the direct-to-DVD market anytime soon. To assuage yourselves, take a look a Ms. Roby's most-impressive and completely-Asylum filmography:

Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers...Gail Bowers
Hillside Cannibals...Rhian
Dracula's Curse...Christina Lockheart
The 9/11 Commission Report...Melinda
Halloween Night...Angela
The Hitchhiker...Lindsey
The Apocalypse...Laura
Invasion of the Pod People...Melissa


And who knows? Perhaps if we her fans get riled up enough, start one of them Facebook petitions the kids are so fond of these days, we might be able to finagle a cameo at least in 2012: Ice Age. Stranger things have been forced to happen because of the internet.

* two films - not one but two - contain said scenes. for real. have fun discovering which ones!

Sacrificing My Principles For The Asylum

So, normally this is something I'd be hesitant to do, being the proud employee of one of the nation's greatest and last independent video stores, but a call to arms has gone out from the fine folks at The Asylum, and, ever-committed, I am responding (plus, it's kinda messing with Netflix, so...)

The gist is this. Paul Bales posted a blog over on The Asylum's site asking Netflix users - of which there are apparently a good number - to add 2010 Moby DIck to their cue as a way of driving up the number of copies of Asylum films Netflix will order in the the future. Or something like that, read the above link, Bales explains it better. Once you've read it, do as he says, add it to your queue, get your friends to add it to their queue, parents, other relatives, co-workers, casual acquaintances, sexual partners past and present, bar buddies, bus mates, bank tellers, postal delivery workers, essentially anyone with a computer and a Netflix account. Link to this post wherever you can, and help The Asylum thwart the complicated and biased mathematical system those dastardly stream-fiends would use to keep the little guy down. 

After all, if we're not controlling the machines, well then my friends, the machines are controlling us.

COMMITTED Logs 5,000th Hit!

It's official...still a couple weeks from our three month anniversary, and COMMITTED has logged its 5,000th hit!

Again, I don't know if this is good or not by normal blogging standards, but in my book it's pretty awesome, and I just want to thank you guys for continuing to pop by and check out what's going on. As always, I've got more of the same and a few new things planned for the coming month, one of which I think is going to be a pretty special and historical event. So keep your browser's glued here, tell your friends, re-post links, whatever you can do to get the good word out to the uninformed masses!

Viva la Asylum!

whipsers from another cell: News From Within The Asylum


2010 MOBY DICK Drops on DVD in T-Minus 12 Days!!!

In just a dozen short days the next Asylum production hits DVD stores nationwide. 2010 Moby Dick (for an explanation on why the 2010, check here) is an update on the classic book by Herman Melville, considered by many (present company included) to be the greatest novel ever penned by an American. In The Asylum's take, the setting has been shifted from a clipper ship in the Nineteenth Century to a "high tech submarine" in the modern era. Our captain is still Ahab, played here by Barry Bostwick, and he's still in maniacal pursuit of the vicious leviathan which maimed him. Ishmael in this version, however, has been transformed into the lovely vision that is Renee O'Connor - you know, Xena's babe - here named "Michelle Herman," a nice nod to both Ishmael and the original author. From all early looks, this one should be pretty awesome; the whale's been aggro-ed out, and Bostwick looks as though he's firing on all cylinders. Head over the the site, linked above, and check out the trailer, then get your place in line at your local, independent video store. This one's gonna move!

American Film Market Reveals Upcoming Asylum Projects

In case you missed my earlier post, the American Film Market recently held their annual conference in which three new Asylum titles and posters were revealed. Okay, so, two are brand new, one is the first poster there on the left for the upcoming Mega Python vs Gatoroid, which I mention pretty frequently. The other two, however, are totally new and as yet have no names of any sort publicly attached to them.






The first is an obvious tie-in to the upcoming Kenneth Branaugh Marvel Comic flick Thor, and is called The Almighty Thor. No IMDB page or mention of this one on The Asylum's site, and I can't tell who the fella in the poster is, so there's still a lot to learn about this one, but you can bet there's gonna be a lot of smashin' based on the looks of that hammer. Check out a brief synopsis: When the demon god Loki destroys the fortress of Valhalla and steals the Hammer of Invincibility, only the young hero Thor can protect earth from Armageddon. Mmm-hmm; smashin'.

 

Then there's 2012: Ice Age (see Numbers explanation above), which nothing at all is known about except the plot: The eruption of Mt Fuji--a “Supervolcano”--covers the earth in choking clouds. Humanity hurtles toward extinction as a group of scientists fight to break the grip of the new ice age. For my money, I'd like to see either Eric Forsberg (Mega Piranha) or Griff Furst (100 Million B.C.) helm this one. Both have worked in creature disasters, but it would be nice to see either take on a sweeping environmental epic. That said, I'm also envisioning David Michael Latt's work on Megafault and wondering if he isn't considering it for himself. Time will tell.



Another title, Born Bad, has appeared under the coming soon section in the bottom right hand corner of The Asylum's homepage, but there's absolutely no info on this one other than the title. I can only hope, though, given that title, it's being written by Geoff Meed for himself, or Paul Logan, or, god please, both. 

And we're still waiting on a poster for 1st Furry Valentine as well as a trailer for Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus, the latter of which should hopefully debut in the next week or so, as the release is almost a month away, and once Moby Dick drops, they're going to need a new trailer to run on the site. As soon as either of these things are released, rest assured I'm on 'em. 

observation notes: The 9/11 Commission Report

This one's a doozy. Based on the events and theories published in the official 9/11 Commission Report, writer/director/Asylum mainstay Leigh Scott crafted this multi-plot political thriller featuring virtually every star in the Asylum's universe. The names have been changed (looooooosely) to protect the, well, I'm not sure, but the names are a little different, probably a legal thing.


The film begins 28 days before the attacks with an obviously militant foreign man seeking 747 flight simulator training. He pays the six-grand fee in cash, American for "no questions asked," and, naturally, for that price they're willing to show him everything. But he's interested in "just flying." Uh-huh. They even let him pick a specific flight plan. 

Jump now to the District, fall of '98, with the handing down of an indictment for our Bin Laden character. This scene serves to inform us of something that - however we know or think of it - we already know, that our government knew about Bin Laden, knew what he was up to, knew what he was capable of and how he became capable of it, and knew his over-arcing plans. But now that there was this indictment, all we had to do was get him to trial. He's still years from being able to orchestrate terrorist plots of a catastrophic magnitude, so there's plenty of time, should be a piece of cake. Umm-hmm.

Jump even further back to Manila in 1995, where the Philippines' government is "interrogating" a suspected Middle Eastern terrorist. An American shows up to lend a hand - to the Philippine side of things - and pretso!, the fella's no longer suspected, he's a full-on terrorist, with secrets hinting at some sort of broad attack in-planning.

Jump yet again back to '98, but Pakistan now (where I got 47 hits the other week! thanks guys!), where members of a terrorist cell roll with the punches and think on their suspected feet.

2001 again (whew), flight training, our foreign guy has started to raise eyebrows with his line of rather blatant questioning about fuel payloads, geography, specific landmarks, and by only flying simulated routes to DC and New York, and even worrying aloud about how accurate the simulator is. At long last the FBI is called in, but things almost get further inept from there, as the best the agent can determine in an opening conversation with the foreign man is that he's from "the Middle East." "Where?" the agent follows up. "The Middle East," the man repeats - conversation over. Niiiiice.

Onward, or backward, I guess, to Israel in '98 where the special agent working to locate Bin Laden seeks out a reporter/lover with info on a man who has info on the location of Bin Laden. We follow the agent to Afghanistan and the meeting with this man. Dude's willing to take Bin Laden out for us, all the wetwork himself, he's practically begging to do it, dropping lines like, "New York, that's where they're going to strike next." It literally doesn't get any more literal than that. And this is the one issue I had with an otherwise interesting script, that it's a little too literal in spots with how obvious the signs may have been, but, admittedly, for all my ignorant ass knows, it was this obvious and I'm just being an uninformed, nit-picky jerk who should read his own links; the possibility exists.

These separate cogs continue to spin back and forth through time, closer and closer to the inevitable, tragic ending. There are no spoilers here, ultimately, but how the film arrives at its conclusion is intriguing enough - no matter how familiar you are with the facts/"facts" - to cause me invoke my ever-present "no spoilers" statute.

I've already called the film interesting and intriguing, and it is, both in and of itself, and for its position in the greater Asylum catalog. This film is not what I was expecting, I'll be honest; I was expecting some sensational, disaster-ridden, conspiracy-rich action-fest, and it's none of those things, and this is a good thing. Leigh Scott truly has crafted something unique here, something intimate and exhilarating, intense and thought-provoking. The timeline, disjointed as I've probably made it sound, was not disjointing to watch, and moved at a pace that kept every scene fresh and important, thanks primarily to the fact that this film's based on acting, not action, and for this one, as mentioned, everybody came out. 


Dig this lineup: Rhett Giles (Way of the Vampire, Frankenstein Reborn, War of the Worlds), Marat Glazer (Shapeshifter, Supercroc, Dracula's Curse), Sarah Lieving (Monster, The Beast of Bray Road, King of the Lost World), Jeff Denton (The Beast of Bray Road, King of the Lost World, The Hitchhiker), Griff Furst (Transmorphers, Alien Abduction, Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers), Eliza Swenson (Transmorphers, Frankenstein Reborn, Dragon), AJ Castro (Snakes on a Train, The Da Vinci Treasure), Christina Rosenberg (The Beast of Bray Road, Dracula's Curse, King of the Lost World), Kim Little (Killers, Killers 2, War of the Worlds 2, Supercroc), Michael Tower (Invasion of the Pod People, The Apocalypse, 30,000 Leagues Under the Sea), Jason S. Gray (Universal Soldiers, AVH, The Da Vinci Treasure) and a delightful but brief cameo from Erica Roby (Invasion of the Pod People, The Hitchhiker, Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers.) 

Whew. 


And everybody - I mean everybody - is acting above the bar, turning it on and delivering rock-solid performances. Jeff Denton? Awesome. Kim Little? Awesome. Sarah Lieving? Awesome. Rhett Giles? Awesome. Are you noticing a pattern here? Fuck yes you are, because they're all awesome. This is Leigh Scott's doing, weaving like directing greats Stanley Kramer and Robert Altman a complex, multi-layered and -perspective drama that never lags, never snags, and never gives in to the tempting pitfall of sensationalism, residing instead in the terse, stark and enthralling realm of historical thrillers.

Now, I realize this is a highly-charged and polarizing topic, so I won't dare wax philosophic one way or the other, but wherever you land in this debate - who knew what when, who could have stopped what, who actually did what - you have to give The Asylum credit for the balls it took to make this one. While Hollywood was kowtowing to vox populi rallying films like United 93, and the conspiracy "enthusiasts" were flooding the market with makeshift documentaries out to undermine anything official, The Asylum threaded the needle and dared to blend these perspectives and make a serious film about the serious doubts that exist in this most horrific of events. The result is a sweeping, epic film that becomes the most ambitious and serious production undertaken by The Asylum to date. It's a hardcore thriller and a globe-hopping adventure that's engaging, though-provoking, and proof positive that The Asylum knows the rules and knows how to play by them; most of the time, they just don't care. No "mock" or "tie-in" anything here, this film is the real deal, and a real winner.