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Voting Begins in Round 2 of SyFy's Monster Madness

That's right, as the NCAA rolls into its Final Four weekend, the brackets over at SyFy's Monster Madness have also been pared down. And alas, although only one Asylum creature made the first-round cuts, Mega Shark, that creature, now in competition against the dreaded Frankenfish, had a strong lead when I voted a few minutes ago, 62% to 37%.

So head over to the link above and let your voice be heard in what is shaping up to be a grudge match final between Mega Shark and that slippery devil Sharktopus.

The Asylum on TV: SyFy/Chiller Listings for April



April 2, 9:00 am, Meteor Apocalypse
April 3, 1:00 am, 2012: Supernova
April 5, 12:00 pm, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus
April 8, 3:00 am, King of the Lost World

April 9, 9:00 am, King of the Lost World
April 9, 1:00 pm, Journey to the Center of the Earth
April 9, 7:00 pm, The Land That Time Forgot

(what's this here? another mini-marathon of sorts? Asylum films based on 19th Century fantasy novels? I like...)

April 13, 3:00 am, Intermedio
April 16, 2:00 pm, Mega Fault


April 12, 8:00 pm & 12:00 am, Hillside Cannibals
April 13, 10:00 pm & April 14, 2:00 am, The Hitchhiker
April 27, 10:00 pm & April 28, 2:00 am, Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers

Asylum Should-Stars #6

Here at Committed, I'm always looking for ways to prolong my love affair with Asylum blogging. I've done inmate profiles - spotlights on Asylum personnel - and I've done pitches - shameless attempts to get hired in marketing/development - but now, I'm melding the best of these features into one, amalgamated column: the awkwardly-named Asylum Should-Stars, in which I present actors/actresses/other cultural figures I think would make lovely additions to the Asylum's stable of performers. More mindless fun to wile away your workday! Let's dive right in, shall we?

Name: Maria Pitillo

Best Known For: Godzilla, Chaplin, "Providence," Dear God

Plays: beautifully-frazzled, charmingly-flawed, sweet-as-summertime leading ladies next door, crosses between the fun work of Audrey Hepburn and the restrained work of Lucille Ball.

Could Be Cast As: to her credit, Ms. Pitillo wasn't bad in Godzilla, the movie just, you now, sucked. I still think she's perfect for any female scientist in any sort of creature feature or sci-fi flick. Or maybe the beleaguered wife in a horror film, not a slasher flick, but something more classically-themed, perhaps...

Name: Jason Lewis

Best Known For: being the only man to tame the most ruthless cougar ever known, Kim Cattrall's "Samantha" on "Sex & the City," as well as the Mary Lambert film The Attic

Plays: rudely good-looking men. 

Could Be Cast As: a rudely good-looking small-tow sheriff, controversial paleontologist, outspoken big-game trapper, rogue environmental crusader, slick and evil suit or concerned father of a paranormally-influenced teen.

Name: Anneliese van der Pol

Best Known For: playing Raven-Symone's ditsy best friend on "That's So Raven!" Duh. Ooh, also, the upcoming "Shalom Sesame," which is, well, this.

Plays: good-hearted, genuinely sweet, slapstick-ish and well-meaning ditzes. 

Could Be Cast As: I say it's time we elevate Ms. van der Pol away from the kids stuff - she is 26, after all - and get her in a slasher flick, or a possession flick (at least the Anneliese part would have been true), a good, old-fashioned ghost story or something that has her outside her comfort zone. To me, she's got "Scream Queen" written all over her. In glitter.

RIP Ron Hajak

A brief post here to mark the passing of actor Ron Hajak, best known to Asylum fans as "Lawrence" in this year's Princess and the Pony, in which he was awesome.

Committed extends its sincere condolences to the friends, family and collaborators of Mr. Hajak. 

inmate profile: Jared Cohn

It's still a good long while until Born Bad hits DVD - November 8, to be precise - but it's never too early to start ramping up the hype for this destined-to-be classic tale of a good girl's world shattered by a really bad guy. And where better to start, I thought, than with the man responsible for Born Bad both on the page and behind the camera: writer/director (and accomplished actor, inside Asylum walls and out), Jared Cohn.

After graduating from the reputable New York Institute of Technology with a BFA in Communication Arts, Cohn switched coasts and found acting work with The Asylum, making his motion picture debut in 2005's Alien Abduction, also writer/director Eric Mega Piranha Forsberg's first Asylum feature. Cohn would act in three other Asylum productions - Way of the Vampire, Legion of the Dead and Halloween Night - as well as a slew of other productions including Blood Predator, Teary Sockets, Plaguers, and, most recently, Revenants (he also acts under the name Jared Michaels).

As a writer/director, Cohn has another project already under his belt, The Carpenter: Part 1 - And So They Die, which I haven't seen, but you gotta respect the ambition of that title.

With a resume like this, and a look at the photos on his website, it seems Jared Cohn isn't a squeamish guy. What does that mean for Born Bad? Well, by all accounts, this is a straight up thriller - no monsters or creatures or other supernatural bent - so I would say we're in for some good, old-fashioned brutal violence, the kind of shit that makes the throat-rip from Roadhouse look like the puck-catch in Untamed Heart (work with me on that one...)

And though, as mentioned, we've got a while until the film is released, I'm willing to bet it's worth the wait.

observation notes: Countdown:Jerusalem(Armageddon)

Don't let the headline confuse you: most often this film goes by its proper name, Countdown: Jerusalem, although on occasion, especially when a part of a multi-pack DVD, it can be found as Countdown: Armageddon. The name change is the only difference between the two. 

Another in the Faith Films line, this one opens with a montage of news footage beginning with the creation of the State of Israel in the late 1940's, and progressing from there forward through the decades, tracing natural, climatological, economical and social disasters right up until the present day, our modern era, when, as a stunning miracle to oppose all the horror we've just seen unfold, that ever-elusive Peace in the Middle East has just been declared. As though commentary on the improbability of this pax, instantly there begins from every corner of the globe earthquakes, tornadoes, explosions, mass destruction and carnage. Caught in the middle of this inexplicable, cataclysmic turmoil is TV reporter Allison (Kim Little). When her young daughter Mary (Ms. Little's real-life daughter Audrey Latt) disappears from a single-entrance bathroom following a sonic boom of sorts, escalating catastrophes worldwide lead her to Israel and the discovery of an apocryphal conspiracy set to eradicate all of humankind, a.k.a. the end of days.

Kim Little as the lead - arguably her biggest role since Killers 2, and certainly since Supercroc - plays her as highly-motivated, equal parts workaholic divorcee and devoted mother, driven and concerned; the result is the portrait of a skilled professional with an emotional impetus to get to the truth. Ms. Little here reminds us why she's the original Queen B and the First Lady of The Asylum: she's emotionally versatile, intelligently formidable, erudite and utterly relatable. 

Another notable in the cast is Clint Browning (Street Racer, The Terminators, Mega Piranha), who plays a sort of holy warrior; that is, a man with a fighter's disposition but a faithful soul. As a guardian figure of sorts to Ms. Little's character, he's an almost-angelic figure. I half expected him to sprout wings at a point, so effective was Mr. Browning's portrayal, an effective juggling of soft-spokenness and unflinching capability. Also handing in a convincing performance is Russell Reynolds (Dragonquest, The Terminators) as the head of an Israeli underground sort-of spiritual brigade, more military than CB, a nice balance in the spectrum of fervency to the other actor's position of thoughtful warrior.

Overall, I found this to be an intense, interesting film, part political thriller, part religious disaster flick woven into a winding plot with twists both secular and holy, creative an effective adventure rife with a multitude of massive FX courtesy of Tiny Juggernaut that include seas turning to blood, a slew of natural disasters, helicopters, crumbling buildings, mass panic and all sorts of other goodies. The tornadoes were especially impressive.

C:J(A) was directed by A.F. Silver, whose only other credit comes as the cinematographer of Sherlock Holmes (which leads me to believe it could be a nom de plume), and written by Jose Prendes (Haunting of Winchester House) from a story by David Michael Latt. The former gentleman's use of light and exquisite framing really elevates this above your run-of-the-mill direct-to-DVD actioners, while the latter gentleman's delicate handling of the script manages to turn in a religious film whose message, while apparent, isn't too heavy-handed, and in fact comes across no different from any other hero's personal philosophy in any other action film - e.g. Bruce Willis' die-hard devotion to a wife he isn't with anymore, Spiderman's great power/great responsibility spiel - only with, you know, 2,000 years of context backing it up. Make no mistakes, whatever the title, this is definitely a religious film; its enjoyability, however, is not exclusive to religious viewers.  

Countdown: Whichever You Call It is built upon a layered story expertly brought to life by a competent and impassioned cast and all overseen by a sharp direction that ties it all together. Definitely worth a watch.

First Stills From Born Bad Now Up!

I blogged last week about how happy I was to at long last receive word that Born Bad was in production, and now, in true Asylum fashion, the first images from the set are available here!

A couple of things we learn here: Michael Welch, playing the bad boy, is indeed the Michael Welch of the Twilight films and "Joan of Arcadia;" Bill Oberst Jr. looks wickedly awesome, and ever-young Meredith Monroe and David Chokachi actually make a convincing couple. Furthermore, from the seedy, small-town trashy look of things, this is going to be a brutal thriller the likes of which The Asylum has yet to produce!

There are many long months until Born Bad drops in November, but check in with me next week for a profile on writer/director Jared Cohn, and, of course, as soon as additional information becomes available, you'll know it as soon as I do.

Awesome Game Over at SyFy

March is the official month of Brackets. Think about it: whether you're enmeshed in the triumphs and tragedies of the NCAA tournament or not, chances are you still filled out a bracket. There's just something about pitting two random things against each other in a nice, orderly, structured tournament arrangement that appeals to our innate need to judge. Well, latching on to this base desire are the fine folks over at SyFy, who have instituted what will hopefully be the first in a new-found tradition: Monster Madness

That's right, in honor of their 200th Original Movie - "Scream of the Banshee," starring Lauren Holly and Lance Henriksen, airing tomorrow night at 9pm - SyFy has pitted 64 of their greatest original villains - including Asylum creatures Mega Shark, Mega Python, Mega Piranha, Gatoroid and Giant Octopus - against each other in a bracket system. And the best part? We the fans decide who advances and who gets bounced.

Seriously, this is a cool site. Each match-up comes with awesome illustrations of the creatures as well as facts on the flipside with the creatures' powers, abilities and other associated stats. Forget the tournament, I just want a complete set of SyFy original movie trading cards - ice spiders, mammoth, swamp devil, mongolian death worms - the gang's all here.
Anyway, voting for the first round of competition is open now, and the second round starts next Thursday, March 31st. Get over there NOW and get your votes in for your favs, including, of course, all the Asylum creatures, which at last check could use a boost in votes. Tell everyone you know! Retweet! Repost!

observation notes: Jolly Roger - Massacre at Cutter's Cove

Arrgh is right.

This fright of a film begins when a group of typically-hornball, beer-guzzling young folk goes coast-camping right after a hurricane. Amidst their nocturnal romps, a weathered treasure chest is discovered washed ashore by the storm, but when it is opened, it's not a treasure they discover inside, rather quite the opposite: the cursed spirit of a demonic pirate with a not-so demonic name - Jolly Roger. Jolly manages to slaughter the majority of the young folk, but the sole survivors, bad-boy Alex and good-girl Jessie (Tom Nagel and Kristina Korn, respectively), try to warn local law enforcement (Kim Little and Tom Downey) of this soggy, supernatural threat, but, of course, no one believes a bunch of kids, so the pirate goes about his mission of bloody vengeance as our teen heroes attempt to unravel the mystery around what exactly conjured Jolly Roger, what exactly he wants, and how exactly to send his damned soul back to Hell.

And oh, that we could go with him.

No, now, it's not that bad, really. It's bad, for sure, but not worth eternal damnation just to avoid. The performances, for the most part, are strong. The two standouts in the cast are two of the most-regulars, Tom Nagel (Beast of Bray Road, Pirates of Treasure Island, The Apocalypse, Hillside Cannibals, Dracula's Curse) as young, troubled Alex and Kim Little (Killers, Killers 2, Supercroc, War of the Worlds, War of the Worlds 2, Countdown: Jerusalem) as Lowenstein, the female officer in town. Nagel comes across a lot like James Marshall's "James" from "Twin Peaks:" the good guy with a tough past that resulted in an infraction of the law that wasn't totally his fault but now has him pegged as a no-good troublemaker despite his sensitive, kind and well-meaning center. Nagel crafts a hardened and world-wise if not world-weary young man well worth rooting for. And as far as Ms. Little is concerned, still in her ginger phase here, she assumes a sort of Scully-esque demeanor, both physically - in her oversized, androgynous, non-fitted suits - and emotionally - she projects a superficially cold and professionally distant demeanor that masks a soft core, a real, trusting, emotional center, and it is this center that elevates Ms. Little's supporting performance above mere supporting recognition. 

The rest of the cast, they do all right: Kristina Korn does an amazing job, but only if she's supposed to be playing the role as a self-centered, obstinately-naive, over-educated bitch; if not...She comes in late on most of her cues, and her overall emotional state seems to be one of weepy inconvenience rather than actual, unbridled fear for her life. Despite all this, however, she is a good pairing with Nagel's over-compensating milquetoast Alex. Tom Downey (a 13-film Asylum vet, including Beast of Bray Road, King of the Lost World and upcoming Ballistica) as Mathis is a great addition to the cast, but he's woefully underused in this one-dimensional character. Nice use of regular faces in bit parts though, including Griff Furst as a warehouse landlord, Leigh Scott as a strip club owner, and, in a spot that nearly steals the show, Amanda Barton as a rockin' secretary. And then there's Rhett Giles, the great Rhett Giles, hero of so many Asylum films, a great actor and a charming fellow by all accounts - but even someone as talented as Rhett Giles could not make the character of Jolly Roger anything more than a bad joke.

I blame this on FX and script, honestly. Mr. Giles does his best - but for the accent, I'm not letting him escape that one - but the conceit of the pirate is just so incredibly cheesy, from his outfit to the crud all over his face to his dialog to the situations in which he finds himself, that there was never much of a chance audiences would take him seriously. I mean, it says something, to me at least, that every character in the film who comes in contact with Jolly, their first impulse is to think he's some douchebag in a costume (though I do have to give one bit of positive feedback at this juncture: I loved how old Jolly just walked around seeking his vengeance in his waterlogged pantaloons in broad daylight, often in public places, without giving the slightest hint of a fuck. That's some swashbuckling badass-ness right there.). And it's this failure to convince that kinda brings down the whole film. I mean, the concept is pretty neat, a little Scooby-Doo, but still ripe with potential. However, the screenwriter's attempts to realize this potential are at best half-cocked and at worst, laughable. Jolly ends up in a strip club, for fuck's sake, and not ironically; he's just there, killing strippers. Every time the pirate was off-screen, I thought this had the makings of an inventive, intense horror film. Every time the pirate was on-screen, he just ruined it, and no matter how great an actor was behind the crud, the crud was all that showed.

Every spectrum needs its parameters, two opposite ends by which everything in-between is defined, evaluated. If then, one end of the spectrum of Asylum films are my personal favorites like I Am Omega, Mega Python vs Gatoroid, Beast Of Bray Road and 2010 Moby Dick, then waaaaaaaay down at the other end of the spectrum there's a dark, dank, quiet and depressing hole in which I mentally filed Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter's Cove.

And I'll say it again, because despite it's own inherit cheesiness, it bears repeating: arrrrrrrgh.

Lovely Ladies of the Asylum vol. 4

I'm not a fool, gentlemen. I know what brings you here, what lures you in, coaxes your hits, some of you at least. It isn't the snarky commentary, or the breaking news, the hard-hitting interviews or deep-digging profiles, no, it's not me at all, is it? I see the keywords from my Google hits, and I know a picture of a pretty lady brings in more readers than the phrase "observation notes." 

Not that I can blame you: The Asylum employs a score of attractive and - more importantly - capable, intelligent and talented actresses well worthy of your search engine adoration. So, to gives my readers something I know they want and would never ask for, I tastefully present a pictorial tribute to some of The Asylum's beautiful leading ladies. Enjoy.

Monique La Barr

The Terminators
Death Racers
666: The Beast
The Apocalypse
Dracula's Curse
Hillside Cannibals

Amelia Jackson Gray

Journey to the Center of the Earth
Halloween Night
Snakes on a Train

Alexandra Boylan
The Hitchhiker
Pirates of Treasure Island

Elissa Dowling

Death Racers
Dracula's Curse

Maura Murphy

#1 Cheerleader Camp
Sex Pot   

Caroline Attwood

Journey to the Center of the Earth
Death Racers

Interesting News From the SyFy Upfronts

So, the SyFy upfronts went down this week - the event where they announce all their upcoming programming - and while there's lots of interesting stuff here, the most interesting has to be under the heading of Saturday Original Movies, where they reveal not one but TWO new Asylum projects for the fall.

Project One: "Zombie Apocalypse (working title) -- October 2011 -- Months after a zombie plague has wiped out 90 percent of the American population, a small group of survivors fight their way cross-country to a rumored refuge on the island of Catalina" 

Project Two: "Bigfoot - 2012 -- 1970's pop culture icons Danny Bonaduce (The Partridge Family) and Barry Williams (The Brady Bunch) face off in the hunt for the legendary mountain creature."

Do I even need to mention how awesome both of these films sound? I mean, really, a freaking bigfoot movie with Greg Brady and Danny Partridge? If my soul has a tattoo, I'm pretty sure it's an image from this movie.

No pages or mentions of these over at The Asylum site for the moment, but I'm sure more information will be coming soon. With the recent announcement of Naomi Selfman's Barely Legal and info on Born Bad, the second half of the Asylum's year is starting to come into focus. And so far, it looks pretty awesome!

Battle of L.A Now on DVD! Plus Asylum Blu-Ray Info!

That's right, my fellow committed, today marks the official DVD release of the latest Asylum production, the sci-fi war-epic Battle of Los Angeles, written and directed by Mark Atkins and starring Kel Mitchel and Nia Peeples, among many talented others (Ed Deruiter and Gerald Webb, I'm looking at y'all). The film debuted on SyFy last, last weekend to a whopping 2.18 million viewers, and now it's available at Netflix, Redbox, of course your local independent video store, and for purchase online. I really liked this one, thought it was action-packed while simultaneously character-driven, adorned with great performances, excellent effects and taut, succinct direction. Do yourself a favor and lay hands on this guy as soon as possible.

And in similar news - courtesy of reader/fan/rad blogger/cool dude Jeff Long - we got a list of the Asylum titles that will be released on blu-ray through American Colossus Wal-Mart in the coming months:
  •  Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus
  • Battle of Los Angeles
  • 2010: Moby Dick
  • Titanic II
  • Transmorphers
  • Meteor Apocalypse
The only one I have a for-sure release date on is MSvC, April 11, but I figure with a little digging the others can be had. I'll get it to you when that digging's done. Happy viewing! 

Check out the official trailer here! 

Another Mega-Event for Philly Asylum Fans!

Jill Sybesma of the Academy of Natural Sciences in good old Philly, PA, dropped me an email this last weekend to say in the wake of the success of the Academy's public screening of Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus, they've got another movie night on the calender for Thursday, April 14 from 7 to 10 pm,  and this time they're showing the multiple-Looney-award-winning Mega Piranha.

infographic from Stephen Taubman

So any Asylum fans in or around the City of Brotherly Love this 4/14 should check out the info here then head over to the ANS for an evening of big-screen Mega fun, live and scientific "MST3K-style" commentary, beer for legal drinkers and, of course, Tiffany, Paul Logan, Jude Gerard Prest et al taking on a school of infinitely-increasing piranha. Thanks again to Jill for the info!

Sounds Like an Asylum Film to Me

This little tidbit is actually a couple of months old, and I was going to let it fall by the wayside, but upon reading it again it just seems so, well, Asylum-esque that I can't pass it up. The long and the short of it (the short and the long of it here) is that an international coalition of scientists from Japan, Russia and the United States are convinced they will be able to genetically reproduce - a.k.a. clone - a baby mammoth using DNA the Russians somehow have on ice (uh-huh...) to fertilize and African Elephant embryo. 

Man oh man; the possibilities for catastrophe here are almost endless.

First off - it's a fucking mammoth. Granted, size and weight-wise, it's pretty comparable to an modern-day African Elephant - nothing to spit at - but the tusks alone move it to the top of the land-based apex predators list: longer than an elephants, nearly six-and-a-half feet, and almost pincer-like in the way they can rip through prey.

Second off - think about when it was last on the planet. During the Pleistocene Epoch, such formidable predators as saber-toothed tigers, mastodons, wooly rhinoceroses, glyptodons and cave bears roamed the terrain. It was a far more primal planet then than now, when a mammoth's biggest threat would undoubtedly be us. This thing would decimate anything it came across. No lab could contain it, no zoo could tame it. This is an old-school predator, the likes of which our fiercest species have never seen. It would rule the animal kingdom. Especially if, say, there were more than one of them.

Because - in my admittedly over-simplistic understanding of science - cloning's just like making Xeroxes, and sometimes those machines stick, and it just keeps copying and copying and thing you know, we've got a herd of prehistoric furry elephants with 6'5'' razor sharp tusks running amok in downtown Los Angeles. Just imagine the cinematic possibilities*; it'd be like 10,000 B.C. (or 100 Million B.C.) meets Battle: Los Angeles (or Battle of Los Angeles). Either way William Katt's my vote for the role of big game hunter brought in to help thin the population. Or Gary Stretch. Or, shit, even Lorenzo. Throw in Jaleel White as the paleontologist at his side, and the lovely lady mentioned in the asterisk as, well, who cares, and you've got yourself a movie.

Just sayin'.

*yes, I am fully aware of the SyFy original movie Mammoth with Tom Skerritt and the exquisite Summer Glau, but that was only one mammoth, already intact, resurrected by aliens and terrorizing a small town in middle America. Not at all the massive-mammoth-herd-devastating-a-major-metropolitan-area epic I'm imagining. And no aliens. Our scientists are perfectly capable of destroying the planet ourselves, than you very much.

Yep, I Got a Twitter Thing

And you can blame Kanye and Charlie Sheen (in whose internship competition, btw, I have advanced to the second round, tyvm)(see how media savvy I am with the text abbreviations? i had to google a list.). So, if you just can't get enough of my snarky, pseudo-intellectual mock-journalism, you can pop by this guy right here for, I don't know, my random and possibly intoxicated musings on god only knows what. Plus some advance hints of posts-in-progress, the occasional reference to films by other companies, and, most likely, rap lyrics meant to express my emotional state, though thankfully not my rap lyrics.  So, yeah...there you go.

At Long Last - Born Bad Details! Plus Another New Title!!!

Big news from The Asylum today on two new titles. I'm just gonna jump right in:

So this one's been on The Asylum's coming soon list for a long time, and now, finally, we have some details on the movie that will be...Born Bad.

The film is written and directed by Jared Cohn (left), a 4-time Asylum acting veteran - Alien Abduction, Way of the Vampire, Legion of the Dead and Halloween Night. This will be Mr. Cohn's first stint behind the camera for The Asylum. 

The plot is described as such:

"When a rebellious girl from a good family falls for the town drifter, she unwittingly brings a psychopath into her loving home."

It's a classic tale - good girl falls for the bad boy that tears her world apart - and I can't wait to see what The Asylum's take on it will be.

Furthermore, some of the cast was revealed, and there look to be a couple of big names there: Meredith Monroe ("Andy McPhee" from "Dawson's Creek) and David Chokachi ("Cody" [not "Hobie"] from "Baywatch") look to be our leads, supported by Bonnie Dennison of "Guiding Light" - most likely as the "rebellious girl" - and Michael Welch, who if I'm pegging the right Michael Welch, has starred in all the Twilight movies, but I best remember him as either the geeky brother in "Joan of Arcadia," or as the outsider love interest in the wonderful and horrifically under-appreciated (to the point it has no DVD release) All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. He's most likely playing the "town drifter," which I find quite intriguing. This is, in my opinion, is a pretty strong cast, and one of the more interesting Asylum ensembles of late. And the fact that this looks to be a straight-up thriller - no supernatural evil, no creatures, no robots or aliens - is also intriguing to me. We haven't seen one of these from The Asylum since - by their own classification - 2008's Evil. It's a while before this one streets - November 8 - but all indications are it'll be well worth the wait.

UPDATE: via Twitter I just learned that Bill Oberst Jr - the nasty carnival owner from Princess and the Pony - has secured a role in the film. This only sweetens the deal for me, as he was my favorite part of P&P.

And then as though this wasn't enough, the fine folks over at The Asylum have set up another page for another new title: Barely Legal. Quite obviously a sex comedy, there's not a lot of info on this one as of yet - no cast or director known - but we do know it's written by the amazingly versatile and talented Naomi Selfman, whose writing credits for The Asylum thus far include not only The 18 Year Old Virgin and #1 Cheerleader Camp, but also Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus and Mega Python vs. Gatoroid. Ms. Selfman seems to be the all-star in The Asylum's writing stable right now - she's kinda like Will Rogers: she never met a script she couldn't write - so even with a limited glimpse at the plot - "Sue, Cheryl, and Lexi--all freshman in college--have been friends forever (their moms met in the hospital). Every year, they do something special to celebrate their birthday, and this year, on their eighteenth, they're determined to lose their virginity" - you already know from the presence of Ms. Selfman that this one's going to be titillating and hilarious. No release date as of yet, but, as you know by now, as soon as I learn something, you learn something.

The Ratings Are In!

Did I call it, or did I call it?

Last Saturday, at the conclusion of the Battle of Los Angeles premiere on SyFy, I predicted that this latest Asylum film would generate 2.2 million viewers. Well, the ratings were published today, and I was pretty much right on the money: 2.18 million of us tuned in to watch a buffed-out Kel Mitchell and a katana-swinging, eyepatch-rocking Nia Peeples wage some serious war against alien invaders. 

This is a great number, I think, and hearty kudos are extended to everyone involved with BoLA.

I didn't find too many reviews out there as of yet - they'll probably descend like wildfire next week when the DVD is released, but the two I did, at JoBlo and a sci-fi blog were fairly complimentary.

Don't forget - in case you missed it, never fear, Battle of Los Angeles will be on DVD in less than a week, next Tuesday, March 22nd.

Asylum Should-Stars #5

Here at Committed, I'm always looking for ways to prolong my love affair with Asylum blogging. I've done inmate profiles - spotlights on Asylum personnel - and I've done pitches - shameless attempts to get hired in marketing/development - but now, I'm melding the best of these features into one, amalgamated column: the awkwardly-named Asylum Should-Stars, in which I present actors/actresses/other cultural figures I think would make lovely additions to the Asylum's stable of performers. More mindless fun to wile away your workday! Let's dive right in, shall we?

Name: Willa Ford

Best Known For: "Dancing With The Stars," Friday the 13th (remake), various issues of Maxim

Plays: really bad, kinda trashy, tough, irresponsible, and all-around evil, fun girls, and sultry, manipulative vixens (re: Impulse)

Could Be Cast As: a gun-toting stripper in an apocalypse film, a femme fatale in an action flick, a hard-as-nails space marine in a sci-fi epic, or a titillating scream queen in a horror movie.

Name: Play (from Kid N Play)

Best Known For: a successful rap career, an awesome dance, and the House Party franchise.

Plays: himself, mostly - a jovial, fun-loving ladies man with a penchant for flat-tops and smooth raps.

Could Be Cast As: anyone, really. War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave featured Play's former partner Christopher "Kid" Reid, so anything he'd be suited for, I'd imagine Play would be as well. Not that they're interchangeable, but their skill levels seem to be comparable, is all I'm saying. Throw him in a sci-fi flick as a flustered local, or as a business tycoon in an action flick, or even a meaty cameo in a comedy. In that instance, just make sure he does the dance.

Name: The Iron Sheik

Best Known For: wrestling, and instilling in a generation of American men an undying hatred for Iran, and probably the Middle East in general.

Plays: a real asshole, for the most part, pompous and confident, boisterous and overdosing on braggadocio. 

Could Be Cast As: duh, a terrorist (also my Charlie Sheen impression), or, possibly, a serial killer, the rapey kind.

COMMITTED EXCLUSIVE: An Interview with Battle of LA Writer/Director Mark Atkins!

Mark Atkins has worked on more Asylum films than anyone I've come across, and in a wide variety of positions. But most recently, he's the writer and director of Battle of Los Angeles, a sci-fi spectacle that debuted on SyFy last Saturday night and hits DVD a week from this Tuesday. Mr. Atkins was kind enough to take time out of his very hectic schedule to answer some questions for COMMITTED. 
977: What started your love of film? How old were you when you decided you wanted to make them for a living?
MARK ATKINS: I grew up in a family that appreciated films and filmmaking, my parents put out a magazine when I was a kid a called THE FILM JOURNAL. It had critical reviews/interviews and great full page color photos, storyboards etc. So I grew up in a family that was into films. My uncle also became a recognized natural history filmmaker, now he is shooting features…I always wanted to kind of follow in his footsteps. I made the decision to really focus on film when I was accepted at the University of Central Florida's Film Program. 

977: Give us a sampling of the films you've found inspiring over the course of your career.
MA: Bladerunner,  The  Thing, Wages of Fear, Vertigo, Brain Dead, The Fifth Element, Hellboy 2

977: What was your first job in Hollywood?
MA: I don't know about Hollywood exactly but I began my career working as an assistant cameraman for Paul Atkins my uncle. I worked on his nature films, GREAT WHITE SHARK, and SECRET KILLERS OF MONTEREY BAY, BBC and National Geographic Specials. I learned a ton working with Paul and my aunt Gracie who was the Producer of those.   

977: How did you get involved with The Asylum? 
MA: My first feature film, NIGHT ORCHID was playing in LA at the Methodfest film festival and they asked to see a screener. Eventually I met them and we struck up a distribution deal. I kept in touch and when they started doing in-house movies they hired me to direct EVIL EYES. 

977: When you chose to write and/or direct, what kind of project are you drawn to? What are you looking for in a concept?   
MA: I am drawn to projects where I get a opportunity to bring to life a world that does not exist in reality. Hense, I love monster films, fantasy, action and adventure, etc. Not that I wouldn't do a more realistic type of story…I am working on a period war movie script right now but ..I am drawn to making the unreal real. 

977: You've worked as a cinematographer, a director, writer, editor and more; which part of the process, which job, do you enjoy the most?  
MA: Directing is the most rewarding because most of the other jobs work in service of the director's vision.  Or at least that's the way I like to do them if I am hired as a cinematographer or editor.  On my own films, I like to work as my own cinematographer mainly because I enjoy it but also it save a lot of time I on set. 

977: When taking on a project like Battle of Los Angeles - a tie-in - how do you approach the script in terms of distinguishing it? How much awareness of the Hollywood production do you allow yourself? And how much did you rely on the facts of the original incident?

MA: One of the things that few people are aware of on this project is that I actually pitched a film based on the 1942 Battle of Los Angeles incident back in 2008. I made a pitch video, sort of teaser with some photos I doctored up from the original incident and I pitched that to the Asylum. Shortly afterwards I learned that the studios had bought a pitch based on the Battle of Los Angeles. I still wanted to get my project going even though it is kind of disheartening when you hear someone else is doing the same thing. The Asylum folks liked my pitch, I think they even showed the video to Syfy back then and it was put on a some kind of side burner. Of course in 2010 when the studio movie goes into production, the producers at the Asylum decide to greenlight our Battle of Los Angeles. But the reality is, it has origins much earlier. 

I didn't really concern myself with the particulars of any other movie made with a similar concept. The only people I need to answer to are my producers so I have to model the script based on their input. Originally I wanted to set Battle of Los Angeles in the 1940's but it wasn't deemed commercial enough. Everyone liked the idea of having a super secret paramilitary group called MJ-12 who had knowledge of aliens so that was woven into the story. Also thankfully they supported the idea of having Nia wielding a Katana. I doubt that any other alien invasion movie would have that angle….

977: From a directing standpoint, did the production of B.o.L.A. present any unique challenges?
MA: We had a ton of pryotechnical FX, explosions and the like, those were very challenging. They take a lot of time to set up. Art department had a huge challenge in creating the Mothership set and MJ-12 bunkers. Aaron Martin, Production Designer did a ton with little resources. All the interior sets were done at the Asylum studios. Plus the fact that we only had 12 days to shoot the movie. That's standard for an Asylum budget but this movie had many complicated battle scenes and we didn't want to compromise the action. 

977: What's your favorite of the Asylum films you've been involved with?
MA: I have many favorites….Battle of Los Angeles has to be one of the tops especially for the cast we were able to work with…this was one of those times were the synergy amongst the cast members helps to elevate the script and you end up filming relationships on screen that surpass what you've written on the page.   I also really enjoyed Merlin and the War of the Dragons and Allan Quatemain and the Temple of Skulls and Haunting of Winchester House

977: What would you consider your dream project(s)?
MA: I have many many dream projects. As I mentioned I am currently working on a period war script. I have a werewolf movie called Bad Dogs I want to make called that would be way over the top like Peter Jackson's Brain Dead.  I am working on a stream punk fantasy that concerns an alchemist apprentice from 1860's San Francisco who awakens in modern times.  And finally I would love to do an animated feature film. I studied cell animation in college and have a few concepts I think people would love. 

977: Any new projects on the horizon?
MA: I am posting a feature called Sand Sharks which stars Brooke Hogan, Corin Nemec, Vanessa Evigan, Eric Scott Woods, Robert Pike Daniel (from Battle of LA), Delpaneaux Wills and Gina Holden. If you're a fan of horror, and over the top action I think you'll love it. The script by Cameron Larson was outrageous. So expect that out before the end of the year. I have another Sci fi horror adventure coming up and with luck a medieval action movie for Asylum….

Live Blogfest #2: Battle of Los Angeles

Welcome, my fellow faithfully-committed, to the second ever Committed Live Blogfest. Six weeks ago or so I can to you for the first time live in celebration of The Asylum Megafest surrounding the Mega Python vs Gatoroid premiere. This time, there's only one movie on the bill, but it promises to have enough explosive awesomosity to trump a big-screen blow-up. Of course, I'm talking about the one, the only...

Battle of Los Angeles

This one comes to us from writer/director Mark Atkins (Princess of Mars, Haunting of Winchester House) and stars cult favorites Kel Mitchell and Nia Peeples, and is based on a true event - also referred to as The Great Los Angeles Air Raid - that went down in the transition between February 24th and 25th back in 1942. Seems unidentified aircraft, originally thought to be Japanese but this was quickly disproved, started appearing all thoughout the skies over L.A. County, prompting a trigger-happy response from forces on the ground, who put the city under blackout and fired more than 1400 rounds of artillery into the heavens. No craft were reported to have been brought down, but six civilians were killed, three by collateral damage, three by heart attack. At the time, the attacks were dismissed, being called a case of "war nerves." To be fair, the US had been in WWII for a little more than 2 months when this happened, but 1400 rounds is a hell of a lot to fire off in a moment of panic. In 1983 the Office of Air Force History reported that, "A careful study of the evidence suggests that meteorological balloons—known to have been released over Los Angeles —may well have caused the initial alarm." But again, this is coming from essentially the same source that called it "war nerves" forty years before, so, to me at least, the song remains the same.

So tonight's film, then, as does the Hollywood version, released to a $13.5 million Friday, deals with this battle as having been an actual alien invading force who has now returned to finish what they started. Awesome.

*****Before we get started tonight, I want to send you guys over to a short video teaser I was made aware of by BoLA director Mark Atkins, who emailed a few hours ago with this little gem he created back in 2008 - yes, three years ago - for a project based on exactly the same event as are both tonight's film and the Hollywood tie-in. This is phenomenal insight into what is now revealed to be a project that has held lingering interest for Atkins, and, as I'm sure you'll agree after you've seen it, only makes me more excited for the premiere, knowing that this is a film that's been marinating for a while in its creator's head.*****

UPDATE 8:37 PM -  As for me, I'm gonna be kicking it low-key tonight, watching the film and providing insight and background info (I'll just update this single post each time, so scroll down for the latest), contributing some live observation notes (spoiler-free), and enjoying some BoLA-inspired tasties, including the main event I'm putting the finishing touches on right now, some Good Burgers

What we did - "we" being the Mrs. and I - is balled up some ground beef with shredded bacon and blue cheese crumbles so that the goodness is not relegated to topping the meat, but rather can be enjoyed mingling with its juices in every single bite. You have my word as a ruthless and stubborn carnivore that they are worth killing for. I'll let you see 'em soon as they're done. For now, a vodka tonic, I think, to loosen the tongue.

UPDATE 8:50: T-minus ten til and the burgers are on, Total Recall is winding up and I'm relaxing with a vodka and tonic, all atwitter that the world premiere of the latest Asylum flick is only minutes away. I wonder what Kel Mitchell is doing right now?

UPDATE 9:00 - Here we go...

UPDATE 9:01  - Awesome opening space effects, really rich and colorful, among the best, if not the best, I've seen. 

UPDATE 9:02 - Opens modern day...interesting. I was expecting a flashback to '42. The FX, only minutes in, are incredibly lifelike. 

UPDATE 9:04 - The mothership! Independence Day-esque, yes, but what harbinger of alien invasion wouldn't be?  It's like the poster's come to life... 

UPDATE 9:06 - Are all the pilots women? Baller! 

UPDATE 9:07 - And the drones are deployed! Beautiful devastation! 

UPDATE 9:08 - Kel makes the scene!!! Jeez...dude could bench press me, probably one-handed. 

UPDATE 9:11 - A Cougar moment in the cockpit...not a MILF reference... 

UPDATE 9:13 - Awesome aerial footage, up close or at a distance. The FX really early-on in this one are winning me over. Kudos to the visual effects squadron! 

UPDATE 9:15 - Kel officially in contention with Paul Logan for the best run in The Asylum... 

UPDATE 9:18 - Hmmm...past does factor into this the form of the always enjoyable Dylan Vox...intriguing...great twist of original source material... 

UPDATE 9:20 - P.S. i cannot adequately describe the smell your house assumes when grilling these burgers. if i could bottle it, i'd sell it. just sayin'. 

UPDATE 9:22 - First commercial break - so it seems as though a combatant in the first Battle of Los Angeles will factor - via vortex - into this one. Brilliant stroke of script, The Manhattan Project meets Encino Man, if you will. This is raring up to be a helluva battle. If this is what we get in the first 20 minutes, action-wise, I can't wait for the climax! 

UPDATE 9:34 - Alien invadin'-action and burgers are on! 

Kel's playing a little less hardcore action stud than I expected, more of a hero-to-be, which I like, gives the character more, well, character...

UPDATE 9:42 - Furthermore, I was expecting more rhetoric, more politicians sitting around discussing the problem - not at all; this one so far is wall to wall action! 

UPDATE 9:44 - Enter (in full force) Theresa June Tao, already a bad ass... 

UPDATE 9:47 - "You wanna take a break? It's been a long day?"  Brilliant!! 


UPDATE 9:49 - Quick note to say up until now it's been the quality of the FX that have been impressing me. Now, however, their design is taking the spotlight. These are great ships, equally menacing and technologically impressive. Kudos again.

Commercial break, burgers are done, waiting a bit before...dessert. Just wait...

So far, this one's coming across as a taut, fast-paced action epic. Great story, impressive sequences and on par acting. Let's see what unfolds as we get into the meat of the film...

UPDATE 9:54 - Nia's samurai sword is an awesome touch of character. Also, the set design/location scouting/whatever on this one is pretty spectacular. 

UPDATE 10:05 - The direction here, to me at least, seems a lot like a wonderful hybrid between Black Hawk Down and Dune, that is to say, an extreme and constant battle situation in an alien desert (not literally, emotionally) rife with decay and corrosion. It's a war-fantasy-sci-fi epic, and so far all the elements are in place. Not too shabby for halfway through. My only complaint, if it could be called that, is that the breadth of story kind of eclipses breadth of character, which is fine, and indeed customary in a war pic where the battle is bigger than the solider, but my love of Kel wants to see a tab more dynamism. Perhaps to come...

UPDATE 10:11 - Gonna start being careful here, as the last hour tends to dissolve into spoilers. But right here, when they enter the door where the guy asks for Reese's Pieces, I got a feeling shit starts getting out of this world (sorry...but c'mon, give me one lame space reference, just one)

UPDATE 10:15 - Is it weird that I assume Nia Peeples has held a katana before? She's got the stance down. And again, without spoiling anything, as we get into the close-up FX, they hold their high ground. 

UPDATE 10:17 - Holy...(kinda literally) 

UPDATE 10:25 - As impossible as it seems, Nia Peeples is even more badass with an eyepatch. Which reminds me... 

UPDATE 10:27 - As the chaos unfurls onscreen, a delectable treat comes forth from the kitchen...that's right, I iced another rice krispie treat, this one of the Nia "Fruity" Peeples variety...

That's my alien-face, by the way.

UPDATE 10:30 - Half an hour to go, and I'm revved up for a spectacular, action-packed epic. Mark Atkins, as a skilled cinematographer, has done a great job of making this feel truly epic while attending to a very small pod of characters. Kel I still want to see more from but Nia Peeples has been awesome, more badass than I've ever seen her, and the bloody heart of the film. A great creation. 

UPDATE 10:36 - Not a spoiler to say that LAX gets what it deserves... 

UPDATE 11:00 - Whew. So, without giving anything away, this one started high-octane from the first scene and never let up; if anything, its action only mounted as the story went on. The triumvirate of heroes - Mitchell, Peeples and Tao - were a nice balance of heart, brawn and attitude. The FX were - forgive me - out of this world, especially in the last 20 minutes (dig the trash-compacter homage!), and Mark Atkins' script, let alone his direction, brought to life a rollicking, thrilling, pulse-pounding sci-fi flick. SyFy Saturday Nights and The Asylum do it again, as far as I'm concerned. A really, really spectacular ending. Team this one with War of The Wolds and Transmorphers 2 and you've got yourself an awesome night of oh-no-they-don't invasion-retalliation.

Check me out next week, when Monday I'll be posting an EXCLUSIVE interview with writer/director Mark Atkins, and then come Wednesday or so we should have the ratings for tonight's premiere (I'm predicting 2.2 million), as well as a bevy of reviews for your perusal pleasure. As always, thanks a million for popping by, and more importantly, tell everyone you know to add Battle of Los Angeles to their Netflix cues and Redbox...what?...wishlists? The DVD drops a week from this Tueday, on March 22nd. Again, thanks for dropping by, and sweet dreams...don't forget to Spring Forward!

Just a Quick Post to Say...

...that there will be no new post tomorrow because I'm out of town, but drop by Saturday evening after 8:30 Pacific Standard Time for my live blog event covering the SyFy premiere of Battle of Los Angeles. See you then!

Creature Feature: god

That's right, I'm doing a creature feature on god, or God, however you choose to spell it. Makes sense, after all, as he (or she, I suppose) has been the force to reckon with in no less than six Asylum films: Countdown: Jerusalem, The Apocalypse, Meteor Apocalypse, 2012 Doomsday, 2012 Supernova and Sunday School Musical. Now, obviously, one of these films is not like the others, and to call god the "villain" in Sunday School Musical would be a gross exaggeration and a scoch blasphemous, but there's no doubt that in the other five, he's chock-full of that Old Testament piss and vinegar than made humanity bow at his feet and call him Daddy.

In all of these films the pitch is pretty much the same: g(G)od is pissed at/fed-up with/testing the faith of humanity and so sends a plague of natural disasters including earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, droughts, crazy storms and even barrages of meteors. This, as I alluded to above, is that old-school god of wrath and vengeance, all my-way-or-the-highway, the kind of guy who would wipe out an entire universe just to prove a point, the kind of dude who told Abraham to kill his son as a gesture of faith and then stopped him just before he did, that kind of shit. Sure, he's still cool to his faithful - in Countdown: Jerusalem in particular, he does the whole Rapture thing where he plucks the souls of the righteous before unleashing Hell upon the rest of us wicked - but for those who have forgotten, forsaken or insulted him, there will be no mercy. 

Perhaps I'm painting too dour a picture of the presence of god in these films. After all, these films are meant to be faith-affirming, and sure, they use a scare tactic or two to get you there, but that is absolutely nothing new in religion. But in the end, in each of these films, the same god who is seen as angered and thus responsible for global cataclysm is always somehow appeased or satisfied and sees or re-sees the good in humanity and gives us one more chance to make a go of this crazy gift called Life.Thus is the dichotomy of god, and the element that makes him such an interesting character (in Asylum films, I mean, not in, you know, The Bible): he loves us enough to destroy us. That's some heavy shit, y'all.

No doubt we haven't seen the last of god. With 2012 right around the corner, he's sure to catch some flack in a disaster flick here or there, and if not, he can always extend a helping hand in a demon-plagued horror film or two, or even lend a benevolent ear in a faith-based family drama. That's the nice thing - or rather, one of the nice things, I guess - about being god: you're good at everything.