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Last Chance to Vote for the 2010 Loonies!


This is it, your very last chance to register your votes for the first ever Looney Awards for Excellence in Asylum Films; in approximately 48 hours, your opportunity to be a part of history vanishes.

So take one last look at the nominees and email your selections to 2010Loonies@gmail.com before midnight wherever you live on Wednesday, February 2nd, Groundhog Day here in the states. Friday, February 4th, five short days from now, the official winners will be announced at noon, PST. 

Before that, however, on Thursday, I'll be posting my personal picks in each category, a sort of Committed's Best of 2010. The Asylum put out a lot of great films last year, written, directed by and starring some ridiculously talented and imaginative people. Show them you appreciate their efforts by casting your votes now.

Democracy Now!

Check Out This Neat Asylum Montage From Director Leigh Scott!

Over on something called Vimeo, director Leigh Scott (The Beast of Bray Road, The 9/11 Commission Report, Dragon, The Hitchhiker, Hillside Cannibals, etc etc etc) has put together this awesome video montage of his time with The Asylum. Find eight minutes or so to watch a recap of the work of the most-prolific director, to date, in the Asylum's history.

And while you're there, check out his other video posts, including trailers for Cyborg Conquest and Wolvesbayne, two of his newer projects post-Asylum now in the New Release section of your favorite video store; both of which get a very high recommendation from yours truly, if that's worth anything. The next Scott-related project to fall into our hands is Quantum Apocalypse, on DVD this Tuesday, which Mr. Scott wrote and was directed by Justin The Apocalypse Jones.

Mega-Marathon Blogfest! Mega Live!

That's right ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls and other children of all ages, the time is at last upon us, the day we faithfully Committed have been anticipating like a month of Christmases:



Go ahead and get your TV nice and warmed up, because over the next six hours it's nothing but Asylum mega-flicks on SyFy - Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, Mega Piranha and the world television premiere of Mega Python vs. Gatoroid - and I'm gonna be prattling off live, right here, for the whole freakin' thing. I'm joined today by my lovely wife who has patiently agreed to sit near me while I geek out in such a mega fashion, and she even let me get her a t-shirt for the festivities.


So welcome! We got food, drinks, commentary, photo updates and live observation notes of the main event. I'll update this same post with a time stamp every time I leave a new comment, so just refresh your browser and scroll down for the latest shenanigans. And don't let me do all the talking! I'll be checking the comment boards live as well, so if you guys wanna chime in, add your own commentary or tear me a new one, go for it! We're all in this together! 


First up, the movie that started the mega craze, the movie with a top-ten most Googled trailer of 2009 (arguably the biggest spectacle year in Hollywood's history between District 9, Avatar, Star Trek, Up, 2012 and installments of the Transformers, Terminator, Harry Potter and Twilight franchises), the movie that turned an unknown megalodon into a household name:

  Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus
 

5:01PM Ah, MSvGO. This will be the fifth time I've seen the film, and I swear each time it gets better. Gotta love the lengthy, elegiac opening. Beautiful shots, though. Lots of Asylum flicks open with these sweeping topographical montages. 100 Million BC, Dragon,  to name two.

Debbie's right..."there is poetry here." 

5:06PM Shout out to Jonathan Nation, the guy behind Debbie playing Vince. This guy is one of the most versatile supporting actors The Asylum has. He can play anybody, really. Check out his filmography

5:13PM I will never ever ever tire of watching Debbie Gibson swill liquor from a brown paper bag. It's like most other pop stars of her era these days. 

5:15PM First commercial, time for appetizers...



We got chips (shaped like shark teeth) and salsa con queso (cuz cheese rocks), a mega tub of cheese balls that I swear was a gift (which might say worse things about me than if I had purchased them myself) and jumbo shrimp. Yup. Jumbo shrimp. One could almost call them, by shrimp standards...mega. Oh yeah, I'm gonna be going there all night.

BTW...neat commercial about SyFy and IGN promoting the contest to help develop a SyFy original movie. If there's anyone actually following right now, tell me what you'd pitch.


5:22PM Still the BEST SHARK SCENE EVER!!! Shout out to Michael Parisi (if I have the right actor) for the one-scene performance in Asylum history!

5:29PM I've just decided, after seeing a couple commercials, I'll be doing a "bitch" count during MPvG, updating the stats at every commercial. Live blogging! Who knows what'll happen! 

5:34PM Check out the "do-me" eyes Debbie gives Vic upon their characters' first meeting. Steamy...

I often give some flack to these sorts of movies for over-explaining the scientific angle, but, and this just might be because I'm legitimately interested in sharks, but in this film these explanations, though copious, feel well-integrated and not at all forced or contrived.

5:38PM "What's that, a squid?"  (in disgruntled unison) "Octopus."  Ah, taxonomical humor, gets me every time. 

5:41PM Mega Shark, you sank my battleship! (couldn't resist) 

5:42PM Enter the Lamas...with a detainment camp joke...classy, Renegade. 

5:46PM Shout out to sonar tech (and Looney-nominee for Meteor Apocalypse) Cooper Harris.

5:52PM I am very stoked to learn Tiff and DG will be hosting premiere. My wife is excited to see Tiffany is wearing the same shirt as she.
  
5:56PM Still the MOST AWKWARD SEX SCENE EVER!!! And the quickest. And in the bluest broom closet. 

5:58PM DG to Vic: "I feel like we're just getting to know each other." After, you know, the broom closet sex. 

6:00PM Jet plane REJECTION by Giant Octopus. We need that guy on the Blazers. 

6:12PM Cocktail time! First up, a cocktail of my own creation, never-before tried, including by me, a little drink I'm calling The Electric Youth, in honor of the song by Ms. Gibson. Pour a couple fingers of vodka over ice, twice as much Mike's Hard Lemonade for that electric glow, then fill with soda. I'll give you the verdict in the minute. 



6:13PM Not bad. A refreshing citrusy libation to carry us warmly into act three.


6:16PM For me, the shark biting the Golden Gate Bridge will always be the quintessential Asylum image. There's a savage artistry to it that makes me smile every time. Nice work, Tiny Juggernaut. 

6:23PM I've decided that next Halloween I'm going as the guy in sunglasses holding the machine gun behind Vic Chao during the teleconference from Tokyo. Something about him just oozes badass. I think the actor is Conrad Lihilihi, whose only other credit is an episode of "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant." Awesome. 

6:32PM "I still think about that night a lot." "Me too." "Every time I sweep up."   Ewwwwwwww. 

6:42PM Matt Lagan bellows a good order. 

6:49PM You're with us in spirit, Mr. Gable!  

6:55PM The shaking submarine scenes, as explained in the making-of featurette, worked off the old Star Trek method of shaking the camera while the performers sway to make it extra discombobulating. 

6:59PM Oh, man, sweet climax. This was the real Clash of the Titans. Farewell valiant Giant Octopus, and as for you Mega Shark, well, perhaps the next mega-marathon will feature your further exploits. And you, Ms. Gibson, we're two short hours away from catching up with you. But for now, we'll happily content ourselves with your "nemesis" and the next mega-marathon feature... 

Mega Piranha

7:01PM I've never actually seen this on TV...I wonder if it'll make sense without the boobs.
Mega Piranha was written and directed, of course, by Eric Forsberg, whose next Asylum project is the screenplay for  Almighty Thor.

7:04PM That's Mr. Forsberg there as the ambassador. 

7:06PM Enter the Brady. And the muscles that comprise Paul Logan

7:08PM And there's a pair of Looney-nominees, the lovely Tiffany and the impassioned Jude Gerard-Prest. Love the vests on both of them.

7:17PM Pizza's here! Naturally, I went with the biggest pie I could find, which at the moment is Pizza Hut's Big Dipper, basically just a doormat of cheesy bread with toppings and copious amounts of sweetened marinara for dipping. Only in America.



7:24PM I'm a big fan of the piranha effects here. To me, they have more personality than the ones in Piranha 3D. But, by and large, didn't care for Piranha 3D. Felt like the schmoes who made Epic, Date, Disaster, Superhero Movie etc. decided to do a send up of killer fish movies.

7:37PM When I say Barry Williams phoned this one in, it isn't the insult it usually is: so far every time he's been on screen he's been in a dimly lit environment talking into his phone. Nice work if you can get it.

7:48PM Another favorite moment of mine in this one is when Jude G-P has to be held back from rushing into the water to save the enemy soldier. The things he does with his hands are truly amazing.

7:51PM And for a scientist, G-P's character holds up remarkably well under torture.

7:54PM I loooooove the scenes of the kamikaze piranha launching themselves into buildings! This is one of the greatest action sequences in The Asylum's repertoire: between the great aerial footage, the CGI explosions and smoke, the shocking death of G-P, the screaming fit by Tiffany that ends with, "I just want to kill them all," and, of course, the piranha kick-assault by Paul Logan. Kudos, Mr. Forsberg.

8:00PM Thanks for following Jeff! We'll keep you apprised of all the good stuff, without giving too much away! 

8:07PM The next cocktail on the menu I'm calling a cherry bomb, for no reason. Remember, I'm a blogger, not a mixologist. Vodka to your liking, topped with cranberry juice and a splash of soda for carbonation, then a drizzle of grenadine for that extra flavor. Its a drink as sweet as Tiffany's voice.



8:15PM I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again, but Paul Logan has the best run in The Asylum: so confident, so determined, so angry. I saw that coming at me, I'd give up on the spot.


8:23PM Some men, when attempting to ambush armed soldiers, will rely on stealth, secrecy, and silence. Paul Logan's not some men; he wants to take some dudes out, he's gonna run right up and punch 'em.  

8:30PM Lauren - of course we still have the cheese balls, there are thousands of them!

8:31PM Cooper Harris, back on sonar.


8:43PM Some badass prop weapons they got in this. Wonder if Barry Bostwick made them.

8:45PM Reporter bites it! (or rather, get bitten)

8:47PM Damn I love the FX in this. They may not be the most realistic, but when dealing with piranha the size of minivans, realism isn't so important to me. The FX are, however, convincing enough, vicious enough, and a helluva lot of fun.

8:51PM "You're fish food" cracks me up every time, and then...BOOM! Chopper grab! What a one-two punch of screenwriting!

8:59PM Whew, another doozy. Mega Piranha gets it all right, from story to acting to FX and direction, this is just a perfect example of an Asylum film. No wonder it's so beloved. My only cringe came with the awkward, almost-inexplicable kiss between Tiffany and Paul Logan. Even upon multiple viewings, the love story in this I still don't see. But as exciting as seeing that again was, as exciting as the whole evening's been, it's all only been but a precursor to the moment we now find ourselves on the threshold of, the world television (west cast) premiere of easily the most anticipated film of the year...

Mega Python vs Gatoroid (!!!!!)



Man, this is some awesome stuff. Now, these are observation notes, my review of the film, but don't worry, I won't spoil it, promise. 

There are the ladies - both looking fabulous - and here comes the flick. Hold on! 

9:02PM Oh jeez. I think I've mentioned a time or two how scared I am of snakes, like really, really scared. Fake ones I can handle, but those there, those are very, very real.

On the plus side, DG's character is already proving herself to be a badass. Debbie fits that personality well; she's quite believable as a over-confident bitch. And I swear, that's a compliment.


Oh jeez, so many real snakes. Not cool.

9:05PM MPvG was written by Naomi Selfman, the same brilliant pen behind MSvC, so you know she knows her mega movies. 

Ooh, ooh, there's TIffany! And wow, one scene in and you can already sense how she's grown as an actress. She's less stiff, more even with her delivery, just generally more at ease.

9:09PM Hillbillies, apparently, despite being largely racist, have a penchant for mail order brides. I'm learning already.

So the basic gist is this: Debbie's a fanatic animal rights activist who frees a bunch of snakes from a lab and lets them go in the Everglades. Not an indigenous species, the naturally F-up the ecosystem, specifically the endangered alligator population. Tiffany is a gator-lovin' local sheriff. That's about as far as we've gotten.

9:14PM That's Carey Van Dyke playing Tiffany's fiance Justin. He's Barry's son and Shane's brother, and here exudes a casual confidence, a typical small town tough guy with a heart of gold. And Kathryn Johnson as Tiff's sister-in-law-enforcement is always a welcome addition to any cast.

Shh...first scene with Tiff and DG face to face; it's like Heat, but not a letdown. 

9:18PM First commercial. Bitch count: 3

So far this is pretty fun, it's light-hearted but not in a self-aware sense, rather just adopting not a lighter, but a less serious tone. When films like this feature military or political characters at their center, they tend to be heavier, more stern; but in instances like this, where it's regular people at the heart of the story - that is, people not trained to handle extreme situations - there's a more coloquial feel to things that I personally enjoy. I mean, I expect people with access to nuclear weapons to be able to handle most anything. It's when extreme stuff happens to normal people that I find the most to enjoy, and so far this film seems to be of that frame of mind.

9:26PM Kevin M. Horton as the younger deputy is turning out to be a notable member of the ensemble. I wouldn't call him comic relief, necessarily, but he is a light spot, and fun to watch.

9:29PM Man, like I said above, usually fake snakes don't mess with me, but these - are there are a lot of them - are pretty good, FX-wise, which is to say, I don't like them one bit. They are not skimping on the "mega" part of "mega python." I am not going to sleep well tonight at all. 

9:31PM Tiffany's rage-acting has gotten much, much better. 

Second commercial. Bitch count: 5

9:37PM Whoever just googled "Debbie Gibson feet pics" and got my blog, gross, and sorry for not having any pics. 

9:40PM "We need a bigger gator!" Uh-oh... 

9:42PM Just a note to say that this film has a unique look to it, that is, unique for Asylum films. It looks crisper, the action is smaller-scale (you know, local destruction instead of global) but sharper. Could be due to a bigger budget, or could be do that I'm seeing it for the first time on TV. Either way, Ms. Lambert's crafting herself a fine film here.

Oh, and it looks like - not a big spoiler here - whatever Gatoroid is, he's going to be steroid-induced.

9:47PM Enter the A. (Martinez) He's a steely herpetologist with a great peppered James-Hetfield-mustache who drops the bomb that the pythons are getting more mega. But they're not the only ones...

And...wait...a minute...Debbie Gibson pop song...metabolic graphics...this...is...MEGA PYTHON vs GATOROID!!!

9:52PM Yo...Gatoroid is well worth the wait. Looks better than Supercroc, more believable than Crocosaurus (sometimes big is too big. that's what she...nevermind). And apparently the term "gatoroid," like "python" here, stays the same whether referring to a singular or plural of the species. Awesome. 

9:57PM Another commercial. Bitch count still at 5. Here at the halfway point, I have to say I'm pretty pleased: the story's lively and moving along at a good pace, the acting is great across the board, both leads have come a long way from their previous mega-roles, and the FX so far have been pretty f'ing rad. And I got a feeling the best stuff is still to come. They keep mentioning a monkey...

10:03PM That bearded hillbilly fella, Kaiwi Lyman, who also appeared in MSvC, has an uncredited role in the Hollywood Thor as a viking. Nice to see a fellow beardo getting work. 

Ooh...cocktail party! Which can only mean there's a catifght looming. And...oh god...not monkey, Monkee. Mickey Dolenz. Hilarious that even though I knew he was in this, the way the story approached it, I was totally suckered off-guard. Nicely done, Ms. Selfman. Mickey looks good, by the way, and still has those acting chops.

10:12PM Oh yeah...I made desert:


That, my friends, is a two-pound rice krispie treat I frosted myself. That's the kind of time and weird devotion I have.

10:15PM Tiffany's sonic contribution, "Serpentine," is getting its air play. That song's actually growing on me. 

10:17PM And it's on now...CATFIGHT!!!

Honestly, the chemistry between these two, as rivals, is great. And I know they're all good for real, but they really seem to bring out the bitch in each other in the best possible way. Whatever camp value people attached to this because of the leads, fine, but from here on out, I don't think - within the genre, at least - these two have to be thought of as singers first. I don't know if TV movies are eligible, but this scene should definitely go up for Best Fight at the MTV Movie Awards. Make an exception; it's worth it. And the music that accompanies said fight? Hilariously appropriate.

10:18PM Everyone in Florida is armed! 

10:26PM Commerical. Bitch count: 7

Getting down to the home stretch here, the last half hour, act three, and I have to say that thus far I've been nothing but impressed. This is just good fun, thrilling and violent, light on its feet and packed with humor, horror, camp and a slight tough of self-awareness that has yet to feel contrived or overdone. It is what it promised to be: a helluva enjoyable way to spend a Saturday night.

10:30PM Now the terror goes metropolitan...nice. All this was missing was explosions.

10:31PM ASYLUM BLIMP!!! BALLER!!!

10:44PM Being extra careful now in this last bit not to give anything away. The FX are still great; the more I see - and there's a lot to see - the more I like. The snakes will be slithering in my nightmares for sure, and the gators are massive terrors. How they stack up to Supercroc and Crocosaurus is a guaranteed creature feature post sometime in the near, near future. 

10:51PM If there's anyone actually watching along with me, I hope you're having as much fun as I am...two words are coming to mind: Cult Classic

11:02PM Wow. That's really all I can say in the moment: wow. I'm pretty spent from all this, emotionally frazzled, you could say, and I want to give the film 24 hours to marinate in my mind before I post my overall thoughts, but for now, in the moment, I'm pleased. Everything I said I liked above was well-supported by an exciting and dynamic climax. In the moment, I liked it better than MSvC, and you guys know how much I liked that one. Check back on Monday for my final thoughts and hopefully some ratings info that puts viewership tonight over 2.5 million, the current record, held by - ick - Sharktopus. I'm predicting 2.8. We'll see. Anywho, thanks for indulging me, if you did, and following this insane whim. Who knows? Maybe we'll get the chance to do this again in March when Battle of Los Angeles gets its SyFy premiere. Okay guys, sweet dreams, thanks for tuning in, and as always, stay committed!

P.S. final bitch count: 8 





 

Asylum Lands Its Next SyFy Premiere! And Announces an AWESOME New Title!

With the premiere of Mega Python vs Gatoroid still more than 24 hours away, SyFy has announced the next slate of it's Saturday night original movies, and sure enough, there's an Asylum title in the mix.

Battle of Los Angeles, starring Kel Mitchell and Nia Peeples, is set to premiere on the network the night of March 12th, ten whole days before it appears on DVD and the same weekend Hollywood's competing project, Battle: Los Angeles, opens in theaters. Pretty smart move there, guys.


Also, in revisiting the film's home page on The Asylum's site, I noticed they had tweaked the poster a little bit since the last time I checked in. Notice how the chartreusian color scheme to the original poster (top) has been downshifted into cooler blues and the explosions have been raised to a higher level of intensity on the newer poster (bottom). It's a subtle shift, but I think it works, eliminates the Independence Day-feel of the first one (as much as that feel can be eliminated when dealing with a picture of a spacecraft over a building/skyline reducing said building/skyline to rubble with what I call a butt-laser, only shoots right below you.).

So mark your calendars now, March 12 is the day. Who knows, maybe SyFy will team this with a couple other Asylum flicks - like, say, War of the Worlds? War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave? Meteor Apocalypse? - and we'll have ourselves a bona fide Mega-Marathon Part Deus!



But in even more exciting news, there's been another project announced in the "Coming Soon" section of the Asylum's homepage, and this one has probably the greatest title ever in the history of titles:

2 Headed Shark Attack

No details yet as to what this one's about - as though you needed more than the title to conjure a rough idea - nor who the creative forces behind it will be, but thankfully it seems as though the ***SPOILER*** untimely demise of a certain other shark working for the Asylum won't be deterring the boys from upping the stakes once again. Two heads. Two heads. Oh, to get my hands on this one. No dates have been announced, nor any more info other than the name, but believe me when I tell you as soon as I know something, you will know something. Believe me.

Lovely Ladies of the Asylum vol. 2

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.



Eliza Swenson

actress
Transmorphers - Dragon - The 9/11 Commission Report - Dracula's Curse - King of the Lost World - The Beast of Bray Road - Frankenstein Reborn


composer (!!!)
Supercroc - Dragon - The 9/11 Commission Report - Dracula's Curse - Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers

writer
Dragon - non-Asylum Witches of Oz







Jessica Bork

Invasion of the Pod People
Transmorphers
The Hitchhiker
Dragon









   

Erica Duke

#1 Cheerleader Camp
Titanic II
Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus















Deedee Pfeiffer

Journey to the Center of the Earth
Alien vs Hunter 














Heather McComb

2012: Supernova  













Jamie Bernadette

MILF  






Observation Notes Catch-Up: Horror

I know not all my readers have been with me from the beginning, and I also know given the amount of postings I've made, things can get lost in the shuffle. I also know that I'm not the best at tagging uniformly, so there might be a few things, specifically Observation Notes, that go unread. As such, periodically I like to remind you - with links! - of the films I've reviewed, and I think a good way of grouping these is by genre. So here, for your catching-up or even revisiting pleasure, are the Horror films produced by The Asylum that I've reviewed thus far, along with links to the original posts. Enjoy!










Death Racers
directed by Roy Knyrim
story by Roy Knyrim & Patrick Tantalo
screenplay by Andrew Helm
(not technically horror, but enough blood that it counts)







8213 Gacy House
directed by Anthony Fankhauser
written by Reality


















The Beast of Bray Road
written and directed by Leigh Scott
















I Am Omega
directed by Griff Furst
suggested by a novella by Richard Matheson
screenplay by Geoff Meed














When a Killer Calls
directed by Peter Mervis
written by Steve Bevilacqua &  Peter Mervis















Legion of the Dead
written and directed by Paul Bales
















Killers
directed by David Michael Latt
written by Steven Ramirez

















Killers 2
directed by David Michael Latt
written by Paul Bales
based on characters created by Steven Ra

Cocktail Ingredients for The Mega-Marathon Blogfest! Mega Live!

As I've mentioned a time or two, this Saturday's premiere of Mega Python vs Gatoroid is more than a one-picture deal: it's a full-on mega-marathon of three - that's right, three - Asylum titles back to back to back.
  • Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus at 5p.m.
  • Mega Piranha at 7p.m.
  • Mega Python vs Gatoroid at 9p.m.
For those of you who plan to watch along with my live-blog, I've come up with a list of cocktail ingredients you might want to procure before the main event. I'm not going to reveal the cocktails themselves as of yet - though the ingredients are simple and few - but know that there are three, one for each film, they're liquor-based and compatible, so no dangerous mixing. If you want to drink along with me, this is what you'll need:

 


Vodka

(Rum might also do, gin as well, but myself, I'm a vodka man. Gotta watch this girlish figure, y'know.) ((A pint might do, but it's going to be a looooooong night, so, better safe than sorry.))








     6er Mike's Hard Lemonade

     (Don't judge me. Smirnoff also makes a Tuscan Lemonade that will suffice, but it's a little stronger, and more expensive. Choose for yourself.)  







            Cranberry Juice

            (No brand preference here.)  










           Soda Water

           (Again, no brand preference.)   







And believe it or not, that's it. A lime or lemon could be added for personal tastes, but as far as the basics go, that's all you'll need. If the above ingredients appall/scare/underwhelm you, you can always plan on doing the same as my wife, and make "Megaritas." (her word, and really the only reason I think she's consented to let me do this in our living room.) 

That's all for now, but come back Saturday evening and help make SyFy-ratings history!

observation notes: Death Valley - The Revenge of Bloody Bill

This often-amusing blend of zombie lore and Confederate vilification comes to The Asylum courtesy of the Yuan Brothers, who most of us probably know best for their acting roles as twin security guards in the Seth Rogen dark comedy Observe and Report. This is the only film they've written to date, and their only other experience with The Asylum came on the film Scarecrow Slayer, on which John worked craft services and Matt was a boom operator.

The film opens with a coke-using speedster getting chased down a deserted desert highway by an officer of the law (a ginger Kim Little)(any film that opens with a car chase, I'm in; the song that accompanies said car chase? not so in). She loses him when he tosses the brick of yeyo out the window and onto her windshield, where it bursts in a white cloud that blinds her from continuing pursuit. But though our drug-addled bandit gets away , he's far from having escaped, as his car soon enough breaks down, leaving him stranded and on foot in Death Valley, the worst-named place ever.

After hours of braving the heat, thirst and the inevitable come-down, like a mirage suddenly our outlaw finds himself at the outskirts of a small town called Sunset Valley, which, according to the sign and all visible cues to the contrary, has a population of 99. Our fella walks into the town bar, and sure enough there are folks, but they aren't the friendly sort, and not in the usual small-town-ignorant fashion, but more so in the undead-ravenous-for-brains sense. He fights off one or two of them, but there are more than one or two; there are 99, it turns out, and quickly the outlaw is done away with. Now the movie can really begin.

Intro to our real heroes, four spring breakers, members of the debate team, no less: three hotties, two dudes and a teacher. Their holiday festivities are soon cut short, however, when they seemingly strike a pedestrian who turns out not to be a pedestrian at all, but rather a very daring carjacker who uses their confusion and concern to seize the van and the plot. He directs them into the desert, where they locate the drug-runner's broken car. Seems it was our carjacker's product Speedy disappeared with, and the carjacker is looking for money or drugs, anything to make this deal not a total bust. But he finds nothing in the car. Outside of the car, however, he finds a trail of footprints heading deeper into the desert. Once again our crew is on the road, pushing farther and farther from civilization, unknowingly pressing forward into waiting, deadly and decomposing hands.


That's enough as far as plot is concerned, I think. But rest assured, the film unfurls soundly and the legend behind Bloody Bill is pretty chilling, and effective, up until this line:


"The only thing he hated more than Yankees, was black people."


Okay, all right, I get it: Confederate zombie, he's gotta be racist, right? However, as a Southerner, born and bred if not current, I took enough offense at this generalization to draw attention to it here. That line's akin to making the drug-dealing carjacker the film's only black guy. Which was done. So, pot, meet kettle; you guys got some stuff in common.*


All this aside, my general consensus here is of a slick, taut, off-beat, inventive, frighteningly believable and beautifully-executed zombie-thriller. The script is strong and well-developed, and for what the characters can't convey, there are spectacular landscapes throughout that really add to the sense of desolation, isolation and foreboding hopelessness. These elements are complimented by inventive, intimate, swooping and frenetic direction by Byron Werner, primarily a cinematographer, as he was for himself here. The effects are pretty graphic and gory, and realistic enough that at the least they don't detract from the film.

As for the cast, it's a workable ensemble, but for me the standout was easily female lead Chelsea Jean (below), who gave an impassioned, empathetic and willful performance as
the one member of the team willing to do more than debate with Bloody Bill. Too bad, however, because according to IMDB, this is the only work she's ever done. If you ever Google yourself, Chelsea Jean, and find yourself reading these words, get back to work! With Rachel Leigh Cook all but a fond memory in our collective consciousness, the world needs a precocious, sassy, disaffected B-queen. Come back to The Asylum, fulfill your promise!

So overall, despite my philosophical issues, I gotta give this one two gnawed thumbs up (sorry.).


*it's worth noting that this line is countered three minutes later when, after the discovery of the first of their pal's bodies, one of the dudes runs off into the desert, abandoning the group, saying: "I ain't waiting around for some fucking lunatic to mistake me for one of you. I'm from Georgia." Nice attempt at amends, but, really, this line should've read "one of y'all."

Princess and the Pony Released on DVD! Mega Python vs. Gatoroid This Weekend!

At long last, The Asylum's very first family film is released on DVD today! Check out my link-chronology below to get all the info Committed's ever published on the film, which is more than enough to get you up-to-date and amped. 

October 7, 2010 - 1st Furry Valentine is Princess and the Pony

October 11, 2010 - 1st Furry Valentine Wraps Production

December 10, 2010 - Princess and the Pony Gets a Poster

December 21, 2010 - Princess and the Pony Trailer Released

January 6, 2011 - Inmate Profile: Rachel Lee Goldenberg

January 20, 2011 - Observation Notes: Princess and the Pony


In other news, perhaps even bigger, less needed-to-be-reported news, Princess and the Pony isn't the only Asylum production hitting our greedy little eyes this week; Saturday night brings the world television premiere of Mega Python vs Gatoroid on SyFy as part of a mini-marathon that also includes Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus and Mega Piranha. In addition to the clips already online, Entertainment Weekly's website scored an exclusive last-clip before the premiere. Nice of EW to run the clip, not so nice they call it "absurd." Seriously, this from the magazine that ran an article on The Room last week, a year and a half after anyone stopped caring, and also the magazine that considered Patricia Arquette's dead-eyed, marble-mouthed, robot-corpse character on "Medium" as the matriarch of "one of TV's finest families." So, you know, biiiiiiiig grain of salt with their opinions. Nevertheless, press is press and getting a shout-out in the biggest industry mag in the country is good no matter what they say. 

Only last night in NYC was the world premiere for MPvG held at the historic Ziegfield Theatre. Jump over here for some iPhone photos of the event taken by one David Michael Latt, as well as a link to some more professional shots.

So go out today and support the Asylum by renting Princess and the Pony at your local video store or Redbox thingamajig, or add it to your Netflix cue and check it out in six months or so when it gets to you. Then, if you don't already have plans for the MPvG premiere (and you live on the West Coast), you can watch it live along with me via the Mega-Marathon Blogfest! Mega Live! starting this Saturday, January 29th, at 5p.m. PST.

Bonne Observation!

Corman "Creates" Another Amalgam of Asylum Films

I got mad love for Roger Corman, I really do: if it wasn't for the groundbreaking work he did with AIP in the 50's, 60's and 70's, my grand and undying affection for B-movies wouldn't be what it is. And it should also go without saying that if not for the work of Mr. Corman and others like him, including the great Samuel Z. Arkoff, there wouldn't be an Asylum, at least not as we know it. Therefore it was only a slight thumb in the eye, and in fact a kind of compliment, when last year Mr. Corman blatantly drafted off the success of Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus an unleashed upon the world Sharktopus, which shattered records over at SyFy.

Well, now the Academy-Award-winning S.O.B. (really, mad love...) is doing it again. It was announced today that the king of B's is re-teaming with the bard of Sharktopus, one Michael MacLean, plus Jim Wynorski, the director of Chopping Mall, Munchie and Ghoulies IV, to produce a film called - I shit you not - Piranhaconda.

This is obviously meant to capitalize upon the exposure of The Asylum's two SyFy original contributions to date, last year's wildly-successful Mega Piranha and the upcoming Sharktopus-record-shattering instant classic Mega Python vs. Gatoroid. I mean, there's no real grounds to get upset here, the man's done nothing wrong, certainly nothing he hasn't been doing since the first days of his career, and certainly nothing The Asylum itself doesn't do on a regular basis - that is, drafting off others' concepts - but really, bro - Piranhaconda? The official description of this one is a creature with "razor sharp teeth and 100 feet of constricting power." I'll admit to being intrigued by the visual possibilities, but every time I try to imagine it, all I see is a big fucking eel. Big fucking deal.

What's more, this same trio is also responsible for a yet-to-be-released-on-DVD gem entitled Dinocroc vs Supergator. What happened to honor among thieves?

The only casting we have as of yet is a certain Diana Terranova, whose last appearance was in a certain company's horror movie about a certain clown-faced serial killer's ghost. There's no release date for this one as yet, but shooting begins next month in Hawaii, and given Corman's penchant for quick productions, it wouldn't surprise me if this hits DVD by the end of summer. After that, expect Jessica Simpson and Avril Lavigne starring in Princess vs Pony. I'll let you assign which pop star to which role. 

Holy Cow! Tiffany, Debbie Gibson and Ann Curry in One Clip! Too...Much...Hotness...

Seriously though, NBC's Today Show - you know, the biggest freakin' deal in morning television - got a whole lot hotter than normal this morning when Mega Python vs Gatoroid stars Tiffany and Debbie Gibson popped by to promote their little film. Check out the beauty, wit and insight below.



I've already predicted 2.8 million viewers for Saturday night's premiere, but with the way things are really revving up in this last week, and considering the quality of news outlets covering it - I mean, really, I love The Asylum, you know I do, but even I was blown away to hear about this morning's coverage - it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if ratings crept closer to 3, or even 3.2 million. Only time will tell, but if the current cultural buzz is any indicator, this is going to be a - dare I say it? Oh yeah - a mega-hit for both SyFy Saturday nights and The Asylum.

T-minus five days...

Last Chance to Merch-up Before Mega Python vs Gatoroid Premiere!!!

With only five business days to go before the Mega Python vs. Gatoroid premiere on SyFy, it's officially your last chance to get some original Asylum swag from the flick before it invades more than 3 million (fingers xed) small screens nationwide.

So whether you're Team Tiffany, Team Debbie, or just an overall enthusiast, peruse now the wide selection of t-shirts, spaghetti tanks, ringers, hoodies, track suits, mouse pads, tote bags, infant body suits, maternity t's, bibs and more, and show the world how committed you really are.

I myself have personally shopped from the Asylum store twice, most recently for the shirt on the lovely young (married) ((to me)) woman pictured above, and both times I got my stuff quick and correct. The other shirt I got I will be wearing this Saturday at the Mega-Marathon Blogfest.

That's right, I've lined up some outfits for the show. Aren't you just getting more intrigued by the day?

Time Running Out to Vote for Loonies!

There are only ten (10) days left in which to vote for the First Annual Looney Awards for Excellence in Asylum Films. So far I've counted more than 500 votes across the eight categories, but each category is still pretty tight, with first and last place in each being separated by no more than a dozen votes. So whether you like them action, sci-fi, horror, western, faith-oriented, sexually hilarious or mega-extreme, check out the list of nominees at the above link then email your votes to 2010Loonies@gmail.com and participate in what is easily the most important award show of our, and no doubt every other, era of human civilization.

Keep Democracy Alive!

Asylum Gets a Mention in an Onion Online Tirade!


The Onion's revered AV Club has this online thing called the Inventory where they survey pop culture anomalies like, as the above video illustrates, blockbuster ripoffs. After wading through a couple examples from previous decades, the feature ends with a nice nod to the work of The Asylum that manages to be only slightly condescending. But who cares? It's the Onion! Press is press!

Thanks to Glenn, my friend and bartender, for sending this one my way.

1st Images of 200 MPH Hit the Web!

In typical Asylum fast-paced tradition, not a week has passed since the release of the poster for 200 MPH (this guy on the left here) and already we have the first images from the set. From what I can see, this looks to be a sleek, saucy and adrenaline-fueled film. Jaz Martin looks appropriately pretty-boy-renegade and our first good look at Annamaria De Mara reveals she is - as expected - drop-dead hot. The nice surprise among these images is that there appears to be a role for Committed-fave Paul Logan as "a cop with a secret." Awesome. 

200 MPH races onto DVD (I know, I know) April 26th of this year. 

Announcing the Mega-Marathon Blogfest! Mega-Live!


So here's the deal: I'm still working out the technical details of this one, but I would like to cordially invite all the Asylum committed (at least those living on the West Coast) to watch the Mega Python vs Gatoroid premiere - and all the prior festivities - with me on Saturday, January 29th, via a live blogging event I'm calling (and getting made into a banner) the... 


Mega-Marathon Blogfest! Mega-Live!



See, it isn't just MPvG SyFy's showing that night; they're going to preface the film with two other Asylum classics - Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (starring Debbie Gibson) at 5 p.m., and Mega Piranha (starring Tiffany) at 7 p.m., then the premiere of Mega Python vs Gatoroid (starring Debbie Gibson and Tiffany) at 9 p.m.. 


That's three movies over six hours, every single second of which is guaranteed to be mega-awesome. 



I'll be offering LIVE commentary on my blog during all three movies - including live observation notes for MPvG -  as well as posting photos of my festivities, sharing cocktail recipes, enjoying mega-snacks, taking your comments, and generally inching that much closer to fulfilling my dream of becoming the SyFy Saturday Night Robert Osborne. I'm even gonna post cocktail ingredients the Wednesday before (the 26th) should you want to drink along as well as watch along with me. 



For Asylum fans, a night like the 29th is as big as it gets - 3 great movies from out favorite studio back to back to back, climaxing with a world premiere - and to ensure we get many more nights like this in the future, we have to tune in en masse to drive the ratings through the roof! At this point, Sharktopus holds the ratings record for a SyFy Saturday Night Original Movie at 2.5 million viewers. Sharktopus. That's just disgusting, in my book. This is our chance to help The Asylum usurp what's rightfully theirs: undisputed dominance of the Saturday night creature feature.




So join me, Saturday, January 29th, beginning at 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, for the inaugural Mega-Marathon Blogfest! Mega-Live! I swear it's not going to be half as pathetic as it sounds!



 

Mega Python Director Interviewed! (not by me)

Fangoria - the king of my sorta film sites - has nabbed a major coup this morning and gotten an exclusive interview with Mega Python vs. Gatoroid (and Pet Sematery I & II) director Mary Lambert.

It's a great interview with an accomplished director offering unique insight into just how she approached something as complicated and under the public microscope of scrutiny as MPvG. Kudos to Fangoria for landing this. Attention for this movie has always been high, from the moment it was announced, but in the last couple of weeks it's really started to ramp up. 3 million viewers might not be as far-fetched as once was thought.

Do your part and tune in next Saturday night - not tomorrow, the Saturday after that - at 9p.m. for the premiere. And speaking of which (the premiere), stop back by this site mid-afternoon for another announcement about certain festivities in which you may or may not be wanting to participate.

observation notes: Princess and the Pony (formerly 1st Furry Valentine)

You didn't think I was gonna skip this one, did you? You didn't assume that just because this is a massive thematic departure for The Asylum, their first, full-on venture into family filmmaking (overlooking Sunday School Musical - incidentally from this director - and Pirates of Treasure Island; the former is aimed at teens and the latter has too much cleavage for anyone under 10) that I would choose to ignore it? Oh no, my friends - in for a penny, in for a pound, that's practically the colloquial definition of "committed," and I'm nothing but. These guys could release a knitting instructional video and I'd watch it. Twice. So here we go:

When a privileged but sheltered princess (Fiona Perry) is threatened by a breach of palace security, her mother the Queen (Kim Little, in her first Asylum flick since 2009's Countdown:Jerusalem) makes the decision to send her to America where she has an aunt (Bobbi Jo Lathan) living in the heartland, far from suspicious or pernicious eyes and hands. Once there, immersed in the decidedly plebeian culture, forced to pretend she is the opposite of herself, a normal little girl, our princess naturally has trouble making friends, at least of the human variety; when she discovers a carnival pony, however, it's love at first sight. But this love is soon threatened when the ne'er-do-well carnival owner (Bill Oberst Jr.) discovers her true identity, thus her true worth.

I'm not ashamed to admit, nor do I think it's weird, that as a grown man with no kids I found this to be an enjoyable film. Everyone loves a good fairy tale, and that's exactly what this is, a parable about virtue and friendship modernized for today's kids while retaining enough classical elements to feel timeless. The script, by director Rachel Lee Goldenberg (Sherlock Holmes) and Bill Parker (an Asylum editor), is balanced nicely between sentimental and adventurous, hitting all the right emotional chords without lapsing too much into being wholly either. The result is a fun, sweet, lively and uplifting film that - oh yeah, I'm going to say it - the whole family can enjoy.

Fiona Perry, a relative newcomer with a credit here or there, is the perfect princess, a child actress capable of portraying a burden most grown folk couldn't passably carry, that of being royalty, and the pressures, restrictions and in fact short-comings, socially and practically speaking, such a life implies. Miss Perry shows an emotional range well beyond her years, and is exactly the sort of little girl every other little girl would want to be friends with. The Asylum might have just found itself a Fanning-esque prodigy. 

Ms. Lathan shines as Aunt Fay, as does Ron Hajak as Lawrence, the princess' American paternal figure, but it's the performance by Bill Oberst Jr. as despicable carnival owner Theodore Snyder that steals the show on the adults' end. As a sort of cartoonishly further-demented Daniel Plainview (click here, then here), he takes wickedness to a delightful new level and transforms what could have been a generic villain into a memorable adversary. They should shuffle this guy into a regular Asylum flick - he'd make a heck of a space marine platoon leader or serial killer.

All in all, then, the verdict on this one is positive. For a guy who doesn't really watch a lot of kid-oriented stuff (at least not the stuff made after, I don't know, 1987?) I wasn't really aware of the fact that I was watching something intended primarily for kids. A good story is a good story, and this was just that. Throw in some great performances and an uplifting ending - not something all Asylum films come with; I'm looking at you, When a Killer Calls and Sex Pot - and you got yourself a positive 85 minutes. If I had a daughter, I'd totally let her watch Princess and the Pony, and she'd totally love it. Committed from birth.