In a brilliant bit of bad movie magic, 2011 heralds the arrival of the epic SyFy channel original movie "Mega Python vs Gatoroid." Not only is this another stunning example of a creature feature showdown between unlikely foes, it brings the estimable talents of two former pop princesses together. If you lived through the late eighties, you'll instantly be attracted to the idea of seeing Tiffany and Debbie Gibson go at it in a full fledged catfight. The film's comic rivalry is ludicrous and delightful! It's inspired casting, to be sure, because both ladies have previously graced the small screen in films featuring mutated monster mayhem. Debbie Gibson got the ball rolling with "Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus" while Tiffany took on "Mega Piranha." For the record, the star rating system used to evaluate these films will, obviously, be adjusted for a bad movie criteria. What makes a bad movie great? In my opinion (and my opinion only) it's the fun quotient and the commitment of the actors.
Here's my breakdown of the three films:
5 Stars: Mega Python vs Gatoroid
4 Stars: Mega Piranha
2 Stars: Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus
In Shark vs Octopus, two giant prehistoric sea creatures are unleashed from their arctic tomb after some whales go wonky and crash into the ice. Mortal enemies, these two beasts also seem to be aggressively anti-man for within minutes they are chomping on (or squishing) boats, planes, offshore drilling platforms--basically anything they can sink their teeth in or wrap their tentacles around. Debbie Gibson is a researcher who may have the key to ending their reign of terror. With an old professor and a Japanese love interest, they whip up an intoxicating batch of pheromones to lure each of the creatures to a trap. Silly humans! Gibson tries to corral the shark in the populated San Francisco Bay area (why not?) but that leads to disaster. Maybe the only solution is for the two animals to battle each other! Despite some amusing graphics, I didn't have a lot of fun in this picture. Gibson and crew (including the most un-militaristic military man I've ever seen, Lorenzo Lamas) are a little too relaxed. Gibson's theatrics never rise above mild flirtation, so I didn't feel like enough was at stake in this bit of silliness.
I had no such qualms, however, about Tiffany's performance in Piranha! That's what makes this film such delightful nonsense--the actors act like the fate of the world rests in their hands. They sell it. In Venezuela, a batch of experimental piranha have been released into the river system. When a US diplomat is devoured, Greg Brady (I mean Barry Williams) sends a meathead (I mean analyst Paul Logan) to uncover the assassin (strangely enough, no one suspects fish initially). With Tiffany on hand as a local scientist, she and Logan must battle a corrupt militia and toothy fish that double in size every few hours. It's fast, frantic, and exceedingly silly especially as fish start flying into buildings--but the actors, once again, rise to the challenge at every opportunity. No, they're not good per se, but they are committed! It comes down to a rather dubious solution (where are pheromones when you need them?), but with no other creatures to battle--the piranha must destroy themselves.
Python vs Gatoroid really is the combination of everything sacred and good about these two films. Played with unabashed comedic elements, it embraces the silly so brilliantly--it's impossible to resist. Gibson and Tiffany are rivals (Debbie digs the snakes, Tiff is down with the gators) and the film mines all the possible pleasures this pairing can provide. Add the delightful Kathryn Joosten, some drugged chicken carcasses, a surprise musical guest, more delicious pheromones, hillbilly wisdom, and the aforementioned fight (a food fight no less--just what was that in Tiffany's cleavage?) and you've got a camptastic spectacular! A great bad film that's definitely in on its own joke, it's viewing nirvana. With two pop divas and three films, SyFy has set a new standard for absurd cinema! KGHarris, 2/11.