JULY 23, 2011
Just when I had just about given up on Asylum’s giant monster movies, along comes Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid (to be forever mistaken as Monty Python vs. Gatorade), a delightfully and KNOWINGLY trashy slice of cheesy fun that actually entertains instead of bores – unlike Mega Shark, not all of its best moments are in the trailer, and unlike, well, just about every other giant monster movie from The Asylum, they actually hired a real director (Mary Lambert) and a cast of at least five recognizable faces.
Even Alan Smithee’s filmography isn’t as random as Mary Lambert’s. It’s one thing to jump around genres like Ang Lee or Danny Boyle, but Lambert can’t even be bothered to consistently make FILMS. She followed Pet Sematary (a huge hit) by going back to TV, and followed the Pet sequel with the cinematics for a video game called Double Switch. Then back to music videos, more TV, an EPK for Prince of Egypt (?), shot on video nonsense... what the hell, lady? I mean, anyone with a title like My Stepson, My Lover on their resume is automatically forgiven for most of their transgressions (not The Attic), but it seems like she walked away what could have been one of the more promising genre careers.
But hey, if that means that someone who actually knows how to stage an action sequence is now handling Asylum movies, so be it. At one point Tiffany is driving away from one of the giant gators, and Lambert actually has the thing in the back windshield, partially obscured by the blownout light reflecting on the glass – it’s a nice detail that the usual hack wouldn’t have bothered with. As with all Asylum films, vehicles have a funny way of changing make/model in between shots, but otherwise things never get confusing, even during the climax which takes place across three different battlefields (which alone is more impressive than anything in Mega Shark).
And I don’t know if it was her or the writers, but someone knew that it was time to stop trying to make a real movie with one of these things and just have fun. The problem with movies like Monster is that the actors were trying too hard with a script that was written as if anyone watching would actually care. Not the case here; as soon as you see Tiffany and Debbie Gibson facing off and calling each other bitch in the first 20 minutes, it’s clear that this is going to be a lovably campy trashfest. Plus, it allows for something most of these other movies lacked: the promise of excitement even when the monsters weren’t on-screen. These two (who apparently had some sort of half-assed feud back in the 80s) let their blood boil on a few occasions throughout the movie, so you know it’s a matter of time until they actually catfight. When it finally occurs, about an hour into the movie, it’s well worth the wait, as the two pull hair and toss each other (‘s stunt doubles) around a fancy party, moments before some snakes and gators show up and eat the hell out of everyone (including Mickey Dolenz, for some reason). And then Gibson says “I think we’re alone now” to Tiffany after everyone else has run off or gotten eaten, which of course made me laugh and clap like a moron since that’s pretty much the only song I know from either of them. On that note, why hasn’t Belinda Carlisle been roped into one of these? I know she’s a bit older than these two, but her solo career was popular around the same time (with the same sort of pop music), so I always sort of lumped them together. In fact, I actually preferred her to her younger counterparts; I think the video for “Heaven is a Place on Earth” helped kick off puberty.
(The parts with her dancing, not the parts with the assholes in sunglasses playing with Earth-shaped beach balls.)
Also starring is Tiffany’s cleavage, which should have gotten its own billing. I don’t know if you have seen the documentary I Think We’re Alone Now, which details two very deranged and obsessed Tiffany fans (one of whom actually had a restraining order taken against him back in the day; now she just sort of politely deals with him), but I would pay good money to watch the two subjects watching this movie. Gibson is less, er, eye-popping, but she’s still got her looks, and more importantly, both have screen presence. Maybe not particularly good actors, but it’s easy to see why they were big concert draws. Add in the always delightful Kathryn Joosten (a far better “salty old lady” actress than her overexposed peers, i.e. Betty White) and LA Law vet A Martinez, and you have the most accomplished and enjoyable cast ever assembled for an Asylum flick.
Plus: a shitload of monsters! Despite the singular title, there are a bunch of Pythons and Gatoroids on board, so we get to see just as many of them get killed as we do humans. Of course, this just means the effects suck as much as always, though a few shots look pretty decent considering that the sheer number of them means that they had to stretch their CGI budget pretty thin. They also don’t recycle too many shots, which is another plus. The “Vs.” of the title is a bit of a lie; they seem to team up more than fight each other, but we never have to wait too long for one of them to show up and eat a guy. There’s also a montage scene of the monsters mutating set to a techno version of that traditional “belly dancing” song that’s possibly the best thing I’ve seen all week. Also, they rampage around “downtown Miami” (read: non-descript locations in Los Angeles), which is fun as you don’t often get to see a giant cartoon alligator stomping around the 10 freeway in broad daylight.
And thus, this one has unseated Mega Piranha as my personal favorite of the Asylum’s giant monster movies (I grade their mockbusters on a different curve), thanks to the better cast and genuine (if subdued) professional presentation. Not sure if folks PREFER when they are taken seriously so they can add the jokes themselves (you can almost hear Mike Nelson quipping “I think we’re alone now” at the same time it’s said in the movie), but I’d much rather have it this way. Also, I guess they should all have Tiffany.
What say you?