Let’s Talk About Megalodon (dir by James Thomas)

Right now, the SyFy channel is counting down the days to the premiere of The Last Sharknado by not only rebroadcasting some classic shark films from the past but by also premiering a new movie each night.  Monday’s premiere was Megalodon and what can I say other than it was one of the most brilliant SyFy films of all time?

Produced by the Asylum (the same company behind the Sharknado franchise), Megalodon takes place out in the middle of the ocean.  An American military vessel is searching for the remains of a mysterious submarine.  In command of the mission is the tough and no-nonsense Captain Streeper (Dominic Pace).  Second-in-command to Streeper is Commander Lynch (Caroline Harris), who is literally fearless.  Observing is Streeper’s mentor, Admiral King and the fact that the Admiral is played by Michael Madsen is just one of the things that makes Megalodon one of the best Asylum films ever!

Anyway, the Americans eventually find the submarine, just to discover that it’s full of Russians!  Ivanov (Dimitry Rozental) and Popov (Aimee Stolte) may claim that they were just doing scientific research on sharks and whales but both Streeper and Lynch know better.  And when the Russians claim that there submarine was attacked by a giant shark, everyone laughs at them.

Until, of course, the giant shark shows up….

Now, you probably think that you know what’s going to happen.  If you think the shark is going to end up attacking the American vessel, you’re right.  If you think that a bunch of random fisherman are going to show up and get promptly swallowed by the shark, you’re right again.  And if you think those dastardly Russians have something up their nefarious sleeves, well again, you’re right…

But then there’s all the things that you don’t expect.  For instance, a good deal of the movie actually takes place inside of the shark as the crew of a diving bell try to figure out how to get back outside of it.  And then there’s the scenes of Streeper and the Russians debating global politics.  And, as I previously stated, there’s Michael Madsen as Admiral King.  Madsen only has a few minutes of screen time but he makes the most of them.  He delivers his lines with a self-mocking gravity, letting us know that he’s as in on the joke as we are.  He even gets a scene where he gets to talk to the shark while smoking a cigar and you better believe that he totally knocks it out of the park.  A lot of people on twitter pointed out that no admiral would have hair as long and unruly as Michael Madsen’s but they’re missing the point.  Michael Madsen’s job isn’t to convince us that he’s a career Naval officer.  In this film, Michael Madsen’s job is to be Michael Madsen and nobody does it better.

In the best tradition of the Asylum, Megalodon is a wonderfully self-aware movie.  It’s cheerfully and unapologetically over-the-top.  The entire cast seems to be having a blast and they’re all a lot of fun to watch.  Dominic Pace gets to deliver the Independence Day “We’ll Never Stop Fighting” speech towards the end of the film and he delivers it with just the right combination of sincerity and humor.  Caroline Harris brings a lot of authority to the role of the determined Lynch and both Dimitry Rozental and Aimee Stolte are wonderfully arrogant and villainous as the Russians.  And then there’s the shark, which is big and intimidating and who attacks boats and eats sailors with a panache all of its own.  Megalodon is pure entertainment and it all works wonderfully well.  Watch it with a group of your snarkiest friends and have a blast!

Megalodon gives us evil Russians, a giant shark, and Michael Madsen.  How can you not enjoy that?

The Salacious Covers of Inside Detective

by Albert Fisher

For over 60 years, Inside Detective Magazine provided the readers with the salacious details of true life crime.  Every story was advertised as being true and many were said to come straight from police files.  From the 1930s until it ceased publication in the 90s, Inside Detective was one of the most popular true detective magazines.  The publishers understood that nothing sells like sex and violence and the covers of Inside Detective promised both.  Below, we have a few of them:

by Albert Fisher

by Albert Fisher

Artist Unknown

by David Berger

by Harwood Forgsen

Artist Unknown

by Norman Saunders

Artist Unknown

by Peter Driben

by Peter Driben

Unknown Artist

Music Video of the Day: After the Rain by Nelson (1990, directed by ????)

Matthew and Gunnar Nelson are the twin sons of the late, 1950s teen idol, Ricky Nelson.  In 1989, they signed a recording contract with Geffen Records.  As Nelson, they released their first album, After the Rain, in 1990.  Coming at the tail end of the hair metal era, Nelson specialized in the type of hard rock that was so radio friendly and inoffensive that even your mother could safely listen to them.  Nelson achieved brief fame before Nirvana came along and permanently changed the musical landscape.

The first single released off of Nelson’s debut album was the title track, After the Rain.  It was also their first music video.

I can’t remember where it was but I once saw the video for After The Rain at the top of a list of the worst music videos of all time.  Actually, I’ve seen it at the top of several similar lists.  After The Rain‘s bad reputation is almost entirely due to the first two minutes of the video.

A slob in a trailer park yells at his son.  The sobbing teen lies down underneath a big Nelson poster than no one over the age of 12 would actually have hanging next to their bed.  Suddenly, the poster comes to life and, in true Dr. Strange fashion, Matthew and Gunnar Nelson take the trailer park teen’s astral form on a journey to some sort of sweat lodge, when a Native American shaman holds up a feather.  The magic feather transports the troubled teen to a Nelson concert and everything is instantly better.

What does it all mean, beyond suggesting that Nelson was the preferred band of both the trailer park and the sweat lodge?  I don’t know.  And was anyone’s life ever actually improved by going to a Nelson concert?  Again, I just don’t know.

Like many bands of the era, Nelson’s popularity was washed away by a tidal wave of Seattle grunge.  Nelson may now be forgotten but we’ll always have the feather.