2017 in Review: The Best of SyFy


Continuing my look back at the best of 2017, today is the day that I reveal my picks for the best SyFy movies and performances of the previous year!

But before I do that, a plea to the SyFy Network.  I make this plea every year and it never does any good.  It probably won’t do any good this year.  But still, I’m going to make it.  SyFy, give us more original films!  From a business point of view, I can understand why SyFy shifted their focus from movies to episodic television.  But I’m not a business person!  I’m a movie lover, one who has wonderful memories of when every weekend would bring another gloriously over-the-top SyFy movie.

Those were wonderful days and it’s sad that the only time that I get to relive them is either during Shark Week or during October.

Seriously, SyFy — give us more original movies!

With that in mind, here are my picks for the best of 2017 SyFy:

(All credits are based on what’s listed at the imdb.  If anyone has been incorrectly credited or left out, please leave a comment and I will correct the mistake.)

Best PictureHouse of the Witch (produced by Neil Elman, Margaret Huddleston, Bryan Sexton)

This haunted house movie was effectively creepy and featured some unexpectedly starting imagery.  Runners-up (and it was a close race): Trailer Park Shark, Sharknado 5, and The Sandman.

Best Director — Griff Furst for Trailer Park Shark

The idea of sharks attacking a trailer park sounds like a huge joke but Furst crafted it into a compelling and entertaining story that celebrated redneck ingenuity.

Best Actor — Ian Ziering in Sharknado 5

The fifth time is the charm as Ziering gives his best performance so far as the chainsaw-wielding Finn.

Best Actress — Haylie Duff in The Sandman

Duff brings some much-needed gravity to the role of a formerly irresponsible aunt trying to save her niece from a monster made of sand.

Best Supporting Actor — Jason London in Mississippi River Sharks and Dennis Haskins in Trailer Park Shark

As much as I tried, I simply could not make a choice between London’s comedic performance (as himself) and Dennis Haskins’s villainous turn.  So, we have a tie!

Best Supporting Actress — Shae Smolik in The Sandman

As the girl being haunted by the Sandman, Smolik gave a refreshingly realistic performance.

Best Screenplay — Neil Elman for House of the Witch

This is the third year in a row that Neil Elman has won in this category.

Best Cinematography — Dane Lawing for House of the Witch

House of the Witch feature some truly haunting images.  In my review, I raved about one shot in particular, of a pickup truck driving across the desolate landscape in the middle of the night.

Best Costumes — Mary-Sue Morris for Empire of the Sharks and Kendra Terpenning for Neverknock

Another tie.  Empire of the Sharks proved that, just because the world’s ending, that doesn’t mean you can’t look good,  Neverknock’s costumes made good use of the Halloween setting, especially with Lola Flannery’s devil costume.

Best Editing — Anna Florit and Ryan Michelle for Sharknado 5

In 2017, Sharknado 5 took us on a trip around the world, offered up nonstop action, and there was never a boring moment.

Best Makeup — Madeleine Botha for Empire of the Sharks

Again, just because the world’s ending, that doesn’t mean you can’t look good.

Best Score — Andrew Morgan Smith for Trailer Park Shark

The score brought the bayou, the trailer park, and the shark to life!

Best Production Design — Anthony Stabley and Dana Rice for House of the Witch

Seriously, that house was so creepy!

Best Sound — Dylan Blount, Leandro Cassan, Jonathan Iglecias , Mitchell Kohen, Chris Polczinski, Mike Varela for House of the Witch

It wasn’t just the way the house looked in House of the Witch that made it a creepy place.  It was also the way that every sound in the background could have just been someone stumbling around or it could have been the witch about to jump out and rip off someone’s fingers.

Best Visual Effects — Craig Bassuk, Sasha Burrow, Yancy Calzada, Glenn Campbell , Yolanda Charlo Rodriguez, Aine Graham, John Karner, Tammy Klein, Mark Kochinski , Kevin Lane, Christian McIntire, James Payfer, Richard A. Payne, Paul Runyan, Chris Simmons, Scott Wheeler, Aaron Witlin,
Al Magliochetti for Sharknado 5

Keep those sharks flying!

Tomorrow, my look back at 2017 continues with my list of good things that I saw on television last year (not counting, of course, all of the good things that I just mentioned in this post).

Previous entries in the TSL’s Look Back at 2017:

  1. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Single Issues by Ryan C
  2. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Series by Ryan C
  3. 2017 In Review: Top Ten Collected Edition (Contemporary) by Ryan C
  4. 2017 In Review: Top Ten Collected Editions (Vintage) by Ryan C
  5. 2017 in Review: Top Ten Graphic Novels By Ryan C
  6. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I saw in 2017 by Valerie Troutman
  7. My Top 15 Albums of 2017 by Necromoonyeti
  8. 2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Picks For the 16 Worst Films of 2017
  9. 2017 In Review: Lisa Marie’s Final Post About Twin Peaks: The Return (for now)
  10. 2017 in Review: Lisa Marie’s 14 Favorite Songs of 2017

 

Cleaning Out The DVR: The Bachelor Next Door (dir by Michael Feifer)


(Hi there!  So, as you may know because I’ve been talking about it on this site all year, I have got way too much stuff on my DVR.  Seriously, I currently have 182 things recorded!  I’ve decided that, on January 15th, I am going to erase everything on the DVR, regardless of whether I’ve watched it or not.  So, that means that I’ve now have only have a month to clean out the DVR!  Will I make it?  Keep checking this site to find out!  I recorded The Bachelor Next Door off of Lifetime Move Network on December 2nd, 2017!)

It’s time for yet another Lifetime film featuring Haylie Duff as a woman being menaced by a neighbor!

In this one, Haylie plays Alex.  Alex is a painter who lives with her boyfriend, Gavin (Stephen Bruns).  Alex hasn’t found much success as a painter but, fortunately, Gavin has one of those financial jobs where he spends all of his time talking about when the markets in London close.  So, even though Alex hasn’t sold a painting in forever, she still gets to live in a really big and pretty house.

But then one day, that house nearly burns down!  Fortunately, the new neighbor, Donnie (Michael Welch), just happens to notice that a fire has broken out in the kitchen so he runs over and he saves the day.  Or, at the very least, Donnie claims that he just happened to notice the fire.  Donnie seems to have some issues.  He’s way too nice and way too quick to want to help out around Gavin and Alex’s house.  Plus, sometimes he goes back to his own house and he throws a screaming fit.  Again, Donnie would appear to have some issues.  Still, Alex goes ahead and sets Donnie up with her sister, Sage (Brittany Underwood).

And for a while, it seems like everything’s just perfect.  Sage and Donnie make for a really cute couple.  Or at least they do until Donnie accidentally calls Sage by her sister’s name.  Uh oh!

Meanwhile, Gavin keeps asking Alex to marry him and Alex keeps saying no.  Alex says that she’s worried that, if she gets married, she’ll become complacent and boring and she’ll lose her edge as an artist.  I have to say that this part of the movie was handled very well.  Alex and Gavin seemed like a “real” couple and Haylie did a good job capturing all of Alex’s fears about commitment.  I could relate to Alex and, as a result, I was more emotionally invested in her story than I am in the typical Lifetime movie.

Anyway, Gavin refuses to give up.  He keeps asking her to marry him and when Alex finally says yes, everyone’s overjoyed.  Except for Donnie…

And why should Donnie care?  It all goes back to something that happened years ago.  Donnie is not as much of a stranger as everyone initially thinks that he is…

The Bachelor Next Door was actually pretty good.  I’ve gotten to the point where I really look forward to these Haylie-Duff-In-Danger Lifetime films.  Haylie always does a really good job in these movies and, in The Bachelor Next Door, she ably supported by Michael Welch, Steve Bruns, and Brittany Underwood.  The Bachelor Next Door has suspense, flashbacks, a great ending, and two great houses.  What more could you ask for?

 

Cleaning Out The DVR: The Sandman (dir by Peter Sullivan)


(Hi there!  So, as you may know because I’ve been talking about it on this site all year, I have got way too much stuff on my DVR.  Seriously, I currently have 189 things recorded!  I’ve decided that, on January 15th, I am going to erase everything on the DVR, regardless of whether I’ve watched it or not.  So, that means that I’ve now have only have a month to clean out the DVR!  Will I make it?  Keep checking this site to find out!  I recorded The Sandman off of the SyFy on October 14th!)

Madison (Shae Smolik) is a little girl who appears to have some issues.

For instance, her father just died under the most mysterious of circumstances.  One of the last things that he did before he died was get paranoid when a police car drove by him.  He was carrying a gun when he died, as well.  Also, he died right in front of Madison.

Madison ends up at the hospital, where she has violent nightmares and struggles so much with the doctors and the orderlies that she has to be strapped down.  Since both of her parents are dead, a call is made to her Aunt Claire (Haylie Duff).  Claire is willing to adopt Madison but Child Protective Services is a bit less enthusiastic.  Claire is unmarried and hasn’t always been the most responsible adult.  She currently works as a photographer, taking pictures of aspiring Bettie Pages in her garage.  Can Claire not only prove herself to be a good mother but also solve the mystery of what happened to Madison’s father?

You probably read that plot description and thought to yourself, “That sounds like a typical Lifetime film.”  And certainly, there is a bit of Lifetime to be found in this SyFy movie.  Peter Sullivan has produced, written, and directed several films that have appeared on both SyFy and Lifetime.  Haylie Duff is a regular Lifetime actress.  For a financially struggling photographer, Claire certainly does live in a nice, big house, which is one of the most familiar signs that you might be watching Lifetime film.

However, make no doubt about it, this is definitely not a Lifetime film.

You see, the reason why Madison is a nightmare to deal with it is because she’s linked to a monster.  The reason why Madison is an orphan is because the monster killed her father.  And now that Madison is living with Claire, the monster is coming for both of them.

And what a monster!  Seriously, the Sandman is about as frightening as a SyFy monster can get.  As you can probably guess from the name, he’s made of sand. The best way to avoid him, of course, would be to go some place where there is no sand but good luck with that.  SAND IS EVERYWHERE!  The Sandman pops up whenever Madison is in danger.

Nosy neighbor wants to know about Madison’s father?  Here comes the Sandman, pouring in through the kitchen faucet!

Hospital doctor planning on recommending that Madison be institutionalized?  Sandman!

In fact, anyone who poses a threat to Madison, whether real or perceived, can expect a visit from the Sandman.

Tobin Bell plays Valentine, a government agent who thinks that Madison could be weaponized.  He’s probably right but seriously, everyone should know better than to mess with the Sandman.  That said, it’s always fun when Tobin Bell is in one of these movies.  He’s just such a good villain.

The Sandman was a good mix of Lifetime family melodrama and SyFy horror.  As the aunt and the seriously disturbed niece, Haylie Duff and Shae Smolik were believable and sympathetic and the Sandman made for a memorable monster.  Watch this movie the next time you’re planning on spending a weekend at the beach.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #132: His Secret Family (dir by Michael Feifer)


Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime original movie, His Secret Family!

Lifetime-movie-His-Secret-Family-2-July-2015

Why Was I Watching It?

Last Friday, I not only cried and cried while watching the finale of Degrassi but I also attended a blue moon party that was held in downtown Dallas.  Needless to say, I spent most of Saturday recovering and we all know that the best way to recover from a crazy night is by watching the latest Lifetime original movie!

What Was It About?

Oh my God, poor Haylie Duff!  Earlier this year, she played a woman named Sarah who married a murderer in Til Death Do Us Part.  In His Secret Family, she again plays a woman named Sarah and, once again, she is married to a murderer!  Of course, in this case, her husband is not just a murderer.  He’s got another wife, another family, and another really big house.  It turns out that Sarah is actually the secret wife.

David O’Donnell plays the husband.  When he’s with Sarah, he claims that his name is Jason Goodman.  When he’s with his other family, he uses the name David Marcus.  So is it Jason or David?  Well, regardless of his actual name, he’s more than a little insane.  When he realizes that it’s simply too expensive to support Sarah and their son, Brandon, David decides to both vanish and to frame Sarah for murder.

However, Sarah happens to be best friends with the detective (Parker Stevenson) working her case.  Even though she’s a major suspect in a murder investigation, he allows her to leave town so she can go up to Santa Monica and track down her husband.

Oh, and did I mention that Brandon needs a bone marrow transplant?  And that only David is a match?

What Worked?

This movie was fun in a “how much more batshit insane can this movie get” sort of way.  It wasn’t just that David/Jason was a bigamist with rage problems.  No, this movie also made his a sociopath who coldly refused to do anything to save his son’s life.  Perhaps the film’s best scene was when Sarah confronted David about his secret life, just to have David calmly respond, “Do I know you?”  David O’Donnell was obviously having a lot of fun playing such an insane character and, as a result, he was a lot of fun to watch.

Add to that, since David had two families, he also had two houses.  And seriously, they were both totally to die for!  One thing that I love about Lifetime movies is that everyone owns a big house and the inside of the house is always so incredibly clean and tasteful.  For a hyperorganized germaphobe like me, a Lifetime house would be the equivalent of paradise.  And this film had two of them!

What Did Not Work?

The whole film was full of plot holes and while I usually say that it’s not necessary for a Lifetime movie to make sense, some of the holes in this case were rather deep.  For instance, I could believe that David would end up with two families.  And I could buy that David would eventually realize that it’s cheaper to only have one family.  But, with all that in mind, I never quite understood the whole point of David trying to frame Sarah for murder.  David was already easy enough to hate without tossing in a random murder.  If anything, David just seemed to making things unnecessarily complicated.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Much like Sarah, I often find myself driving to different towns and claiming to be a real estate agent just so I can take a tour of a nice house.  It’s fun!

Lessons Learned

Secrets, secrets are no fun.  Secrets, secrets hurt someone.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #123: Til Death Do Us Part (dir by Farhad Mann)


Last night, I finally got a chance to watch the latest Lifetime original film, Til Death Do Us Part.

Til Death Do Us PartWhy Was I Watching It?

I missed this one when it premiered on Lifetime last Saturday because I was busy watching Lake Placid vs. Anaconda on SyFy.  Thank God for the DVR!

What Was It About?

It’s yet another Canadian-produced Lifetime movie about a new bride who suspects that her husband might be hiding a deadly secret.  Sandra (Haylie Duff) has just married a doctor named Kevin (Ty Olsson).  At first, Kevin seems like the perfect man but, after they move to a small town, he starts to reveal a controlling and angry side.  Because Sandra has a heart condition, he demands that she constantly take pills.  At the same time, his obsessively devoted sister, Jolene (Magda Apanowicz), has literally moved into the house.

When one of Sandra’s coworkers mysteriously dies, Sandra starts to wonder if maybe her husband was somehow involved.

What Worked?

The film’s first hour worked perfectly, largely because it emphasized Sandra’s confusion and her struggle to adjust to being a part of couple.  Haylie Duff gave a pretty good performance during this part of the movie and was just unstable enough to allow the viewer to think that maybe — just maybe — everything really was just in her head.  Unfortunately, the film sacrificed all hints of ambiguity during the far less satisfying second hour but, for those initial 60 minutes, it was a good and effective thriller.

Ty Olsson and Magda Apanowicz were both well cast as the mysterious husband and his creepy sister.  Magda Apanowicz particularly deserves a lot of credit for totally committing herself to her role.

What Did Not Work?

This is one of those films that was great as long as you didn’t know what was going on.  As long as the viewer was as confused as Sandra, the film worked.  But then, as Kevin’s true nature became more and more obvious, the film itself became less and less interesting.  I almost wish that no effort had been made to provide any motivation for either Kevin or his sister.  If the two of them had remained enigmas, this film could have been an existential masterpiece as opposed to just being another take on Gaslight.

It was hard not to feel that Sandra could have avoided a lot of her troubles by simply doing a google search on Kevin before agreeing to marry him.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

If and when I do get married, I hope that my wedding will be as fun and as full of dancing as the wedding that opened this film.  Seriously, I loved the first 15 minutes of this film because it was all about the wedding!

Lessons Learned

Before getting married, be sure to do a google search.