The SyFy film Lavalantula opens in Los Angeles and we immediately know what that means. If it’s a day of the week ending with a y, it means that Los Angeles is about to attacked by some sort of giant monster. In this case, it’s due to a series of volcanic eruptions that lead to a swarm of gigantic, fire-breathing tarantulas being released into California.
Now, if Schwarzenegger was still governor of California, these spiders probably wouldn’t have been much of a problem. But have you seen the current governor of California? Seriously, I take one look at Jerry Brown and my first thought is that he’s not someone I would call if I needed someone to come over and kill a giant spider for me. I just wouldn’t. Sorry, Jerry.
(Incidentally, y’all love to make fun of people in Texas for loving guns but when was the last time we had a giant spider invasion get out of hand like the one in Lavalantula?)
When the spiders do show up and promptly start burning Los Angelenos alive, the police, the military, and the fire department all prove to be pretty much useless. Fortunately, L.A. is also the home of the film industry and, as has always happened whenever America has faced a monster-related crisis, the unsung heroes of the movie industry are willing to step up and save the day. Actor Colton West (Steve Guttenberg) may not know much about spiders. And, as we’re told at the start of the film, it’s been a while since he had a hit movie. But none of that matters. All that matters is that, back in the day, Colton starred in enough action movies that he now has a unique set of skills that can be used to defeat giant, fire-breathing tarantulas.
Of course, while saving California, Colton also has to save his wife, Olivia (Nia Peeples) but fortunately, Olivia is totally capable of kicking ass on her own. In fact, the entire film industry is shown to be capable of kicking ass, as Colton recruits the crew from his latest movie to help him save Los Angeles.
(Ian Ziering also pops up for a funny cameo. He can’t help Colton save Los Angeles becase he’s too busy trying to save the rest of the country from flying sharks. It’s a cute scene that works a lot better than you might think.)
Now, I have to admit that when I went to the DVR to track down and rewatch Lavalantula, I was shocked to discover that I didn’t record Lavalantula when it originally aired on July 25th! Usually, I both watch and record but, in the case of Lavalantula, I just watched. This review has been written from memory but that’s okay because Lavalantula‘s an extremely memorable film. Much like director Mike Mendez’s previous giant monster film — the beloved Big Ass Spider — Lavalantula is an enjoyably over-the-top B-movie that succeeds because, while it never takes itself too seriously, it does take itself just seriously enough to remain interesting. It expertly walks the fine line between tribute and parody. Regardless of how silly the film may get, the entire cast brings a lot of commitment to their roles and the end result is a genuinely fun movie.
One final sidenote: Apparently, this film was full of inside jokes about the Police Academy franchise. Having never seen any of the Police Academy films, I have to admit that the majority of the references probably went right over my head. I did, however, recognize Michael Winslow, the guy who does all the sound effects. He was one of the heroic crew people and he did a damn good job protecting California.
In fact, they all did.
Thank you, Hollywood.