Let’s Talk About Monster Island (dir by Mark Atkins)


Oh hell yeah, the Asylum strikes again!  And this time, it’s all about Kaiju, helicopters, and Eric Roberts!

Listen, folks, if you don’t get automatically excited when you see the words “Kaiju,” “helicopters,” and “Eric Roberts” all in the same sentence, I don’t know what to tell.  Obviously, you’re not the audience that this film was made for.  This is a film for people who enjoy monster mayhem, things exploding, and helicopters.  Seriously, it’s not an Asylum film without a helicopter.

Admittedly, Eric Roberts’s role is actually pretty small.  He plays Admiral Butler and he’s got an entire fleet of warships at his disposal.  You’d think that would be just what you would want when dealing with a bunch of recently awakened ancient monsters but it turns out that  the Admiral is pretty stubborn.  He’s better at shouting into telephones than understanding the logic behind Kaiju.  And if you’re saying to yourself, “Would we really want Eric Roberts to be in charge of the U.S. Navy?,” you are again missing the point.  Asylum films, like this one, create their own parallel universe.  It’s a universe where monsters live, sea creatures can take down helicopters, and, of course, Eric Roberts is going to be in charge of a battleship.

The main character is Billy Ford (Adrian Bouchet, giving a cheerfully flamboyant performance), a billionaire who operates out of a beach house and whose underwater sea mining operation may be responsible for awakening the fearsome Tengu.  (Tengu looks kind of like a giant starfish and has molten magma for blood.)  Billy has two people working in the basement of his beach house.  Cherise (Donna Cormack Thompson) has been working with him forever.  Riley (Chris Fisher, giving a nicely neurotic performance) is such a recent hire that Billy still calls him “James.”  When it becomes apparent that something has awakened at the bottom of the ocean, Billy, Cherise, and Riley head underwater to investigate.

Coming along with them is Sarah Murray (Natalie Robbie), who works for the government and who is an expert in geomythology.  Geomythology is the study of alleged references to actual geological events in mythology.  Geomythology is a real thing and, after having watched this movie, I kind of wish that I had at least minored in it.  At one point, Sarah has to go to her former Geomythology professor (Margot Wood) for advice on how to stop Tengu from destroying the world and it turns out the professor lives in this huge cabin.  There’s money to made in keeping track of the world’s Kaiju.

Anyway, needless to say, once Tengu is awakened, it’s pretty much determined to end the world.  This movie, as you can probably guess from the title, pays homage to the Japanese monster movies of old.  When flying, fire-breathing monsters start hatching from eggs and attacking the world, their battle shrieks will be familiar to anyone who has ever seen a movie featuring Godzilla, Mothra, or Rodan.  When the film reaches the point of two giant monsters fighting each other while a bunch of human beings watch on, it’s impossible not to be reminded of Godzilla fighting King Kong.  It’s all in good fun, a monster movie made by people who loves monster movies for people who love monster movies.

Monster Island is a film to watch and to enjoy for the mayhem and the destruction.  Watch it to enjoy Eric Roberts bragging about the Navy’s new “sonar weapon.”  Watch it for the scene where one person makes the mistake of taunting one of the monsters.  (Piece of advice: Don’t ever yell “Come on!” at a create that can breathe fire.)  Watch it for giant starfish rising out of the ocean and the crashing helicopters.  Get a group of your friends together and enjoy the movie because the Asylum is back and so are the monsters and the helicopters!

Monster Island aired on the SyFy Network last night and it’ll probably air again.  Keep an eye out!

Let’s Talk About The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (dir by Anthony C. Ferrante)


Yesterday was Sharknado Day.

What is Sharknado Day?  If you have to ask, you’ll never understand.  Sharknado Day is the day that the latest chapter in The Asylum’s Sharknado franchise premieres on SyFy.  That’s the day when people like me cause twitter to go over capacity tweeting about the film.  That’s the day good people all across America try to count the number of celebrity cameos while also trying to keep track of all of the homages and references to past movies that are always waiting to be found in every Sharknado Film.  Yesterday was the sixth Sharknado Day since 2013 and, if we’re to believe our friends at The Asylum, it was also the last Sharknado Day.

Is it true?  Was The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time truly the final Sharknado?  Perhaps.  But somehow, I have a feeling that the flying sharks will return someday.  Critics have always underestimated the production savvy of The Asylum and I wouldn’t be shocked if, after a year or two of nostalgia, we saw Sharknado 7: A New Beginning.

But if The Last Sharknado was truly the final Sharknado, then it can be said that the franchise truly went out on a high note.

The plot — well, usually, the conventional wisdom is that the plot of a Sharknado movie really doesn’t matter.  Usually, it’s assumed that all a Sharknado film needs is a lot of shark mayhem and snarky humor.  And that’s true, to an extent.  And yet, I still found myself getting caught up in The Last Sharknado‘s storyline.  It all deals with Fin (Ian Ziering), April (Tara Reid), the head of a robot version of April (again, Tara Reid), Nova (Cassandra Scerbo), and Skye (Vivica A. Fox) traveling through time, hopping from period to period.  Fin and April’s goal is to stop the first Sharknado and to save the life of their son, Gil.  Nova wants to save the life of her grandfather, even though that might change history to the extent that she would never become a great shark hunter.  As for the robot head … well, she develops an agenda of her own, one that really has to be seen to be believed.

The film has a lot of time travel and, of course, the journey from period to period allows for several celebrity cameos.  When Fin ends up in Arthurian Britain, Neil deGrasse Tyson pops up as Merlin.  During the Revolutionary War, a somewhat sarcastic General Washington is played by Darrell Hammond.  Dee Snider plays a sheriff in the old west.  Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott show on the beach in the 60s.  Touchingly, the film even finds a way to include the late John Heard in the action.  (Heard played a key supporting role in the first Sharknado.)  I’m a history nerd, so I enjoyed all of the time travel.  I especially enjoyed the film’s portrayal of Benjamin Franklin as a rather bitchy eccentric, largely because it’s often forgotten that Franklin was, in real life, a bit of a bitchy eccentric.

(Add to that, how can you resist a film the features both dinosaurs and flying sharks?)

The film takes a surprisingly dark turn during the second hour, as Fin and Skye spend some time in a dystopian future and Nova tries to change history by saving her grandfather’s life.  When Fin points out that doing so will change history and that, for Nova to become a great shark hunter, her grandfather has to die, Nova calls him out for being self-centered.  To their credit, both Cassie Scerbo and Ian Ziering play the argument totally straight and both give heartfelt performances.  Amid all of the comedy and the shark-related mayhem, the film develops a real heart.

That heart is at the center of The Last Sharknado.  To a large extent, the sharks are superfluous.  They’re carnivorous MacGuffins.  Instead, the film is about celebrating not only the bonds between Fin, April, Nova, and all of their friends but also the bond that’s been developed between the characters and those of us who have watched them over the course of six films.  Towards the end of the film, when Fin talks about what his friends and family mean to him, it’s clear that he’s also speaking for the filmmakers.  Just as Fin thanks his friends for sticking with him, the filmmakers take the time to thank the audience for sticking with them.  It was a heartfelt scene and it was the perfect way to end The Last Sharknado.

To those who do not celebrate Sharknado Day, it may seem strange to say that I got emotional while watching the final scene of The Last Sharknado on Sunday night.  Then again, is it any stranger than the idea of a franchise about a bunch of sharks flying through the air, spinning around in a funnel, becoming a major pop cultural milestone?

It’s a strange world and we’re all the better for it.

Let’s Talk About 6-Headed Shark Attack (dir by Mark Atkins)


Right now, we’re in the middle of SyFy’s Sharknado week. On Sunday night, SyFy will premiering what they say is going to be The Last Sharknado. In the days leading up to that moment, they’ve been reshowing all of their classic shark films and premiering a new shark film each night!

Saturday night’s premiere was 6-Headed Shark Attack!

“Oh, Hell yeah!” I shouted when I first saw the title of this movie.  So much attention has been paid to The Asylum’s Sharknado franchise that people tend to overlook that the Asylum has another equally entertaining franchise, the multi-headed shark franchise.

Starting with 2-Headed Shark Attack in 2012, the Asylum has steadily been increasing the number of heads on its sharks.  Indeed, one of the pleasures of these multi-headed shark films has been trying to guess just how exactly all of those shark heads would fit on just one shark body.  With last year’s 5-Headed Shark Attack, we ended up with a shark who had four heads at the front and, rather awkwardly, one head on its tail.  The shark in 6-Headed Shark Attack is shaped by like a starfish and is perhaps the most impressive multi-headed shark yet.

What was it that made the 6-headed shark so impressive?  Well, have you ever seen a shark crawl out of the ocean and chase someone across a beach?  Watch 6-Headed Shark Attack and you will!  By using two of its heads as legs, the shark could move pretty quickly across sand.  As a result, the timeless advice of “Don’t go in the water” isn’t going to help you out when it comes to the 6-headed shark!

Another great thing about the 6-headed shark is that it had super healing powers!  For instance, if it lost one head, another head would eventually pop up in its place.  In perhaps one of the greatest scenes ever to be found in an Asylum shark film, the 6-headed shark actually ripped off one of its own heads and threw it at someone!  Not even Jaws could do that!

Whereas previous multi-headed shark films pretty much ignored the question of just how a shark ended up with multiple heads, 6-Headed Shark Attack actually does provide a bit of an origin for its title character.  It was created as the result of a military research lab that was located on a remote island.  The lab has long since been abandoned but the 6-headed shark is still out there.  Unfortunately, the island is currently being used for couples therapy, which is being led by Will (Brandon Auret).  Even once the 6-headed shark shows up, Will remains determined to bring everyone together and help them achieve their full potential.  There’s something oddly touching about Will’s effort to do his job, even when there’s a shark throwing one of its heads at his clients.

I liked 6-Headed Shark Attack.  This is one of those films that works because it delivers exactly what it promised.  The title declares that we’re going to get a 6-Headed Shark Attack and that’s what we get!  If you can’t enjoy the sight of a shark with 6 heads chasing people across the beach, I worry about you.

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?

Cleaning Out The DVR: Empire of the Sharks (dir by Mark Atkins)


(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 178 things recorded!  I’ve decided that, on February 1st, 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 Empire of the Sharks, off of SyFy on August 5th, 2017!)

Welcome to the future!  It’s very wet.

That’s to be expected, of course.  In fact, now that 98% of the world is underwater, we should probably be surprised that the future isn’t more wet than it actually is.  What survives of humanity now lives on floating, makeshift communities.  Some of them are doing better than others, of course.

A warlord floats out there.  His name is Ian Fien (John Savage).  With the help of his main henchman, Mason Scrimm (Jonathan Pienaar), Fien has several communities under his grip.  Everyone is required to pay Fien his tribute.  Failing to do so means getting attacked by the sharks that Scrimm has under his control.

(Once 98% of your planet is underwater, you learn not to laugh at the possibility of being eaten by a shark.)

However, Fien has finally gone too far.  He’s kidnapped Willow (Ashley de Lange), the daughter of a shark caller who may have inherited her family’s ability to control the sharks.  Her boyfriend, Timor (Jack Armstrong), sets out to rescue Willow but it quickly turns out that he’s not going to be able to do it alone.  Fien is simply too powerful and his fortress too well-defended by both men and sharks.  Timor is going to have to travel to a floating bar and recruit a team of misfits to help him both rescue Willow and free his people from Fien’s tyranny.

If the plot of Empire of the Sharks sounds familiar, that’s because it’s a prequel to 2016’s Planet of the Sharks.  It’s also an Asylum film.  Of course, The Asylum is best-known for the Sharknado franchise but I think that, if they don’t also develop a Planet of the Sharks franchise, they’ll be missing out on a huge opportunity.  One of the things that I liked about both Planet and Empire was the amount of effort that was put into creating the future.  Each floating community is its own little world and full of details that will reward sharp-eyed viewers.

(I know that some people online complained that everyone looked too good, considering that they were living in a post-apocalypse wasteland.  That may be true but here’s something to consider.  Do you really want to spend 90 minutes watching ugly people?)

Anyway, I enjoyed Empire of the Sharks.  The movie is pure fun.  (Just the fact that the main villains are named Fein and Scrimm should tell you a lot about the film’s sense of humor.)  It’s a cheerfully crazy movie, featuring CGI sharks and a nicely demented performance from John Savage.  Hopefully, during this year’s shark week, we’ll get a third installment in the Planet of the Sharks franchise.

 

Cleaning Out The DVR: Psycho Brother-in-Law (dir by Jose Montesinos)


(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 186 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 Psycho Brother-in-Law off of the Lifetime Movie Network on December 28th, 2017!)

From our friends at the Asylum comes a film about love, marriage, family, and murder!

You may think that Eric (Mike Duff) has the perfect life.  He’s got a good job and a nice house.  He has a loving wife named Kay (Brittany Falardeau) and an intelligent teenage daughter named Laura (Megan Ashley Brown).  Good for Eric, right?

However, scratch the surface and you start to discover that things aren’t quite as perfect as they may appear.

Eric’s good job is keeping him away from his home and his family.  That nice house isn’t cheap and it’s big enough to store a lot of hurt feelings.

He sees his wife Kay (Brittany Falardeau) so sporadically that she has been reduced to scheduling sex with him.  “After date night?”

Laura, meanwhile, is dating Ron (Billy Meade) and we all know that Ron is bad news because he plays the guitar and he’s always hanging out in the high school’s hallway, instead of actually going to class.  Eric says that he thinks Ron is a punk.  Kay thinks Eric is overprotective.

And then, there’s David.

David (Zack Gold) is Eric’s brother.  One night, he mysteriously shows up at the front door, needing some place to stay.  At first, David seems like a good guy to have around the house.  He’s seems to be a nice guy.  He’s good at fixing stuff.  When Eric misses date night, David takes Kay to a movie.  When Laura rolls her eyes a little too much at her mom, David reminds Laura about how hard Kay has been working.

But there are little hints that David has some issues.  For one thing, he has trouble holding down a job and he’s remarkably tight-lipped about what he’s been doing for the past few years.  For another thing, Eric doesn’t seem to be too happy to see him, even though David is always willing to beat up anyone who gives his brother a hard time.  It seems that David is a bit overprotective himself.  He’s the type of guy who you never know whether he’s going to use a wrench to fix the sink or to bash your head in.

Of course, the main clue that we have that something is wrong with David is the title of the movie.  Since David and Eric are the only brothers in the film and Eric is the only one of them who is married, it doesn’t take much thought to figure out who is going to be the psycho…

BUT NO MATTER!  I love Asylum films like this.  The Asylum is so shameless and unapologetic about embracing the melodrama that you can’t help but love them.  I fell in love with this film as soon as David’s eyes bugged out when some fat slob accidentally bumped into Eric at the bar.  I was like, “Yes, this movie is totally going to live up to its title!”

And it did!  This was a fun movie, with Zack Gold totally turning it up to 11 in the role of the psycho brother-in-law.  According to the imdb, it only cost $200,000 to produce Psycho Brother-in-Law.  It was money well spent.

Let’s Talk About Sharknado 5 (dir by Anthony C. Ferrante)


I just watched the latest installment in the Sharknado franchise on SyFy and what can I say?  I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t seen the film yet so I’ll just say this:

Sharknado 5 is the best Sharknado yet!

Seriously, it’s amazing when you think about it.  The annual premiere of the latest Sharknado film has literally become a national holiday.  If you were to judge solely by what was happening on twitter tonight, you would be totally justified in thinking that literally everyone in the world was watching Sharknado 5.  Who would have thought that a franchise about sharks in a tornado would become a pop cultural milestone?  At this time, when the country seems so divided, Sharknado 5 brought us all together.  That, in itself, is no small accomplishment.

But beyond that, these film are consistently and surprisingly entertaining.  Considering that it was the fifth film in this particular franchise, Sharknado 5 felt remarkably fresh and creative.  Have no doubt,  Sharknado 5 had everything that you would expect from a Sharknado film.  You had Ian Ziering grimacing as he manfully beat up sharks.  You had Tara Reid acting like a super hero.  To the delight of many on twitter, Cassie Scerbo returned as Nova, who is now the leader of the Sharknado Sisterhood.

(My friend Ian Rice tweeted me, during the movie: “What is that (the Sharknado Sisterhood)?”

“The Sharknado sisterhood follows and monitors sharknados across the world,” I tweeted back.

After a minute or two, Ian replied: “I’m sorry I asked, LMB.”)

Of course, the script was full of one liners and deliberately bad puns, all of which were delivered with a straight face by the dedicated members of the cast.  There were plenty of homages and references to other films, including Raiders of the Lost Ark and Back to the Future.  The special effects were cheap in the most likable way imaginable.  And yes, there were celebrity cameos but — as opposed to what happened with Sharknado 4, Sharknado 5 did not allow those camoes to distract from the story being told.  Yes, Abby Lee Miller got eaten by a shark.  Yes, Geraldo Rivera got sucked out of a blimp.  But Sharknado 5 never lost its focus.

And what was that focus?  Well, basically, Finn accidentally created another sharknado.  No big deal, right?  I mean, Finn specializes in destroying those right?  Unfortunately, this time, Finn and April’s son, Gil, got sucked into the sharknado.  So, for most of the film, Finn and April were chasing the Sharknado across the world while Gil spun around inside of it.

Of course, while Finn chased the latest sharknado, the world was being destroyed by flying sharks.  A lot of famous landmarks ended up getting destroyed.  Actually, at the rate that these movies go, I’m shocked that there are any monuments or memorials left.  It was not an easy life for Finn but, fortunately, the Pope showed up and gave him a blessed chainsaw and…

Okay, never mind!  Are you expecting a movie about a tornado full of sharks to make any sense!?  What’s important is that the film is a lot of fun and Ian Ziering and Tara Reid, to their credit, are still going out of their way to make their characters vaguely credible.

What sets Sharknado 5 apart from the other Sharknado films is that, about an hour into the film (80 minutes if you’re watching with commercials), Sharknado 5 takes a very, very dark turn.  People who you don’t expect to die, die.  Places that you don’t expect to see destroyed end up getting destroyed.  It all ends with an homage to one final film and a cliffhanger.  You don’t want to miss it!

And I’m certainly not going to want to miss Sharknado 6.