Like all battleships that venture into the Bermuda triangle looking for the President of the United States, the heroes of Bermuda Tentacles have a worm scientist on board. This is useful when the convoy of ships are beset by giant worms reaching out of the water to menace them.

I’m making it sound an awful lot better than it is.

Admiral Linda Hamilton asks Dr. Worm Science Guy Played by Jamie Kennedy: “Do they seem hostile?”

He replies: “I don’t know…they’re worms. (dramatic pause) They do seem angry.”

Huh.

In addition to the questions I was forming about that scientific assessment of the situation, I wondered why a movie called Bermuda Tentacles would be about worms.

Later, I sort of got my answer, but by that point I was of the opinion: “Worms. Tentacles. Who the hell cares?”

Linda Hamilton makes a commanding Admiral, but each of her scenes ended with her looking like she was going to angrily turn her agent into a chew toy as soon as the camera stopped rolling. And well she should, this movie was more crap than craptacular.

Bermuda Tentacles

Last month’s SyFy Craptacular of the week, Sharknado, is being released for a (probably) one-day only theatrical engagement.

This means loads of fluffy press, such the Washington Post’s, “Sharknado’s next prey: Big-screen audience,” in which writer John Anderson and art-house owner Greg Laemmle seem to miss the point of craptaculars entirely (or can’t be bothered to take 3 minutes to read about The Asylum’s production process).

No one sets out to make a bad movie, Laemmle said. “But maybe in the case of ‘Sharknado’ they did.”

Vitale of Syfy disagrees. “These movies are made to be entertaining,” he said. “They are made on purpose to be fun; they’re not created to be a ‘Troll 2’ or an Ed Wood movie. ”

We’ll let that slide in order to get to an in-depth discussion of the critical questions raised by Sharknado in this post I wrote when Sharknado first aired and then forgot to post:

1) Sharknado: could it really happen?
2) Who the hell is Tara Reid and what is she famous for?
3) Did that dude just make a menstruation joke while I was slightly distracted by Tara Reid’s IMDB page?
4) Is Aubrey Peeples related to Nia Peeples?
5) Tara Reid? She’s no Ian Ziering.
6) Did you see Swamp Shark?
7) Did you know John Heard was in the Pelican Brief?
8) The Peach Pit? What the fuck? Why would anyone think that would be a good name for a diner?
9) Do you think it’s true Nia Peeples used to open for Liberace in Vegas?
10) This movie is halfway over, are we still sober?

Sharknado: could it really happen?
Sure, why not?

Who the hell is Tara Reid and what is she famous for?
All kinds of crap, it turns out, but she never seems to imprint on my brain. She’s no Ian Ziering. He was in Beverley Hills 90210. (Not the shitty reboot, either. He was in the shitty original show).

Did that dude just make a menstruation joke while I was slightly distracted by Tara Reid’s IMDB page?
Yes.

Is Aubrey Peeples related to Nia Peeples?
No.

Did you see Swamp Shark?
I did. I just pulled out my notes. Here they are, in their entirety: “Blah blah blah blah. Running. Screaming. Terror. Swamp. Shark. Blah.”

Did you know John Heard was in the Pelican Brief?
I worked on location on that movie for 2 days. I never met John Heard.

The Peach Pit? What the fuck? Why would anyone think that was a good name for a diner?
Whatever. If you want me to believe that you’re being pursued by sharks in a flooded L.A., at least hose off the pavement for the exterior shots so we can pretend along with you without needing to get up to get another drink.

Followup question:
Why don’t we have a monkey butler so we don’t have to get up to refill our adult beverages?
Monkeys make terrible butlers.

Do you think it’s true Nia Peeples used to open for Liberace in Vegas?
I have no idea, but Nia Peeples and SyFy/Asylum alum Tiffany were on an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap together.

This movie is halfway over, why are we still sober?
Mischief managed. Moving on…

Not enough people have seen Jaws, judging by the tweets I’m seeing. How could you people not catch that the scene where two characters compare scars and one of them tells the story of being in a shipwreck and everyone else being eaten by sharks is an homage to the scene in Jaws where two characters compare their scars and one tells the story of being in a shipwreck and everyone else being eaten by sharks?

And that character saying, “We’re going to need a bigger chopper!” was a reference to one of the most quoted lines in movie history.

You people on the twitter, you disappoint me.

Many articles about Sharknado were like the mutants that figure in many SyFy movies – plaintive struggles for hip pop culture credibility grafted on to the genetic lattice of massive sharknado-driven web traffic. See also: the Atlantic trying to explain how the Federal Reserve is just like Sharknado.

If you’re interested, Here’s an amusing interview The Asylum’s David Michael Latt did with the Examiner about the fast, cheap but totally in-control production process they’ve honed. (Also probably the only time you’ll ever see me link to the Examiner on purpose).

I do find it amusing to read tweets and posts from viewers who are trying to maintain a facade of ironic distance, despite the fact that their twitter feeds display evidence that they previously “discovered” B movies in 2009 when they watched (in an ironic way) the Debbie Gibson opus, Mega Shark ve Giant Octopus and again (ironically, obviously) in the 2011 follow-up, in which Gibson battled Tiffany in Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid.

In conclusion, Sharknado was good for the internet traffic of a lot of websites who wrote gratuitous articles about it.

Like this one.

dinocrocvssupergatorDinocroc vs. Supergator is predicated on the idea that “alligators and crocodiles are mortal enemies.”

I called bullshit since the 2 species co-exist in South Florida, but Husband reminded me we aren’t dealing with a regular gator and croc, we’re talking about Supergator and Dinocroc.

Sure. Whatever.

The movie opens with a scene wherein David Carradine‘s character shouts, “What the hell is going on?”

This is a question we will ask our television for the next 90 minutes.

I’m having trouble keeping track of the characters who are neither Dinocroc nor Supergator because these people are boring and unidimensional. Plus, they keep getting eaten before I can even try to feign interest in them. Plus, I’m texting with JunglePete, who is attending our 25th high school reunion on Siesta Key on behalf of Heather and myself.

JunglePete and I were on the reunion planning committee. I thought we came up with some excellent themes, including Family Everglades Camping Weekend Of Terror, in addition to the multi-page list of alternate themes we proposed which our committee chair confiscated and burned in front of us.

The final decision was to not have a theme.

If I was at the reunion, they probably wouldn’t let me watch Dinocroc vs Supergator. Silly geese.

I’m starting to doubt that Supergator is actually the friend of all children.

Dinocroc isn’t very bright, even for “A Primeval” with enhanced intelligence.

Frankly, I’m not sure which monster we’re supposed to root for.

Husband thinks we’re supposed to be rooting for the humans.

That’s unfortunate.

I actually didn’t go for complicated health reasons, but you’re welcome to believe I stayed home to watch Dinocroc vs Supergator.

Or that one member of our class always has to sit out the reunion in an undisclosed location. Just in case.

(The confiscating and burning of our list didn’t actually happen, but it probably would have if we’d all met in person).

SupergatorPosterSpoilers? Sure. Maybe. I doubt it.

Supergator. Produced in the land before time (2007, when SyFy still had “i”s). Like many Sci Fi/SyFy originals, Roger Corman is producer/executive producer (depending on which credits you check). I mention this because when B-movie nerds, usually male and of a certain age, speak dismissively of SyFy craptaculars, they usually point out that Corman was the master of the genre – he did it first and he did it better. It leaves them flapping their jaws a bit like carp when one points out that the Corman/SyFy dichotomy is a false one and thus their pronouncements are silly.

But I digress.

Supergator.

Kelly McGillis is de-extinticting a supergator. In Hawai’i. Like one does.

It’s a secret.

Since the project to bring Supergator back from extinction is a secret, no one except Kelly McGillis knows that Supergator has gotten loose on this very small, inhabited Hawai’ian resort island.

A plucky geology research team is there to study the impending volcanic eruption that isn’t a big concern to anyone else, even though it’s a very small, inhabited Hawai’ian resort island.

Even though at several points in the movies it’s emphasized that the volcano is dormant.

Except when it’s not.

Whatever.

The research team is lead by a pompous volcanology professor. Accompanied by his annoying grad assistant, a blond woman who is apparently a geologist, and a reporter/ex-geology student played by Bianca Lawson (whose resume is actually miles longer than anyone else in this movie and probably should have gotten top billing), he bravely investigates the dormant and/or active volcano by hiking 5 minutes into the deep and remote jungle on the uninhabited and/or densely populated island.

They arrive at a waterfall where they spot a rock covered in blood:
bloodrocksupergator

The pompous volcanologist explains that it’s probably a birthing stone. You know, a big pointy boulder that women perch on to give birth. The implication being that the native women-folk of the swanky tropical resort have no need for hospitals or flat surfaces or logic.

I don’t know what this weird bit of dialogue was supposed to reveal about these characters, but it failed on every level except the one wherein we began to actively root for Supergator.

The waterfall is Supergator’s Supersecret feeding ground where he’s been chowing down on people since the movie began.

By “people” I mean “actors you can’t wait to get rid of.”

Soon, the running and the screaming begin.

Go, Supergator, go!

Through the whole movie, a wannabee model in a hot-pink thong bikini runs around looking for help because her photographer and another model were eaten by Supergator at the beginning of the movie at that waterfall on the very small, inhabited Hawai’ian resort island that is sometimes very close to the resort and other times very far away.

None of it matters. It’s Supergator. Stop thinking so much.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, when you were still paying attention, Supergator was made in 2007. It was followed 3 years later by Dinocroc vs. Supergator (2010). I’m sure I watched that one when it aired but I think I’ve repressed most of the details. Luckily (?) our Tivo, Overlord II, recently recorded it for me. The heatwave has been highly conducive to staying indoors and watching crappy movies while I catch up on all the other household chores I’ve been putting off, so I’m sure I’ll get to it soon.

I choose to believe that Supergator battles Dinocroc to save humanity, because Supergator is the friend of all children.

Husband tells me that Gamera is actually the friend of all children.

Whatever.

Go, Supergator, go!

Danny Bonaduce and Barry Williams battle bigfoot. Supporting actors include Howard Hesseman, Sherilyn Fenn, Alice Cooper, and the worst CGI bigfoot you’ll ever hope to see.

Over on The Twitter, everyone’s been in a swivet over this Slate article, “Save the Movie! The 2005 screenwriting book that’s taken over Hollywood—and made every movie feel the same,” which tells you the same thing every film school student has been moaning about for the last 8 years. Namely, that Hollywood has become fixated Blake Snyder’s book, Save the Cat! The Last Book On Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need, and every Hollywood movie now follows Snyder’s formula.

Bigfoot also follows a formula: The Asylum/SyFy formula for Saturday night craptaculars.

Here is the formula you will need to survive a night with this movie:

1. Make Martha’s mint-infused simple syrup (can be made ahead of time and refrigerated).

2. Put the following items in the blender:
-2 or more ounces of bourbon
-2 cups of ice
-quarter cup of mint simple syrup

3. Blend.

4. Pour into 2 highball glasses and garnish with mint sprigs.

5. Drink.

6. Repeat.

“Luckily” for you, the movie actually aired in 2012 so you can watch it at your leisure on Netflix.

Saturday night we returned to a simpler time, the time of Snakehead Terror. We enjoyed this gem when it debuted on SyFy (nee SciFi) in 2004. Would we enjoy it the second time around, nearly 10 years later?

Yes.

This classic made-for-TV craptacular featured Bruce Boxleitner’s carefree feathered mane as the sheriff and supermodel-turned-actress Carol Alt as the wildlife biologist determined to save us all from the Terror Of Snakeheads.

Bonus: it was set in our neck of the woods.

Downside: we really have snakehead terror. That’s why it’s set in our neck of the woods.

Snakehead fish“Snakehead Fish” photo of SFU biology grad student Michael Beakesis copyright (c) 2012 by Simon Fraser University Public Affairs and made available under a Creative Commons license.

Simon Fraser University, being in Canada, isn’t in our neck of the woods, but that photo is both awesome and available on flickr. Since this movie was clearly shot in Canada and not the Mid-Atlantic, and both it and this blog are low-budget enterprises, that seems appropriate. (Unlike syfy, this blog is not a profit-seeking entity and use of that photo doesn’t mean SFU condones anything in this post).

Trivia: 12 of the 15 actors credited on the Snakehead Terror IMDB page have appeared in an episode of Supernatural (even William B. Davis, the cigarette smoking man from the X-Files).

An interesting thing about this movie (no, really, this is interesting) is how much more strictly the old Saturday Night Craptaculars adhered to a (slightly) more sophisticated B movie aesthetic. The filmmakers could display a small bit of flare that suggested they do in fact possess a basic level of competence even if the budget doesn’t allow them the time or financing to truly display it. Decent editing. No extended day-for-night scenes. A few extra minutes clearly used to set the key and fill lights properly (and/or to actually use a 3 point lighting set up). Actors mostly hitting their marks. A modicum of wardrobe continuity.

B-movies have never been slick or glitzy (if they were they wouldn’t be B-movies), but Bruce Boxleitner’s hair doesn’t style itself and someone had to teach Carol Alt how to convincingly pronounce all those biologist words.

No, really, she’s convincing. As a biologist, maybe not as an action-movie actress.

Trivia: I’m fairly certain there is a jar of pickled snakehead in our refrigerator. I’m quite certain Husband should think carefully before he considers feeding it to me.

We still haven’t visited the Calvert Marine Museum’s invasive species exhibit, Eco Invaders.

I was going to post more about the movie, but I’ve gotten distracted by the fact that Bad Company is back together and touring and they’re playing at the Calvert Marine Museum, which just seems weird on all kinds of levels. Maybe it’s a really nice venue. I understand the museum is nice, but it’s a small museum far outside any metropolitan area, so the announcement immediately brought this to mind:

But hey, since Bad Company has figured prominently on Supernatural a few times, it seems only appropriate to mention it here. I’m on my first cup of coffee so it makes perfect sense to me.

BattleDogs trailer:

We’re watching BattleDogs, because it seems like a patriotic thing to watch over the 4th of July weekend.

It’s about supersoldiers. It stars that guy who was the President in the 1st season of 24. And we already watched Jaws on Thursday. The choice is obvious.

So. Battledogs.

Might be spoilers ahead, but only if you didn’t watch the trailer.

Pro-tip: Intermittently, portentously intoning the words, “Battle! Dogs!” to add drama to the movie…doesn’t.

But we’ll keep doing it. Otherwise I suspect we’re just going to be sitting here, hoping with increasing futility that this movie will improve.

“Battle. Dogs!”

Here’s a synopsis for your convenience: Craig Sheffer (who could pass as David Boreanaz’s older brother, Kate Vernon (Ellen Tigh from BSG, playing a character named Ellen, which is convenient if you’re only half paying attention), and Ariana Richards (one of the kids from Jurassic Park, 20 years later), run around a lot and the military behaves badly although they never actually create the supersoldiers in the description of the movie and there are a lot of CGI werewolves running around and then some shit gets blown up and then the movie ends and you say, “Thank the gods! now I don’t have to keep intoning the word BattleDogs” and then you go to bed.

Battle.Dogs.

It’s not a horror movie, it’s a lame attempt at a military action thriller, but with werewolves. I recommend checking out the scene where the first werewolf escapes the “secure” facility – which it does by running out the open front door and down the street and out into Manhattan. A chase ensues. Toward the end of the scene, the ridiculously conceived CGI werewolf leaps over an SUV. Be sure you have the sound up, because the werewolf howl they use over and over in the movie is especially funny when combined with this “action.” Good stuff. If by good, you mean, not good.

Or, spend your time watching the gorier but more competent 2002 werewolves vs. soldiers film, Dog Soldiers.

Want your movie to seem amazing? Before you screen your flick, make your audience sit through the Shannon Doherty SyFy cheapie, Witchslayer Gretl.

How cheap? They apparently couldn’t even afford the second “e” in Gretel.

Witchslayer Gretl:

This movie, which obviously capitalizes on the spate of Hansel and Gretel movies that have been released recently, is so terrible it doesn’t deserve the label “craptacular.” It doesn’t even deserve the label “crap.” It doesn’t even deserve mocking.

Seriously.

If you watch that whole movie, you’ll need to watch Cats Puking to Techno to purge your soul:

Then you’ll feel terrible for laughing at cats puking up hairballs, but you’ll have forgotten about Witchslayer Gretl’s bad writing, directing, acting, makeup, sound mixing, art design, set design, sound design, costumes, and special effects.

The upside to Witchslayer Gretl is that anything you watch immediately afterwards will seem significantly better than it actually is.

We should have watched BloodRayne again to see just how much of a boost a movie can get from the pairing.

But we didn’t because, well, BloodRayne.

Instead, we watched Wyvern:

Wyvern is a fairly competent movie. Stupid, but competent. It stars That Guy Who Played Scully’s Dad on the X-Files and That Woman Who is on All Those Other Shows and That Guy Who is on All Those Other Shows and That Other Guy Who is on All Those Other Shows and That Guy Who Is in a Lot of Other Shows and Movies and Looks a Little Bit Like the Love Child of Harrison Ford and the Guy Who Plays Nathan on Eureka.

We recently re-watched Silent Hill. I didn’t remember it as great, but it was much worse than I remembered. Now that I’m reminded that we watched it as a double-feature with BloodRayne, that makes sense.

paleontologychicken Last month, Husband took a day off and we spent some quality time together.

(With our Tivo, Overlord II).

A series of Florida swamp adventures slowed down my posting schedule, but here at last is what I wrote about the rest of Pop Culture Paleontology Day (low rent edition).

I’m hoping the suspense didn’t kill you after I posted about our warmup flick, lake Placid 3, and then left you hanging when we moved on to 4 truly special dinosaur creature-features: Raptor Island, Pterodactyl, Rise of the Dinosaurs, and Triassic Attack.

(They were special because they were the 4 dinosaur-themed movies we had on our Tivo).

There are spoilers here, but if you’re reading this you probably don’t care.

Before we get to the movies, I wanted to comment on the real-life big news about the Smithsonian getting long-term lone of a super-swank T. rex.

“Tyrannosaurus rex gets long-term lease at Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum.”

That the [Army] Corps had a T. rex to lend was news to many of its senior leaders. “They didn’t know we had a dinosaur,” said Sonny Trimble, who oversees curation and management of archaeological collections for the Corps. People transfer, he said. Many retired. So “the chief engineer doesn’t wake up in the morning saying, ‘How’s our dinosaur doing?’”

I’ve been telling you for years that the dinosaur-human supersoldier project is a secret, so of course they didn’t want us to know they own dinosaurs.

I don’t think that counts as a digression because it’s about dinosaurs. And the military.

raptorisland

First up, Raptor Island (2004).

This movie is a classic, in that it was made in 2004 when SyFy was still SciFi.

The movie opens with a plane crash in the distant, grainy, faux-film effects past. Who was on the plane? What was on the plane? Why are you asking stupid questions like that?

The movie jumps ahead 40 years later, to Lorenzo Lamas and his CIA agent lady-friend and his team of Navy Seals hunting a terrorist in a jungle full of vicious dinosaurs.

Lorenzo Lamas, bitches!

As an aside, the raptors in all these movies were slappers, not clappers. See also: Brian Switek: Doing the T. rex Stretch at the Smithsonian’s Dinosaur Tracking Blog.

Wait! What the hell? While I was looking up that last link, Lorenzo Lamas – Navy Seal, hair gel aficionado, and now, apparently, a dinosaur expert – informed his CIA lady friend that a plane carrying radioactive waste (or maybe weapons-grade plutonium, it’s not clear) mutated the regular animals that lived on this otherwise benign island in the South China Sea. Into dinosaurs! In only 40 years!

Of course it did!

After that brilliant exposition there was some nonsense with some explosives, a volcano erupted, some other military shit happened, and then the movie ended.

On to Pterodactyl (2005), which stars dinosaurs, a volcano, and Coolio.

pterodactyl

Paleontology Professor/heartthrob Michael Lovecraft (Cameron Daddo) and his motley band of grad students pile into a jeep and head off into a forest in Turkey because an earthquake has opened a fissure in a dormant volcano and they plan to look inside! Little do they know, because they ignored the warning at the beginning of the movie, Coolio and his Special Forces team are hunting terrorists in this same forest.

The same forest! What are the odds!?!

Pterodactyl is nothing like Raptor Island.

In Raptor Island some terrorists and some terrorist-hunting military dudes all ran around in the forest (and occasionally in some caves), and they battled dinosaurs, and there was a huge nest of baby dinosaurs, and then a volcano erupted.

In Pterodactyl, some dinosaurs fly around and some terrorists and some terrorist-hunting military dudes run around in the forest (and, occasionally in some cave-like locations), and they battle dinosaurs, and there’s a huge nest of baby pterodactyles. It’s totally different than Raptor Island because in Pterodactyl the volcano erupts before any of the other stuff.

We thought that maybe if we were lucky, some raptors might show up and eat all of the characters.

(We weren’t that lucky).

(During parts of Rise of the Dinosaurs, and definitely through the whole middle section of Triassic Attack, we hoped that some raptors might show up and eat us).

At this point in the festivities we took a break so Husband could make chicken curry for dinner because pop culture paleontology day demands consumption of birds.

(It was hilarious at the time).

After dinner, it was on to…

Rise of the Dinosaurs (aka Jurassic Attack 2010), in which a plane crashed in the jungle and then some military dudes hunt terrorists and battle dinosaurs.

Only kidding!

They’re hunting rebels.

Hey! The military dudes just came upon a nest of dino eggs!

Hey! That was Corin Nemec, co-star of House of Bones

Now they’re battling dinosaurs!

After some “dramatic” action and they escape in a helicopter. Like you do.

As they fly back to civilization, having forgotten that in the beginning of the movie the central conflict was that they were all infected with a bio-weapon that meant they would have to be killed or something and could never go back to civilization, two of the characters have this exchange:


“How do we explain all this?”
“We don’t!”

Fine. Whatever. The movie is over? I’ll take it.

triassicattackLast, but not least: Triassic Attack, which stars Kristy Mitchell, star of Lake Placid 3. When I saw that I was sure that this was meant to be!

(Or, at that point, I’d reached the optimum blood-alcohol to achieve some sort of b-movie equanimity. Who can say, really?)

Triassic Attack has the annoying elements of Movie Archaeology combined with the annoying elements of Pop Culture Paleontology.

When we watched Lake Placid 3 this morning, I was confused because I remembered it as a bit of spoof of Eureka, starring Colin Ferguson.

It wasn’t.

That’s because I was confusing it with Triassic Attack, which is a bit of a spoof of Eureka, directed by Colin Ferguson.

This movie is aggravating on many levels. It confuses archaeology (humans and artifacts) with paleontology (dinosaurs).

In brief: the Chief leading the American Indian repatriation protest at the paleontology museum does a ceremony to re-animate the dinosaur skeletons and your brain rolls over and fakes a coma for 90 minutes and it’s best to just go with it.

Oh, here, let’s just make this super-easy:


[embedded video: Triassic Attack trailer]

If you’re a super-nerd, you might enjoy this Pterodactyl trivia. It’s the kind of thing we cared about before we watched 5 of these movies in one day and broke something in our insides.

I’ll just quote wikipedia because it’s all I can muster at this point:

Many of the characters are named after famous science-fiction and fantasy writers – Burroughs (Edgar Rice Burroughs), Clarke (Sir Arthur C. Clarke), Donaldson (Steven Donaldson), Heinlein (Robert A. Heinlein), Herbert (Frank Herbert), Lem (Stanislaw Lem), Lovecraft (H.P. Lovecraft), Serling (Rod Serling), Yolen (Jane Yolen) and Zelazny (Roger Zelazny).

As I finish editing this draft (6 weeks later), we’re watching Swamp Shark, which includes dramatic dialogue like, “If it breathes, it can be killed!”

Now that’s some quality writing. The acting is even better.

Clearly we don’t ever seem to learn our lesson.