Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Movie Madness: MEGA PYTHON vs GATOROID and MST3K MITCHELL

Mega Python vs. Gatoroid.  Why go on?  The title speaks for itself as another in a long line of certifiably cheesy and intentionally silly ultra low-budget films from the Asylum company, a DVD studio that unashamedly puts out blatant rip-offs of popular movies or just random knock-offs of monster movies that were already knock-offs.  It's the retarded offspring of 50's B movies, and with its actors like pop stars Tiffany and Debbie Gibson (before with their own solo movies, now with one together! such epicness!) gladly degrade what little reputations they have left in the name of super-bad CGI monsters attacking a city and they being the only ones that can stop them.

I almost despise the movie for its self-knowing smug attitude about its humor, but at the same time I know that there are other parts where they do pull off some bits that are intentionally funny.  Case in point, Mickey Dolenz, who is there in the kind of cameo you might see on a Law and Order where as soon as you see the 'guest' you know how it'll go.  But it is a funny scene when Dolenz, who looks heavily medicated or just damn embarrased to be on screen, gets his commupance by the mega-python.  Some moments are, naturally, unintentionally funny, certainly via Tiffany's performance, which is so bad as to ruin scenes that could, in an alternate universe, be played by another, better, actress and actually be dramatically compelling.

Plot?  Who cares?  Two dumb bimbos, one a wildlife ranger and another an obnoxious environmental b***h at first get into a harrange over the latter (Gibson) bringing large pythons into the water which kill people, then the former (Tiffany) creates giant "Gatoroids" by feeding crocs chickens pumped - with unlimited roids.  That's about what you need to know really; the two leads start out in varying degrees of annoyance (Tiffany a little more sympathetic, Gibson not, then later Tiffany much more stupid, Gibson then not).  Other actors like A. Martinez (like a lawyer I guess, though with more fu manchu) and that old lady who played the secretary on The West Wing, stand by on the sidelines with perfunctory lines and common sense flying past their better senses.

Aka, 'Chick, where's my career?'
It's a shame too to come from a director who once, long ago in the eons gone by of the 80's, did good work with music videos and the near-classic horror Pet Sematary.  Guess even Mary Lambert's gotta eat, albeit from the black soul of Asylum's empty filmmaking prowess as producers.  I wish I could get behind the dumb and sometimes intentionally bad work on display, but some of it is just so mind-boggling in the (ill)logic, with how scenes are filmed and how crowds react and limbs go flying, that you just sometimes stand in awe.  Watching with booze and friends help quite a bite, though not with the commentary interspersed if watching on TV with Tiffany and Gibson making their snarky remarks between commercials.

And hey, it's a B-movie (or Z-movie), whatever.  But it's another in a long line that sometimes sits there barely trying.  Part of this comes from the visual fx, so bad that it makes that dancing baby from Ally McBeal look like a damn revelation.  There's not a single moment that a model or any kind of actual craft is used to create a snake or a gator for scenes of attack or violence.  This might be fine if the CGI was decent, but it never is, not from these bastards.   Subsequently, scenes that take place in, say, water have the appearance of a bad hallucination, and the few snakes and gators seen as real on screen are completely docile and not apart of the action.  There can be art in B-movies, but there is a persistant anti-artlessness in these movies.

And hey again, that might be just fine for some looking for the bad-movie times a plenty.  This is bad movie served up on the platter known as SyFy (for SyFyLus, you know), and it's not the first nor the last of a knock-off of a previous knock-off of another one, populated by Z-grade talent or washups or the here-and-there few (i.e. C. Thomas Howell in The Day the Earth Stopped) where you shake your head and go "what happened to you, man, you used to be beautiful!"  Mega Python vs. Gatoroid is mindless, and you can feel like you may lose your mind through some of it - that is until a surprisingly dull climactic battle of the THREE humans in all of Florida who can stop the monsters (ah, forget the National Guard, pussies) when one withdraws from the movie just when it should pick up into awesomely-badness.  It's idea of "funny" is to have Tiffany and Debbie Gibson saying the fucking lines from Tiffany's once hit "I think we're alone now" when in the water and in some possible danger.  Deep, man.


Ah, MST3K (or Mystery Science Theater 3000 for the layman), how you help us intrepid movie-viewers get through some of the crappiest crap to ever crap out of the crapper of B-to-Z moviedom, and Mitchell is one of the classics.  By that I mean that it's a bad movie, oh, it's very bad.  It didn't even completely hit me until writing that sentence.  I tried to find good words for it, but it's hard to.  Maybe Joe Don Baker has a knack for picking up a six-pack of beer with his feet whilst in the midst of sex with a hooker.  Maybe he knows how to harpoon a bad guy in a dirty fight in the climax of the movie.  Maybe he knows how to look grimacing and have sex appeal... wait, I got to stop sniffing glue to get over that last part.

Baker's been in far too many movies to write him off as an actor, some good and some not so good, but in Mitchell he seems to be playing a tasteless character not very well.  A freind watching the movie with me pinned it down: at his best, Detective Mitchell operates like a Bizarro-World Columbo, someone who acts so much like a sloppy nincompoop that no one totally thinks on the villain side that he can kick some ass or have some intelligence.

One might think he's on to something that his superior officers don't know about, or that he has some kind of plan with intermingling so much and making himself a dummy with the criminal elements, but... it's just so stupid as to never make sense.  Cause when it comes to sloppy detective, Mitchell is a big Sloppy-Joe with a side of bulldog face.  I don't know if it's the direction (though the hack at the helm, who would go on to direct The Dirty Dozen 2 in 1986, is no prize either), or that the plot lurches forward sometimes into confusing directions, but Mitchell is a bizarre, sometimes hilariously funny mess without ever trying to be.

And to be somewhat fair if I can possibly, Mitchell as seen in the version presented by Joel and the Robots on MST3K is a shortened version, chopped up to be abbreviated for a run-time to fit into a 90 minute program (the movie itself is 97 minutes long, plus the 'bits' the robots and Joel do which cut out about 20 minutes altogether).  But what remains still feels like a big cinematic lump of moldy cheese, where Baker exudes zero charisma, which is necessary for, say, scenes with Bo Derek look-alike Linda Evans, or needs to be all cool in front of Martin Balsam.  Some of the plot revolves around heroin smugglers and Mitchell's attempts to stop them, which turns ultimately into a somewhat exciting chase and shoot-out on a boat.  Still poorly shot and edited with minimum competency, it at least could have made a decent ending... until a coda ending that is about one of the worst in movie history.

Thankfully, per usual, Joel and the Robots can get us through with the wisecracks that help steer along us on this cinematic odyssey of noirish pain.  And, oddly enough, I actually got into the side-bits in-between the movie, which is rare as often the segments are dopey and too goofy really, which is fine except that it doesn't jive with the rest of the humor which is biting and sarcastic and filled with precious wit.  In this episode it's Joel's swan song, which is unintentional until a plot is seen by the robot Gypsy between two of the mad scientists and has to get Joel out of the Satellite of Love.  It's a panicked goodbye near the end... until a certain "temp" named Mike working at the scientists lab- who actually helps Gypsy plot Joel's escape from harm ironically enough- is sent to watch movies with robots from there-on.

I liked that this wasn't handled with too much schmaltz but good natured cheer, as Joel leaves behind a placard that quotes a George Pal movie!  And it's a good respite from the movie Mitchell, which is often equally dull and insane, stupid and contrived, dated-70's (I and my friends often did the 70's theme music intermingled with Black Dynamite themed tracks), and has a place right in the Bottom 100 on  It's a classic for the bad-movie hounds, and a laughable, turgid disaster for the rest of us.

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