MEGA SHARK vs. GIANT OCTOPUS

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MEGA SHARK vs. GIANT OCTOPUS
Sometimes a series of things lead a man in one, inevitable direction. During an interview with Kathleen Kinmont recently, we discussed her ex-husband and RENEGADE co-star Lorenzo Lamas; last night the totally misguided cover version of “We Are the World” brought me to a German lip synched version with stars from the 1980s that starred none other than… Lorenzo Lamas. I thought this was passing coincidence. That is, until I turned on my TV this afternoon and Discovery Channel was showing a block of shark programs. This wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary during Shark Week, but this week it was just a random block. So what does this have to do with a horror review? Simple math: Lorenzo Lamas + sharks = MEGA SHARK vs. GIANT OCTOPUS, one of the silliest pieces of schlock I’ve watched in a long, long time.
In fact, because this falls so heavily under the “schlock” category, I almost passed on writing this review. After all, when it comes to Icons of Fright, Mad Man Dan Price is the resident expert of schlock. A little investigation, and I found that he’d already discussed this seafaring opus of poor filmmaking under his “Schlock Value” banner. Still, there’s no avoiding that which is inevitable, and so I decided to go ahead and review it anyway. I’ll try to avoid covering the areas on which Dan already wrote, and give my own observations.
The movie’s opening sets the tone for everything that is to follow. The camera pans over copious CGI mountains in what is supposed to be Alaska. A helicopter drops a sonar transmitter into the water, and drives a group of migrating whales to commit suicide by driving their heads into a glacier. As they die, the whales crack the ice so much that it shatters and releases a MEGA SHARK and a GIANT OCTOPUS. Witness to this is Deborah “Don’t Call Me Debbie” Gibson, playing a marine biologist gliding around in a nifty submarine with her crew of underwater whale watchers. Excepting Gibson’s performance, everything in these scenes is computer generated: the whales, the sub, the glacier, the sonar device, the helicopter, the surrounding waters and the titular beasts from the depths. The thing is, none of it is generated convincingly. I didn’t buy that I was looking at anything but a bunch of silly images. Want proof? In full disclosure, I am deathly afraid of whales. I can’t even bear to watch FREE WILLY. But these leviathans didn’t so much as make one hair stand up on my neck.
These computer images create a world that is outright fantasy, with no connection to reality at all. Given this, it’s then easy to forgive that everything in this movie is absolutely implausible. If you’re looking for anything logical whatsoever, you’re watching the wrong film. So even when a behemoth megalodon and a gargantuan cephalopod started attacking the most wildly inconceivable targets ( and believe me, I’m not understating how wildly inconceivable those targets are), I found I couldn’t bash the film. No, it’s not a great film by any stretch. But it exists in its own universe, and plays within that universe’s rules.
You may ask yourself, given how hard I am in my scrutiny of the films I review, why I’m not destroying MEGA SHARK vs. GIANT OCTOPUS. Well, I can’t. Sure, this film is absolutely absurd. But then, what did you expect when going into a film called MEGA SHARK vs. GIANT OCTOPUS? But even that’s besides the point. Though the folks at The Asylum may not have intended it, the film hearkens back to a tradition in horror that was in its heyday in the 1950s; it recalls films such as HIDEOUS SUN DEMON, FROM HELL IT CAME, THE GIANT GILA MONSTER and the whole catalogue of Bert I. Gordon. Filled with reams of ridiculous dialogue, much of which was scientific jargon, as characters discuss how to fight the monsters instead of actually fighting them; stilted acting at best and incompetent at worst; and cheapjack, unconvincing monsters that were meant to produce spine tingling dread but often conjured only full-belly laughter; these programmers found their way onto double bills in front of thousands of popcorn eating adolescents. Could casting Debbie “Electric Youth” Gibson as a marine biologist who will watch on as a MEGA SHARK engages in mortal combat with a GIANT OCTOPUS be anything but a nod to those programmers? I think not.
Note that none of those films were good. And neither is this one. In following their formula, it makes every mistake those films made. But it does have plenty of action, which many of those old programmers lacked. Over the top, laughably implausible action, but when a film stars a MEGA SHARK and a GIANT OCTOPUS, it’s stacked the deck. The film may be many things, but I don’t anyone could call it boring.
And then there’s Lorenzo Lamas. Given his combination of good looks and limited acting abilities, it seems only fitting that he’s been relegated to these types of flicks lately. Watching his stony screen presence and dashingly handsome looks, I could only think that he would have been perfectly cast in INVISIBLE INVADERS, another schlocky programmer. Surely he was born in the wrong era.
How could a film this titanic manage such scant extras? There’s an 8-minute making of featurette, bloopers, and a selection of trailers that capture beautifully just how silly all of their films are. I didn’t expect a commentary, but it’s sad that the best special feature on the disc is the animated main menu. Shame on you, Asylum, for not providing extra cheese on this schlocky selection, as I believe my colleague Mad Man Dan would say.
MEGA SHARK vs. GIANT OCTOPUS is an implausible that exists in its own implausible universe. Because of this, I can’t judge it as I would any other flick. It’s not good, it’s not scary and it’s not effective. Yet I can’t hate it, because I don’t think it was supposed to be any of those. It’s schlock, and it knows it. But then, just reading the title told you that.
Hey, at least it had Lorenzo Lamas.
–Phil Fasso
Get in on this Titanic battle: Buy Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus here!