SyFy: JERSEY SHORE SHARK ATTACK, PIRANHACONDA, ARACHNOQUAKE and BIGFOOT!
The box this little feller came in said these four original movies are part of SyFy's MOST DANGEROUS MONTH On Televison. Most dangerous to what? Our eyes? Our ears? Our souls? Surely I jest because SyFy original movies are far, far, far from being any good. We all know that already. So what do we look for if we're not looking for quality? Entertainment. Some of this month's picks have it in spades. Some do not. To make things easier for everyone I have suggested drinking games for each film at the end of this preview. Participate at you own risk.
JERSEY SHORE SHARK ATTACK - Paul Sorvino, William Atherton, Tony Sirico, Joey Fatone and Vinny Guadagnino.
I know what you are hoping and praying for. But before you begin celebrating the chomping to bits of the cast of Jersey Shore you must know that none of them become albino shark fodder (maybe). Relax, none of you will have to find another spokesperson for your favorite hair gel. With tongue planted firmly in cheek this is send-up of the popular reality show. It aims low for laughs, high on gore, and manages to be surprisingly entertaining.
A local business tycoon - the always slithering William Atherton - is building a high end development off the Jersey Shore. On the July 4th long weekend he orders an acceleration of foundation drilling, the vibrations from which wake up deadly Albino Bull Sharks from the oceans depths. Drawn towards the vibrations the sharks begin to feed on the residents. No one believes TC 'The Complication', Donnie and Paulie when they are the first to come to this conclusion. After all, when are they not lifting weights, drinking and fighting preps. They're just a trio of muscle bound guidos. So like many of its sharky predecessors before it in Jersey Shore Shark Attack the warnings are ignored and more people die.
What is probably most surprising of all is how fun this film is. I know! And it is also surprisingly bloody and gory too. Because a shark can have as many as 3000 teeth lined along their gaping jaws at a given time you do not get nicked when they bite you. I was gratefully surprised by the amount of blood they let loose in this film.
PIRANHACONDA - Michael Madsen and Rachel Hunter. Executive Producer Roger Corman.
Out of all the screeners this is the only one that came unfinished. Which has its advantages and disadvantages. Advantage. From a reviewer standpoint you appreciate how much difference sound makes for a film. Because there was no musical score and little to no creature effects. You also appreciate visual effects. Even crappy ones. Disadvantages? What the fuck is going on? Half the dialogue drops out so I was left putting pieces of the puzzle together. It is just an odd move to make because if IMDB is correct (and when have they ever been wrong?) this thing has been in the can since 2011. Is it because Corman is attached to it? Is it because Sharktopus was such a rip-roaring success that they're afraid I am going to upload this bad boy onto the interweb? You don't have to worry about me SyFy. I'm just smart enough to turn my computer on most mornings. At least the Piranhaconda effects were mostly included.
Here is what I can tell you. Michael Madsen is Prof. Lovegrove and he steals a Piranhaconda egg. This is a never seen before hybrid of Piranha and Anaconda; because Piranhas and Anacondas don't make sweet sweet love to each other every day you know. Fame and fortune await him upon his return from the jungle. Momma and Papa snake are understandably pissed. Their keen sense of smell helps them track down the missing egg. Lord help you if you're in their way though; or even out of their way. They just kill randomly. 'Do you have my egg? No?' Blammo! They're just overly protective parents the size of a full length subway train equipped with rows of razor sharp teeth.
At the same time a film crew is in the jungle shooting a slasher film. Rose the production assistant has to deal with demanding scream queen Kimmy while getting close to stuntman Jack. On the way back from the shoot they are kidnapped by some other guy named Pike and his crew, including former model and former Mrs. Rod Stewart, Rachel Hunter. Jack and an effects guy Gunner manage to escape. So Pike has the Professor, the film crew, and the egg and he hopes to make money from ransoming one or all of them. Jack and Gunner try to rescue them. Cue big ass snakes. Chaos. Blood. Screaming. Death. Car chases. Blah blah blah.
Piranhaconda was directed by Jim Wynorski. He has been making cult and exploitation cinema over 40 years now. I remember watching his sophomore flick CHOPPING MALL in the old top loader one lazy summer many, many summers ago. The flick was written by Mike MacLean who also penned the now infamous Sharktopus and Dinocroc vs. Supergator. So you know we are not aiming for a high benchmark on quality. They keep the mandate of cheap thrills. So cheap you can still see the edge around the Styrofoam egg in Madsen's hands. Maybe they cleaned that up in post. This really is the most basic example of the staple of SyFy Original movies.
I think the bigger question is how on God's good green earth do you get a genetic hybrid out of a Piranha and an Anaconda? How much Barry White do you have to play to get those two in the mood? Perhaps that is why Madsen's character is called Lovegrove? I do not have an answer. Nor do I want to think about it. I shudder at the image of Madsen rubbing a Piranha and Anaconda together.
ARACHNOQUAKE - Tracy Gold, Edward Furlong, Bug Hall and Ethan Phillips
Director Griff Furst is on roll. He's on pace for one SyFy Original per year now having blessed us with Lake Placid 3 then Swamp Shark. This year he bestows upon us Arachnoquake.
An earthquake during the night has opened up deep chasms in and around New Orleans. Out of these chasms march albino spiders. They're blind so they listen for their prey; which is convenient because their prey screams a lot when they see them. I get it. That's a giant fuck-off spider coming out of that hole. I'd be screaming like a little girl too. They can spit webs and lasso you like rodeo cattle. They spit fire as well. They can walk on water. Oh, and I think being outside in the sun and fresh air makes them grow exponentially fast because they keep getting bigger and bigger as the movie goes along.
Paul (Bug Hall) helps out with the family touring business in New Orleans. Along with his dad, Roy (Ethan Phillips) and sis, Petra (Olivia Hardt) they give bus and boat tours around town. Katelynn (Tracey Gold) is in town with her family on vacation while her husband (Edward Furlong) was there to coach his team in a hot women baseball tournament. I'm sure there really isn't a tournament, or league for that matter, for teams made up of just hot young women; the casting agents have done their job very well is all. But he has to take the team back to Houston or somewhere so he's off in the big yellow bus with his 'Eight Women Hot'. Paul is giving the bus tour to Katelynn, her son and daughter and a gaggle of other ill-fated passengers when the albino spiders rise from the cracks in the roads.
I love those moments in a SyFy film where there is an action scene and while all the action is in front of the camera you catch glimpses of every day life going on in the background. Families out for a Sunday stroll. Salary men on their morning commute. "Giant spiders? What Giant spiders?" What was the production meeting like? "Do we have enough money in the budget to close off roads? No? Okay, just pull in reeeeeeeal tight. Put the wide angle lenses away".
Probably one of the most memorable moments came at the end of the movie when Paul comes running out of the levies in a diving suit armed with a shot gun. On any other day this might seem odd. But there is a giant queen spider spinning a web between buildings so, you know, go get 'em Paul!
Arachnoquake is on par with Piranhaconda as far as entertainment value is concerned. Paul A. Birkett adapted the story from Eric Forsberg. Paul also wrote this year's baffling Alien Tornado; which now that I think about shares a lot of similarities structurally. Eric was responsible for Mega Piranha a couple years back. God I wished fire breathing albino spiders hurled themselves at buildings in this movie.
BIGFOOT - Bruce Davison, Barry Williams (The Partridge Family), Danny Bonaduce (The Brady Bunch) and Howard Hesseman (WKRP in Cincinnati)
Weird coincidence. Character actor Bruce Davison starred and even directed some episodes of the Harry and the Hendersons TV show in the early 90s. He also stars and directs this final SyFy original movie for the month of June and it is easily the worst of bunch.
Danny is, surprise surprise, a radio dj looking to make his mark in a sleepy South Dakota town by putting on a 80s music festival. Barry is the local environmentalist, and hero to a gaggle of beautiful young women, looking to stop Danny from upsetting the balance of Mother Nature with his concert. Unfortunately they've both upset something far worse than Mother Nature. Bigfoot!
Unseasonal weather (Global Warming) has apparently woken up the hairy lug from hibernation and he's back to packing on the calories in preparation of another winter slumber. But he's super pissed that he was woken up early so he's eating angry and not using his inside voice. He busts in on Danny's groundbreaking ceremony and sets the forest on fire. Everyone is so upset about the forest fire they forget about the half dozen or so bodies left in Bigfoot's wake. He drops in on the 80s music fest, wreaks havoc and flattens a cameo by a rock legend. I presumed he was pissed that it looked nothing like a 80s theme and was attended by people who looked like hippies and draft dodgers; not a pastel blazer with shoulder pads in sight. So wherever humans gather Bigfoot will be there, biting off their heads and munching on them like Maraschino cherries and ripping the bodies in twain.
BIGFOOT was written by Brian Brinkman and Micho Rutare. Both are from that storied home of quality entertainment The Asylum. Their reputation precedes them. When I reflect upon my screening of Bigfoot the word cacophony comes to mind. Frankly it is a mess. Even for a SyFy movie. If the writers wrote down a bunch of cool ideas on cue cards, tossed them up in the air, and let Davison film whatever fell face up, in that order, I wouldn't be surprised. The story is just this chaotic mess from start to finish. Scenes don't make sense. Segues do not exist. During the climax helicopters change size and color. They blow up a national monument.
There is a tremendous amount of simulated violence. Bigfoot is all bitey and stompy and that's all good in my books. The movie is ever so close to being so bad it is good. But it is just bad for being bad. I nearly fell out of my sofa laughing because of the final shot. You will likely laugh as much at Bigfoot as you will with it.
Drinking Games - SyFy Original movies are not great movies. They're not even good movies. So sometimes you got to make your own fun and I understand how drinking can sometimes elevate one's enjoyment of such trifle crap. So here are my suggestions.
Jersey Shore Shark Attack - Whenever someone says the name Joey Fatone. WARNING! This happens VERY frequently in a VERY shot period of time. Do not use any sort of grain alcohol. You will die.
Piranhaconda - Because we were provided with a stripped bones screener it is difficult to tell you when you should drink. Perhaps whenever Rachel Hunter is on screen. Yell 'Forever Young' in honor of ex-husband Rod Stewart and down one.
Arachnoquake - Honestly nothing memorable comes to mind. And I'm not going to rewatch it again to find something for you. I dunno. Maybe when someone yells 'Spider'. Or get a case of Lone Star and have a drink any time a gal from Texas is on screen. That would be Olivia Hardt as Petra, or, Megan Adelle as Anabell. Choose one. Not both. You will die.
Bigfoot - This one is easy. Every time Bigfoot bites of a head. He does it. A lot. Bitey.