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Mega Python vs. Gatoroid DVD Review

Mega Python vs. Gatoroid DVD cover art - click to buy DVD from Amazon.com Mega Python vs. Gatoroid

Original Air Date: January 29, 2011 / Running Time: 91 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Director: Mary Lambert / Writer: Naomi Selfman

Cast: Debbie Gibson (Dr. Nikki Riley), Tiffany (Terry O'Hara), A Martinez (Dr. Diego Ortiz), Kathryn Joosten (Angie Polk), Kevin M. Horton (R.J. Cupelli), Carey Van Dyke (Justin Regina), Micky Dolenz (Himself), Bobby Ray Shafer (Zeke), Carl Ciarfalio (Billy), Stephen P. Hart (Ray), Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau (Tom), Patrick Hancock (Ben), Arden Cho (Gia), Chris Neville (Manny), Kristen Wilson (Barbara Fine), Jack Harding (Hank)

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles: None; Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled or Captioned
DVD Release Date: June 21, 2011 / Suggested Retail Price: $27.97
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard/Foil Slipcover
Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($29.97 SRP)

Buy Mega Python vs. Gatoroid on DVD from Amazon.com • Buy Mega Python vs. Gatoroid on Blu-ray from Amazon.com


Syfy original movies keep coming to me and I can't say no to reviewing them. I see their larger than life monsters wreaking havoc on the cover and can only hope they will be as stupid as they look.
I can't resist spending the few required hours watching and analyzing them. It's a welcome change of pace from covering serious and substantial cinema. There is no pressure to do them justice, as there may be on Rocky and True Grit, to name my two previous review subjects. I imagine making such movies offers similar thrills: a fast and forgettable experience, best enjoyed with a sense of humor.

Carrying a title as ludicrous as they come, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid aims for cultural significance by teaming up Debbie Gibson and Tiffany, two of the 1980s' most popular young singers. Why they unite now, long after their luster has faded, and here, in a low-budget cable sci-fi movie, is anyone's guess. But you'd be mistaken if you didn't see the casting as mutually beneficial, giving Syfy some true (albeit affordable) star power and the former chart-toppers some exposure beyond reality television. Besides, who these days doesn't appreciate a little '80s nostalgia?

Environmental activist Dr. Nikki Riley (Debbie Gibson) stands up to redneck hunters with a pinky penis joke. The Everglades are in good hands with park rangers Terry O'Hara (Tiffany) and Angie Polk (Kathryn Joosten) feeding steroid-injected chickens to the gators.

The film is set in the Florida Everglades. Nikki Riley (Gibson) and Terry O'Hara (Tiffany) share a respect for the environment, but they approach it from opposite sides of the law; Dr. Riley as a snake-freeing renegade activist and O'Hara as a conscientious, law-enforcing wilderness ranger. Concerned that alligator numbers have been dwindling, O'Hara is reluctant to give local beer-swilling hillbillies (led by Bobby Ray Shafer, who you may recognize as refrigeration magnate Bob Vance on "The Office") the seasonal hunting licenses they so hunger for. Meanwhile, Riley leads vocal protests against the hunters on animal rights grounds.

The snakes Riley freed somehow grow big and begin terrorizing the area. In response, Ranger O'Hara and her deputy ("Desperate Housewives"' Kathryn Joosten, better than this deserves) feed an alligator experimental anabolic steroids to make him big and strong enough to take on the giant snakes and restore the Glades' natural order. What could ever go wrong there?! The movie unfolds with a series of largely meaningless kills complimenting the increasingly catty rivalry between Riley and O'Hara.

Though neither Gibson nor Tiffany is entirely new to acting (both have a number of TV guest spots and another recent Mega sci-fi movie to their names), neither is very comfortable with the calling. Gibson is especially grating. Both ladies show off more skin than they have any reason to, the skeletal 40-year-old blonde Gibson prancing around in a clingy micro mini dress and the chunky, top-heavy 39-year-old redhead Tiffany donning short shorts and a low-cut top under her largely unbuttoned uniform on the job and busting out of her fundraiser dress during the actiony second half.

Terry's fiancι Justin Regina (Carey Van Dyke, grandson of Dick and actor in The Asylum's "Titanic II") finds himself cornered by giant crudely CG-animated snakes. A Martinez handles the bulk of the movie's exposition as Dr. Diego Ortiz, some supposed specialist whose expertise is met with resistance.

Since they each carry a co-producer credit, the leading ladies perhaps deserve some responsibility for the movie's shortcomings beyond their unpolished performances. Mega Python vs. Gatoroid is a production of B-movie studio The Asylum, a typically direct-to-video outfit specializing in "mockbusters", curiosities themed and timed to major movie releases that supposedly always turn a profit on barely six-figure budgets.
You may have heard of their works, which include Transmorphers, Snakes on a Train, The Day the Earth Stopped, and "the other" 2005 War of the Worlds (starring C. Thomas Howell in whiteface). Gibson and Tiffany previously received top billing in the Asylum movies Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus and Mega Piranha, respectively.

Mega Python is not oblivious to its rancidity, but its failings aren't terribly entertaining because of that. The actors must be encouraged to be uncomfortable in hopes to generate some camp value, the only value to be found here. It's not possible to take this seriously, even as it makes a few half-hearted efforts at that late in the game (with A Martinez humorlessly playing the ignored specialist brought in). There are many laughable touches throughout, but few that display ingenuity, intent, or anything resembling wit. The heart of the movie is Gibson and Tiffany lobbing the word "bitch" at one another, summiting with an absurdly prolonged and very public cat fight that ultimately takes them into the water. This sequence creates opportunities for the former songstresses to oh so subtly drop in nods to one another's biggest hit songs. Rather than the sly references themselves, the lack of comic timing becomes the joke. That still may qualify as the movie's apex, having only to compete with terrible CGI and green screen effects and a couple of glimpses of hokey torn limb gore make-up.

In honor of his freshly-eaten friend, Zeke (Bobby Ray Shafer) cracks open a can of beer we can only hope Vance Refrigeration kept cool. Micky Dolenz turns up as a fundraiser-performing version of himself for some Monkees jokes.

Knowingly or not, this inane movie isn't even a step above trashy reality TV. Aside from the surely modest paychecks, does this do anything positive for Gibson and Tiffany's faded reputations? Well, it does give them a chance to contribute new music. Gibson provides "Snake Charmer", leaning upon the famous snake-charming melody you won't know by the title "The Streets of Cairo, or the Poor Little Country Maid." Tiffany supplies the closing song "Serpentine."

Five months after rustling up a solid 2.35 million viewers in its Saturday night debut, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid comes to DVD and Blu-ray from Image Entertainment. In case you haven't already figured out, we review the former here.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Image treats the movie to TV's now-standard 1.78:1 widescreen picture and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The video is clear, doing no favors to the glaringly subpar visual effects. The 5.1 mix is loud and part of it a tad shrill. It does manage to deliver some decent surround effects. In what may be disappointing news to Gibson and Tiffany's foreign and deaf fanbases, the DVD offers no dubs, subtitles, or closed captions.

With supporting cast and crew hard at work behind her, Debbie Gibson talks about the allure of this project in the DVD's making-of featurette. Micky Dolenz briefly assumes a presence bigger than both Mega Python and Gatoroid on the DVD's ethereal main menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Like its Blu-ray, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid's DVD contains two bonus features. An untitled 11-minute making-of featurette gathers direct camera addresses from the sets, as director Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary) and leading cast and crew members describe the movie,
its characters, the project's appeal, stunts, visual effects, working with animals, and Micky Dolenz's relevance. Though sincere and candid, they can't help but grossly overstate the movie's achievements.

There is also a trailer (1:45) for the movie, which I'm glad Image sees fit to include, as too many studios fail to these days.

The disc opens with trailers for Wild Cherry, The Reef, and The Resident.

Looping a minute of Tiffany's "Serpentine", the menu devotes its top left quadrant to a montage, while the rest remains fixed, resembling the cover art.

Mega Python's Eco-Box keepcase is topped by a redundant but sleek foil-faced cardboard slipcover which attracts fingerprints, reflects nearby hands, and adds a second Tiffany and Debbie spine, as if to compensate for their conspicuous lack of front cover imagery.

Having expelled their hostilities in a prolonged cat fight, Terry (Tiffany) and Nikki (Debbie Gibson) team up to combat the killer reptile problem threatening their Florida Everglades in "Mega Python vs. Gatoroid."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I don't know if the word "dignity" often or ever sprung to mind when discussing '80s pop stars Debbie Gibson and Tiffany, but after Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, it is less likely to be applied to them in a good way. That this Asylum/Syfy movie is dreck is practically a given, but this might be as bad as it gets, at least without generating copious amounts of redeeming entertainment value. The one benefit to this is that the present day is now guaranteed to have something so astonishingly campy and flagrant with which to shock and awe future generations, just in case the natural passage of time doesn't grant such power to transiently tolerable works.

If you're the type of person who makes a point to see Syfy's original programming, then you probably already got all you can from this. If you're not, you aren't missing much. And yet, if you're so inclined to find out, the DVD and Blu-ray are of course preferable to a commercial broadcast airing. Not that either is advised.

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Reviewed June 8, 2011.



Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Image Entertainment, Sfy, and The Asylum. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.