WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
After the joy that was Piranhaconda and Alien Tornado I felt that Tropical Mary had to be roped in at some point to join in the fun. This one, admittedly, was a mixed bag of tricks. At points it felt strangely competent for a Syfy movie, but at other points was on the brink of embarrassingly amateur. All of that said and done, though, a movie about blind, fire-breathing spiders from the depths of the earth can be nothing but fun. It also brought out a very bizarre mothering instinct in me whenever the baby spiders came streaking onto the screen; there was just something incredibly sweet about their little squeals…
It’s a beautiful day in New Orleans: the sun is out, the hookers are packing up from a hard night’s work and the remnants of Katrina have just about been cleared away. Katelynn and her kids, Justin and Anabell, are about to take a tour of the historic city while husband Charlie drives a female baseball team back home. A small earthquake struck the city the previous night and has left small portals to hell littering the streets, but this isn’t enough to dissuade anyone from undertaking a little sight-seeing. Mom and kids are being taken around the city by bus driver Paul who, although being threatened with death by his father Roy should he screw this up, is clearly very hung over. That’s nothing a quick adrenaline rush can’t take care of though, which he and the other passengers get when spiders ranging from a few centimetres to Irish Wolfhound start coming out of the ground.
Now these are particularly nasty little spiders. They’re very fast, they use echo location to find you, they’re very good jumpers, they lay their eggs in people, they drain your eye juices for food and shoot fire at you when they’re pissed. Paul gets the group away from this particular lot of spiders (despite being seemingly unable to identify exactly what it is he’s driving), but to be honest Paul’s a bit useless and it doesn’t take long for the spiders to catch up to the group. Insect repellent doesn’t do an awful lot to slow them down, although a tin of canned peaches to the forehead will take out a little one. Deciding that running is a better option, Paul takes those members of the tour group that weren’t eaten back to his father and sister Petra to see if they can come up with a new and better survival plan.
It was at this point that Tropical Mary thought it would be a brilliant move if the bigger spiders grabbed a few of the smaller ones and used them to do jazz hands, but sadly this never happened. Instead, through a series of unfortunate twists and turns, the group finds themselves running through a forest trying to save themselves. Turns out escaping by boat isn’t a viable escape plan when the spiders are part Jesus and can run on water. Why subterranean spiders would evolve the ability to walk on water is another story, but this is bringing logic into a situation where none is warranted. The army’s called in to try and eradicate the problem, but Katelynn (because she’s an 8th grade biology teacher) cuts one of the spiders up and realises that they don’t have brains. If that’s true, what exactly is controlling the hordes that are busy rampaging through New Orleans, and will the army be able to kill it?
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- It’s never a good idea to be drinking and tour guiding.
- 30-year-old men can’t run to their dads every time they’re being attacked by giant, fire-breathing spiders.
- Certain spider species make Hanna-Barbera sounds when they fly through the air.
- People native to New Orleans are biologically incapable of stepping on a spider.
- Any rudimentary knowledge of high school biology qualifies you to lead a military campaign to eradicate giant insects.
- New Orleans albino spiders are huge fans of mariachi music. This explains their highly developed vocal chords.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
After the joyous time I had watching Piranhaconda I decided that I wanted to indulge in some more Syfy Original goodness. Turns out I had quite a few lying around and, because it’s the height of winter right now, dived into bed, blasted the heater and turned on Alien Tornado. This one wasn’t as heavily advertised as some other Syfy movies, but it’s definitely a lot of fun. If there’s a little sci-fi nerd living deep inside you that doesn’t really care about wafer-thin plots so long as there are shiny things in the sky then you’ll absolutely love this. And if the shining lights fail to grab your attention, maybe you can be tempted by tornadoes that shoot out funnel hands and scoop people up (so that they can be probed, I assume).
No movie about marauding alien tornadoes could conceivably begin without a troubled father/daughter duo, so let me introduce you to Judd and Kelly Walker. They live on a farm in a little town in the middle of Who The Hell Cares, USA. The day started out perfectly normally for the two: Kelly continued to be a blonde genius from the sticks and Judd spent his morning grooming a horse. Things take a mysterious turn when, from out of nowhere, a very shiny and sparkly tornado appeared and started ripping up the farm in a remarkably coordinated attack for a mindless wind funnel. Father and daughter escape any serious kind of harm, but the farm’s been badly damaged. In the aftermath we also learn about Kelly’s dead mother and how Judd squandered his daughter’s college fund, setting us up with daddy issues that will see us all the way through to the end.
We’ll come back to Judd VS Judd in a moment but first we need to meet Gail Curtis, an amateur storm chaser who runs a blog. This blog has somehow gained her a level of notoriety, which for me raised a few questions. At the risk of it sounding like sour grapes, how exactly does one become famous from running a storm chasers blog? And do amateur storm chasing bloggers really have the enormous number of groupies that this movie suggests is possible? But I digress. Gail notices that, whilst there are a number people reporting these strange tornadoes, neither the news or weather stations have said a single thing about them. Being the bright and clever female storm chaser she is Gail also thinks that it’s a bit strange that these tornadoes only touch down and destroy major utility buildings or areas of military importance. Maybe, just maybe, these aren’t your regular run-of-the-mill tornadoes after all…
Gail’s suspicions are also raised when the FBI, apparently led by Beverley Leslie, arrive to investigate the tornadoes. Co-incidence brings Gail and Judd together, and Kelly just happens to be a huge fan of her blog. Kelly also managed to record a very strange sound that came on the radio when one of the tornadoes touched down, a sound that seems remarkably similar to a kind of code. By pissing the guys in the FBI off enough Judd and Gail manage to find out that the Earth is, in fact, being invaded by aliens that use the weather as their biggest weapon. Despite the FBI’s flamboyant best efforts the future of mankind (and Chicago) will lie in the hands of a blogger, a grizzly farm owner and a blonde high school student. What could possibly go wrong with that?
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Young women should be made to bale hay to earn their keep.
- Amateur storm chasers need to pass a master class in ‘oh my God, what is that?!?’ faces.
- There is no father daughter crisis so terrible that it can’t be turned into a so-so country song.
- Fat people aren’t reliable storm chasers.
- Farmers are ready to form a lynch mob whenever the words ‘the city’ are uttered.
- Abducting humans is the alien equivalent of grabbing a toy bear in a claw machine.
ALIEN TORNADO TRAILER
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Where would we b-movie fans be without the Syfy channel? Stuck with the Asylum I guess, but that’s entirely beside the point. You know when they announce a new movie that it’s going to be a complete cheese factory of goodness and, whilst it doesn’t make me want to re-evaluate my opinion that the golden age of Syfy movies has past, Piranhaconda doesn’t disappoint. It raises so many questions that otherwise wouldn’t cross your mind: what exactly is swimming in the rivers of Hawaii? When exactly does a person become so blonde that they should be given a legal guardian? Do you really get b-movie groupies? And, of course, the question that stuck out in my head: who the hell would sing this movie’s theme song? Jasmin Poncelet, that’s who. Don’t worry, I haven’t heard of her either, but good on her for having the balls to do it anyway. Not afraid to rip itself to shreds, Piranhaconda is one of the best times you can have with bad CGI, a group of random mercenaries and a posse of scantily clad females.
So we’re somewhere in the middle of Hawaii with Jasmin Poncelet singing her little lungs out when a helicopter loaded with Prof. Lovegrove and two soon-to-be-eaten students descends from the sky. Lovegrove, a world-renowned herpetologist, is on the lookout for a nest of strange eggs. Now feels like a good time to break it to you that the title is misleading and the creature contains no piranha or anaconda. If this disappoints you, take solace in the fact that it’s a Polynesian snake demon. Feel better? Good. So Lovegrove finds one of the nests laden with many eggs. Intent on revealing the creature to the world he bags one of the eggs up in a plastic corn flakes container to take back to the helicopter. As one might expect the mummy piranhaconda took a while to shove that egg out and isn’t about to just let some silly human run off with it. Defying the laws of space she emerges from a body of water that couldn’t possibly hide something her size, eats three out of the four people in attendance while Lovegrove runs off into the forest with the egg.
We now switch to another part of the forest where a group of scantily clad females are being stalked by a lunatic with a meat cleaver. For a moment I thought another movie had leaked into this one, but it turns out that we’re actually following a film crew around while they make the third installment in a slasher series that I’m fairly sure is poking fun at the Friday the 13th and Scream franchises. It’s here we meet Jack and Rose (if this is some strange homage to Titanic, I don’t get it, but I’m just gonna run with star struck lovers in the face of adversity), a stuntman and a script writer respectively. The two clearly have a thing for one another but, being the gentleman that he is, Jack just won’t let the movie’s slutty star Kimmy go without a thorough sun tan lotioning. This irritates Rose so much that she’s gonna tie that sarong so tight blood won’t flow to anything below the waist. Intense oiling up in the Hawaiian sun, however, is about to become the least of this little group’s problems.
Not from the piranhaconda, mind you, but rather from a random group of mercenaries that have also been running around the Hawaiian jungle. They’ve already managed to kidnap the professor and now manage to grab a hold of Rose, Kimmy and the movie’s director as well. Jack and his explosives buddy have managed to make a daring escape into the undergrowth that took splitting up, running frantically from side to side and tripping over every piece of wood they could find to get right. When they miraculously manage to make their way back to the road they think it best not to go back into town and alert the proper authorities and settle on the decidedly more manly method of taking on a hostage situation with no weapons other than a bag of plastic explosives. But, dear viewer, let us not forget the angry mother piranhaconda in hot pursuit of her missing egg and the many humans she’s prepared to nom through to get it back…
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Piranhacondas are known to secure their eggs with anti-theft ooze.
- Nobody truly appreciates how difficult it is for a b-actress to be a sex bomb at 5 in the morning.
- $50 and some spare change is enough cash to secure a university professor’s safe release from a hostage situation.
- Mercenaries just prowl Hawaii’s forests kidnapping any random fool who walks by.
- Bands of rogue Hawaiian mercenaries are really just would-be directors and cameramen.
- Sometimes all a b-movie actress’s career needs is a hostage situation and threats of a violent death.
- Men sweat like pigs, sluts sweat like pound puppies.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
It’s been a long time since Tropical Mary and I went along with the hero Odysseus to the Isle of Mists as part of our mini collection of historically inaccurate movies. This movie wasn’t even supposed to be like that; I just wanted a Syfy Original to accompany The Asylum’s Nazis at the Center of the Earth. If one studio can be so much fun, surely the two back to back can only be even more fun (infinitely funner, in fact)? Well, fun it was! Made when Syfy still spelt its name properly, Sands of Oblivion comes from the golden age of Syfy movies. It’s stupidly ridiculous with far too much attempted manship and far too little acting, the plot’s wafer thin and the Egyptian god Anubis is running around California. It’s a b-movie fan’s wet dream really…
So we want to tell a tale about a wrathful Egyptian god killing off young archaeologists in modern-day California. This was the concept that the makers of this little film wanted to run with, so somehow we need to get said wrathful Egyptian deity to the good old US of A. They accomplish this by taking us back to 1923 to the set of Cecil DeMille’s movie The Ten Commandments. I myself haven’t seen this silent beauty but I gather that they needed a lot of Egyptian props for it. In the deserts of California DeMille constructed a remarkable set on which to film his movie, with a number of the props looking remarkably authentic. On the set a young John Tevis buries a few of the movie’s trinkets in a time capsule, hoping that, 1000 years from now, some other young explorer may come across it.
Or something to that effect at the very least. Flash forward a few decades and we land up in the present day where Alice Carter and her team of student archaeologists are excavating the old movie set. John, now well into the Autumn of his life, and his suave and studly grandson Mark are also running around trying to find the old man’s time capsule. Now at first I was wondering why a team of archaeologists would be excavating an old movie set, but then we’re told that it’s because the tides are about to come in and flood the desert. I was still confused about the excavation, and now I was wondering where the hell the ocean was going to come in from. Anyways the old man finds the box but accidentally falls into one of the set’s rooms, breaking an ancient binding spell and unleashing a very angry (and corpsey) Anubis on the sands of California.
Now, prior to hitting play on this movie, I had already come to terms with the fact that the director and his team would not have the knowledge or will to check Wikipedia and understand that Anubis was neither a malevolent nor corpse-like divinity. Fact of the matter here is that he’s angry as hell and out to kill as many young archaeologists as he possibly can. In addition to pure brute force one of the main ways that he will do this is by unleashing the ten Biblical Egyptian plagues. Why an Egyptian deity would unleash Christian plagues is something that makes absolutely no sense, but I put this little pondering aside as well and continued to watch the movie. Alice and Mark will have to find a way of defeating Anubis in a way that seems to have been made up as the movie went along. It makes little to no sense, but again the sheer ridiculousness of it makes it an absolute must watch.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- The Egyptians were big fans of using decorative pentagrams.
- Blowing up an entire crate of phosphorous will only result in some mild charring of the immediate area.
- An ancient deity can be quite easily contained in a wooden shed.
- Ex husbands are easily tempted by the promises of malevolent Egyptian spirits.
- Archaeologists don’t want to hear about the boils on your ass.
- Drawing a Wadjet eye free hand won’t yield good results.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
I do love an accidental find. Sitting at home, having done all the exciting things for the day (like washing dishes and cleaning out cat litter trays), I was channel surfing when I landed on the Universal Channel and saw that the movie coming on in 5 minutes was Seeds of Destruction. An awesome title, and when I saw that it starred Stefanie von Pfetten (of Odysseus and the Isle of Mists fame) I knew that I had found the perfect way to kill an hour and a half. From the ludicrous plotline to the horrible CGI and spending the whole movie’s duration trying to figure out how Ms von Pfetten’s surname is pronounced, Seeds of Destruction was a delightfully cheesy romp worthy of End of the World Month.
Let us all cast our minds back, dear reader, to a much simpler time at the dawn of creation. Adam and Eve are froliccing in their delightful Garden, God doesn’t have too many humans to manage and the air has never been so fresh (because, up until this point, it had never existed). It’s the plants that make the Garden of Eden so wonderful; they suck up any and all pollutants and leave Adam and Eve with the luxuriously clean air to which they’ve become accustomed. And then they screwed it up because someone just had to be tempted and eat the forbidden fruit. Now, what if Adam had had the foresight to steal some of the seeds from the Garden’s plants so that he could plant his own Eden 2.0 while in exile? What if some of those seeds were still lying around for us to find today? What if…
Well we can all stop with the ‘what if?’ questions because the movie is going to explain exactly what would happen in this kind of scenario. Jocelyn is a brilliant plant archaeologist who isn’t afraid to be blonde and biblical. She and her team were the people who discovered Adam’s urn containing the seeds and sent it back to her boss Frame to carefully open and inspect the seeds. Frame lied to Jocelyn and said the urn was empty when in fact he’s been experimenting on them ever since the discovery. Unfortunately Frame wasn’t very selective when it came to hiring his other staff and one of his lackies is now trying to sell one of the seeds on the black market. Environmentalist kids Joe and Kate are there when the whole deal goes down and, as often happens in these situations, mistakes are made, people are accidentally shot and seeds from the dawn of time are dropped on the ground and allowed to take root.
Now, the world as we know it today is just slightly more polluted than when Adam and Eve were running around so the plant, doing what God made it to do, goes a little berserk in its growth. The bigger it is the better it is able to absorb all the pollutants in the atmosphere. While this is a very noble attempt on behalf of the plant some people aren’t so happy about the fact that it will have to bury most of the North American continent in order to do its job properly. Jocelyn, Agent Jack, Joe and Kate want to find a way to destroy the plant and stop its rapid-growth rampage across the country, but Frame has different ideas. He wants to study the plant and try and slow its growth, thinking that a modified version of the plant would be infinitely more useful to mankind. Either way someone’s gonna have to do something fast before it reaches the ocean and decides to go global and wreck everything. Only Stefanie von Pfetten can get us out of this mess of Biblical proportions!
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Adam and Eve were the very first international seed thieves.
- Government agents can’t develop a battle plan based on the Bible.
- Blonde plant scientists, however, are more than willing to base their theories on the Bible.
- In moments of extreme disaster you should always go with the plan that has virtually no chance of success and the most horrifying consequences.
- The whole point of having a safe haven is to keep innocent people out of it.
- The Bible has a very draconian approach to pollution and global warming.
- Dead boyfriends are of absolutely no use to anyone.
- Running blindly into a situation is the best way to find out if it will help you or kill you.
- There is a debate as to whether or not giant plants ravaging the Earth are a part of God’s greater plan.
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