Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Asylum Mega Marathon Part 1: Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus

I would've just as soon called this one Megalodon vs Kraken.

Yeah, I know I've already churned out one blog entry tonight, but I saw these movies listed on Netflix and decided it was too good to pass up. For the next few entries on Coffee With The Cynic's blog, we're going to be having The Asylum Mega Marathon: a sanity-lacking journey through three films by Asylum studios featuring the word "Mega" in the title. I know there's a fourth Asylum film with this word in the title, but unfortunately, it is not on Netflix, so I'll have to skip Mega Piranha, I'm afraid. So let's get it started with Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus.

Writer/director Ace Hannah (sounds like a porn star name) brings us the story of Dr. Emma MacNeil (80s pop singer Debbie Gibson), as she discovers frozen in the Alaskan sea a monumental find: a Megalodon, the largest shark in the history of the world, and a Giant Octopus frozen in an iceberg in mid-combat. However, the military is testing illegal sonar equipment and this causes a pod of whales to accidentally crash into the ice, breaking the creatures free. When Emma is fired from her work for stealing a mini-sub for this mission, she enlists in the help of her former professor (Sean Lawlor) and a Japanese marine biologist (Vic Chao), who is investigating recent attacks on oil rigs, to bring these two creatures back into the same water so they can finish what they started all those millions of years ago.

Yes, folks. The shark takes out an airplane. All this absurdity and more.

Okay, obviously you can't take a movie called Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus remotely seriously, otherwise you're setting yourself up for a rough night. When I hit "Play movie" on Netflix for this one, I sat down and thought, "Okay, let's just see how cheesy and hilariously bad this movie really is." But even when I didn't take the film seriously, I was still finding myself disappointed. Sure, the Megalodon (what they keep calling the shark, although Megalodon's never got to be this large) getting the plane or taking a bite out of the Golden Gate Bridge was good for a laugh, as was Asylum's attempt to build character development, but this movie didn't reach into that "So bad it's good" territory for me as it did with so many others. This was no Evil Dead II or Street Fighter, that's for sure.

Debbie Gibson doesn't look half bad in this movie. She's aged well.

I haven't watched any of these direct-to-TV/DVD films in a long time, so I'm kind of brushing off the rust with this review. The acting is about as wooden as you'd expect from most of the characters, sounding like they are reading their lines from the offscreen script or that they just don't give a damn. All of these actors are pretty bad, with Sean Lawlor standing out to me the most, making it sound like he got his acting lessons from The Room's Tommy Wiseau. Lorenzo Lamas was another actor that was bad to me, but not in that cheesy bad way. Lamas was just annoying, with no enjoyment from his crap performance to be had (something the rest of the cast possessed) and I just hated having him onscreen.

You know, for every scene we had that douchebag on screen, we could've had more of this: Kraken vs Megalodon...fighting...I think...

The special effects from Tiny Juggernaut are what you'd expect for a movie like this. I'm torn as to whether I should just shrug off the effects for being as cheese-tastic as they were or lace into them for not being poor and laughably bad enough. Sure, you get some really bad effects shots (like the Megalodon's fin going through the water without creating a wake, for instance), but some of the effect shots aren't terrible. They still aren't good, by any means, but for a movie like this, if you're gonna be cheesy about it, then why not go for broke and have really, REALLY phoned in CGI like I saw in Slushy Man's review of 100,000,000 B.C.? That would've been comedic gold and added to the value of this film. There were also a couple of scenes that reused the same footage over and over again and one scene where the post-production team didn't even bother editing out the green screen from one shot, so the cheese is there, at least.

So I guess the final question is this, "Was Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus really as bad as everyone says it is?" Well, yeah, but it's not nearly as humorous as many seem to think it is. I don't know, for an Asylum production, it really seems like a lot of effort went into this one. Let's hope the sequel, Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus has more (un)intentional laughs in it than this one.

-The Cynic


  1. The thing with these movies is, you gotta be a lover of them to truly appreciate the badness, lol. A person who only occasionally dabbles in this stuff looks at a movie like this and just thinks it's shit. But if you're used to watching this kind of stuff, then you start to see the true cheese and charm a lot clearer. I admit, the first time I watched it, I didn't like it much, but it was also one of my first Bad movie experiences. After spending the last few years watching about 85% of Asylum's catalog, along with a rather large side-portion of SyFy Original Movies, I recently re-visited this one and enjoyed it a lot more.

    With that said however, even though Mega Shark 2 has even worse effects, worse acting, and possibly even less of a story - I loved it even more then this one. Gary Stretch alone makes the second one more entertaining then this one IMO. His banter with the Steve Urkell dude is Golden.

    But when it all comes down to it, while I LOVE these kinds of bad B movies to death, I really can't fault anyone for disliking them either. Much like wine and many other things - they're an acquired taste that I can totally understand the majority of people not acquiring, lol.

    Also, thanks for the shout-out :)

    Another also - Sharktopus, while not an Asylum movie, is more of an enjoyable Bad movie then this one was IMO. I don't think it's on Netflix, but if you ever get the chance to check it out, do it. The Director's Commentary for it that's on the BluRay (And I assume the DVD as well, but I'm not sure as I only own the BluRay) is actually really informative and goes through the process of making a SyFy channel movie, and the rather long list of 'Musts' the SyFy execs give them that they have to follow, which explains a lot of things in Sharktopus, in this (Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus was made by Asylum, but FOR SyFy so it also had to follow the guidelines), and in almost any other SyFy-aired movie (with a couple exceptions). Probably on of the best and most informative commentaries I've ever seen on a low-budget bad B movie, especially one made for SyFy.

    Anyway, I'm done writing this novel now I think, lol. Nice to see other people dabbling into the Asylum pool, even if it is for a negative experience :)

  2. Well, this is only first venture into The Asylum, so I'm not entirely surprised it wasn't as enjoyable as others. However, if the second one has even worse effects, acting & story, then I think I might hit an upslope of cheese with that one.