Image Entertainment // 2011 // 91 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // May 27th, 2011
"Ohh, somebody had bitch for breakfast!"
It can't be possible that anyone involved in bringing Mega Python vs. Gatoroid to the screen ever mistook this project for a good movie. The screenplay is littered with knowingly awful dialogue, whilst the cast is practically winking at the camera the whole time. Still, just because a film openly acknowledges the fact that it's cheesy, campy, and ever so slightly naff, does it mean it should be judged any differently?
The plot, which is as ridiculous as it sounds, kicks off when a nest of snakes is released in to the everglades by a group of animal activists led by Dr. Nikki Riley (Debbie Gibson). These are no ordinary snakes, and they soon grow to enormous size and begin killing the local alligator population. In an attempt to quell this threat, Park Ranger Terry O'Hara (Tiffany) hands out permits to local hunters to destroy the pythons. Things don't go to plan, however, and the hunters are quickly outnumbered and killed by the snakes; amongst those killed is Terry's fiancé.
Determined to have revenge for her fiancé's death -- and save her beloved reptiles in the process -- Terry obtains an experimental serum that neutralizes muscle inhibitors and increases aggression. Having injected the serum into dead chickens, Terry feeds them to the gators, causing them to grow to unbelievable sizes. As the giant alligators and pythons go to war in the everglades, so do Dr. Riley and Ranger O'Hara in defense of their favored species.
Perhaps even more so than the attention grabbing title, the biggest draw for Mega Python vs. Gatoroid is the chance to see Eighties teen idols Debbie Gibson and Tiffany face off against each other. Seemingly indifferent to the rising death toll, each pop princess picks a side in the battle of the meta-creatures, leading to the catfight we've all been waiting for since the two competed for the front cover of Teen Beat. Indeed, very few men who were teenagers back in the day won't be thanking the good Lord when Gibson smears Tiffany's ample cleavage with cream as their scrap moves to the buffet table. If all that wasn't poptastic enough for you, Micky Dolenz makes a surprise cameo appearance. Sadly all this does little to distract from the real monstrosity that is the screenplay.
To the film's credit, it moves along at a good pace, with scenes generally staying brief and to the point. Beyond that there are only problems. Budgetary constraints mean that action scenes are quite limited, both in numbers and in scope. As such, much of the film revolves around repetitive clashes between Gibson and Tiffany, with a side order of scientific mumbo-jumbo thrown in to add a little variety. Alongside dialogue that references both ladies' singing careers ("I think we're alone now...there doesn't seem to be anyone around"), we also get such zingers as: "We're just feeding steroids to 'gators. There's nothing crazy about this. What could go wrong?" In what looks like the writers throwing everything including the kitchen sink into their story, the film climaxes with the mighty beasts leaving behind the everglades and heading towards a nuclear power plant. Having ascertained that they have a common enemy, the two groups of beasts defy all logic and seem to instinctively locate the nuclear plant and set out to destroy the human menace that plagues them both. It doesn't matter that this occurrence is seemingly out of the blue, and left completely unexplained; all that matters is that we get a fast and loud finale.
With such a limited budget to play with, the CGI creations range from laughable to atrocious. Beyond the 'gators and pythons, we also get a few shots involving a CGI helicopter. It's no exaggeration to say the level of CGI is that of a low-end Playstation 2 cut scene.
Going back to my original question -- which was whether a film should be excused its sins if it doesn't deny them -- the answer, of course, is that a bad movie is just that: a bad movie. Sure, plenty of films are "so bad they're good," but such films usually achieve that feat purely by chance. Films that actively seek cult status do not deserve such lenience when they come up short. For all its enthusiasm, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid is just a very boring movie that aims low and still misses the target. I'd love to have been caught up in the fun the cast and crew clearly had, but sadly none of it made it to the screen.
The screener copy sent for review featured no extras, though the Image Entertainment website does list a featurette being included with the retail copy. The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer was generally pleasing on the eye, with good black levels, color reproduction, and levels of detail. The screener included a stereo soundtrack, which, again, according to the Image Entertainment website, will be replaced by a 5.1 mix for the retail version.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated