Mega Python vs. Gatoroid
by Jason Coffman
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It’s always a tricky proposition when someone sets out to make an intentionally bad movie that’s also still entertaining. Often the results are embarrassingly unwatchable or— sometimes even worse— competent but not bad enough to really earn a cult reputation (see also: Snakes on a Plane). The SyFy cable channel has been making low-budget creature features since they spelled their own name correctly, but lately they’ve made a move toward embracing the camp factor of these direct-to-cable horrors by hiring out mockbuster studio The Asylum and Roger Corman to produce “giant monster” movies. While Mega Python vs. Gatoroid may not have as gloriously bizarre a creature as Sharktopus in a leading role, this Asylum production nonetheless features more than one titanic showdown: the one in the title, and the one between Tiffany and Debbie Gibson.
Each of these 80’s pop superstars was featured in their own previous SyFy films: Tiffany in Mega Piranha and Debbie Gibson in Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. Someone must have decided to only way to up the ante would be to pit these two ladies against each other as a parallel to the giant monster action and— inexplicably— bring in Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary) to direct. Anyone not familiar with The Asylum’s previous productions might think hiring all these big names are what led to the hilariously awful CGI effects, but everyone else will know better.
Dr. Nikki Riley (Deborah “Debbie” Gibson) leads a team of animal activists who free snakes from captivity and set them loose in the Florida Everglades. The introduction of alien species begins to wreak havoc on the local ecosystem, and Ranger Terry O’Hara (Tiffany) sets out to find out why the alligator population has been drastically reduced. When it becomes clear that the snakes are killing the alligators, a harried O’Hara decides to help out in the reptile arms race by feeding some local gators an experimental steroid that causes unchecked muscle growth. Soon enough, it seems things are back to normal. At least until consultant Dr. Diego Cortiz (A. Martinez) discovers evidence that giant snakes are on the loose.
Most of Mega Python vs. Gatoroid consists of the story lines of each female lead as they move inexorably toward a climactic showdown at an Everglades fundraiser. Much of the leads’ dialogue consists of them yelling at each other and calling each other “bitch,” with occasional none-too-subtle references to their hit songs. While the ladies appear to be having a good time, this does get a little wearing after a while, so it’s a welcome change once the epic catfight begins and signals the movement of the film’s action from the Everglades to the city, where the giant snakes and gators go on a rampage that quickly reaches “Looney Tunes” levels of absurdity.
This last act is by far the best part of the film, but it’s all such goofy fun that it’s not hard to sit through to get to the good stuff. While it’s barely more than an excuse to play off the rivalry of its two leads, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid has enough moments of inspired mayhem to make it worth a watch for fans of intentional camp, although it’s probably not quite bad enough to become a cult classic. Maybe if they hadn’t sprung for Mary Lambert, it would have been a different story.
Image Entertainment releases Mega Python vs. Gatoroid on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, 21 June. Special features include a trailer and a behind-the-scenes featurette.
Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He writes reviews for Film Monthly and “The Crown International Files” for Criticplanet.org as well as contributing to Fine Print Magazine (www.fineprintmag.net).
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