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Blue Demon (2004)
An extremely low budget, if enjoyable, shark flick.
Blue Demon is a science fiction horror-comedy film directed by Daniel Grodnik. The film is about a group of scientists who have implanted computer chips into the brains of six Great White sharks, allowing them to control them. But when they are set free, they are forced to either capture, or kill them as they terrorize local beaches. The movie stars Deedee Pfeiffer, and Randall Batinkoff as the two head scientists, Marla, and Nathan Collins, who are preparing for a divorce, Danny Woodburn as the project's no-nonsense, and dwarf financer Lawrence Van Allen, Josh Hammond as Avery Dashlow, a computer technician employed by the scientists, and Jeff Fahey as General Remora, a general with a really bad haircut that is sent to check on the progress of the project.
The movie begins with a decently suspenseful, and well-directed sequence in which a group of college girls are attacked by the sharks while swimming in a lake. One of them ends up being killed, and the scene ends. This is the best scene in the movie, as it simply gets worse from here on out. The movie then cuts to Nathan, and Marla Collins who are going to Lawrence Van Allen's office to show him the progress of the project. They do their best to impress Van Allen, who is angered as a result of the death of the college girl, and the subsequent lawsuit it will cause. He is somewhat impressed by the demonstration of the sharks' abilities seen by security camera footage on a computer screen. He reminds them that General Remora, and other scientists will be visiting them in a few minutes, and they leave.
Next is a scene where Marla is attempting to feed the sharks in the enclosure. She accidentally drops her ring into the water, and falls in trying to grab it, and is knocked unconscious as a result. Nathan, and Avery eventually find her, and rescue her after she is almost eaten by the sharks. I don't expect a movie like this to have good camerawork, but the camerawork in this scene is simply ridiculous. The cinematography looks like something straight out of a news report, and the performances in the scene don't help much, either.
One month later, General Remora, and several other scientists have gathered in an underwater section of the lab. As they look out a window to see the sharks, they find that they are not there, and Nathan, Marla, Avery, and Van Allen head up to the surface to find that somebody has freed them. Next, a scene is shown in which two divers are fixing a fence that the sharks chewed through in order to escape into the lake earlier. The sharks then attack, and kill them, while, Katie, another maintenance worker, portrayed by Christine Lakin, watches in horror. Unlike the opening sequence, this scene has no suspense, or tension whatsoever, and utilizes several dizzying quick cuts in order to hide the fact that nothing is actually happening.
In the next scene, Nathan, Marla, Avery, Van Allen, and Remora have gathered in the lab, and it is discovered that a terrorist organization could've released the sharks, and that Nathan could be involved. Nathan is arrested, and taken to a police station. The film then cuts to a father and daughter fishing with another fisherman in a nearby lake. The father accidentally falls into the water, and is nearly eaten by one of the sharks, although manages to reach the dock. This scene is slightly better, and more suspenseful than the maintenance workers scene from earlier, although it still doesn't create enough tension to be scary, and a prosthetic shark fin can be seen being flipped over in one of the shots.
The film then shows Nathan being prosecuted at a police station. Marla then sneaks in, and kills the guard with a dart to the neck in one of the film's more comedic moments. The two then sneak off to warn the Coast Guard of the threat. Their attempts fail, however, as the Coast Guard hangs up on Nathan after he attempts to explain the situation. Meanwhile, Van Allen has discovered that Nathan, and Marla are on the run, and a manhunt is initiated for them. In the meantime, the sharks attack a couple on the lake, although the fisherman who was accompanying the father and daughter soon arrives, and kills one of the sharks with a harpoon gun. Now, for a shark movie, the effects early the film weren't that bad. They used prosthetic shark fins, and had real footage of sharks, and I always appreciate that when it comes to films like this. However, the producers must've decided that they had to use really crappy CGI sharks halfway through the movie, and this is where it starts. The scene where the one of the sharks is killed with a harpoon gun is absolutely atrocious, and doesn't look real in the slightest. But the effects only get worse...
Marla soon realizes that she can track the sharks using the computer chips, and the next few minutes of the movie is dedicated to the idiotic back, and forth between the bickering couple. They eventually track the sharks to a local beach, and Nathan attempts to warn people of the impending danger, although to no avail. The sharks kill several people, and Nathan is knocked unconscious while trying to get people out of the water. This scene would actually be okay for a shark attack scene if it weren't for the godawful performances from the extras. They look like they're just looking at a ship sailing in the distance, and don't look, or sound concerned at all. Meanwhile, Marla accidentally overloads the computer chips in the sharks' brains, seemingly killing all of them.
The next scene shows Nathan in a hospital bed, and wakes up to see an angel. Confused, he looks down to see that his legs are missing, causing him to scream in terror. The scene is then revealed to just be a dream, although Nathan is actually in a hospital bed. Dream scenes in movies are usually pretty unnecessary, especially in shark movies. And although the scene is very unnecessary, and only serves to lengthen the short 91-minute runtime, it does provide for a so-bad-its-good kind of laugh. Anyway, Nathan is in the hospital with only minor injuries, and is greeted by Marla, and Van Allen, who has called off the manhunt. Van Allen reveals that the alpha shark, Red Dog, is still alive, causing them to realize that he's being controlled by a different person.
Nathan, Marla, and Van Allen return to the lab, and confront Avery, whom they suspect is involved. It is soon revealed that Remora, and Avery are in cahoots on controlling Red Dog. In one of the poorest villain motivations ever, it is revealed that Remora is the head of the operation, and is doing it because he believes that America's security is too weak. As a result, in order to people more aware of terrorist dangers, he's going to place a bomb at the San Francisco Bridge using Red Dog as transportation. In the middle of his speech, Marla hilariously subdues him by throwing a life preserver over him. This somehow disables him from moving, and Nathan, and Marla begin chasing after Avery when he attempts to escape.
Nathan, and Marla follow Avery outside, and enter the back of his truck, where they discover carries the equipment used to control Red Dog. As Nathan goes outside to find Avery, Avery enters the truck, and begins driving off with Marla still inside. The next scene follows a poorly filmed, and boring so-called "car chase scene" that has Nathan attempting to catch up to Avery, despite the fact that his car is easily faster. Avery clumsily ends up crashing, and he's killed in the crash. Nathan finds Marla, and they manage to reprogram Red Dog to stray away from the CGI San Francisco Bridge. Seriously, they somehow didn't have the budget to travel to San Francisco, and get an establishing shot of the San Francisco Bridge.
Red Dog's lead direction leads him to the "default setting location": the lab. In the lab, Van Allen is holding Remora at gunpoint, and reporting him to national security. An alarm then sounds for no reason, and the camera zooms in on very poor, yet hysterical reaction shots of Van Allen, and Remora as Red Dog begins to approach the lab with the bomb in his mouth. Van Allen says one of the worst one-liners in movie history "Can you say sushi?!" before locking himself in a bomb shelter. Remora stands up smoking a cigar, and salutes before a white light meant to be an explosion engulfs the screen.
Sometime later, Nathan, and Marla are heading into court to discuss the whole incident. Marla soon reveals that she didn't file their divorce papers before they kiss awkwardly in front of Van Allen, and head inside. A voiceover of Marla explaining the incident is heard as the film ends.
Overall, the movie is obviously bad, but it is still enjoyable thanks to its light-hearted, and comedic nature. The acting is very cheesy, and cringey, but its enjoyable on a Room sort of level. The pacing is okay, and the effects are at first pretty good for a movie of this budget. At first. The first half of the movie relies on mainly prosthetic fins, and real shark footage. Unfortunately, after that, it delves into crappy CGI sharks that have no texture to them whatsoever. They even had to use a CGI San Francisco Bridge for some reason. However, the film is still enjoyable due to the aforementioned comedic nature. It knows what it is, and manages to slip in many really funny jokes as a result. However, the film's biggest flaw is that, despite the fact that it is technically a shark movie, not much of the movie focuses on the sharks, instead focusing on the annoying bickering between Nathan, and Marla, or the Remora-Avery conspiracy. Van Allen was definitely the best character in the movie, as he was funny, and kind of likeable despite his sarcasm, and serious nature. The best scene in the movie was the opening sequence, which was actually decently suspenseful, and well-directed. The film goes down from there, although still remains a perfectly tolerable shark flick that doesn't focus much on the shark. That is why I'm giving 3 out of 10 stars.
The Black Hole (2006)
An exciting concept that is unfortunately limited within its setting
This science fiction disaster thriller film was aired as a made-for-television film on June 10, 2006. The unrated film follows a scientific experiment gone wrong that creates a black hole that has the potential to destroy the Earth while also holding an entity from beyond. The 90-minute film stars Kristy Swanson as a scientist who witnessed the accident, Judd Nelson as her colleague who's hired to solve the problem, and David Selby as a colonel sent to supervise Nelson's commands. Nelson just seems washed up, and grumpy in his leading role, becoming a parody of what his character is supposed to be. Swanson, on the other hand, doesn't get enough to do and comes off as a bland supporting character. Selby is the best actor in the group by a long shot, bringing his character to life with a commanding voice, and strong emotions. Despite the fact that the black hole has the power the destroy the entire planet, it only ever eats up St. Louis, and the film becomes rather unexciting as a result. If the film had focused on the destruction of the planet created by the black hole, it would've been better as a result. Even worse, the alien-like entity controlling the black hole is never explained. Despite the limited setting, however, the film still stands as a thrilling drama that sees military officials, and scientists forced to make risky decisions. Like with most of Echo Bridge Home Entertainment's films, if you're looking for an action-packed adventure with a unique concept, just go watch The Core instead. But if you're looking for a thrilling film with life and death drama, look no further than The Black Hole. 7/10.
An interesting concept combining Dante's Peak, and Volcano is hampered by a boring execution
This disaster film was released as a made-for-television movie on February 25, 2006. The unrated film follows a group of underground workers in New York who begin to believe that a volcano lies under New York City, and is connected with an illegal drilling operation. The 92-minute long film stars Costas Mandylor as an underground pipe worker who first sees signs of a volcano, Eric Breker, Pascale Hutton, Zak Santiago, and Michael Boisvert as his co-workers, Alexandra Paul as his ex-wife, and a scientist working to uncover the strange phenomenon, Robert Moloney as Paul's associate, and Michael Ironside as the head of the illegal drilling operation. The film starts off with a cold open where a couple of Mandylor's co-workers are killed by scalding water. This 20-minute cold open causes you to believe that the film has a relatively unique concept, although this is later ruined by a hampered script that ambles along like a Hardy Boys mystery. Besides, all of the disaster clichés are here. The scientist hero, the mayor who won't listen to her, the doubting co-worker, and the villain who's armed with a gun. Nothing interesting really happens until over 50 minutes into the film when Mandylor, and Paul investigate the illegal drilling operation, and are held hostage by Ironside, who is the best performer in the group, and really seems to enjoy his scenery chewing role. While the performances are decent, the cinematography is below average. Shaky angles, and random closeups are filled in the well designed sets. Despite the bad cinematography, and clichés, the film is still an entertaining, and dramatic experience. If you're looking for an action-packed adventure, you won't find much in this film until the climax. If you're looking for a dramatic, and scientific story, this film should please you. I was expecting the former, but the film still turned out to be pretty good. 6/10.
Convoluted developments, and ridiculous subplots ruin an otherwise competent movie
This made-for-television science fiction action disaster miniseries was aired over two weeks in November of 2005. The unrated film documents the exploits of various people living in Washington, D.C. before,and during a category 7 hurricane hits the area. The film is a sequel to the television miniseries Category 6: Day of Destruction, which aired a year earlier, and, like that film, stars an ensemble cast including Cameron Daddo as an infamous author, Suki Kaiser as his wife, Gina Gershon as the new director of FEMA, Shannen Doherty, and Randy Quaid as a couple of paired storm chasers, Robert Wagner as Gershon's senator father, Adam Rodriguez as a USAF pilot, Sebastian Spence as an FPS agent, John Kapelos as the secretary of Homeland Security, James Kirk as Gershon's teenage son, Rachel Skarsten as Daddo's daughter, and Kirk's girlfriend, Peter Mooney as Kirk, and Skarsten's cocky rival, Noam Jenkins as the White House Press Secretary, Tom Skerritt as a Colonel, Kenneth Welsh as the Chief of Staff, Andrea Lui, and David Alpay as a couple of scientists, James Brolin, and Swoosie Kurtz as a couple of Christian fundamentalists, and Nicholas Lea, and Lindy Booth as a couple of their followers. The film starts off with a cold open set in an amusement park just as a hurricane hits it. The next hour, and fifteen minutes of the film is devoted to character introductions, and plot development. However, so many characters are introduced throughout this first hour, it's impossible to follow any of the story lines. Speaking of story lines, things finally become interesting in the second half when the titular storm hits. However, instead of focusing on the characters attempting to survive the storm, most of the second half is devoted to a ridiculous subplot involving Lea kidnapping Kirk, Skarsten, Mooney, and a group of other teenagers for reasons never fully explained. Speaking of ridiculous subplots, Brolin, and Kurtz play two Christian fundamentalists who are constantly luring in new convents, and become very annoying characters as a result, especially Brolin. Besides that, the movie also suffers due to the camera style. Random flashes of wide shots, and then a second later back to a closeup makes it very hard to follow what's going on. I honestly believe this might be the worse camera technique in a movie I've ever seen, excluding found footage movies. But despite all these faults, underneath is a strong, and dramatic story. Of course, if you're a disaster movie buff looking for some great action, you probably won't find a lot here, and I recommend watching Twister instead. Overall, the film isn't that bad, and is actually rather decent. I thought it was a pretty good movie. 6/10.
Airplane vs. Volcano (2014)
An Achievement of Stupid Nonsense
Where do I even begin? This disaster film was released direct-to-video by notoriously cheesy independent film company The Asylum on March 28, 2014. The 90-minute long film follows a commercial airliner as it flies into a ring of erupting volcanoes, becoming stuck on autopilot in the process, forcing a passenger, portrayed by Dean Cain, to step in, and fly the plane without landing it. Besides Cain, one other washed-up actor Robin Givens, known for her 90's sitcom Head of the Class co-tars as a volcanologist trying to help from the ground while simultaneously helping a military base with an evacuation. Despite Cain, and Givens receiving top billing, they barely receive enough screen time to really be considered leads. The actual lead roles are portrayed by Matt Mercer as a nerdy passenger, and Givens' colleague who attempts to reach contact with the ground, and Tamara Goodwin as the plane's stewardess who, despite being whiny, and annoying, knows her way with the men in the film. Seriously, she hugs at least 3 people throughout the course of the film. Co-starring are Morgan West as a military specialist whom helps Givens in the rescue of the plane, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs as an air marshal, and David Vega, who portrays one of the worst villains in film history. He portrays a psychopathic man with a fear of flying who threatens the passengers of the plane with tiny little broken bar bottles, which everybody is scared of for some reason. Before I continue, I need to address the film's implausible, and ridiculous premise. Alright, so instead of flying out of the ring of only six volcanoes, Cain chooses to just keep flying in the ring for what could possibly 6 hours, not to mention the improbability that they didn't die from heat exhaustion. Not only that, but the military planes manage to fly in, and out of the field within 5 minutes. Speaking of ridiculous plots, Mike Jerome Putnam portrays a Colonel on the ground who, for some reason, refuses to help the plane. The military's job is to serve, and protect the people of Earth. And yet, he seems to be more interested in his own life than the lives of 40-something people in a plane. Also, one in scene in the middle of the film where volcanic rocks fly down like meteors on the military base adds absolutely nothing, and should've been cut from the film entirely, not to mention all of the unnecessary slow-motion exhibited in the scene. Speaking of ridiculous scenes, the ending is just as bad, and seems more like a reenactment scene in the documentary television series Air Crash Investigation than a serious action sequence. With awful effects, dumb characters, and an implausible storyline, this film is overall worse than most of The Asylum's films, and that's saying something for this company. The film can only be enjoyed ironically, and is best experienced by making MST3K-type jokes about it. Airplane vs. Volcano is a cinematic abomination, and is perhaps one of The Asylum's worst films ever. I really have nothing good to say about the film, so I'm giving it a one out of ten. I thought is was complete garbage.
Apocalypse Pompeii (2014)
Not the Asylum's Worst
Despite negative press, the film isn't a total disaster. This direct-to-video disaster film was released by the notoriously cheesy independent film group The Asylum on home video on February 18, 2014. The unrated film follows a Special Ops Commando on a trip in Pompeii who attempts to rescue his wife, his daughter, and a group of other people after the infamous Mount Vesuvius erupts once more, trapping them inside the ruins of Pompeii. The film stars Adrian Paul, Jhey Castles, and Georgina Beedle as the aforementioned family, who attempt to reunite with one another in the midst of all of the chaos. Also starring is John Rhys-Davies reprising his role from previous Asylum picture 100 Degrees Below Zero as Colonel Dillard, and, frankly, he's the best performer here by a long shot. The rest of the struggling group are rounded out by Dylan Vox, and Dan Cade among others. The 88-minute long film is stretched out just enough to reach a feature-length running time, making it feel like an episode of MacGyver, only with cheesy effects as a result. Now, I really don't have a lot to say about the movie. It's your typical movie by The Asylum with bad effects, alright acting, and stretched out pacing. But then again, this is why we watch these films: for ironic enjoyment. Honestly though, the film isn't as bad as some of The Asylum's disaster films such as Airplane vs. Volcano. Instead, it's just your typical, comfortably paced low-budget movie, acting well in a "watching a movie while you fall asleep" situation. Despite the fact that the movie is one of The Asylum's better films, it's still exactly what you expect: A short direct-to-video film with cheesy effects. But the movie is still not all bad. I thought the film was just Meh...
A good way to kill 90 minutes
This action adventure horror thriller film was released on August 27, 2004, seven years after its predecessor was released, and earning back more than three times its budget of $20 million. The PG-13-rated film shares the same premise as the previous film: A group of Americans travel into the jungles of Borneo, where they are hunted by snakes, and killed off one by one. The 97-minute long film stars the villainous Matthew Marsden as the leader of a team of researchers, with KaDee Strickland, Eugene Byrd, Salli Richardson, and Nicholas Gonzalez as his colleagues, as well as Morris Chestnut as the CEO of the company he's working for, Johnny Messner as a boat captain, and Karl Yune as a boat skipper. Overall, the acting is better than the film needs to be, especially Marsden as the villain, but the film is just as bad as you'd expect. Although, the various characters getting killed off does make you smile. The film frankly goes by really quickly, as the fast-paced narrative, and director Dwight Little's steadfast direction makes the movie feel an hour shorter than it is. Before I finish the review, I need to point out the decline in quality in the effects used to make the titular snake. The snakes look as bad as Godzilla in Roland Emmerich's 1998 version, although this film's anaconda looks much better than the next two sequels (Offspring, and Trail of Blood). Overall, the film is a good way to kill 90 minutes, or if it's a lazy Sunday afternoon where you want to watch a movie that's so bad it's good. Although, I generally enjoyed the film, and not even ironically. 5/10.
Not as good as Total Drama, but pretty good
I just saw Total Drama: The Ridonculous Race, and I've also seen every episode of Total Drama. Just before I start the review, major spoil alert. So if you haven't seen this show, and want to actually watch it to find out what happened, do not see this review. Anyway, so first off, I overall liked Total Drama better, but this is pretty cool. I'll go for the reasons why I like, and dislike this series. About 4 characters (Geoff, Owen, Noah, and Leonard) from the original characters return for this show. But that's not a bad thing. Most of the new characters are rather likable. That, or you just love to hate them. On an opposite note, you just hate them. I mean, I'm glad that Geoff, Owen, and Noah from the first season of the Total Drama returned, but all three of them seem a little less intelligent than they did in the original series. I never really liked Noah in general, but fortunately, he gets a little less sarcastic on this show. That, and I ended up rooting for him because he developed a crush on a character named Emma. As new characters, Emma, and her sister Kitty are likable. Well, at least Kitty was. Emma, at first, was a total jerk. But as she started her relationship with Noah, she got more likable. Now for the last returning character, Leonard, who was on the last season, Total Drama: Pahkitew Island. I thought that was the weakest season. People say that Leonard was in both seasons for absolutely no reason, but honestly, I think he's funny. His belief in wizards just makes me laugh. It's his partner Tammy that I hate. Actually, I don't really hate her. I just never got to know her character. Then again, that was mostly because Leonard, and Tammy were the first ones voted off. The next two voted off are some of the first adult contestants in the Total Drama franchise. They were Gerry, and Pete, the tennis rivals. I dislike them. They jokes were simply unfunny, and they were generally annoying. I'm pretty glad they were voted off early. I pretty much hated how Chet, and Lorenzo, the Step-Brothers, were always fighting, and I never really paid attention to them. Tom, and Jen, the Fashion Bloggers, were bland, and like the Step-Brothers, I never paid attention to them. And as for the Geniuses, Ellody, and Mary, I never really got the point of them. They almost seemed to be opposites. Mary didn't speak until their last episode, and Ellody talked all the time. To other characters who really annoyed me were the Adversity Twins, Jay, and Mickey. No offense to people who face challenges, but everything for them was so dramatic. Another kid character who got on my nerves was Taylor, the daughter on the Mother and Daughter team. She was annoying spoiled brat, and I was so relieved when she was eliminated. I feel so bad for her mother, Kelly. And by the way, no offense to goths, but the Goths, Ennui, and Crimson, just freaked me out. Also, no offense to vegans, but they totally annoyed me. I mean, Laurie, and Miles just went overboard with being vegans, such as believing in various spirits. It just got tiring after a while. Also, one of the Rockers, Spud, got on my nerves after a while. He was constantly letting down his teammate, Rock. I wondered why Rock picked Spud as his teammate. I haven't talked about Geoff in a while, but his teammate on his team the Surfers, Brody, was a little dumb, but still likable. Now, my favorite female character on this show was MacArthur on the Police Cadets. She was tough-witted, strong, and interesting. I also like her partner Sanders. If you're wondering, I saw the ending where the Police Cadets won instead of the Surfers. I though it was a pretty good ending overall. My favorite couple was probably (eventually) Carrie, and Devin. I liked the "will they, or will they not" story line between them. I mean, they originated as the Best Friends, hence their team name. Speaking of couples, I liked the Daters, Ryan, and Stephanie, but after they started fighting, they got pretty annoying. Well, mostly Stephanie did. She kept bossing Ryan around like nobody's business, and I ended up feeling bad for Ryan. Now, I think the best villains on this show were the the Ice Dancers, Jacques, and Josee. They were pretty intimidating, especially Josee. But my favorite character on this show is Junior, from the Father and Son team. I'm about his age, so I can really relate to him. He's constantly embarrassed by his father, Dwayne, and I can relate to him on that. I'm constantly embarrassed by my mother. I think Junior might just be my favorite character in the entire Total Drama Franchise. And finally, a reality show isn't complete without its host. Don (No last name) is the host of the show, hence the title The Ridonculous Race. He's apparently "as smooth as a piece of toast". In my opinion, he's also as bland as a piece of toast. Obviously I liked Chris, and Chef, and Don eventually got on my nerves. He's too concerned about being the perfect host, and isn't evil enough that you love to hate him. I liked most of the challenges, and the characters. Even though the show isn't as good as its predecessor, but it's pretty good overall. The show's worth watching at least once.