Written by: Naomi L. Selfman
Directed by: Mary Lambert
Starring: Debbie Gibson and Tiffany
Reviewed by: Brett G.
“You are gonna get it, you gator-baiting bitch!”
The SyFy Channel (and occasional cohort Roger Corman) have basically cornered the market on career assassination attempts with their recent string of creature-features. Whatever was left of the careers of Eric Roberts and Eric Balfour were swallowed by Sharktopus and Dinoshark, respectively; next on the chopping block are 80s icons Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, and they’ve dragged poor Mary Lambert (of Pet Sematary fame) along with them in Mega Python vs. Gatoroid . Corman is conspicuously missing in action this time around (no doubt dreaming up some other awesome aquatic mash-up), but don’t think SyFy is alone because Z-grade kings The Asylum are here instead (you should be terrified at this point).
Gibson is a staunch environmentalist who frees some snakes into an Everglades gator reserve that’s run by Tiffany. Both nature and the two pop icons run amok, and everything from the characters to the scenery gets chewed up. Luckily, there’s a steady supply of rednecks on hand to help quell the monstrous uprising. That is, until the creatures begin growing to their “mega” and “gatoroid” stature, at which point the two must put aside their rivalry and form a tag team everyone thought they’d only see in their dreams (that’s the last awkward song reference, I promise).
If you’ve already read the reviews for the likes of the aforementioned Sharktopus and Dinoshark, just apply the same criticisms here, with one surprising caveat: Mega Piranha vs. Gatoroid might be the best SyFy monster mash yet, which is of course the equivalent of saying a groin pull is preferable to a hernia. You’ve got your super-low production values, CGI effects that are more fake than Tiffany’s rack (which is easily the best oversized beast in the film), and plenty of gruesome schlock. But the film also has a gleeful awareness of its own campiness and plays it up with all sorts of in-jokes and general kitsch. At one point, Asylum even literally sends itself up in flames, which is exactly where most people would like to see them.
In this one, the monstrous main-event has a decent undercard in the form of the Tiffany/Debbie Gibson rivalry that has spilled onto the screen about 25 years too late. This is actually the second tour of the Asylum for each, and the much maligned company delivers exactly what was on the minds of the 9 people who saw Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus and Mega Piranha: “hey, they should put these two together!” No matter which side of the rivalry you come down on (before this Twilight bullshit, there was “Team Tiffany” and “Team Debbie”), you’ll probably enjoy the novelty of seeing the two finally go at it. This entails the two calling each other a bitch a lot before finally having a knock-down, drag-out catfight; I won’t reveal the winner, but I’ll say that both feel out of their element as actresses, though Gibson fares better (sorry, Team Tiffany).
I’d say the duo shouldn’t quit their day jobs as pop singers, but I’m not sure they have them anymore (though each does have a pop tune on the film’s soundtrack!). And if these two aren't enough to satisfy your thirst for faded singers, the flick throws in a surprise cameo from an even more ancient pop star too, which just shows its commitment to reminding you how silly the proceedings are. As far as crappy movies featuring huge, clashing animals go, this one does just about everything it should: it’s light on (okay, devoid of) character development, heavy on action, and sports a sizeable body count. Since this is a “nature gone amok” flick, it must have the requisite, Jaws-inspired excuse for idiots to gather in a place inhabited by man-eaters.
The movie does unexpectedly sag during the final act, where hell is truly raised on a city-wide scale; of course, the budget for overlaying terrible-looking CGI on a Miami cityscape eventually runs out, leaving us with an underwhelming climax. But hey, the trip getting there is kind of fun. If you didn’t already catch this one when it aired on SyFy earlier this year, good for you--obviously, you have a life that doesn’t involve watching crappy TV movies on Saturday night. Thanks to Image Entertainment’s DVD/Blu-ray release, you can now watch this movie suck on your own dime and time. The standard-def release is fine--it won’t redefine your DVD experience, but the transfer is clean and the soundtrack loud. There’s only two special features--a making-of featurette and the film’s trailer, so if you were hoping for Tiffany and Debbie music videos, you might have to wait for their next cinematic rematch. And I actually hope that happens--and hopefully next time, they’ll bring Corman along for the ride. Rent it!
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