Okay, look, it’s not that I’ve been boycotting Sharknado; this isn’t some high-n-mighty, I’m-above-that-kind-of-crap thing. I’ve recently watched Xanadu, Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park, and tons of late-70s Italian space operas (my own weakness; a movie like Star Odyssey tickles my equivalent of Mowrer’s Van Helsing Cortex) – all of my own volition, so clearly crap is something I not only don’t have a problem with, I actively seek it out.
Besides, if you apply Sturgeons Law, there’s a lot of crap out there, and I’m a busy man. I don’t go for just any old crap. I want the best crap.
The crap I enjoy tends to fall into one of two categories. The first: crap where they legitimately thought they were making something great, or at least competent, and just didn’t have the resources, or more often, the skills, to pull it off. That’s your Manos, your 1994 unreleased Fantastic Four, your anything by Ed Wood or Coleman Francis.
The second: crap where skilled, talented people said, “we’re making a movie about a cyborg Sasquatch? Fuck it, we’re gonna make the BEST cyborg Sasquatch movie the world has ever seen!” Say what you will about your Roger Cormans and your Lloyd Kaufmans, they know what crap-loving audiences want to see, and they’ve employed some great filmmakers, all with the vision of bringing the finest handcrafted crap to screens the world over.
Which is why I don’t have much time for The Asylum.
I’ll say this for The Asylum: they put a lot of effort…intto coming up with titles. This is a company who made their bones with what’s been dubbed “mockbusters;” movies with a title similar-to-but-legally-
Their business strategy seems to be: “Hey, I wonder if Redbox has that Clash-somethingsomething yet? Clash Of Empires? I guess that’s the one…?”
If you’ve actually seen one of their movies, chances are it’s been on *sigh* SyFy, whose friday nights, even before Sharknado, were routinely given to The Asylum’s ersatz American Kaiju throwdowns, like Mega-Python Vs. Gatoroid, or whichever Mega-Shark one is on that week. It’s not hard to figure out what I, John Q. Crap-Lover, want out of a movie with a title like that.
Hint: Debbie Gibson is not it.
And that’s where The Asylum falls down for me. Everything I’ve seen of theirs – and for a while, the Mowrers and the Bowens would make an event of these SyFy premieres – has broken down to about 25% whatever-the-title-promises, with the rest given over to schticky filler, with that-guy-you-remember-from-that-thing-that-time and a bunch of random day players. I follow the Poochie Rule: whenever Crocosaurus is not on screen, all the other characters should be asking “Where’s Crocosaurus”? All onscreen action should revolve around the impending arrival of Crocosaurus, the death and destruction being caused by Crocosaurus, or the aftereffects of Crocosaurus. If I want to see Debbie Gibson wrestling with Tiffany, I’d time-travel back to 1987.
Everything I’ve seen by The Asylum – which, admittedly, is far from comprehensive – has failed to fall into either category of crap; they know they’re not making anything of quality, but neither are they concerned with delivering a satisfying experience of crap. Put it this way: if I eat dogshit ten times, and it makes me puke, then that eleventh dogshit has to work pretty hard to convince me to eat it. You know what I’m talking about, right?
And yet the internet, nay society, has embraced Sharknado, with all the same fervor they showed for twerking, Doge, and, most worryingly, Snakes On A Plane.
That one wasn’t from The Asylum, but it’s the most recent example of a movie that only lived up to its title in a literal sense; there were motherfuckin’ snakes, they were on a motherfuckin’ plane, and Samuel L. Jackson had had it with them. Other than that iconic scene (arguably the first time the course of a movie was altered by internet memes), Snakes On A Plane was worse than bad. It was boring.
So, much like a Ghostbusters fan talking to Dan Aykroyd, I’ve had my heart broken enough times that the hype doesn’t affect me. Still, given the movie’s ubiquity over the past year, my not having seen it puts me in the same camp as that guy who stridently lectures you on why he doesn’t use Facebook (as opposed to stridently lecturing you on why I haven’t seen a movie about a tornado of sharks). More importantly, Mowrer has passionately endorsed it, and there’s a man who knows his Finema. I can’t remain the last holdout.
So here’s what’s happening: watch our Twitter this weekend – probably Saturday – as we live-tweet my first viewing of Sharknado. I may love it, I may hate it. But I promise, I’m going into this with an open mind.
Oh, and chime in on my question: with or without Rifftrax?