Videodrone B-Sides for August: SyFy Sharks versus 'Bigfoot'
Our monthly round-up of direct-to-disc and made-for-cable pictures that slip on to the New Release racks
We lead off our monthly round-up of direct-to-disc and made-for-cable pictures that slip on to the New Release racks with a trio of SyFy original movies, a menagerie of monster mashes that have become the channel's signature for Saturday night entertainment: drive-in movies for the in-home crowd.
"Bigfoot" (The Asylum) relocates to South Dakota for this aggressively overstuffed romp built around the not-so-high concept face-off of the seventies child sitcom stars Danny Bonaduce (of "The Partridge Family") and Barry Williams ("The Brady Bunch") as rivals battling over environmental protection during an Eighties Music Festival produced by deejay turned promoter Bonaduce and protested by eco-activist Williams and his coterie of adoring young women. It turns out Bigfoot, a CGI rag doll of a shabby King Kong knock-off, doesn't like construction, feedback, or people in general, and he goes on a rampage through the cast-of-dozens at the festival and ends up (where else?) at Mount Rushmore.
There is a lot of bad CGI on SyFy Original Movies. That's part of the kitschy fun that people get in their Saturday night monster movie fixes. "Bigfoot" offers some of the worst, in part because it reaches for visual spectacle on a TV budget. The creature wobbles as it walks and hops around the stone faces of Mount Rushmore like a character in a "Super Mario Brothers" video games. Jet fighters lob missiles at the national monument. And when all else fails, Bigfoot simply stomps on his victims. With his big foot, of course. Director Bruce Davison (apparently unleashing all of his pent-up aggression from starring in the family-friendly Bigfoot TV show "Harry and the Hendersons") forgoes any pretense of dignity and simply lets everyone have fun, from the jerkfest squabble between Bonaduce and Williams to the rest of the stunt casting: Sherilyn Fenn ("Twin Peaks") as the sheriff and Howard Hessman ("WKRP in Cincinnati") as the mayor, Davison as an old cop offering advice, and Alice Cooper as himself, the only legitimate act at the music fest.
DVD only, with a featurette.
"Jersey Shore Shark Attack" (Anchor Bay) – It's all there in the title: the mook culture of "Jersey Shore" faces a shark infestation and these muscleheaded beach bums are the only ones that can take them, since nobody believes them. This school of prehistoric albino sharks, it turns out, are hit-and-run feeders with a gift for a quick getaways and disposing of leftovers. So between break-ups and skirmishes in their on-going war with the stuck-up preppies trying to gentrify their working-class beachfront, they go commando on the sharks armed with the best fireworks beach bums can buy. It's not really very clever (the humor doesn't rise much above names like The Complication and Nookie and a half-dozen Vinnies) and I can't say if this is a parody of "Jersey Shore" culture or a pale imitation of the real thing. But it certainly doesn't take itself seriously and has fun with the idiocy of the fatheaded hardbodies whose lives revolve around hooking up, working out, and drinking fruity cocktails. The celebrity count for this one comes down to Paul Sorvino of "GoodFellas," Tony Sirico of "The Sopranos," TV vet Jack Scalia, and boy band celeb Joey Fatone as himself.
Blu-ray and DVD, with commentary by director John Shepphird and the film's producers, and a featurette.
Cribbing its title from the brilliant branding of the Discovery Channel's nature gone wild programming, "Shark Week" (The Aylum) is another shark movie / reality TV mash-up, this one cribbed from "Survivor" (by way of "The Most Dangerous Game"). Top-billed Patrick Bergin and Yancy Butler play the evil gamemasters who kidnap eight generic victims (apparently they are responsible for the death of his son), dump them on a tropical island, and send them through a series of challenges that involve shark traps and bloody victims. Like "Bigfoot," this is from The Global Asylum, a busy little B-movie outfit cranking out productions for SyFy, and they've found a natural collaborator in director Christopher Ray, who turns out to be the son of Fred Olen Ray, one of the most prolific exploitation filmmakers in the entire world. DVD only, with a featurette.
"Hell" (Arc Entertainment), also known as "Apocalypse," is a survival thriller from Germany set in a future when the sun has baked the Earth into a wasteland Would you believe that Roland Emmerich is the executive producer? German and English soundtracks. Blu-ray and DVD.