Dracula’s Curse (2006)

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DAMN YOU THE ASYLUM – after promising to never review any of their movies again (over-reliance on unpaid interns, terrible health & safety, and that all their movies suck) they managed to stealth another one past me. Having rather enjoyed “Wolvesbayne”, which I discovered after watching was this movie’s sequel, I thought there was at least half a chance I’d like this one, too.

 

Oh, how wrong I was! First up is a change of director – although Leigh Scott wrote both movies, Griff Furst stepped in to direct “Wolvesbayne”, while this was also directed by Scott. Looking at his list of credits is realising that some people have too much money, and some TV channels have too much time to fill, because there’s no other excuse for that much garbage. ISCFC readers will remember him from “Transmorphers”, and his family might, possibly, remember all the other popular-franchise-ripping-off crap that doubles as his resume.

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I’m sad we’re doing this in 2015, because back around 2008 or so, it seems Mr Scott was pretty active on the message board section of IMDB, and would insult people who didn’t like his stuff. Dammit! Normally, I’ll say “any criticism of this guy’s movies can be tempered by the fact he went out there and did it, while I sat at this dull office job and insulted him” (directors do occasionally happen upon the ISCFC) but honestly, I’d rather do my job than be known as the guy who directed “Dracula’s Curse” and “Transmorphers”. Remember, directors, writers and producers (especially at the lower end of things) aren’t cleverer, or better, or more talented, than any of us, they’re just richer or have better connections.

 

I suppose I ought to talk about the movie a bit. Actually, no I won’t, not yet – while “Wolvesbayne” is clearly supposed to be a sequel to this, I think because they were made by different companies they had to play all that down, which is the only way I can think of to explain the wafer-thin continuity between the two. One of the many problems of making a movie with public domain characters (Dracula) and real historical figures (Countess Bathory) in it, I suppose. It’s quite funny that anyone thought this was crying out for a sequel (the only laugh you’ll get while watching this, certainly), but there you go.

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Movie! There’s a group called “The Nine”, vampire hunters who are so strong and powerful that they’ve beaten the world’s vampires into submission. The vampires sue for peace, and an uneasy truce is forged between the two – the Nine will stop hunting vampires, and the vampires will stop hunting humans. This holds for five years, until Countess Bathory and her tedious underlings decide to break the truce pretty much for no reason (there is a reason given, but it’s stupid and doesn’t really make sense).

 

The Nine are made up of people who I honestly couldn’t pick out of a lineup, and I saw the movie less than 24 hours ago. The men are all moody and wear long coats, the women are all pouty and wear cut-off tops to show their model-toned midriffs – not a muscle or scar on any of these professional vampire hunters. I also think everyone in this film is in a competition to smoke a cigarette in the most ridiculously “cool” way possible, to the extent where lighting one stands in for character development in some cases.

Were they taking the piss with this makeup?

Were they taking the piss with this makeup?

Anyway, blah blah blah, there’s vampires and the ludicrous twist that gives the “Bram Stoker’s” attachment a reason to be there, and so on. First things first, it’s too long and there’s way too many characters in it. Low-budget genre pictures really shouldn’t ever cross the 90 minute threshold, and this lumbers to a close at 107. Having a group of nine hunters, plus all the vampires, means there’s no way of giving them all a character, so there’s people whose main job appears to be posing in the background (either with a weapon or a cigarette, depending). No-one ever told Scott to get to the point, it would seem.

 

Blade has cast a long shadow, to the point where I’m sure some people now think that all vampires automatically know kung-fu, swordplay and that sort of John Woo-lite bullet ballet. When you’ve got no money and none of your cast are any good at that sort of thing, it might be better to just not do it, stick to your “strengths” (I’m sure they have some) and not try and hide it with cheap camera trickery.

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Anyway, that’s about all I can be bothered to say about this. If I thought this was the best they could achieve with the time and people they had, I’d be at least sympathetic, but it’s not. They have a potential leading actress in Sarah Lieving buried down the cast, give the voiceover duties to Rhett Giles, who sounds like he’d rather be filling in his tax forms, and don’t even feel like they’re trying. Whatever reason director Leigh Scott got into the movie business, whatever burning desire he has to tell tales, he really ought to reconsider. There are other jobs, and I hope he takes one, soon.

 

Rating: thumbs down

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Snakes On A Train (2006)

Those numbers are more like 12 and 50

Those numbers are more like 12 and 50

The response to our review of “War Of The Worlds” was so deafening – zero comments, about 5 page views – that we just had to carry on with our Asylum mockbuster-skewering. Weirdly, my wife was pretty excited about this one, being a fan of “Snakes On A Plane”, but did it live up to those expectations?

As you will learn later, the film revolves around a young Mexican couple, who are desperate to cross over the border and get to the guy’s Uncle in LA. Why? Because they’re running from an arranged marriage, so her family put the Snake Curse on her. This involves snakes coming out of her body regularly, and…well, the endgame of this curse is a little fuzzy, but there’s your plot. They get to El Paso, Texas, board a train for LA, and that’s where the magic happens.

The train is mostly empty, thanks to the Asylum not wanting to pay extras, so we’re left with a collection of stereotypes. The three stoner surfer dudes; the family where the husband appears to be the victim of domestic violence; two young women off to try and be actresses; a helpful guy who seems to know the main couple; and a group of hispanic villains, who’ve paid off the porter to give them an entire carriage to carry out their nefarious activities.

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It’s a pretty gross movie. The snakes emerging from the woman’s mouth do so in gallons of green goo; she definitely has real snakes in there a few times too, which can’t have been great for her or the snake. Snake-bites cause bits of flesh to start falling off, and overall it’s a much gorier movie than its mockbustee. These effects – actual, real effects – all look decent. Talking of gross, one of the villains uses this line as an insult – “your mother’s c**t smells like carpet cleaner”. Say what you mean, guys!

Before we get to the events on the poster above – yes, it really happens – it’s important to mention how this doesn’t let us down in the incompetence stakes. The two wannabe actresses are also smuggling drugs, and their entire subplot, with a former DEA guy and another, unidentified, guy who’s tracking them all, is never resolved or really explained – we do get a scene where the former cop blackmails the woman into stripping and then almost rapes her, which is both uncomfortable and out of place in this movie. Rather than dragging a snake-spewing woman across an international border, why didn’t the Uncle come to them? Why does there have to be a scene on the roof in every damn train movie?

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So, yes, the poor unfortunate cursed woman does eventually and inexplicably turn into an enormous snake and eat the train, but…ah, the ending is pretty OTT and funny. I’ll leave you to discover that for yourselves.

Wooden acting, confusing set (I can’t figure out what order the train carriages are in), unresolved plotlines, cheap, and dull. If the entire film were at the level of the last five minutes, I’d be shouting this film’s praises, but no, although there is something positive to say about this movie…

Award time! We’ve already got the Caroline Award, named for my wife, for films that have male, but no female, nudity. Now we have the Mark Award, for films where an annoying kid dies. Kids die so rarely in movies, almost always just plot devices that it’s refreshing to see a whining brat get eaten. Congratulations “Snakes On A Train”, the first recipient.

Rating: thumbs down

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Clash Of The Empires (2012)

Third misleading title!

Third misleading title!

We have an Asylum film which manages to pull off the rare “double misleading title” trick. It’s only a clash of empires if you think a few dozen guys hanging around a clearing is an “Empire”; and its European title, “Lord of the Elves”, is even more misleading, as there are no elves in it, nor anyone who could be called anyone’s “lord”.

This is, astonishingly, the Asylum’s mockbuster for the first Hobbit movie. It’s so strange that I’m not sure whether to be offended by it or not. It’s set 12,000 years ago, in Indonesia, and is the tale of a family journeying across unfamiliar terrain in order to rescue the mother, who was kidnapped by the Rock People and their giant flying lizards. On their way, they get help from “Giants”, teach hunting tactics and encounter super-massive creatures. Sounds okay, right?

Firstly, I want to apologise unreservedly if I use a term which offends any group. I’m really not sure what word to use, so I’m just going to go for it. The “hobbits” (called that in the film’s promotional material, and in the film’s original title which they had to be sued to change) are real pygmies. They’ve either found a heck of a lot of ’em at a casting agency or just found a few tribes and persuaded them, and it’s damn sure they didn’t have the luxury of picking pygmies who could act, it was just a matter of ones who were prepared to be filmed. The acting is extraordinarily awful, some level below just about every film I’ve ever seen – the feeling that someone somewhere was being exploited left a slightly bad taste in my mouth.

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The two people you’re likely to recognise are Christopher Judge (from Stargate SG-1) and Bai Ling (from Crank 2 and TMZ, probably). They’re “giants”, although our little heroes call them “human”, which is a charming way to look at it. They help the pygmies get across the plain to the mountains where their mother and other people from their village are being held. The Rock People all have fake sharp teeth and are cannibals, but the Giants have sort of an agreement with them so they won’t help the Tree People (the pygmies)…it’s all a mess.

The story, such as it is, is not terrible. I mean, it’s completely formulaic but formulas work; it’s the stuff that doesn’t work which dominates, though. The giant monster special effects are poor, even by Asylum standards, and there’s the acting. With the honourable exception of Judge, who manages to keep a straight face throughout the most ludicrous dialogue, everyone else is worse than the worst amateur dramatics group you’ve ever seen. Not only are they all dubbed (even though some of them appear from their mouths to be speaking English), but they’re dubbed by people who can’t act either; plus they gesticulate like crazy and cackle…it’s actually embarrassing in places.

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This is really strange. I feel like maybe the Asylum are on some epic trolling of the entire world, to see what’s the weirdest thing they can release, associate with something famous and make a measly profit from. I find I have a great deal less appreciation for their garbage than I used to, now I’ve discovered their sub-par safety standards and overuse of unpaid internships to cut costs. Even so, this film is a very rare example of an American-funded and –released film that has an almost entirely non-white cast. There’s a possible Caucasian in there, but fewer than the average Tyler Perry film…while that is undoubtedly an interesting factoid, it doesn’t redeem the film. Avoid at all costs.

 

Rating: thumbs down

Attila (2013)

None of this happens

None of this happens

When an Asylum film tells you anything about the past, it’s always best to assume they’re just making it up off the top of their heads. So it is with their potted history of the Huns, which starts off this particular cinematic epic – firstly, they weren’t black (Eastern European to the Western bits of the Orient) and secondly they used weapons. But if that’s their worst crime, we should still be okay.

After an opening which is like a bargain-basement version of “300”, set in the olden days, we’re in the present day, where some Army guys are tracking down a bit of the Staff of MacGuffin – the magic thing that Attila had and divided so no-one else could use its power. They find it, the General and his archaeologist assistant want it, but unfortunately they also happen to bring back to life one of Attila’s sons (the one he didn’t like all that much, it seems).

So, the son is an indestructible badass, and he’s killing Army guys like it’s going out of fashion; our hero (the guy who found the staff) is given a crew of top soldiers and told to track down the son, kill him and get the staff bit back. Other than a few twists and turns and the ludicrous reasoning behind why they want the staff, that’s all the summary you need.

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If you’re firing a gun at someone, and he’s already survived like a thousand other gunshots, and he’s walking quickly towards you, would you:
1. keep shooting, while standing still
or
2. run like heck?
If you picked 1, then you might be a cast member on this movie. If you laugh at seeing the recently removed bones of your comrades, then you might be a cast member on this movie. If you…nah, you can add a few of them yourself if you like.

“Attila” features maybe the biggest continuity error I’ve ever seen on an Asylum movie, as two cannon fodder guys are walking round in t-shirts, enter a room and they’re suddenly wearing jackets. The bit where our hero is obviously not carrying the staff, for ages, then suddenly produces it when needed, is small potatoes by comparison. It’s good to know for all their Sharknado money, they’re still no good at noticing that A should be followed by B.

It’s not all bad – a few of the main guy’s crew are decent actors, and they bother giving them character, sort of. Well, apart from that, it is all bad. Calling it Attila when he’s not really in it is a bit of a swizz, too – I suppose calling it “Attila’s Least Favourite Son” wouldn’t have got the dollars rolling in. Add on an ending where all their effort is for absolutely naught and you’ve got a completely middle-of-the-road Asylum movie.

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Rating: thumbs down

PS. I want to get on my Asylum soapbox for a moment. Their own Facebook page linked approvingly to this news article – http://magazine.good.is/articles/sharknado-vs-hollywood . I’ve not really found their incompetence funny for a while now, and the article’s tale of them having unsafe working conditions and using unpaid interns to do a lot of their work leaves a slightly bad taste in the mouth.

Also, the article claims they’re of a similar ilk to Troma, the schlock super-studio run by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz. This annoyed me more than I expected – for all the tiny budgets Troma work with, and all the terrible terrible movies they buy in and repackage, their own movies are almost always fantastic, and show more invention and fun in one movie than the Asylum have managed in any ten of theirs. It saddens me that anyone thinks the Asylum is “trashy” – trash yes, mercenaries yes, trashy no.

Invasion of the Pod People (2007)

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Our great work is to catalogue and review all the films of The Asylum, and sometimes that involves leaving the budgets and moderately famous actors behind and delving back in time, to days when owning a good camera or some lights were mere pipe dreams for our friends. It feels strange to say such a thing about 2007.

This is a mockbuster for a Nicole Kidman / Daniel Craig film called “The Invasion”, which must have sank without a trace because I’d honestly never heard of it – I just assumed they were doing famous sci-fi stories. If you’ve seen any of the previous versions of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” or read the books which follow a similar plotline, you won’t need me to fill you in on too much.

The flavour of this film is the fashion world. Melissa has some unspecified job at a fashion agency, which appears to have its offices in an attic, stuffed full of huge metal pipes. She wakes up to see thousands of meteors falling but then the rest of humanity just sort of goes about its day. Despite one news report referring to many deaths, no-one seems bothered and their lives seem entirely unaffected. Ah well. Anyway, Melissa is trying to secure the services of world-famous but super-unpleasant model Taylor (Shaley Scott, “Transmorphers” alumnus), and begins to smell a rat when Taylor suddenly changes her personality and signs with them; all tied into the new “trendy” plants people are receiving as gifts, which look like nothing more than a large chunk of ginger shoved in a pot.

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A fortunate / unfortunate side effect of having your body replaced by an alien (who keeps all your memories, for some reason) is you become a lesbian. There’s what amounts to an orgy scene about halfway through, surprisingly rude for the normally chaste Asylum. Melissa, despite having a boyfriend she’s desperately trying to keep at the beginning, happily goes along with this and has sex with her female boss, after watching the models writhe around on the sofa together for a few minutes. I suppose they used that scene to sell it overseas? Who knows.

There’s a whisper of a good idea here. At the beginning of the film, all the women are in problematic relationships with men, and being killed and replaced by an alien “liberates” them. But then men start getting pod-personed too, and if there was ever an interesting idea buried in here that wasn’t a coincidence, it presumably got taken out a few rewrites ago.

They also got lucky with their casting. ISCFC favourite Sarah Lieving shows once again she’s too good for this sort of thing, same for Danae Nason as Melissa’s work colleague. Melissa herself, Erica Roby, is not that great, but she’s now working in reality TV and is probably quite happy to have left stuff like this behind.

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Sadly, the casting is the last bright spark, and now onto the traditional Asylum-bashing. There are too many stupid people in this – stop being so trusting! Oh, and the ending doesn’t really make any sense, if you think about it for more than the filmmakers did (10 seconds or so). The sound in this film is absolutely hideous – whatever mic they used picked up sound from everywhere, so you’ll have a quiet office scene with the clank of industrial machinery loudly accompanying them, or a scene in a park where the nearby road is almost louder than the dialogue. Like most early-ish Asylum films, it’s unbearably slow too, and looks like it was shot on VHS tape.

This is definitely more “Transmorphers” than it is “Sharknado”. I would guess the Asylum would rather forget this period and move on to the relatively star-studded, fun films of the last few years. Bear in mind I said “relatively”. I’ve not lost my mind yet.

Rating: thumbs down

Titanic II (2010)

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Picture the scene. You’re the grandson of a pretty famous (if not terribly good) actor, and the son of a not particularly famous (or good) actor. Due to this moderately tenuous link to fame, you are given an astonishing four chances to direct films, eight chances to write them and even a few starring roles. If this was you – person reading this review – chances are you could do better than Shane Van Dyke (grandson of Dick, son of Barry). He’s the writer / director / star of “Titanic 2”, and probably brought snacks for the rest of the crew too. But did he do anything approaching a good job?

This film should be a comedy. Firstly, there’s no way anyone would name a boat after the most famous boat disaster of all time, and even if they did only absolute crazy people would go on it. That would be an interesting film, but this, about ultra-wealthy Hayden Walsh (Van Dyke) building a boat and it looking like the original and sailing it across the Atlantic, from the USA to Southampton this time, is most definitely not.

Problem is, the boat barely passed its safety tests, and there’s chunks of ice falling off a glacier causing tsunamis and throwing lumps of ice at whatever is in its path. Bruce Davison, the only name in the cast who anyone might recognise, is a Navy person, sent to check the glacier out, and his daughter Amy is one of the crew of Titanic 2. You see where this is going. Anyway, disaster strikes, people try and save themselves, an even bigger disaster strikes, almost everyone dies, the end.

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First and foremost, this film makes no sense at all, on any level. A brightly lit city is visible out of the windows whenever we see them; no effort is really made to make any of the sets look like they are part of a boat; and they go out of their way to tell us how half-arsed the entire operation is on multiple occasions. The engines weren’t tested properly, the on-deck lifeboats are only for show and don’t work, and much of the work done on the boat was a rush job. If you were spending hundreds of millions on a new boat, with a name like Titanic, wouldn’t you spend that extra few £££ on safety and testing and stuff like that?

Never mind any of that though, because we get to see THE CIRCULAR ROOM! The San Pedro Water Treatment Plant makes its fifth appearance in an Asylum movie (since I started counting, which means probably quite a few more), this time as the bridge of the ship. Those wooden shutters do not move an inch, even though you’d think being able to see what was going on might be a slight advantage in a storm.

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There are a few fun little touches in here – may just be fun to me, not the filmmakers or any other viewers, but we’ll see. Van Dyke is a complete “Marty Stu” –  pure wish fulfilment on his part. He spends the first twenty minutes of the film with two beautiful women on each arm, then when the ship is hit he rescues people and sacrifices himself to save his ex-girlfriend. He’s not quite as perfect as The Room’s Tommy Wiseau, but he’s getting there. Oh, and my other favourite bit was a character reading a book called “The Original Titanic” – I just get the feeling that Titanic 2 is unlikely to dislodge the first one as the primary Titanic in anyone’s minds.

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After a low-rent ripoff of the end of the 1997 original, the film doesn’t so much come to a conclusion as much as they just turn the cameras off like they’ve had enough. What a strange and pointless film! Perhaps there’s lots more environmental stuff which was left on the cutting room floor. Perhaps Van Dyke should never be let near a film set, in any capacity, again (while the Asylum has been sensible enough to not employ him as either an actor or director since 2011, he’s still getting scripts made, including the truly awful “Battledogs” from last year).

Rating: thumbs down

PS. They announce the launching of Titanic 2 would be on the 100th anniversary of the first one. But the film was made in 2010, two years before that. Could they not just have waited a bit and took advantage of the publicity?

Mercenaries (2014)

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I imagine the Asylum has wanted to mockbuster “The Expendables” since the first movie came out, but they ran into a problem – Stallone had already hired every washed up former action star, rendering their traditional casting methods moot. So, it remained un-Asylumed until someone had the great idea of making the cast women! And here we are with “Mercenaries”.

After a joke which I presume is at the expense of the “Expendables 3” (about watches with GPS trackers in them) the cast greeting comes thick and fast. Brigitte Nielsen is the baddie Ulrika, trying to take over an unnamed former Soviet satellite state by kidnapping the US President’s daughter; and hired to take her on are four women who you’ll either sort of recognise or cheer in delight for, depending on how wasted your youth was.

Cynthia Rothrock, star of many many terrible martial arts movies, doesn’t even fight in this one, being the boss of the team, and the person who offers 4 inmates presidential pardons if they’ll help out Uncle Sam. Vivica A Fox is probably the best known of them, and Zoe Bell was hired more to do with her being one of the best stuntwomen of all time than being great at acting. Nicole Bilderback and Kristianna Loken, on the other hand, are both still in their prime and can act, so perhaps they were taking a punt on this becoming a surprise hit.

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The thing is, this film is sort of good fun. Yes, it’s cheap as hell, and they couldn’t afford many big fight scenes, but it makes sense and gets from A to B reasonably and fairly quickly – sad as it is that a film that achieves basic competence needs to be singled out for praise. Our four heroes infiltrate Ulrika’s compound, discover a bit of sex trafficking, try and rescue the President’s daughter and prevent the bad guys from making off with a couple of ICBMs. No muss, no fuss.

The problem is everything else. I don’t think all female-dominated films need to be written and directed by women, but with seemingly no female involvement in anything non-acting, there can be a tendency for it to not really sound “real”. Weirdly, we’ve covered the entirety of the writing career of Edward DeRuiter (“3 Musketeers” and “Two-Headed Shark Attack”), and a lot of the directing career of Christopher Olen Ray (ensuring a second generation of poor quality filmmaking, after dad Fred) and while I’ve never noticed it before, the two of them seem entirely cloth-eared when it comes to women.

An example, I hear you ask? Bilderback – who despite being by a distance the best actor involved in this movie, so good that it’s a shame she’s doing this, but gets saddled with all the worst dialogue – says at one point “Let’s go PMS from hell on this place”. My wife, relatively quiet to this point, turned to me and said “women don’t talk like that!” Vivica also expresses the desire, late on in the film, to “fuck George Clooney…with a strap-on”. The banter is even worse than in the Expendables movies, a phrase I never thought I’d have to write.

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That’s not all of it, though – see what happens to the sex-traffic women; and the weird equation of strong women always being lesbians (although this film is a long way from being the only offender at that). It doesn’t take a feminist to figure out that the men in charge of making this film might reasonably be said to have a few issues with women. What makes it even weirder is the women are pretty good at their jobs – apart from being rotten shots, a trait they share with everyone in this movie – and their gender isn’t really an issue when it comes to fighting. For a cleverer skewering of this than I could manage, “From The Women’s Desk” give it a great review.

So, apart from the banter being terrible and it being a fairly poor portrayal of women and it being cheap and how not much stuff really happens and how the weakest actor of the main four has to do most of the acting, it’s a pretty fun movie. It seems from IMDB that a sequel is in post-production already, with the same writer, director and everyone who survived this one returning.

Rating: thumbs in the middle

GERALD WEBB ASYLUM WATCH: Yes. Rothrock’s assistant. Good to see you Gerald!

Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014)

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The Asylum and their friends at the SyFy Channel have nailed it, finally. After years of “funny” giant monster films which were anything but, the occasional clever parody which they treated like a serious film, and a not-that-great first “Sharknado” (despite a few brilliant moments) they’ve got some big sponsors and therefore a decent budget, a ludicrous number of special guest stars, a script which is actually funny and clever, an almost universally strong cast and a world which was ready for it.

It cleverly understands that the “how did this sharknado happen?” bit is dull and no-one cares, because it’s not like it could happen anyway, so they just get straight into it. In more ways than one – as Fin and April are on their way to New York to visit family, they fly through a sharknado, somewhere. Who cares? The celeb cameos start right away – I’m not going to mention them all, as there’s too many and I’m bound to miss a few, and indeed there were a few who were clearly supposed to be famous who I just didn’t recognise. Kelly Osbourne is a flight attendant, Wil Wheaton is a passenger and, best of all, Robert Hays is the pilot. You may remember him from “Airplane” and sadly not too much else, but he’s having fun here.

Fin’s family are unusual in an Asylum film. Not only because the mother and father are famous (father is Mark McGrath from Sugar Ray, mother is Kari Wuhrer) but because they seem happily married – regular readers will know the SyFy template of the estranged couple resolving their differences during the apocalypse, although the son, at least, has the decency to be a terribly wooden actor. The drama here is being separated – dad and son go to a Mets baseball game, mother and daughter to the Statue of Liberty.

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The really weird thing is, they appear to have actually filmed in New York. I’ve seen the Mets Stadium enough to know that they’re really there; and the Statue of Liberty seems real, and in the shot with the actors, too. There’s a lot of real New York street-shots…the upgrade in budget is obvious at every stage, and it’s great. Talking of real New York things, one of my favourite sitcoms is “Taxi”, set in the sleazy New York of the late 70s. Amazingly, they got that show’s star Judd Hirsch to play a taxi driver in this – a reference that will probably be lost on a lot of this film’s younger fans, but great for those of us with long TV and movie memories. He does unfortunately get eaten, but it’s good to see him again. We know him as “America’s favourite cranky old Jew”, but I hope he has a sense of humour about his career.

Biz Markie is in it! A pizza place that clearly paid a little to have their frontage on screen is Fin’s favourite place in New York, and his old friend played by Biz is the cook there. When I heard he was appearing, it made me so happy I sang his hit “Just A Friend” round the house for days, loud and out of tune (so, like Biz). He’s not, it must be said, a great actor, so I presume someone involved with the film was just as big a fan of his as I was.

The thing they learned from the first film is that normalcy is boring. It starts insanely over the top and just stays there – the plot and exposition is handled by regular cuts to real TV news people, clearly having the time of their lives; the cast just get to run around and be badass, shoot, slice or cook sharks, and have weird adventures with the B-list superstars who must have been queueing round the block for a chance to be in this film. I was amazed they lasted til nearly the end of the second one before they made a “jump the shark” joke as well, and then slightly disappointed in them. Ian Ziering gets both a rabble-rousing monologue and one where he questions his own life, as a formerly famous surfer turned nobody turned shark-killing superhero. The second one is clearly about Ziering’s own career, and talking of his actual career I hope he seizes this chance and does well with it. I imagine signing on for a terrible SyFy Channel movie a few years ago was a sobering moment for him, so it being the best thing he’s done in nearly 20 years must be weird.

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So yes, it’s really good! Loads better than the first film, and by a distance the best original movie by either the Asylum or the SyFy Channel (although my own personal favourite “Super Cyclone” runs this close). It was a huge success on its first broadcast, setting SyFy Channel viewing records, so I’m fairly certain there’s going to be a third one. Time to start guessing locations, and I’ll go for either the Caribbean or England, both of which give plenty of opportunities for celebs to pop in for a minute, have a laugh and then get eaten.

Rating: thumbs up

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