Monster mash-ups have been with us for almost as long as there have been monster movies. Universal gave us Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. The Japanese delivered Godzilla vs. King Kong. Dracula’s taken on Jesse James, and Universal brought the whole band together for two House Of movies and an Abbott And Costello romp. In recent years we’ve been treated or subjected to, depending on your own point of view, Freddy vs. Jason and Alien vs. Predator and its rematch. Lately, SyFy has been attempting to create an entire subgenre out of the monster mash-up idea. One of those movies happens to be Mega Python vs. Gatoroid.
This one takes advantage of several themes. The movie serves as a vehicle for two 1980’s teen singing idols who were just barely bigger than one-hit wonders. Debbie Gibson went from Tiger Beat in the 80’s to Playboy Magazine in 2005. Her career hits a new low with this camp disaster. Tiffany was so cool she figured she just needed one name. Her big hit was I Think We’re Alone Now; if only.
So what is this thing about? Gibson plays crazy scientist and eco-terrorist Dr. Riley. She feels sorry for all of the exotic snakes locked up in a lab and decides to turn them loose in the Everglades. There Tiffany plays Terry O’Hara, who is in charge of the whole national park with a limited staff of knuckleheads that include Angie played by The West Wing’s Kathryn Joosten, who is a senile old coot, and a green officer who looks like he’s going to poop his pants at any moment. Terry decides to take action against all of those huge pythons loose in the Glades after a hunter gets himself killed by one of them. She decides to shoot chickens up with a secret experimental steroid and feed it to the park’s gator population. The plan is to create super-gators who can take care of the python problem. But the pythons begin to eat the eggs of the super gators, and before anyone can say Disco Fever, the park is overrun by monsters. Enter the Matt Hooper character played by A. Martinez. Dr. Ortiz tries to warn Terry about the problem, but she’s too busy walking around in a uniform 6 sizes too small and unbuttoned halfway to the top. Now, I don’t really remember if Tiffany was attractive in the 80’s or not. But let’s just say the overgrown reptiles aren’t the only scary things in this movie. The film climaxes with a fundraiser that is predictably crashed by the monsters.
I can’t quite put my finger on what director Mary Lambert was trying to do here. One hopes that she was reaching for an over-the-top piece of corn and camp. But after watching her interview in the features section, I’m not quite so sure. She’s incredibly proud of a catfight scene between the two washed-up 80’s stars. She calls the thing brilliant. She doesn’t talk like a director going for laughs. I’m afraid this is an Ed Wood scenario where no one making the film really understands how bad it all is.
The computer-generated creatures are some of the worst I’ve ever seen. They do not interact with the environment at all; rather they appear to glide over the screen as if they were invading the celluloid instead of the places within the frame. I realize there are budget constraints here, but I’ve seen television episodes deliver tons better effects than I’ve seen here. Again, my hope is that everyone is just having a laugh here. The interviews don’t indicate that as they brag about how good these effects are. The reptiles have no texture quality at all. They appear to have been painted or animated as a joke.
Finally, there is the problem of just how ridiculous these characters really are. Tiffany doesn’t look or act like a person who would be in charge of the entire Everglades. And Gibson’s scientist would be stumped by a quiz from Mr. Wizard reruns. The idea here is to capitalize on the nostalgic element here, but when I’ve mentioned the names to folks who were in the target age in the 80’s most of them still answer: “Who”?
If you must watch this mess, there is always a chance to catch it in re-runs on SyFy. You’re not doing yourself any favors by picking it up on Blu-ray. Forget about saving the planet. Save yourselves.
Mega Python vs. Gatoroid is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 30 mbps. This is one of those cases where the sharpness and detail of high-definition work against the movie. Unfortunately, the picture is quite good. It’s good enough to see that the attempts to hide those wrinkles didn’t quite work. It’s good enough to see quite clearly how bad the effects are. It’s good enough to see that the California locations don’t look anything like the Everglades. It’s good enough to be bad.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 does deliver some nice ambient sounds. There’s plenty of bone-crunching and squish noises to go around. The dialog is also clear and clean.
Making Of… : (11:03) HD Cast and crew deliver synopsis points and character descriptions when they are not telling us what a wonderful film this is.
I am a reptile breeder who lives in Florida, so I am painfully aware of the hype about pythons in the Everglades. Are they there? Yes, of course they are. But there aren’t tens of thousands. They don’t produce thousands of babies a year. And they don’t grow ten feet every year. Most found their way there through careless release of pets or during the Hurricane Andrew disaster. Recently a large group of reptile experts were sent to the Glades to count how many pythons they could find in a weekend. That group found zero. Our local politicians are using scare tactics to pass restrictive laws. Those efforts, like this movie, are “much worse that we thought it would be”.