Category Archives: SyFy Original

The Summer of Lovecraft: The Dunwich Horror (2009)

Even most SyFy original movies have posters mocked up for them. Even Dragon Wasps.
Even most SyFy original movies have posters mocked up for them. Even Dragon Wasps.

“The devil’s spawn is about to open the gates to hell!”

Directed by Leigh Scott
Starring Dean Stockwell, Jeffrey Combs, Griff Furst and Sarah Leaving

The Story

Wilbur Whatley is the weird one in a family including a mad grandfather and an albino mother, a fast-growing freak who frightens animals and children with his odd smell. He studies sorcery with his grandpa and continually buys cattle for a herd that never increases.  He and his grandfather carry out constant conversion of the farmhouse in order to fit some thing connected to Wilbur’s mysterious father, named only as ‘Yog-Sothoth’. Grandfather and daughter disappear or die, and Wilbur is killed by dogs trying to steal an original Latin Necronomicon from Miskatonic University. When the thing in the house breaks loose, Miskatonic academics Henry Armitage, Warren Rice and Francis Morgan confront and destroy it. Wilbur is revealed to have been not quite human, and the thing to have been his twin, who looked more like the father.

The Film

Wilbur Whatley (Combs) is a serial killer, abducting tourists to feed to his monstrous brother (this fact is dropped in about a third of the way through the movie and never questioned.) Henry Armitage (erstwhile Whatley Stockwell) and his assistant, Fay Morgan (Leaving), are monster hunters and freelance exorcists.

summerattemp2

Continue reading The Summer of Lovecraft: The Dunwich Horror (2009)

Advertisements

Ghost Shark (2013)

maxresdefault

“DONT. GET. WET.” (sic)

Directed by Griff Furst
Starring Mackenzie Rosman, Dave Randolph-Mayhem Davis and Richard Moll

When drunken rednecks attack and kill a shark, the fish returns in spirit form to devour them, the captain of their boat and then … well, pretty much everyone who gets in its way. A group of teens get attacked by the ghost shark and must race to discover the magical secret of the shark’s reappearance with the aid of a drunken old lighthouse keeper (Night Court‘s Richard Moll).

Continue reading Ghost Shark (2013)

Aladdin and the Death Lamp (2012)

I can show you your lungs, Shining shimmering splendid...
I can show you your lungs,
Shining shimmering splendid… 

“(Okay, there is a tagline on that poster, but I can’t make it out.)”

Directed by Mario Azzopardi
Starring Darren Shahlavi, Noam Jenkins, Kandyse McClure and Eugene Clark

Aladdin (Shahlavi) and his BFF Luca (Jenkins) find a lamp in an ancient tomb. Against the warning of their mentor Khalil (Clark), they and their friend Shifa (McClure) set out to follow a map associated with the lamp.

Continue reading Aladdin and the Death Lamp (2012)

Pegasus vs. Chimera (2012)

EPIC!
EPIC!

Directed by John Bradshaw
Starring Sebastian Roche, Nazeen Contractor and Rae Dawn Chong

The would-be Emperor Orthos (Carol Rota) has his court warlock summon the Chimera to be his instrument of destruction. Blacksmith Belleros (Roche) and Princess Philony (Contractor, which I want to believe is an occupation name denoting a long line of senior site managers), seek the aid of the witch Mayda (Chong.) Mayda summons the Pegasus from the heavens to aid them.

Continue reading Pegasus vs. Chimera (2012)

Red: Werewolf Hunter (2010)

Red
This is going to hurt, isn’t it?

“A SyFy Original Movie”

Directed by Sheldon Wilson
Starring Felicia Day, Kavan Smith and Stephen McHattie

Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived in the woods, but this story isn’t about her. It’s about her ancestors. Virginia ‘Red’ Sullivan (Day) is a federal agent (agency unspecified) and the latest daughter of a family of werewolf hunters. When she brings her fiance Nathan (Smith) to meet her family, the last thing she expects is for it to become their last stand.

Continue reading Red: Werewolf Hunter (2010)

The Lost Future (2010)

thelostfuture

“Fighting for survival”

Directed by Mikael Salomon
Starring Sam Claflin, Corey Sevieras, Annabelle Wallis and Sean Bean

In a post-apocalyptic world, a tribe of human survivors scrape a living at Grey Rock, hunting sloth-bears and trying to avoid the Beasts, humans mutated by disease whose bite turns others into Beasts as well. Kaleb (Claflin) is a tracker and dreamer, overlooked in favour of the chief’s son Savan (Sevieras) by most, including Dorel (Wallis), the hypotenuse of a pointlessly forced love triangle.

When the Beasts attack their village, most of the tribe hide in a cave, while Kaleb, Savan and Dorel meet up with Amal (Bean), a member of a Brotherhood who retain some knowledge of the old world. He tells them of a powder which cures the Beast disease. If they can reach the city and find notes left by Kaleb’s father, they can make more of the powder, but the notes and the powder are guarded by a power-hungry tyrant, and only Kaleb can read.

Sean Bean doesn’t die. Continue reading The Lost Future (2010)

Arctic Predator (2010)

arctic predator

“We don’t need no stinking tagline!”

Directed by Victor Garcia
Starring Dean Cain, Lucy Brown and Steven Waddington

In 1825, the HMS Fury and HMS Hecla are frozen in ice during William Parry’s second Arctic expedition. After witnessing a meteor falling to earth, Parry and his second in command James Clark Ross encounter a being seemingly made of ice which strikes Parry before being driven off with gunfire.

Two centuries (give or take) later, Ross’s descendant JC Ross (Cain) is searching for the lost Fury, as part of an arctic expedition composed of the usual bickering collection of misfits (although, fair play, this may not be an inaccurate depiction of the kind of people who opt to be confined to a limited area for six months with thirty strangers ‘for science’). Uncovering the ship, they discover the trapped creature, which begins killing the team members. As their numbers dwindle, the team look to JC, cute medic Sedna (Brown) and lead scientist Hasslein (Waddington) for answers. Continue reading Arctic Predator (2010)

Robocroc (2013)

As near as can be made out, 'from the Director of Young Guns' is what in PR terms is referred to as 'a bare-faced lie'.
As near as can be made out, ‘from the Director of Young Guns’ is what in PR terms is referred to as ‘a bare-faced lie’.

“The world’s most LETHAL WEAPON”

Directed by Arthur Sinclair
Starring Corin ‘Dragon Wasps’ Nemec and Dee ‘ET’ Wallace

A military drone crashes in a zoo, where its payload of experimental nano bots infects a Saltwater Crocodile, transforming it into a cyborg engine of destruction. Zoo keeper and croc hunter Duffy (Nemec) must track and destroy the beast before it gobbles up the guests at the zoo’s spring break waterslide park (I don’t know, maybe US zoos have them), but the project scientist Dr Riley (Wallace, apparently slumming it) is more worried about her experiment.

What’s wrong with it?

Another of SyFy’s creature features of doubtful quality, Robocroc – or possibly Robo Croc – follows a pretty standard pattern: Beast is woken/provoked, beast escapes, beast gets somewhere super bad for it to be, beast is ‘destroyed’, whoops! it wasn’t, now it is.

The titular Robocroc is a pretty piss-poor attempt at CGI, and the human characters are barely more convincing. The roles are all pretty bare-bones – “cerebral adventurer”, “plucky sidekick/love interest”, “manly military man”, “science bitch” and so on – and while the cast are game, there’s not much to work with.

 Duffy is briefly joined by his croc hunting partner Irish guy. He’s Irish, and then he dies. It’s moving, because he was Irish and they had awkward male bonding banter.

And then there’s the whole bit with the water park and Duffy’s son, which is sort of knocked off from Jaws… the one with the water park. 3D? Yeah… that whole plotline is kind of pointless, except to teach us that girls shouldn’t judge a guy based on the fact that he’s not a classic jock and enables his creepy friend’s creeper photographing of you in your bikini (um… yay?)

What’s right with it?

No-one mugs at the camera or sleepwalks their lines; the cast may know they’re in for a shipwreck, but they’re committed to the process.

How bad is it really?

Terrible, but at least it never winks at the camera.

Best bit (if such there is)?

The army sends a helicopter to look for the crocodile, which suddenly leaps from the water in a high, graceful arc to punch clean through the chopper.

What’s up with…? 

  • The entire water park scene? I swear, kid Duffy and his mate were so creepy, I was sure they were the sacrificial arseholes for that bit of the movie.

Ratings

Production values – Oh, dear lord… 18
Dialogue and performances – Crappy roles, played straight, so I give them that. 12
Plot and execution – Basic, but competent, apart from the entire half of the movie that fits awkwardly. 11
Randomness – Half of this film is a random digression, with creepy ‘heroes’ and… badness. 14
Waste of potential – Would have done better to stick to the robot crocodile and ditch the teen drama. 13

Overall 68%

Dragon Wasps

dragonwasps_300

“A New Breed of Evil”

Directed by Joe Knee
Starring Corin Nemec, Dominika Juillet and Benjamin Easterday

When her father disappears, entomologist Gina Humphries (Juillet) takes her best friend and a military team led by going-native Captain John Hammond (Nemec) and his 2IC Meyers (Easterday) into the Mexican jungle to look for him. Here, they uncover a corporate conspiracy to create a breed of fire-breathing giant wasps, and are caught between the wasps and a band of voodoo drug growers led by the psychopathic Jaguar.

What’s wrong with it?

Like most SyFy Channel creature features, Dragon Wasps is incredibly cheap, and heavily reliant on CGI. Not only are the wasps themselves pretty lame, every explosion and every bullet impact is CGd.

There were clearly a few changes in running order late in the day, as the pistol Hammond gives to Gina disappears for a while.

The history between Hammond and the cartel is never really explored, in particular, it’s not clear why Jaguar calls him ‘Beastman’*, which is super-confusing since he does so more often than anyone calls him Hammond. I just figured it was his name.

What’s right with it?

The performances, if not Oscar-worthy, are not terrible, and the terrible CGI action sequences are spaced out with humorous character moments. Also, cheap horror is hard to do, but insects laying eggs in people is a reliable trigger.

How bad is it really?

Dragon Wasps is a blast. It knows it’s bad, so it has some fun, but without being all wink-at-the-camera or cheesy.

Best bit (if such there is)?

Discovering that coca paste repels the wasps, the leads spend the second half of the movie slightly high from rubbing coca leaves on their skin. At the denoument, they discover that they are out of leaves but that Gina has accidentally brought a dozen bricks of import grade cocaine from the cartel compound after mistaking it for C4.

Gina: The good news is, it’s super potent.
Meyers: And the bad news?
Gina: It’s super potent.

What’s up with…?

  • ‘Nature’s Napalm?’ How does a fire-based chemical defence make sense for a species living in a densely forested environment? I guess they were engineered.
  • Jaguar’s crazy voodoo cartel? They’re lifted whole-cloth from Predator 2 and I can’t see how they would be a credible threat given their extremely skewed weirdness-to-professionalism ratio.
  • Name-dropping Mansquito and Sand Sharks? Man, monster movies just got meta.

Ratings

Production values – Cheap and cheerful, which at least means that it’s cheerful. 12
Dialogue and performances – The script is basic stuff, but with enough humour to carry it, and the players deliver it straight, never mugging for the camera or winking at the audience. This is the work of solid pros earning their supper. 6
Plot and execution – Sets up its premises and works them through. It’s not big and it’s not clever, but again, it neither pretends to be, nor makes any claim to be a satire when it isn’t. It does the job it came here to do. 10
Randomness – Beastman? Voodoo cartels? Fire-breathing wasps? Okay, that last one is pretty much in the title. 11
Waste of potential – Oh, if only all creature features did their job this well! 3

Overall 42%

* In retrospect, it might have been ‘police man’.

Basilisk: The Serpent King (2006)

Basilisk
Doesn’t this poster just ooze quality? That’s a shame, because it certainly doesn’t ooze accuracy.

“An Eclipse Awakens An Acient Monster Whose Gaze Turns Flesh To Stone…No One Knows How To Stop It…But One Woman Knows How To Control It”

Directed by Stephen Furst (as Louie Myman)
Starring Jeremy London, Wendy Carter and Cleavant Derricks, and Yancy ‘Witchblade’ Butler

An archaeological team excavates a serpent statue and a golden sceptre, only to learn that the statue is in fact the basilisk, turned to stone and waiting for the eclipse to restore it to life.

The lead archaeologist (London), a hot folklorist (Carter) and a ramshackle cast of disposable caricatures must scour mythology to find a way to defeat a creature that can spit poison and turn flesh to stone with a glance.

What’s wrong with it?

You could run a book on the death order of the stereotypes in this thing: The cute but cynical archaeologist, the hot folklorist, the serious intern (dies first, with a crappy final line), the treasure-obsessed intern (played by a cheap Simon Pegg knockoff, and Simon Pegg isn’t exactly expensive), the bitchy sponsor/antiquities thief (Butler, who doesn’t die before being stripped to her underwear by the basilisk’s apparent taste for Versace), the stiff sponsor/antiquities thief, the shrieking, campy admin (played by director Stephen ‘Vir out of Babylon 5‘ Furst), and the National Guard Colonel (who survives, despite being black).

At least one person in the original panic is clearly pulling a statue on top of himself.

Outside of that, the plot is a mess, with a treasure map thrown in for good measure which, for some reason, the wealthy antiquities thieves know more about than any of the archaeologists.

The folklore is bad (basilisk is said to be Egyptian for king of serpents, rather than Greek), the science is bad (the same light as that found in the eclipse is said to be found in a nuclear reactor’s cooling tanks) and the history is bad (the information on the basilisk is credited to Pliny the Elder, pronounced ‘Ply-knee’ apparently). even the health and safety is bad (a soldier covers a manhole surrounded by friendlies with a bazooka from a distance of ten feet).

Yancy Butler is the stunt casting.

What’s right with it?

It’s a Sci Fi original. Right is not what they do. The basilisk is cheap and cheerful, but at least it’s cheerful.

How bad is it really?

Like most Sci Fi/SyFy originals, it’s just dull, as a result of trying to do big budget without the budget.

Best bit (if such there is)?

When Archaeologist McManly is sprayed with the most lethal venom in creation, his intern leaps into action, declaring: “There’s an eyewash basin in the sink!”

What’s up with…?

  • The butt-ugly sceptre being ‘the most beautiful object in the world’?
  • The sceptre being multitasked as a basilisk buster and the key to a treasure map?
  • The incredible well-informedness of the thieves?
  • The offensively camp administrator?

Ratings

Production values – All the budget goes on the basilisk, which is a barely passable piece of CGI, but does at least have a certain reptilian menace. The rest is absolutely bottom rank. 12
Dialogue and performances –  It’s mostly pretty basic, but a few absolute stinkers stand out (the serious intern dies on a shot at the villain’s prosthetic implants which isn’t even well done). The performances are workmanlike. 14
Plot and execution – The treasure map plot and the actions of the two thieves are pretty incomprehensible. The rest is basic fare, but somewhat muddled. 12
Randomness – The plot hinges on a lot of coincidences and contrivances, in particular the major sub-plot about the thieves. 9
Waste of potential – It takes a lot of work to waste the dearth of talent involved in this production, and yet it manages it. 15

Overall 62%