Mega-Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009): Under the Sea (Something Will Eat Your Ass)
The Summer months are officially upon us, and that means that often this genre film buff’s mind turns from the gloom and doom of dark winter horror and thrills to the Summery delights of action flicks, teenage romance, and killer animals. The last of these has become an exceedingly campy and popular staple of the poorly spelled SyFy network, but I have to admit that I’ve never sat down to watch one of these made for TV masterpieces. However, when I ran across a Blu Ray of Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, an Asylum Home Entertainment rip off of SyFy’s oceanic themed animal attack flicks, I couldn’t resist. I figured at nothing else I would get three bucks worth of enjoyment watching ’80’s icons Lorenzo “The Renegade “ Lamas and Debbie (Deborah, cause she’s all grown up now) Gibson of Electric Youth fame fight off a pair CGI nightmare. I wasn’t wrong, at least not exactly. Just when I thought that I might have wasted my money, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus snatched victory from mid-air, literally.
Deborah Gibson stars as oceanographer Emma MacNeil who is cruising around the Artic in her mini-sub checking out the whales when a government helicopter stops by to test out some experimental sonar. The sonic waves make the whales freak out and ram a nearby iceberg unleashing the titular pair of prehistoric creatures. The Mega-pus puts the moves (and some serous devastation) on an oil platform while Mega-Shark gets frustrated trying to find a meal big enough and tries to pluck a plane from the sky. MacNeil gets canned from her ocean research job for taking the sub without permission, and she soon finds herself falling in with Japanese scientist Seiji Shimada (Vic Chow) and a team out to stop the giant creatures. After one botched attempt, the team is taken prisoner by government jerk face Allen Baxter (Lamas) and made to continue working on how to capture the creatures. Eventually, and kind of shockingly, a plan to pit the two against each other propels the film to its climatic final confrontation.
If you go into watching Mega- Shark vs. Giant- Octopus without expecting a movie that would be called Mega-Shark vs. Giant-Octopus, then I’m not quite sure what you expected. Perhaps someone mislabeled your copy of Magnolia, and instead of a serious film full of maddeningly morose characters, you ended up watching one of the dumbest films ever made. The fact that you didn’t realize it wasn’t Magnolia and watched the whole thing while wondering if P.T. has lost his mind, however, is on you. If you go into the film expecting a campy movie about two cartoonishly large creatures duking it out while and 80’s pop princess looks on, then you’re in lick because that’s what you’d be getting.
I’m not going to spend a ton of time defending or lauding the film’s action, direction, or performances. Doing so would only be a fool’s errand. Mega vs. Giant (as I’m going to call it for brevity henceforth) is an enjoyable film simply because it is so misguidedly bad. I’ll be completely honest and say that the scene of the shark snatching a plane out of the sky practically paid for the movie in and of itself, and the final battle between the two was also nearly as entertaining. Everything else in between is just filler, but it’s filler that features Debbie Gibson. Now when I was about 12 or 13 years old I had the biggest crush on Debbie Gibson, and now some twenty years later I am happy to report that I still have the biggest crush on Debbie Gibson. I can’t say the same for the Lamas.
Lorenzo Lamas is never the best actor, but back in the day Renegade was a pretty decent Sunday afternoon distraction when it cam on after the block of Hercules and Xena. Here he just shows up to be a harass government stooge that isn’t beyond throwing some racism at Vic Chow’s character despite him being one of the scientists trying to stop the monsters. Lamas’ character didn’t do the film any favors, and while I’m sure he was showing up to cash a check, it still seemed puzzling that it would have been worth cashing. As for Chow, while he should be one of the driving forces in the film, I often forgot he was around even though he had a stilted, forced love scene with Ms. Gibson. In fact other than Gibson’s oceanographer and her sub co-pilot, just a few hours after watching the film I already have trouble coming up with other characters.
In the end, Mega vs. Giant needed no characters, no plot, and no sense to be made because in the end the Mega-Shark fighting the Giant Octopus was all the film really needed. Though I do have to reiterate splicing in a few shots of Debbie Gibson probably wouldn’t have hurt. I can’t imagine that Mega-Shark vs. Giant Octopus will be a title I will find myself prying off the shelf with wild abandon every time I want to watch a film, but if I have a friend come over and they’re in the mood for something stupid and absurd, it would be one of my go-to choices. Will I pursue the Asylum indirect sequel that features both Gibson and her former rival Tiffany? You bet your boots I will, and when I do you folks will be the first to know. I hope you enjoyed the kickoff of the Summer season here at the Lair. So when you’re inside trying to beat the heat, remember to come back here all Summer long for a bunch of cool films.