Mega Python vs. Gatoroid
It’s a strange thing, to make a movie that people only watch because it’s bad. Consider the case of Troll 2, widely considered to be one of the very worst movies ever made. While some of its case, particularly George Hardy, have come to embrace its popularity despite the taint of its utter failure, director Claudio Fragasso is far less enthused about its cult status. Some people can’t allow themselves to accept that their creation only gets watched as a joke, while others are willing to laugh along with everyone else (and maybe make some money off it). At long last, it seems the SciFi Channel (yes, I know it’s spelled differently now and I don’t care) seems to be getting in on the joke, because Mega-Python vs. Gatoroid is every bit as silly as you’d expect, but unlike its predecessors, it’s aware of its own badness.
Mega-Python pits 80’s pop starts Debbie Gibson and Tiffany against each other in a battle to see which one can cause more grievous damage to the Everglades. Unfortunately, they’re not playing BP executives, but environmentalists. Debbie is an animal-rights activist/eco-terrorist, and Tiffany is her arch-rival, the park ranger. While both these women love the environment, they show their love for it like Ike showed Tina her loved her. Dr. Debbie opens the movie by taking pythons out of captivity and releasing these non-native predators into the Everglades, like any good environmental scientist would do. In due time, to the surprise of no one at all, the snakes grow too damn big because they’re at the top of the food chain now. And when I say big, I mean big. These suckers are about 20 feet long. To counter her new snake problem, Park Ranger Tiffany declares it’s open season on snakes, because there’s no problem that can’t be solved with the addition of armed, drunken rednecks.
Unfortunately (but predictably), this doesn’t go so well, and her fiancee is killed by snakes. Grief-stricken, Tiffany decides to fight fire with napalm: deciding that her real problem is that the gators aren’t big enough to kill the snakes, she decides to make the gators bigger by feeding them chickens injected with anabolic steroids. I don’t think that’s how steroids actually work, but hey, it’s science! Cut to six months later, and Tiffany’s feeling pretty good, what with no more people having been killed (yet), which is evidence enough for her that her plan worked. However, visiting herpetologist Dr. Ortiz (A Martinez) doesn’t share her enthusiasm for a steroid-based wildlife control program, and he’s convinced that the animals are getting way too big. Guess which one of them is proven right.
Pretty soon, the Everglades are overrun by, well, mega-pythons and mega-gators, who quickly make up for all those people they haven’t been eating. It’s not long before they begin to threaten to spread to Miami, and oh did I mention that this is all the fault of the heroes? Yeah, there’s no human bad guy this time around. Usually, SciFi shoehorns in a diamond thief or some bank robbers, or an evil executive, but not here. We’re actually being asked to root for the people who are responsible for the deaths of thousands of people. Got to hand it to this movie, there’s a deranged brilliance in asking you to like the people who you’ve seen not only create the problem, but make it way worse.
Thankfully, Mega-Python vs. Gatoroid doesn’t spend its time pondering such quandaries. It’s much too busy having a good time poking fun at its own absurdity. Much of that heavy lifting falls on the shoulders of Kathryn Joosten (The West Wing), who dryly snarks her way through the movie, getting most of the best lines. It also helps matters that both of its stars are willing to have a laugh at their own expense, including a lengthy cat fight that turns into a food fight, ripped straight out of the fantasies of a teenage boy from the mid-80’s. One extra is even wearing a Tiffany t-shirt from her mall tour heyday.
As long as you’re not expecting it to be more than it is, Mega Python is a fun little diversion. It’s cheap, ridiculous, and filled with poorly animated monsters. But it’s got just enough brains to recognize that, and it’s all the more enjoyable for it. Just sit back, turn off your brain, and savor the cheese.
(Horrorgoreandmore.com was invited to the world premier of Mega Python vs Gatoroid (2011) on Jan 24th 2011 at Ziegfield Theater in NYC)