With the momentary rebirth of big-screen beasts -- Anaconda, Deep Blue Sea and Lake Placid -- the B-rank-and-file have followed suit with a stampede of nature-run-amok flicks especially geared toward foreign markets. Most of the titles read like the Discovery Channel's primetime lineup: Octopus, Crocodile, Spiders, King Cobra, Komodo, Python and even Shark Attack. And that's not even getting into the existing and impending sequels. We all knew CineSchlockers hold the killer critter flick in high regard, but who'd a thunk this was a world-wide phenom? For those wishing to explore this trend, TriMark offers the four-disc Creature Features boxed set:
SPIDERS: Wry humor punctuates this gooey farce with the familiar monster-on-the-loose pace of 1950s creature epics. A student journalist with a Fox Mulder-complex attempts to infiltrate an Area 51-type base with her photographer and computer whiz in tow. Meanwhile, orbiting the earth, the space shuttle is hit by a solar flare during an experiment with a very SPECIAL spider. After a fiery crash, Marci (Lana Parrilla) and pals wind up playing hide-and-go-eat in the underground base with a two-foot tarantula that doubles in size every time they squish it, until it gets to the point where the thing clambers atop a tall building like a certain value-sized primate. Director Gary Jones is no stranger to the genre as he made Mosquito (penned by Leatherface himself, Gunnar Hansen) -- not to be confused with Skeeter, which is a COMPLETELY different movie about giant blood-sucking insects. No breasts. 19 corpses. Phony electrocution gag. Egg-laying closeup. Projectile puking. Spidervision. The script is intentionally littered with lines from other flicks: "I'll be back!" "I've got a bad feeling about this!" and "We're sure as s@#% not in Kansas anymore!" Highly Recommended.
2000, 93 minutes, Widescreen (1.85:1), Outstanding featurette, Trailers.
KING COBRA: This sucker slithers far better than the CGI-addled Python that followed. Things get a little TOO aggressive in a lab researching aggressive behavior when a spazzed-out scientist mixes the wrong chemicals and gets blow'd sky high. Out of the inferno, a genetically engineered cobra/rattler hybrid named Seth slips silently into the countryside to feast and GROW into a 30-foot menace. Sure enough, woodland varmints don't satiate Seth's drug-enhanced craving for carnage and the big guy soon eyes the residents of Fillmore. Waving the six-inch FANG he fished from a venom-disfigured corpse, Doc Kagen (writer/director Scott Hillenbrand) demands the mayor (Hoyt Axton) cancel their annual beer festival, but he refuses. Sound familiar? Pat Morita is the fella they bring in to karate chop the beast into submission. Well, not exactly, but that'd be more effective than his baffling plan to lure Seth with a boom box and nab him with great big metal tongs. CineSchlockers won't believe the hilarious cameo by Big Gay Erik Estrata. No breasts. 13 corpses. Strip hide 'n' seek. Hypodermic closeups. Gratuitous urination. Cobra cam. Behold the chicken-fried lyrics of Axton's "Seth is the Devil" that begins the final credits. Recommended.
1998, 93 minutes, Widescreen (1.85:1), Commentary, Featurette, Trailers
CROCODILE: Inside word is that tremendous labor woes nearly deep-sixed this entry. It's also far from the quality we've grown to expect from horror royal Tobe Hooper. College students head out to the lake to party like jungle animals over spring break. They gather around the camp fire to guzzle booze, grope each other and listen to a tale about an Egyptian croc who gobbled the guests of a creepy hotel overlooking the water. Meanwhile, redneck fishermen stagger upon and decide to smash a bunch of HUGE eggs while saying stuff like "C@#%sucking animal rights!!! Hippie bulls@#%!!!" This foolish act assures their removal from the planet by "Flat Dog" who springs from the depths to exact her toothy vengeance. Next stop: Snacks o' plenty at the kiddos' barge! CineSchlockers will get a kick out of writer/actor Adam Gierasch who apes Clint Howard (really well) as an inbred gator enthusiast. And our love-challenged hero Brady, Mark McLaughlan, has a hilarious upcoming role as a cop on the heels of Fuad Ramses III in Blood Feast 2. No breasts. 10 corpses. Supersoaking. Mooning. Puking. Croc cam. Not ALL the girls have gone wild on spring break, "I'd rather suck on a trout!" Recommended.
2000, 94 minutes, Widescreen (1.85:1), Featurette, Trailers.
OCTOPUS: They sure did go to an awful lot of trouble to make this eight-tentacled stinker that ineptly attempts to mix generic political thriller elements and a big, scary octopus. The cause of it all? ANTHRAX! Yes, it's everywhere, even at the bottom of the ocean and it's mutated several generations of peaceful sea critters to spawn a value-sized monster that lays the smack down on a U.S. nuclear submarine. Before all of that, though, there's 30 minutes of Tom Clancy hoo-ha with an Eastern European terrorist named CASPER (Ravil Issyanov) who bombs the American embassy in Bulgaria and is accidentally captured by a junior CIA spook (Jay Harrington). They're to be secreted back to the U.S. aboard the sub when nature conspires against them. CineSchlockers will be seduced by sassy Carolyn Lowery as the free-love scientist who just happens to be aboard to advance the plot and hike up her skirt. No breasts. More than 30 corpses. Strip poker. Shakespeare-spouting terrorist. Gratuitous ticking time bomb. Octovision. Doc Fincher isn't afraid to speak in laygal's terms, "Considering its size, this thing has a craving for meat that would scare a cow out of its skin!" Rent It.
2000, 100 minutes, Widescreen (1.85:1), Featurette, Trailers.
G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.