There are those eternal questions that will always plague a certain segment of the populace: which came first, the chicken or the egg? If a tree falls in the woods, does anybody hear it? What is the meaning of life? Is there a God? And maybe most importantly to children of the eighties, who do you like better, Tiffany or Debbie Gibson? For those who weren't there it might seem hard to wrap your head around the cultural monstrosity that was eighties mall chick pop but when these two were at their peaks, you couldn't escape them. Since they sold zillions of records twenty some odd years ago, however, they've evidently fallen on hard times. Tiffany did a Playboy spread and Debbie Gibson recorded with the Circle Jerks (seriously) but neither one of them has ever quite made the comeback happen. So let's credit the good people at The Asylum for doing what they can to bring these two back into the public eye in a monster movie that should have been a whole lot of fun - Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid.
The movie follows our two pop tarts as Dr. Nikki Riley (Debbie Gibson) and Terry O'Hara (Tiffany), an environmentalist and park ranger respectively. Nikki is pretty radical in how she shows her love for the environment, freeing animals and hanging out with snakes, while Terry has to deal gator hunters and giant snakes in the park that she patrols while grieving the loss of her late husband who was killed by one of those very same giant snakes.
When O'Hara, while doing some research, injects some growth hormones into some alligator food in hopes of strengthening up the local gators to the point where they can hold their own against the snakes, things very quickly go bad - you see, the giant snakes eat the gators and benefit from the hormones, while the gators manage to grow larger and eat the snakes and before you know it there are Mega Pythons and Gatoroids duking it out in the middle of the swamp land. Given that Nikki and Terry really don't like each other, what do you figure the odds are of them having to team up to stop the beasts from wreaking havoc across the land? Pretty good, once you get the obligatory cat fight out of the way (which takes place at a fancy buffet and involves some food fighting for good measure).
Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid is amazing in its predictability, but that's about it. You'll know exactly where this formulaic film is going almost as soon as it starts and while the filmmakers definitely deserve some credit for putting together an impressive monster montage of the two warring parties (the snakes and gators, not Tiffany and Debbie Gibson) growing larger and more out of control, this really seems like a wasted opportunity, content to coast by on its novelty casting without much interest in telling an interesting story. On top of that, there's the CGI effects (which make up almost all of the effects work in the movie), which are uniformly awful and which don't do anything to help the film at all.
Monster movie fans could probably look past a lot of these flaws if the movie made up for it some way, somehow, the two most obvious solutions being good old reliable gore and ever popular nudity but while we get a passing bit of the first we get none of the other and what gore there is, well, you guessed it - bad CGI. As such, the film plays it very safe and never even comes close to leaving PG-13 territory. While some of the more recent made for TV/SyFy Channel movies have proven to be good dumb fun, unfortunately this one, which happens to be one of their more anticipated projects, commits the cardinal sin of moviedom - it's boring. There's no suspense, very little character development and no amount of bad CGI and pie to the face cat fight action can cover that up.
Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid looks okay in this AVC encoded 1080p 1.78.1 widescreen transfer from Image but it's far from amazing. The hokey digital effects stick out like a sore thumb here but that's the way the movie was made and not an issue with the disc itself - though it seems to conflict with some really nice, colorful, crisp cinematography. Colors are nice and bright and bold and well defined and black levels tend to be pretty strong as well. Flesh tones look decent as well and there aren't any problems with compression artifacts outside of a few noticeable spots. Some noise creeps into the picture and haloing is evident frequently. The transfer winds up a very erratic one, sometimes looking very impressive, but falling into some messy territory when things get effects intensive and the best way to describe the picture here is probably inconsistent.
The only audio option on the disc is a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix in English. No alternate language dubs are supplied though subtitles are provided in English and Spanish. The lossless surround mix here is okay but it's hardly reference quality material and for a movie with a few rather over the top action sequences, things are surprisingly flat at times. Rear channels are used now and again but not as enthusiastically as you could hope they would be, while bass response is mediocre at best. This is a very front heavy mix and doesn't offer that much more surround activity than a standard stereo mix does - it gets the job done and there are no problems with hiss or distortion or any issues with the levels - but it's really nothing to write home about.
The only extra of any substance, and I use that term very loosely here, is an eleven minute Making Of Featurette in which the key cast members talk about their characters and the reasons that they signed up for this project. There's a bit of behind the scenes footage here but mostly it's promotional talking heads and not a whole lot more.
Aside from that, we get a trailer for the feature that makes it look a lot more amusing than it really is, menus and chapter stops. A few trailers for other Image releases play before the main menu loads. All of the extras are in 1080i high definition.
Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid could and should have been a whole lot more fun than it is, and instead of entertaining us, the film winds up dragging. There are fun ideas here and a few shining moments but they're too few and far between to keep us from nodding off from time to time. It really didn't look like this would be a chore to get through, as it had all the right ingredients for a fun B-movie, but that's not what we got - what we got was pedestrian and boring and the fact that Image's Blu-ray suffers from a weird transfer, unimpressive audio and a lack of any interesting extras makes this one easy to skip.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.