I should be ashamed. When I first found out about Sharknado, last year’s SyFy channel smash hit, my first thought wasn’t “Oh God, why?” or even an internal groan. It was that there must be a way to turn the sequel into a versus movie in the vein of Megashark vs. Giant Octopus or Mega Python vs. Gateroid.
Then it hit me: Sharknado vs. Gatorcane. It would, of course, be about a hurricane that picked up genetically altered alligators as it passed over Florida and could only be stopped by a lab-formed sharknado. After I spent a few hours drafting up the plot to that movie and starting a script for it (more effort, I think, than goes into most of these movies), I stopped. Did I stop because I hadn’t actually seen the first Sharknado yet? No. Anyone who saw the title knew exactly what the movie would deliver. Did I stop because I realized, in a moment of deep reflection, that I was part of a problem with our popular culture? No. I stopped because I realized that SyFy doesn’t accept solicitations for movies. I have no regrets about my venture into D-movie creation.
You see, while I have a big problem with movies that should be good and aren’t, I don’t have a problem with movies as unpretentious as those churned out by the The Asylum, SyFy’s frequent partner in filmmaking crime. I love these awful movies and will continue to watch as many disaster-animal hybrids be defeated by 80s popstars as I possibly can. Are my standards low? Not particularly. Am I an idiot? Maybe, but I don’t think so.
I think of these movies as filling the same role that McDonald’s does. Yes, I generally prefer a homemade meal or the local place that serves organic, free-range, cruelty-free kale, but a few times a year only a serving of McNuggets will do. They always deliver the exact same taste and take me back to a simpler, more nuggety time. These movies deliver exactly what you expect them to. There are no surprises, just unadulterated fun and campy violence. They also aren’t a new concept. In the 1950s, Roger Corman began his career creating such classics as Attack Of The Crab Monsters and Swamp Women. The 1990 “film” Troll 2 has become a cult phenomenon for delivering absolutely nothing that a good film should deliver, which brings me to another point…
These movies allow all of us to see what a good movie shouldn’t look like. They perform a public service. If you’re watching something and think “this is what an Asylum movie would do next” and that thing happens? You’re watching a terrible movie. If you’re thinking up clichéd dialogue in your head and a character then utters the words “If we make it out of here alive, I just want you to know…” you should know that the screenwriter put in about as much effort as I did writing Sharknado vs. Gatorcane. That’s not a good sign.
Sharknado pretty much fell off my radar until last week, when Sharknado 2: The Second One premiered. It was followed only a few days later by Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda. It was like Christmas for terrible movies and, on the internet, excitement filled the air. Sharknado 2 beat the NFL in Twitter ratings (a thing that exists). Blogs couldn’t stop talking about Conan O’Brien’s amazing cameo in Sharktopus. People had viewing parties, complete with drinking games and watermelons carved into shark heads.
In that lies what I believe to be the best thing about b, c, and d movies: the sense of community they provide. Very little in the world is black and white, but everyone can agree that Mega Piranha is a terrible film. There may never be peace in the Middle East, but we can all make peace with the fact that, by any measurable standard, Mansquito should never have been made. I very nearly shanked a Facebook friend who called Guardians of the Galaxy the “worst movie ever,” but could that ever happen with something like Frankenfish? No. It’s bad. Very bad. Period. End of story.
Nobody in their right mind would say that any of these movies are good. But that we can all agree that they’re bad? That’s so very good. It’s inspirational, really. So take a second and enjoy the fact that there’s a movie called Stonados, wherein tornadoes hurl stones at the city of Boston. Its tagline is “All hail breaks loose.” Seriously. Life is beautiful.
Also, if anyone would like to produce Sharknado vs. Gatorcane, you know where to find me.