Movie Review: A Six-pack of Asylum Schlock

IMDB, Sharknado IMDB, Jack the Giant Killer IMDB, Atlantic Rim
Horror, 83 Minutes, 2013
Jack the Giant Killer
Adventure, 87 Minutes, 2013
Atlantic Rim
Sci-Fi, 83 Minutes, 2013
IMDB, Age of Dinosaurs IMDB, AE-Apocalypse Earth IMDB, 2-Headed Shark Attack
Age of Dinosaurs
Sci-Fi, 88 Minutes, 2013
AE: Apocalypse Earth
Sci-Fi, 87 Minutes, 2013
2-Headed Shark Attack
Horror, 83 Minutes, 2012

I’ve written about low budget schlock before, almost all of them produced by The Asylum, which has produced over 300 feature-length direct-to-video movies since 1997.  They focus almost exclusively on producing “Mockbusters”: terrible films with budgets under a million dollars loosely based on current blockbusters and released days before the inspiring film hits theaters.  Their films generally take less than four months from initial idea to final product.  Recently they’ve become the go-to team to produce the SyFy Channel’s steady stream of increasingly ridiculous monster/disaster films.  They’ve also slid into a weird niche producing ridiculous faith-based family films to cash in on the evangelical dollar.

All of their productions prioritize profit over quality in every way possible and, as much as they can get away, leverage other people’s effort.  Their most recent release, Sharknado, experienced a bizarre groundswell of support across social media with the likes of Wil Wheaton and Patton Oswald spending most of the day of its premier tweeting about it.  I’m personally torn about this because on the one hand, it was really fun to watch the Intertubes blue up over this piece of shit.  On the other hand this money-grubbing, leech of a studio really doesn’t deserve the attention.

Instead of actually reviewing these films (they’re all shit) I’ve decided to give you a brief guide to understanding them a little better (with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy).

  • Has the movie you’re watching been forced by legal action to change its name more than twice?
  • Has an intensely serious dramatic line in the movie you’re watching been delivered so utterly ineptly that you laughed out loud?
  • Do the actors in the movie you’re watching spend most of their time mugging for out-of-context reaction shots?
  • Has the appearance of an actor in the movie you’re watching caused you to say “I haven’t seen them in years!” or be flooded with memories of a 90’s syndicated TV show?
  • Has an animal in the movie you’re watching, against all common sense and normal behavior, braved a hail of bullets or arrows or lasers or whatever to viciously attack somebody rather than running and hiding as any sane person would expect it to?
  • Does one (or many) of the CGI shots in the movie you’re watching appear, unchanged, more than dozen times?
  • Has an attractive woman who clearly doesn’t speak English mumbled through an extended speech in semi-English in the movie you’re watching?
  • Does the movie you’re watching wander randomly from daytime to nighttime or from stormy to sunny (or both)?
  • Is more than a quarter of the movie you’re watching stock footage?
  • Do any of the characters in the movie you’re watching save their lives by covering themselves with a leaf?
  • Has a significant character, threat or plot device in the movie your watching simply disappeared with no explanation?

If you answered in the affirmative to any of these, you might just be watching an Asylum film!  (Please feel free to add any others to the comments.)

These movies are terrible, yes, but they do have a certain guilty entertainment value in the right circumstances; especially when shared with like-minded friends.  Think along the lines of getting a dog drunk or watching idiots play with fireworks.  It’s not something you want to do all the time – and definitely not something you’d ever be proud of – but with the right group of friends it can make for a memorable evening.

The issue that the Asylum doesn’t seem to understand is that there’s only so much of this that people can take.  The six movies here (as well as at least six others) were all made in the past 12 months alone.  Even those, like us, that love bad movies can’t stomach that much schlock at that kind of pace.  They only end up running together into a horrible stream not unlike a bad case of food poisoning.

So while my hat is off to the Asylum for plugging away so diligently and for stubbornly continuing to plum a quickly drying well I can only end with a warning: pace yourselves, you silly bastards.  Just pace yourselves.

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