The good people at The Asylum know the score. Having realised that the appeal of seeing superstars like Lorenzo Lamas, Bruce Boxleitner and Brian Krause was limited at best, they have stuck to a formula that has served Hollywood well for many decades – the
Now, the supermarket DVD sections are regularly stocked up with the likes of Megashark Versus Giant Octopus, Sharktopus Versus Whalewolf and the unbeatable Abraham Lincoln Versus Zombies.
The tradition of pairing up monsters to battle each other is an openly brazen exploitation technique. No studio ever greenlit a ‘Versus’ movie because of the fascinating narrative potential of complex character-reaction that might emerge from the coalescence of two or more inherently opposite forces being made to co-habit the same ethos. A more accurate script meeting sounds like this: “It’ll bring in our audience and their audience. Get writing. We shoot next week. Get Stephen Baldwin’s agent on the phone.”
Like any genre, the quickly made exploitation movie can either be insufferably terrible or a truckload of guilty fun. The latest cross-breed to arrive, Lake Placid vs Anaconda (out on Digital HD on August 24 and DVD on September 7 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) has, on the surface at least, some pretty good pedigree.
The original Lake Placid (1999), written by David E Kelly successfully maintained that rare comedy/horror balance that so few movies achieve – this was the film in which dear, sweet octogenarian Betty White told Brendan Gleeson, “If I had a dick, this is where I’d tell you to suck it!”
Anaconda (1997) achieved notoriety as the film in which Jon Voight proved that there is no such thing as ‘Too Much’ when it came to the subject of overacting. His lecherous leer as he watches Jennifer Lopez washing her sunburnt neck, is a masterclass in the art of leaving nothing to the imagination.
You’ll have to wait to see how Yancy Butler and Robert Englund compare when Lake Placid vs Anaconda arrives on DVD on September 7th.
Here’s a sneak peek, which does skirt the boundaries of NFSWiness at times.
Meanwhile take a look at some of the great Monster Mashes that preceded it.
Look away at the end if you don’t want to know who came out on top…
Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943)
All this talk of cinematic universes is nothing new. Universal were double-booking their celebrated monsters years before Marvel reimagined the concept for the 21st century. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man may not be one of the high points of the Universal Horror cycle in terms of plot, characterisation or authentic Cardiff accents, but it is of enormous historical importance, being the first of the Monster Rally pictures that gave audiences increasingly more bang for their buck.
Bela Lugosi finally got to play The Monster here, having passed on the opportunity in 1931, thus giving Boris Karloff the keys to immortality. It wasn’t really worth the wait, the poor fellow.
His dialogue was all cut and the fact that he played the monster blind – a carry-over from The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) – wasn’t mentioned, leaving him nothing to do but growl and stagger like a drunk understudy in a village am-dram production of The Monster Squad.
And the winner is…
Well, an exploding laboratory and a rushing river puts paid to their final scrap, but they would both reappear in The House of Frankenstein along with Dracula, a hunchback and a mad doctor. We’ll call it a draw.