Basilisk: The Serpent King (Review)

Basilisk: The Serpent King

Directed by Stephen Furst

SciFi Channel churns out more original films than an original film churner-outer (Okay, I couldn’t think of a funny reference!) and many of them are just below average dreck that gave SciFi Channel a reputation of awfulness. But sometimes they aren’t bad and are actually fun. Thus, Basilisk: The Serpent King is one of those fun films, because otherwise I would be talking about how this isn’t a fun film and was terrible, now wouldn’t I? See, you are a smart audience, that is why I write for you! So Basilisk: The Serpent King manages to be entertaining, with a few good characters and some funny scenes. The best SciFi Channel monster films are the ones that don’t take themselves too seriously, have memorial actors, and have a plot that keeps the story moving but lets the monster do most of the killing. We got all of the winning elements here, so read on to see how it wins! Or I will turn you to stone or send Fawkes to peck out your eyes or something. Parselmouth!

Director Stephen Furst has also directed the SciFi Channel original Dragon Storm, but he is best known as Flounder from Animal House and Vir Cotto from Babylon 5.

Dr. Harrison “Harry” McColl (Jeremy London) – TS from Mallrats? You are here again? This time, Jeremy London is Dr. Harry McColl, famous archeologists who is lucky at digging stuff up in the desert, but unlucky as the stuff comes alive and kills people. He’s totally gonna get sued! See Jeremy London still looking like Brendan Fraser in The Terminators.
Rachel Donegal (Wendy Carter) – Professor of religious studies, which is in the archeology department because the school is small, I guess. Rachel Donegal is also the love interest, so good thing she’s single. Wendy Carter returned to the SciFi Channel-verse in Copperhead.
Colonel Douglas (Cleavant Derricks) – Rembrant from Sliders? Awesome! Colonel Douglas is the military officer called on the scene to deal with the Basilisk menace. Unlike most military officers, he usually listens to the scientists who know what is going on! That is why Cleavant Derricks rules. That, and Sliders.
Rudy Herman Skeeters (Griff Furst) – Harry’s grad student and right hand man. Rudy spends much of the film quipping jokes and doing research. Griff Furst is the son of the director.
Hannah Carmilina Turlini Frankman (Yancy Butler) – Hannah Carmilina Turlini Frankman’s full name is a total guess because I didn’t see it spelled out. She and her husband Brock fund McColl’s project because they are planning to steal the artifacts due to one of them being a map to a huge treasure. Yancy Butler is Witchblade, but I knew her from The Ex years before.
Brock (Doug Dearth) – Hannah’s husband and his name is totally not Biff. Don’t call him Biff. Even though he is stiff, as in turned to stone. Then he has a crack up as the Basilisk shatters him. Them’s the breaks!
The Basilisk (CGI) – The Serpent King here is more of a queen, what with being a gravid female. Turns people to stone with eye power and venom power, but also is turned to stone via eclipse power.

Continue reading

The Terminators (Review)

The Terminators

Directed by Xavier S. Puslowski

The Asylum makes a living producing mockbusters, which are DTV films with titles deceptively similar to films that have hit the theater the same week the DTV film hits video store shelves, thus people rent it by mistake and get enraged at what they saw. It is a strategy that works, gets them lots of press, and on occasion produces a film that’s better than the film it is mockbusting. TarsTarkas.NET has covered the mockbusters Transmorphers and Dragon (and will be covering more soon!), though those two films were done long ago when Leigh Scott was responsible for most of The Asylum’s output and better mockbusters. He has since left to do his own thing, and I haven’t really seen any post-Scott films from Asylum until now. Does it measure up? Read on and find out!

On first glance, you would think that The Asylum would get their pants sued off for the title alone. The Terminators? That doesn’t leave much room for error in what they are trying to mockbuster. But as The Asylum got lots of free publicity when they were threatened over the title of their The Day the Earth Stood Still mockbuster The Day the Earth Stopped, it is understandable why they would want to push the envelope again. From the trailer, it became obvious that they were using both the Terminator films and the remake Battlestar Galactica series as inspirations for the story and design, and that became even more obvious upon seeing the completed film.

What did happen is if you went to The Asylum’s Website, you saw no mention of the film. Sources say they did receive a cease and desist, but released the film regardless while scrubbing all promotion of it on their own pages. Sneaky, and calling someone’s bluff. The information was returned about a week later and is still up as of the time of writing this review.

One of the major problems with the film is the pacing. I am generally forgiving when it comes to bad effects (even if I point them out I find them charming) but as the Terminator franchise is generally known for fast-paced action, The Terminators is more on the lines of jogging action. A few sequences have brief bits of excitement on the scale of a bigger production (the van chase, the space battles), but most of the film is just the same robot guy walking along and killing people. Granted, there is no way that a small budgeted film like this could pull of complicated car chase sequences, nor are they expected, but when you are using all CGI for space shots, just go for broke and fund a few thousand dollars worth of cooler shots that will get people talking more.

This is Xavier S. Puslowski’s first film, though he has been the assistant director on many Asylum films (and if the rumors are true, he was basically the director on at least one of them thanks to the real director not doing anything!) Writer David Michael Latt is the current writer for what looks like everything the Asylum has done in the past few years, though this time he was working with story elements from lesser Asylum player William Morey. One common theme on Asylum productions is thinking big, so you can’t fault them for wanting to be able to do awesome stuff. The problem lies in their ability to do awesome stuff, which doesn’t always work with tiny budgets.

It is the future, and everyone owns a robot slave, called a TR4, all of which look identical, some bodybuilder. Yeah. I can totally see a sinister-looking model like that getting bought by families in the suburbs to cook breakfast. Of course, this movie would have not looked like the film it is mockbusting had the cyborgs all looked like Mrs. Doubtfire, but it would have been insane. Also, in this future where we have cyborgs and space stations and starships, everything else is modern day. In fact, the cars are all older model cars, probably because most of them are destroyed and a buying a new car would eat up the whole budget (it’s not like Chrysler is going to give them free cars, but maybe they should since they are broke and could use the publicity The Terminators could give them!)

Continue reading