Monday, February 18

What makes the list?

My roommate and I watched Ghostbusters on TV tonight. Despite the big walking marshmallow/end of the world plot, we decided that it didn't count as a disaster movie. This led to an entire discussion about the distinction between crappy disaster movies and classic (yet occasionally crappy) disaster movies. After our discussion I decided that a few basic rules would help categorize these movies:

1. If it involves totally unnecessary sex, it was probably supposed to be pornography and they decided to add some special effects. Sometimes sex IS necessary, as it may decide who lives or dies at the hands of a giant shark/crocodile/spider/snake etc., but as a general rule it's just a distraction. You can usually tell if the sex is plot relevant because it doesn't involve close-ups of anyone's breasts. A good example can be found in Twister; the sexual tension in the film is clear and there's even some kissing, but no sex because it is a DISASTER movie and the real star is the tornado!

2. Washed up TV actors are a BAD sign. For example- 10.5 :Apocalypse boasts Kim Delaney of NYPD Blue fame and ex-Superman Dean Caine as its headliners. Despite Dean's residual hunkiness (or maybe it is smarmyness?), his agreeing to appear in 10.5 says more about his financial state than the quality of the movie. Perhaps I shouldn't be judging though, as both Carrie and I did watch all 5 hours of the original movie (10.5) when it premiered on TV. Which leads me to rule 3..

3. If it is a made-for-TV disaster movie, you're in for a fun filled night of bad special effects, painful
dialogue , and the afore-memtioned unnecessary sex. While cable movies are usually spectacularly bad, SciFi definitely takes the cake when it comes to truly terrible disaster movies. The best part of SciFi movies is that they rarely bother with real special effects--usually they just stick some poor shlub in a weird looking mask. Check out the movie where a scientist tries to save his son from dying of cancer by morphing his DNA with a shark's, and then tries to get his son to breed with his ex-girlfriend. It gets dumber from there, but basically sharkboy eats a lot of people and you can see the zipper on the back of his costume. It's a good time.

4. Is it scary? No matter how ridiculous the premise might seem (Volcano for example!), it has to be at least a little bit scary for it to be good. End of story.

5. Repeat watchability is the final and key factor! If you want to watch it again, it's probably OK if not actually a classic disaster movie. If you watched it the first time just so you could laugh at it and poke holes in the plot, it probably won't stand the test of time and thus falls into the crappy category. I've seen Jaws several (ok, 20+ times) and I still get scared in swimming pools occasionally, but no matter how funny I found it, I can't bring myself to watch Blood Surf again.

Thursday, February 14

Giant Crocodile

Instead of starting with a list of my favorite disaster movies (although that is sure to come!), I think my most recent disaster movie watch rates a blog entry. Be forewarned: my definition of a disaster movie is pretty darn fluid. If it involves a lot of people dying/being blown up/infected/or generally speaking scared I'll watch it at least once. I don't like slasher movies though, so they do NOT count!

Blood Surf (Krocodylus)

I rented Blood Surf because I thought it was a shark movie! I belong to one of the movies through the mail clubs and did not read the description carefully. Despite my initial disappointment due to the 'bait and switch' title, the movie was pretty satisfying as an animal attack disaster movie. The plot revolves around a bunch of surfers and movie producers that want to make a documentary about blood surfing. The idea behind this novel sport it to chum the waters, attract sharks, and film the surfers as they dizzyingly defy death. The two surfers and the two movie producers commission a boat and head out to shark-infested waters with a family of locals (locale is vague..generic island nation, lots of exoticism at work). After a few shots of surfing with some superimposed sharks swimming below, the movie gives up on the sharks and introduces the very large crocodile with a mysterious spurt of blood. I'm pretty sure the blood spurt was from a shark getting eaten, which pretty much ended all shark involvement in this movie. You can predict the rest of the plot. All three of the locals get eaten. One of the surfers gets eaten, as does the Ahab/Quint like character & his girlfriend. A few pirates get eaten too. Did I mention that there were pirates? Yep, this movie also involved pirates.

It was also really unintentionally funny.

Things I learned from Blood Surf:

1. Large crocodiles like deserted islands surrounded by-shark infested waters. If you are dumb enough to surf or plan a pleasure cruise in these waters, you will get eaten. This should seem obvious, but somehow this movie was green-lighted anyway.

2. The above mentioned crocodile readily snacks on locals and tourists alike. Following typical horror story paradigms, having sex pretty much seals the deal. Given the amount of semi-pornographic sex scenes found in the movie, you can see why so many people ended up as crocodile food.

3. People eating crocodiles are like all of the bad guys from scary movies-- you can shoot them, blow them up, etc. but they are STILL going to be alive at the end and eat at least one more of the supposed survivors.

Overall, I'd give it a B for fabulously fake crocodile eating action.

In addition to crocodile eating fun found in Krocodylus, I found the movie interesting because it managed to combine soft-core pornography, eroticism as exoticism, a strong female character, AND a damsel in distress ending all within 84 minutes. I liked that the female movie producer (Cecily) was the person filming from in the water during both the blood surfing and the crocodile hunting. She also managed to impale one of the pirates after he attempted to sexually assault her.
Without condoning death by stake as a valid response to assault, I like that the movie avoided a gratuitous rape or attempted rape scene and let Cecily maintain some power. Yet, this same woman needed to be saved from the sharks when she became frightened and rescued from the crocodile by the remaining surfer at the end of the movie. The young local girl, Lemmya, was also such a stereotypical example of the allure of the exotic. Apparently, young local women of any island locale are unbelievably attracted to drunk, sloppy, immature American men. The men in the movie didn't fare much better. They were all either immature and cocky (surfers), spineless (the male movie producer), or would-be rapists (pirates). The only man with seemingly redeemable qualities,Dirks--the revenge seeking ex-pleasure boat captain, won his girlfriend in a game of cards and continued to treat her like chattel.

In terms of feminist fun, it gets a D for the blatant sexism, bigotry (the pirates are locals) and general gender stereotyping.

~spoiler alert!~
I was disappointed that the crocodile was impaled on a rock at the end of the movie and 2 people were still alive. Some scary music as the camera panned away made me hope that there would be a shot of another crocodile on the island (maybe it's mother!) or at the very least some little crocodile eggs cracking open ominously. No such luck.


Welcome! I'm new to blogging, so bear with me as I work out the kinks.

I decided to create disaster musings because some of my favorite things to do are read feminist blogs, and watch disaster movies. No one, however, seems to write about both things in once place! I'm not sure if I'll be writing about disaster movies and feminism together each time, or if the whole blog will just be a big mix. Either way, I have decided to fill a niche and blog away...