DVD Review: Lavalantula


From the makers of Sharknado comes Lavalantula, bringing back together four cast members of the Police Academy films. Really what else is there to say about this?

Steve Guttenberg stars as washed up Hollywood actor, Colton West. Colton used to be a big star, but has resorted to acting low budget monster movies to pay the bills. (Yeah, this film gets a little meta from time to time.) Colton establishes right off the bat that he hates bugs of all kinds. So he’s is very shocked when a volcano erupts in the Santa Monica hills and giant fire tarantula’s (dubbed Lavalantula’s by the Mayans, according to a scientist later in the film) begin to descend on the city eating and burning everyone in sight.

Colton has a very rocky relationship with his wife, Olivia, (Nia Peeples) and son, Wyatt (Noah Hunt). This seems to be a subplot borrowed from Sharknado and developed even less than it was there. I guess the writers must assume that everyone already saw Sharknado and get the whole hero with an estranged family bit and don’t need to work on it too hard. Just enough so that the hero can prove his worth and win his family back by the end.

The other three Police Academy cast members that show up are Leslie Easterbrook, who has a very small role as a friend of Olivia, and Michael Winslow and Marion Ramsey, who play two special effects specialists who are friends and coworkers of Colton. Ian Ziering even has a cameo appearance as his Sharknado character who tells Colton that he’s dealing with a “shark problem” when Colton asks him for help.

Like the Sharknado films, Lavalantula is intentionally made to be a bad, cheesy movie. It’s very tongue-in-cheek, but the question is does that even work here. I mean, you know what you’re getting yourself into when you sit down to watch this, so you’re either going to buy into the silliness you’re just going to role your eyes and wonder why you are wasting your time.

There are certain elements of the film that do actually work. At one point a character that has been bit’s face explodes with thousands of baby tarantulas crawling out of it. It’s easily one of the better special effects in the film and is pretty creepy. This is followed a few minutes later by some of the worst editing I’ve seen in a while. One character is looking out a window and proclaims, “That’s a very large arachnid!” We then cut outside to the La Brea tar pits, where a giant lavalantula comes crawling out of the pits. How could the character in question have seen the arachnid before it had even breached the surface of the pits? He must have had x-ray vision or something.

These SYFY films are definitely for a certain audience, and that audience must be big enough, because they keep making these and a sequel 2 Lava 2 Lantula! is already scheduled for release next year. So either you’re some who enjoys these stupid movies, or you don’t. If you had fun watching Sharknado and it’s sequels, you’ll probably enjoy this one as well.

The film is presented in a 16 x 9, 1.78 widescreen format and 5.1 surround sound. The special effects are obviously low budget, but I’ve certainly seen worse. This film looks and sounds pretty good for what it is.

You get a short little Featurette (3 min.) where they mostly talk about how it was Guttenberg’s idea to bring is old Police Academy buddies into the project.

It’s Lavalantula. It’s a SYFY production. It’s Steven Guttenberg. Either you’re on board for this wacky ride from minute one or you’re not. Which one are you?

Alchemy presents Lavalantula. Written by Ashley O’Neil, Mike Mendez and Neil Elman. Directed by Mike Mendez. Starring Steve Guttenberg, Nia Peeples, Michael Winslow and Marion Ramsey. Running time: 84 min. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: November 3, 2015.

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