Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus – Halloween Special Film Review

Yes, that title is correct, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, the first installment in what would later become a Mega Shark franchise, this is a review of a film about gigantic underwater monsters by The Asylum (Infamous independent film company known for making Sharknado and the like, what is the obsession with sharks these guys have?). The film is a direct-to-video low budget disaster film trying to be an American attempt to break into the kaiju monster movie genre – think Godzilla and Mothra and the like. If you’re unsure if you’d like such films, this would perhaps be your gateway into the genre as this clearly draws inspiration from them, presenting us with two different ridiculous monsters for our human heroes to try and overcome. Well at least it would be buuuuuuuuuuut…

I won’t spoil the plot too much, what little of it there is in amidst the jumbled nonsensical nauseating camera shots but basically Debbie Gibson, the 80s popstar and apparent star power of this film if the cover is anything to go by, plays a marine biologist off on a submarine joyride in the arctic when she witnesses the awakening of two dormant prehistoric beasts, a giant octopus and a megalodon shark. The monsters go their own ways and terrorise two different sides of the globe before the military intervene, calling in our protagonist, her former teacher and her brilliant scientist friend who she ends up romantically attached to. Essentially what we have is all the tropes of the disaster movie brought together in another shlock horror sci-fi parade of gimmicky effects – we have told-you-so scientists, military dingbats who can only resort to “FIRE ALL MISSILES!”, gratuitous death of panicky extras and occasional glimpses of a badly designed pair of monsters. The plot is nothing new and ground-breaking, it takes itself quite seriously though, the actors in a limbo state of “Is this for real?” and “No seriously, this is a joke right” but every line is delivered with sincerity, albeit in a wooden manner.

The film’s titular characters, Mega Shark and Giant Octopus, don’t get as much screen time as I’d like, this film certainly doesn’t hold up against Godzilla but then this is a low-budget goof made by the same people who made ‘Vampires vs. Zombies’ and ‘Snakes On A Train’ so I wasn’t expecting much. However, that said, Mega Shark’s bits are worth watching – especially when the shark leaps out of the ocean and catches a fucking commercial airline mid-flight with no effort. HOW? Planes fly at about 600mph, how is a shark that fast it can catch one? HOW FAST IS THAT SHARK? HOW HIGH CAN IT JUMP? The Giant Octopus’ scenes are lackluster, it seems to get bored as quickly as we do – it half-heartedly attacks a submarine for thirty seconds then drops it. Mega Shark though, Jesus, give me an hour of that shark chomping through boats and planes with that derpy expression it wears in every scene, that was the most redeeming factor of the film for me. Mega Shark, star of the show baby, no wonder you got three sequels (I shit you not, this film has THREE sequels, as does Sharknado, The Asylum really like shark themed movies)

The film is poor, poor by every standard – the CGI is atrocious, the plot incoherent and dull, the romance unbelievable and the characters as uninteresting as staring at my shoes for eighty minutes. I don’t know who gave the worst performance – Debbie Gibson looked like she was drawing letters in mid-air with her nose in every scene and was clearly burbling lines she did not understand the words behind, Lorenzo Lamas’ character is a quip-flinging asshole with no redeeming traits, which he plays well but looks bloody ridiculous doing so, Sean Lawlor can’t seem to maintain his accent throughout and Vic Chao speaks in one tone of voice for the entire film and expresses joy through a single fist-pump of victory… totally doesn’t look weird. Still, they’re hardly acting legends, what can you expect? The film outright addresses Debbie Gibson is a washed-up has-been looking for an easy gig (Her character is said to have a floundering career, much like Debbie who had short-lived musical fame and was irrelevant faster than a X Factor contestant). The film takes itself so seriously, as do the actors, that you wonder if they thought what they were working on was good or if they embraced the campiness of this romp and played along to try and salvage it.

The Asylum, the company behind this, are independent filmmakers of a particular creed – they jump on bandwagons and produce cheaper versions of current blockbusters to make easy money whilst people are still obsessed with a fad. Transformers movie? The Asylum made Transmorphers. Pirates of the Caribbean? The Asylum made Pirates of Treasure Island. Paranormal Activity? The Asylum made Paranormal Entity. Not subtle, not clever but they achieve a mixed bag, some of their films are lovable cheesy muck you find yourself enjoying and some are shallow shameless attempts to cash in quick. After all, this is the company that got told by a guy at a seminar that the best film in the world would be High School Musical but more Christian-friendly so they made Sunday School Musical… no joke, they just jumped on an idea some randomer said and did it, apparently trying to cash in on the strict-Christian themed films only market. So what does that make this film? My best comparison is, as I said, the disaster film tropes of things like 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow combined with kaiju films and if this film were more interesting to watch, I’d recommend it as a way to introduce someone to giant monster movies but it’s not so I won’t.

So, is this so bad it’s good? Whilst the film has redeeming qualities (One of the few American films to feature a mixed race coupling and not make it a big “OH MY GOSH THEY ARE SO DIFFERENT YET IN LOVE” kinda thing with an Asian male and a Caucasian female) and is laughably cheap and shoddy, you’d be hard pressed to watch this with that mixture of cringing and grinning you’d have watching The Room. The film started out with a message about the impact of sonar equipment on the environment, which I thought it would run with to tell us how we are destroying marine life but it drops that pretty early on and instead focuses on “How cool would it be to watch two giant monsters fight?!” to which we as an audience respond “THAT WOULD BE AWESOME!” and in turn get like… two minutes of them fighting, the rest is underwater chase scenes between a sub and a shark whilst an octopus watches. I honestly just found this boring – the gaps between action are too long for a disaster movie and the script repeats itself (Several characters die in the same way of “Sir, if we do this thing, it’ll kill us all!” and boss says “Do the thing!” and they die ORRRRRR “Sir, we killed the monster!” and then boss says “Lower your guard boys, we won!” and they die) so this film feels flat, not lovably tried-and-failed flat, more took-the-first-draft-they-came-up-with-and-filmed it flat. I don’t do a point score system but the Rotten Tomatoes one is below 20%, I’m hard-pressed to disagree…

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Halloween 2015

Hey folks! So you’re perhaps wondering what to expect from this blog for Halloween this year – last year I did a review of Dog Soldiers, the low-budget werewolf film full of one-liners, army soldiers and sword fights so what can I follow that up with for this year? Well if you aren’t aware already, I have been doing a Let’s Play of one of my favourite Halloween-esque video games, Decap Attack. Click the link below to go to my official Facebook page for the playthrough, cut into ten minute chunks. My brother and I sit together discussing bad puns, bad game design and many other weird topics of conversation all whilst playing a nineties gem known for its bizarre style.

https://www.facebook.com/oldmanwolfeofficial

If you find yourself enjoying it, please click like and share on the videos, each share is a new audience I can reach and if these take off, I have plans for a Christmas themed game playthrough – the game in mind has already been chosen, tested and now it sits waiting to be sprung upon my brother in December (He has no idea what the game is)

Now I did want to subject you all to a week full of Halloweeny posts about games and films but my week has been hectic, I’ve either been ill or busy trying to get a job (I actually had a cold for the entire recording of the Let’s Play, you can occasionally hear a cough or sniffle, that’s me). Of course, we’re getting into the season in which everyone is frantic, Christmas is coming whether I like it or not and with my 21st birthday on the horizon, I feel obliged to do something for it but that’s a bitch to organise with slow responses and low income. Basically, sorry, my life is interfering with my blog which is funny because usually it is the other way round!

Fingers crossed though, I have picked up a tacky horror treat to review for Saturday, the actual day of Halloween and it is ridiculous. I won’t give it away and spoil the surprise but this film could well end up on Moviebob’s Shlocktober list and it would not come as a shock to me if it did – assuming it is genuinely bad and not just “Oh look how funny we are, we made a terrible movie” bad. Don’t understand what I mean by that? Well maybe that’s a blog post in itself if I have the time, can’t see why not, film studies is one of my favourite subjects of discussion.

So, I hope that has brought everyone up to date, I’ll keep you posted as best I can. For now though, please go check that link and watch the videos, my brother was very selfless in giving up his time to engage in stupid banter over the incredibly weird game that is Decap Attack. The video is rough, it’s my first ever proper recording/editing job but I’ve done my best with it. Oh, by the way, Let’s Plays aren’t becoming my thing, I promise, these are just for fun, my actual videos will be on YouTube and will occasionally delve into silly topics like games and films but I will of course use the platform of YouTube to make videos of importance. Keep your eyes peeled for that, give it a few years and I’ll probably be making Upworthy share my shit like the plague. Bye for now!

On Dorian Gray and I

Trigger Warnings – Discussion of body image

Shocking news, Jacob Wolfe has been invited to a party for once and will not be posting at the usual time because instead he will be eating nibbles and standing in a room full of people dressed as vampires and/or zombies. I think the most shocking part of that story isn’t the theme of the party, being a Halloween party after Halloween, but that I’m actually attending a social event that isn’t just a work social or a family birthday bash. Being a Halloween party, I had to have a costume, something I’ve managed to avoid for a few years now but alas, festivity has caught me and is squeezing my balls and telling me to put on a pretty outfit so after batting around a few ideas such as Wolverine, Van Helsing, Gomez Addams (felt that was dumb without a Morticia on my arm) and Jon Snow, I eventually settled on something a little more unique, Dorian Gray. Okay, I’m not the first guy ever to pick this outfit but the odds of me finding someone in the same costume are pretty obscure and whilst it does involve the prop of a portrait, it’s a flippin’ good portrait a friend did for me, I’m going the whole hog so screw it.

As a man who often reads too much into things, I found myself wondering why I settled on Dorian Gray. Dorian Gray is of course the short novel by Oscar Wilde about a handsome young man who sells his soul to stay young and handsome forever after a friend tells him to enjoy his youth and live life to the full. Corrupted, Dorian Gray abandons his virtues and indulges in a life of passion and sin, with a portrait of him made by his honest friend Basil aging in Dorian’s place, reflecting every sin and foul deed in its painted surface. Dorian eventually grows weary of this life of selfishness, his wickedness spreading death and disaster in his social circle and so he destroys the painting, dying naked and decrepit on the floor. Dorian Gray is a classic story about the balance of good and evil and the dangers of living a life solely revolving around vice or virtue, that life is a mixture of all things and that no matter what we do, we must embrace the consequences of our lifestyle choices and the responsibilities of our actions.

So Dorian Gray, why him? The boy is fair-haired and I’m not, the boy is smooth-faced and I’m not, the boy is tall and thin and I’m not. Well, it is one of my favourite books, that’s a start. I dunno, picking a literary character seems a bit pretentious I’ll admit and without the prop of my portrait, I just know people would assume I’m a vampire because my costume is basically a rather gothic suit. Part of me considers that I chose Dorian Gray because I associate myself with him, not in the homoerotic subtext kinda way that the uncensored book has (because another theme of this book is struggling with sexual identity and Dorian basically fancies Lord Henry, who symbolises a romantic vision of freedom as opposed to loyal old Basil who represents traditional values)  but on a different level that I shall explain to you now

I’m not meaning to brag but I like to think that between ages 15 and 18, I was quite handsome. Slender, reasonable height amongst my peers, long thick black hair and nice cheekbones, as well as a six pack under my shirt, believe it or not. I was, however, an asshole up until about age 17, I was selfish, vain and saw people around me as means to ends so in a sense, I was like the corrupted Dorian, I was good-looking and charming but I had no soul to me. I look in the mirror now, or rather at photos when I was trying to model for this portrait via selfies, that I do not look like that anymore. My face, no longer a sloping shape, is round and the beard serves to hide my chin which has become more bulb shaped. The six pack is gone and in its place is a pudgy little gut that sticks out over the top of my belt rather than my previous issue of “No belt holds my trousers up, woe is me”. The strength I once used to be feared as the school nutcase has gone and I run myself ragged just taking the bins out and what was once a frightening and intimidating man that commanded respect is the butt of every joke and smiling amiably, albeit in a forced manner, to everyone. However, I feel I am fundamentally more likeable and down-to-earth than my pretty boy past self, I have more soul, I’m more intelligent, I am not young forever but I have an honest soul to me.

Does this sound vain and daft? Comparing myself to Dorian Gray? Maybe, but I think Dorian is a character I can relate to, a man who struggles between worlds of influence whilst trying to maintain a dandy self-image and handsome appearance, perhaps some still consider me a good looking man and truth be told it could be worse, all I’ve got weighing on me is some tummy fat and thinning hair, it’s hardly a debilitating thing to live with but personally I don’t feel attractive. I can probably get over this with some exercise and a better diet, recently came to the realisation I comfort eat cinnamon buns when I’ve had a hard day, those sticky devils will kill me, but I feel awkward exercising alone and stupid exercising with a partner or in a group. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t

Ah well, I’ll go to the party, I’ll enjoy myself, I’ll be a slightly chunky Dorian Gray with facial hair he won’t shave off entirely for fear of his less-attractive chin and I don’t imagine anyone saying anything like “Aren’t you a bit short/pudgy/hairy for Dorian?”, heck, I doubt the guests will guess, thus the prop to help but honestly, I find a disappointingly high number of people know nothing of Oscar Wilde and that saddens me

…Ok, that was pretentious

Catching Flies

Well this has been a long time coming but at last the Old Man returns. I know what you’re thinking, it is either “Who?” or “Where have you been?” to which I respond thusly: Jacob Wolfe, the left-winged lunatic with a bone to pick with every aspect of the modern world from music and film to politics and economy. I have been gone for a long time and I apologise for that but in that time I’ve dealt with several demons. I broke up with my long term partner after having a mental breakdown and then failed my exams, landing myself squarely in a rut. I had a job, briefly, and was on JSA but I’ve now been told I’m not allowed that anymore because I called in sick on two occasions and that’s just not on. I am running the house and home on behalf of my father whilst my stepmother is away, meaning that as well as trying to find paid work, I’m doing housework simply because somebody has to. As I write this, I’m currently at odds and ends with a lapse in my self-esteem and motivation but I’m still trying and I’m improving very slowly in spite of medical and emotional issues trying to pin me down. As far as life goes, if people describe their life as shit then mine has been the plumbing system of an Indian restaurant because all of that only adds up to most of my troubles.

Moving swiftly on, I want to get back into this and get my writing back in order. TDWC is back under the knife to be picked apart and improved upon to make it less of a “two guys dicking around and saving the day” deal and more true to the intended description of an action-packed tongue-in cheek play on the genre of two or more attractive lead characters fighting non-human forces whilst dashing around being sexy and charming (Doctor Who, Supernatural, Torchwood and such). I hope to mix together a strong story line and genuine characters for those looking for more shows in the same vein as Supernatural to gorge on but with a playful near-parody twist to it to poke fun at this notion that all heroes are at the centre of the universe they reside in and are endlessly endearing to us as they make the hero business into a catwalk for bow-ties, tight skirts and trench coats. I shan’t give away too much at this point but I hope that it will live up to the thoughts I have in mind.

So I imagine you want to know what shall be the subject of my return to ranting don’t you? The title doesn’t give you much to go on, other than perhaps a reference to fishing or bug-catching but I was in fact referring to the phrase ‘You will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’. Positive reinforcement ladies and gentlemen, is the process of teaching someone to do something you want them to do by rewarding them for it, as opposed to punishing them when they do not. First of all, this rant will mostly be for the British audience (provided they audience abroad even exists anymore, which I very much doubt but at one time I was well known in at least three continents so…) but Americans may also find this speaks to them though do please note I’ll be largely referring to Britain in this rant. Now as mentioned earlier, I’ve been told I’m a naughty lazy child by the folks at the job centre and that they’re stopping my pocket money because I missed a careers day event due to illness. I waddled out of the house to get my book signed to officially declare I hadn’t spent my time scratching my balls all day and that my JSA payments weren’t being spent on ivory ball scratchers but I felt sick and quickly got home to bed afterward, forgetting the career day event that was to take place after my meeting in my dreary hypersensitive state of stomach pains and depression. Granted, I could have just sat there and tried to soak in the information but when your head is full of amplified background noises and a sad inner monologue about the pointless nature of your existence, you don’t do much information soaking and so I went to bed. However, this led to me being told I’m no longer allowed the money and that should my appeal fall through, I’m not allowed to claim JSA anymore and this got me thinking about the sad yet true system that the British Government uses to run the country, the power of punishment to create dependency. I shall now explain my point.

I failed to attend a meeting out of sickness and this was reported to the decision maker who made the decision that I was clearly not job-seeking and thus don’t deserve the payment. I re-read the rules afterwards and noticed that there are a lot of ways to get some ass who’s never even met you to tell you you’re a lazy sponge. In essence, if you do not attend every single meeting you are directed to (without being able to say “Oh no, I can’t make that” because then the response is “Oh well oh no then, you can’t get paid”) and apply for seven jobs a week, you’re told via a slip of paper to go fuck yourself. I thought that this seemed fair enough at first but the job market is slim pickings for people of my age gap and in the area in which I live, most people want qualified nurses and teachers (You know, those two professions that the government fucked in the ass until most of them started moving abroad about two years ago?). The jobs that are available to job seekers require you to have paid for specialised training years before you became jobless, including apparently needing to qualify for a Door Security Badge to stand outside a building with a clipboard. I’m sorry, but how hard is it to teach somebody to open the door for guys on the list and otherwise leave it closed?

I’m straying from my point though and that is that our current system is one based around punishment, around bullying those who are vulnerable for not being untouchable like the upper middle class we all aspire for. The lower class is demonised as a legion of unintelligent money-swiping mole men that feed on scraps but let me put forward this idea – if the vast majority of people living under your control are criminals and scroungers then that is a reflection of your ability as a ruler, not the people. You want less people to ask you for hand outs? Up the national minimum wage to keep pace with the rising costs of daily life or lower those said costs for people earning below a certain amount. You have the Bedroom Tax as well, a penalty incurred by living in a household that has more bedrooms available than people living within the household (i.e. a lone old woman living in a three bedroom house would be expected to pay extra for the two unused bedrooms, even if she used those rooms as say a study and a storage room). I agree, we have a problem with housing in this country and some people do live in houses that are much too big for them whilst families of seven or such are crammed into flats until limbs stick out the windows but this scheme doesn’t help the situation at all because the kind of people affected are the following:

– Old couples that live alone together because the kids moved out
– Disabled people who convert a room downstairs into a bedroom because they cannot face going upstairs and so the unused bedroom upstairs is still costing them due to this tax
– People who would downsize but can’t afford it or don’t know how

I mean, in all fairness, are MPs really allowed to point fingers in having stuff they don’t need at the cost of the people? At least these big houses are for people, not ducks. However, if you insist on bullying people for having houses that are too big for them then maybe implement a government relocation scheme to help the disabled and the elderly move house to something more suitable, offer to pay for the cost of moving and help them to sell their old house? You’d be selling the new houses you insist on building everywhere, regaining the big empty houses and less people would be paying a pointless tax! For the record, speaking of ridiculously large houses, does the Queen pay bedroom tax? Like, I’m sure Buckingham Palace could serve a lot of other useful purposes than the gilded cage for a bunch of old people? Sadly, the British government is too in love with using fear to control the nation, the fear of taking away their crutch and beating them with it.

You might interject that the benefits the people are granted are generous right? I mean, on JSA, if you’ve been claiming for six months, your employer gets a cash gift of almost £3000 for taking you in so that’s a big incentive for them to hire you and get you off benefits right? Well sure, he might HIRE you, but once he gets that payment you’re off again and it is entirely legal and that cash gift is the government’s way of telling you to politely fuck off. Similarly, you can get a bonus in your benefits if you report a benefit thief but this isn’t swapping the stick for a carrot, this is you telling the guy with the stick to bully someone else for a bit because they’re a worse kind of vermin than you are and do you get a carrot? No, not really, just five minutes of peace from your beatings. Depression is rife in Britain and I get so angry at people of the middle class judging me. Teachers and doctors tell me that I have no reason to be so depressed living in a town as lovely as Shrewsbury. Yeah, Shrewsbury is lovely, assuming you can afford theatre tickets and the booking fee for a river cruise because otherwise your night life in Shrewsbury is a variety of shit-pen fast food stores and more pubs than you could ever possibly hope to crawl around in a week. Fun times in Shrewsbury require you to be either rich or drunk, and that is the social life of Britain, one of spending money you don’t have to do things you wouldn’t enjoy doing sober to escape the reality that Britain is a slowly dying cripple at the top of the globe.

You know in Sweden you get paid by the government for being eco-friendly right? Literally, you receive cash gifts for recycling on a regular basis. In Britain, if you don’t recycle enough, you could face a fine and if you organise your recycling boxes incorrectly, your local bin men throw a fucking tantrum and send you passive aggressive notes in the post. I’m sorry, we couldn’t collect your recycling because you put paper in the glass box. I’m sorry, we couldn’t empty your garden waste bin because we found that someone had put an old packet of crisps in there by mistake. I’m sorry, you didn’t leave any milk and cookies with your wheelie bin so we’re not talking to you anymore! I heard that once upon a time, the bin men just came and collected your bin from the garden and did the rest themselves, now if they find a tin amongst glass jars, they shit themselves and scatter like pigeons. In a country that is ruled by punishing people, people break down and they turn to desperate and dishonest measures, much in the same way that a child who is given no positive reinforcement in development turns out to be a horribly dysfunctional liar. You get smacked in the face for speaking too much, not enough, telling lies, telling the truth, eating too much, eating too little so eventually you just say fuck it, I’ll do whatever because I already know I’m going to get hell for it and this is the psyche of rioters and such. The people steal and cheat their governments because they know they’ve been judged as thieves and liars but they also know they are cheated and stolen from so they just claw for what they can get.

I hope you’re still reading on because I’ve got more to say just yet. I was talking with my Dad recently about Milgram and his study of obedience, you know the one? Basically, Milgram managed to convince a bunch of random men to electrocute an old man into having a heart-attack (At least, so they thought) simply because he was a figure of authority to these men and so they complied. The psychology to this is what led the Nazis to commit such unspeakable crimes, it was simply the “just following orders” justification that allows us to be malevolent beings if instructed to by someone we respect as our superior. Of course, this study was conducted during the McCarthy era so it was a time of doing as you’re told, when you’re told so I wonder if this still rings true in modern society, where we are subjected to suffering at the hands of authority and many of us are against big organisations picking on us. The government, the police, the banks – we trusted them once upon a time but we’re starting to see them more as bullies than as guardians so perhaps we would be less inclined to do as we’re told. I can imagine Milgram encountering chavs only to have them tell him to do various unseemly things to himself. I’m of two minds because on the one hand I think that we’re less inclined to obey because we know now that our superiors are as human as we are, they’re not the crème de la crème of society but simply those of power and influence. However, maybe we are more obedient because we lack the will to fight, the will to stand up and tell these bastards that the people should be represented by those that once stood alongside them, not privately educated tosspots that have less in common with the average bloke than a tea towel does with a tiger. The people that fight and resist, speaking of anarchy and freedom, are labelled as crazed terrorists and are quickly swept under the rug and we feel that if we try to speak out, we’ll be called crazy too. In truth, what divides us from sheep is that we have the internet, and shaving us naked will not eventually lead to a nice jumper in time for Christmas.