The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
500 MPH Storm (2013)
This one was suggested to me by Netflix Instant, and when I saw it had DTVC favorite Casper Van Dien, I figured I'd give it a go. Not to mention it's from The Asylum, and their track record has been getting better recently. Oh yeah, and it's under 90 minutes long, so even if it's not good, it's only 90 minutes, and on Instant. How bad could it be, right?
500 MPH Storm has Casper Van Dien as a lantern-jawed, gray-stubbled scientist, called into action when the clean energy producing device he helped design is causing a mega storm. Turns out his buddy, Michael Beach, accelerated the process of creating energy, which wasn't a good idea. The worst part: the storm and the device are feeding each other, and if they're not stopped, the result could be a 500 MPH hypercane! Will Van Dien-- and his wife and son who are with him-- be able to save us from disaster?
I liked this. It was a parody of the disaster film, both the old and the new. Sometimes it was really obvious, like when Van Dien and his wife and son drove into a cargo container being blown at them by the wind, and they had to drive out of it. The reactions were so over the top, yet so funny, that it was obvious what they were doing. Most of the time though, the mockery was more meta, like they were making fun of the genre and its conventions, but were using them at the same time, so it wasn't like a total Spaceballs style spoof. It wasn't all roses though. A film like this requires a lot of momentum to keep a story like this going for 90 minutes, and it lost steam around the hour mark. Even then though it had its moments that made it fun. It's an interesting bad movie night call, because it is making fun of itself too, making it hard for us to make fun of it, but it provides enough funny moments that it works. Maybe a drinking game would make it better for bad movie night.
None of this would've worked if Casper Van Dien hadn't played it right though. He delivered his one-liners mocking the film the right way, hammed it up when the role called for it, and played it straight well too. In the 90s he did these movies, and they were more serious, so it's great to see him come back now and have some fun with it. Speaking of the 90s, there's this one scene where a storm survivor steals his truck, and he says "aw, come on!" in a way that was very LA 90s surfer dude, bringing me back to the roles I remember him in at that time. It was really cool, whether it was intentional or not.
I did some homework, as any good blogger would, and found out on Wikipedia that a hypercane is an actual scientific concept. It's hypothetical, the idea being that if a comet or asteroid hit the earth, and the ocean temperature reached over 120 degrees Fahrenheit, then a hypercane would result. It's one explanation for the dinosaur extinction. In the film, the water reaches that temperature when their energy generating device is activated. I wonder how much they came to the Wikipedia page like I did when they wrote the film. Not a bad deal if they did.
The Asylum seems to be getting better at this thing over time. I can see how making movies like this can be hit or miss, but with each hit, I'm more willing to forgive the misses. When I started this blog, it was the kind of thing they did, especially with the mockbuster names they had, that people would look at and say "Matt, you should do that one!" 500 MPH Storm is right there with 2-Headed Shark Attack and Titanic II as the kind of thing people think of when I tell them about my blog. What's great now is I'm getting more fun out of The Asylum's library when I have to watch them.
Finally, Sarah Lieving plays Van Dien's wife in the film (though she's listed way down at the bottom, below all the "balloon fiesta patrons" even). I thought she was a little young to have a son as old as their son was-- even though he was much older than whatever age he was supposed to be playing anyway--, but when I went to check, I saw that she didn't list her age. I've heard this is an issue for women working in the film industry, that they have their ages posted, and they lose potential work. I was thinking here that that might be a bad thing though, because people will say "She's not old enough to be that kid's mom. How old is she?", then see and go "yeah, see, I told you so", but this is only one role, and she has others I'm sure where not listing her age will be an asset. It's too bad though. Hopefully with more women in the industry, this kind of thing will be less of an issue over time.
Okay, let's wrap this up. I found it to be pretty fun. It does a great job mocking this kind of film, but not in a way that's too heavy handed. Also Casper Van Dien did a great job leading the film, which was great to see. As of this posting, it's available on Netflix Instant. I'd give it a look.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2518848/