I used to seriously hate almost all made-for-television, more specifically made-for-the-syfy-channel, movies. That all changed, however, when I finally caved into the Sharknado craze and watched Sharknado 2 last year. I had a blast watching that flick and since then have changed my tune when it comes to the low-budget monster/natural disaster mash-up movies. Luckily for fans of this type of thing, it doesn’t look like these kind of flicks are going to go away anytime soon. The latest one that I’ve had the pleasure of viewing is Mike Mendez’s Lavalantula.
Colton West (Steven Guttenberg, Police Academy), an action star on the verge of becoming washed-up, is thrown into some real life action when volcanic explosions start rattling the entire Los Angeles area, during his drive home from the movie set. If molten lava spewing all over the place wasn’t already a big enough problem, the volcano seems to also have unearthed an ancient species of giant spider known to the Mayans as ‘lavalantulas.’ West has to find a way to save his family, along with the rest of L.A., before there is nothing left of it.
Lavalantula is another extremely fun entry in the natural disaster/rampant animal crossover sub-genre. It has everything you could ask for, including the perfect mixture of serious terror and silly one-liners. The cast, which so greatly consists of four original Police Academy actors — Michael Winslow, Leslie Easterbrook, Marion Ramsey, and of course, the already mentioned Guttenberg — all do a fantastic job throughout the entire film. The PA alum are joined by a bunch of other great performers, most notably a cameo by Leigh Whannell, writer of the original Saw film, among many other great modern horror flicks, Danny Woodburn who I’ve always loved as Mickey from “Seinfeld,” and Patrick Renna who I grew up watching as Hamilton Porter in the classic baseball coming-of-age film, The Sandlot. Everyone did a wonderful job, each bringing something special to this already great movie. Oh yeah, there is also an appearance by Ian Ziering who has found great cult success with the Sharknado series!
Director Mike Mendez is perhaps most known for his other giant killer spider movie, Big Ass Spider, which I still have yet to watch, unfortunately. I’ve heard a ton of great things about that one and if Lavalantula is any indication, I’d say I will love that film, as well. After churning out two great spider flicks, it might be safe to say that Mendez is the king of arachnid horror! He is able to take a low-budget and some rather cornball ideas and make them into some very entertaining movie-viewing experiences.
I’m sure by now you guys are all wondering how the spiders actually look. The answer is they look pretty damn impressive. Obviously with the amount of spiders utilized in the film, which happen to have been created in multiple sizes, from minuscule babies to the gigantic ‘Mamalantula,’ CGI had to be heavily involved. With that said, Lavalantula and its creatures are still highly impressive. The digital effects are effective and the mix of practical effects from time to time help to make this one even more fun.
If you’re searching for the next flick to pop in when you and your buddies are just lounging around, look no further than Lavalantula. It’s a blast from start to finish and you won’t be disappointed. Lavalantula will be available on DVD this Tuesday, November 3rd from Alchemy.
I give this one 4.5 nitrogen tanks out of 5.