Fire Burns... Lava Bites

20151 h 23 min

Giant lava breathing tarantulas – Lavalantulas – erupt out of ancient volcanos in the Santa Monica Mountains, raining death and destruction upon Los Angeles. With the City of Angels on the verge of incineration, only a washed up ‘90s action hero actor (Steve Guttenberg) stands in the way of this monstrous swarm of bloodthirsty creatures who burn their victims alive.

Director Mike Mendez
Runtime 1 h 23 min
Release Date 8 August 2015
Movie Media DVD
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Not bad

Lavalantula was a bit of an odd mix during last year’s shark week. No, not that Shark Week; Syfy Channel hosted an entire week of new shark-based movies in 2015 leading up to the release of Sharknado 3. But beyond the release of B-movies like Zombie Shark and 3-Headed Shark Attack, Syfy Channel released a single non-shark movie: Lavalantula.

Ever since the first Sharknado film went viral Syfy Channel has really kicked the production of movies that are so bad they are good into overdrive, especially with the creator company of Sharknado, The Asylum. To that end, Lavalantula appears to be an attempt at replicating the success of the first Sharknado film. While the Sharknado franchise has certainly developed a cult following and allowed for Syfy Channel movies to receive more attention, those 5 minutes of fame are fading faster and faster with each sequel. Heck, actor Ian Ziering even cameos in-character as Fin Shepard, the protagonist of the Sharknado films. So now we get a new disaster movie that combines volcanoes and tarantulas instead of tornados and sharks.

For a Syfy Channel original movie, and let me repeat that louder for emphasis…FOR A SYFY CHANNEL ORIGINAL MOVIE, Lavalantula is pretty good. The premise is simple; a volcanic eruption in Los Angeles releases a horde of lava spewing, car-sized tarantulas and the crazy people who inhabit Hollywood end up in a battle for survival against them. Every aspect of Lavalantula is absolutely ridiculous but it is blatantly obvious that it was intended to be like that every step of the way. Steven Guttenburg (god, remember Police Academy?) serves as the protagonist, a washed-up actor who used to be a big action star with a hatred for bugs (and apparently also arachnids). When his character and other Hollywood “stars” miss out on the evacuation, they decide to stop being onscreen heroes and become the real thing to combat the threat of the Lavalantulas.

For a Syfy Channel movie, and especially for an Asylum film, the special effects of Lavalantula were pretty impressive. The giant spiders do not look blatantly fake. Part of that is due to the camera angles but another large factor is the relative lack of gore in this movie. Most modern movies pride themselves on gore (we can probably thank Saw for that) but it is very hard to do gore in a budget monster movie. Having a low-grade CGI monster interact with real actors, or anything real for that matter, always looks really trashy. The relative lack of gore, made possible by the monsters spitting lava and physically touching their victims off-screen, make the film that much more believable. And unlike a lot of other B horror movies, the comedy is actually comedic in Lavalantula. There are jokes that will get genuine giggles from you in this film.

A lot of Asylum films are, bluntly, bad. The company’s motif is to make mockbusters of popular movies, but they are really good at doing it since they have never lost money on any film they have made. Despite having something of a questionable reputation, the Asylum has continued to be more and more successful over the years with increasingly good films and even a TV show. Lavalantula definitely seems to be a step in the right direction as a fun B movie that contains the right mix of comedy and carnage. Evidently the Syfy Channel felt that Lavalantula was successful because 2Lava2Lantula is due to come out later this summer. Keep your eyes open for it!

July 24, 2016

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