Who said giant monsters don’t sell?
The trailer to the Asylum’s gargantuan epic, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (US-2009; dir. Jack Perez), has proven to be an internet phenomenon, commented upon and discussed (even, yes, derided) thoughout the blogsphere ever since Undead Backbrain uploaded it to YouTube on 11 May. Currently, it’s running at 938,709 views, with 3,282 comments. That’s in two weeks! YouTube has awarded the Undead Backbrain YouTube site a #2 Most Viewed status because of the trailer. Not bad for something that doesn’t involve a cute chick talking into the camera. It’s a great indication of giant-monster popularity. I’m hoping the trailer will go well over the million-views mark, so if you haven’t seen it, watch it — and if you have… well, watch it again!
Actually, the frenzy began earlier than 11 May. When I posted the exclusive screenshot of the mega shark eating the Golden Gate Bridge, everyone in creation snaffled it and embedded it on their site, mostly with proper attribution given to Undead Backbrain. As a result, this site’s traffic skyrocketed, only exceeded by the mileage we got out of practically every post I ever did on Cleavagefield (US-2009; dir. Jim Wynorski). So there it is, folks. Giant critters fighting, and soft-porn giant monster parodies based around breasts — that’s what brings the crowds.
Now, to address some of the (usually negative) issues brought up by commenters on the Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus trailer:
- It’s a perfect title, for god’s sake. It explains the film and its main hook right upfront. Monster battles have been a key element of the giant monster subgenre ever since King Kong took on the T-Rex, and Godzilla went up against Mothra and a menagerie of other mega beasts. In the Japanese daikaiju eiga tradition putting the names of the two opponents right there in the title became de rigueur. Good to see this film following the tradition.
- No, a mega shark big enough to take a major bite out of the Golden Gate Bridge probably couldn’t leap up high enough to snaffle a plane out of the sky. But… wait! Sharks that big never have and probably can’t exist. Their existence violates several basic laws of the physical universe, just as Godzilla’s does (even though living in the water gives it a better chance of survival, as the water ameliorates the negative effects of gravity — which is why the largest creatures even known to exist lived in the sea). So the existence of the mega shark and the giant octopus are in all likelihood impossible… which is, I would think, why we enjoy these films so much. Because they are impossible and when the impossible happens we get a big thrill from the awe it evokes. It’s amazing how many people got a big kick out of that plane sequence.
- The SFX may not be of Lord of the Rings or Hellboy 2 or Incredible Hulk standard, but come on! This is relatively low budget, without the dollars and the people-hours available to refine the special effects into a seamless visual extravaganza. But given that, they look pretty good to me. Remember how much entertainment we used to get out of back-projected rubber creatures and flying saucers wobbling about on strings? These films are better than that, even relatively, though they represent the same sort of aesthetic. It’s all fake, folks, even Ironman. Use your imagination … or what there is left of it.
- Some of the acting and the drama is melodramatic and overwrought? Really? Maybe that’s because this film knows what it is as well as what it isn’t — and what it isn’t is Citizen Kane or Casablanca. It’s a giant monster movie and an exploitation B-flick at that. You’re not meant to take it all that seriously. If it plays for laughs at times, that’s a good thing. It can do that and still be a good movie. It’s not a parody, but it clearly has a wry smile on its face.
- Yes, it is straight-to-DVD. Big surprise! That’s what The Asylum does. It makes exploitative B-flicks and releases them straight to DVD. That’s the perfect business model for a company that is making conceptually large-scale films on a meagre budget. Hey, these days even Paramount and the rest have trouble meeting their bottomline without the financial back-up of post-theatrical DVD sales. It costs as much as the average production budget to get movies effectively into the cinema. So when you haven’t got much money to start with, why bother?
- You think it’s shit? You hate this sort of f**king crap? Fine, so why exactly did you watch the trailer at all?
Oh, why am I trying to argue with these people? I know this film won’t be as classic as Gojira and King Kong (1933), or as visually effective as Jackson’s King Kong (or even Roland Emmerich’s abortive US Godzilla remake). But I don’t care. It looks like heaps of fun and I’ll be watching it as soon as I can get a copy — and a legit copy, not the illegal upload that appeared on YouTube. (Come on! If you’re interested enough in the film to want to watch it in the first place, have the decency not to try to undercut the filmmaker’s main source of income.)
End of rant.