the asylum

Today I read about Michael Bay’s plans to reboot the Ninja Turtles as being aliens, and the butthurt that preceded after that from fans using melodramatic language like “you raped my childhood” to describe how a franchise designed to sell plastic crap to kids of the 80s is now transmogrifying into a franchise designed to sell plastic crap to the kids of the 2010s.  I could care less, and my riposte to those people would be quite simply: if you don’t like what he’s doing, don’t give him your money. I bet a lot of the TMNT fans whining right now will be first in line for the premier of this film to go in and bitch about it, creating the situation of Michael Bay effectively walking out of the cinema laughing at them because even though he created something they loathe, he’s still managed to get £7.50 out of them.

Ah, Michael Bay. Purveyor of hugely expensive films featuring things going “boom” and Megan Fox running around in skimpy clothes in fear of imaginary CGI robots, all paid for with what amounts to several times the GDP of most third world countries. I think I may have ranted about him in the past at some point, but if I have it’s been hypocritical as I have actually enjoyed some of his films. I don’t think I’ve actually seen the second and third Transformers films all the way through, or if I have I can’t remember much of them. I do, however, count The Island which was directed by him as one of my favourite “put on and boom” films when I just want to watch shit blow up and ogle Scarlet Johannson. It’s an undemanding film, with a plot that’s complete and utter nonsense on stilts but still manages to be great fun.

I now ask the question: what would Michael Bay be like if you asked him to make a film on a budget of 50p? We now come to one of the most awesome things I’ve discovered recently: The Asylum. For those of you who don’t know what The Asylum is, if you’ve got cable turn on Syfy around about 11pm and wait for whatever rerun they’ve got going to finish and chances are you’ll see a film made by them, called something like Mega Pirana vs. Ultra Squid and watch it. I know you can flick over and see a cop show or low-grade porn but I urge you to give it a chance. The acting may be appalling, but wait until the mutated Pirana and the robot Squid start fighting and then, at least for me, something magic happens. I start enjoying it. I didn’t really pay who or what was responsible for it any attention for a while… I just remembered the sight of hilariously bad CGI and chuckled.

Then this viral clip popped up:

and I laughed my guts off. I wanted to know what who had made it… no, I needed to know as my soul demanded to know what had produced something so monumentally shit that it had achieved the state of transcending past mediocrity into brilliance. Sometimes, you can fail so badly you actually manage to succeed like here. I went and I searched, and then I found… The Asylum. Indeed, I find the company itself highly amusing as well as its films. What it does is brilliant: it thinks up films based on a similar premise to upcoming blockbusters that were made for around $300 million, and then creates films that are made for something like $30,000 and releases them on DVD at the same time as the $300 million film arrives. This has actually proven highly successful for them, and they’ve managed to make a tidy sum out of it.

I think I’d seen the box for Transmophers, one of their cash-in films released in the wake of Michael Bay’s robot blockbuster quite a while ago and just dismissed it. It turned out that Transmorphers was in fact highly successful for what it was, and so they created a ton of films along similar lines all of which the, uh, “inspiration” can be deduced from by looking at the title or the cover. Transmorphers is obvious and I’m sure you can tell what the likes of Alien vs. Hunter is based on. In actual fact, I think I would have rather watched Alien vs. Hunter than Alien vs. Predator 2: Refund as clips I’ve found online of it indicate it’s better made than anything the Brothers Krause can seem to do:

There are so many things I could say that I find awesome about The Asylum, such as its attitudes towards idiots who send it shitty emails containing hateful threats for the cardinal sin of exploiting their stupidity (if you can read, you can tell the difference between Transformers and Transmorphers) or the fact that they acknowledge that well, their films are shit but also awesome by virtue of being so shit they transcend badness into comedy gold. But I’m not going to do that. What I am highly tempted to do, however, is to watch some of their films and review them because I’ve been looking for something to do with this blog. I paid for this domain name, and by God I’m going to use it! Disregard any Lib Dem stuff you find, by the way, currently wiping that off as I just don’t want it to be that kind of blog any more…

One of their upcoming films is American Battleship, and I think I know where the inspiration for that came from:

Now, what happens if you replace Liam Neeson, Rhianna, and guy from John Carter with Mario Van Peebles (who I’ve only seen in Highlander 3) and the hitherto unknown to me but lovely Johanna Watts (wife of Jon Spaihts, co-writer of the upcoming genuine blockbuster Prometheus) and tell the filmmakers that they have a budget that would barely cover the cost, of say, a cheese sandwich from the Co-op:

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that American Battleship will be as entertaining as its $300 million inspiration, but cheaper. They both follow the same formula (big explosions, stupid script, attractive cast) but I’m betting that The Asylum’s version will probably make me laugh more. I think I’m going to check out both.

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