In an unexpected and catastrophic series of events, a breed of lava-breathing tarantulas are unleashed on the city of Los Angeles. The only thing standing between the city’s population and total devastation is aging action hero Colton West (Steve Gutenberg). Colton, together with his adoring super fan sidekick, and his wife Olivia take on the fire-spewing spiders in an attempt to save LA from out-and-out destruction at the hands of the Lavalantula.
I don’t usually go crazy for movies this but when Mike Mendez does them (as he did previously with Big Ass Spider) he deftly blends tongue-in-cheek one-liners with over-the-top visuals and a hefty helping of kitsch. Mendez walks the fine line between being in on the joke and going overboard on self satire. While I didn’t enjoy Lavalantula as much as Big Ass Spider! I still definitely had fun with it and expect that you will, too, if you are a fan of cheesy monster movies.
Lavalantula is very CGI heavy. And the CGI is very CG-ish but this is a made-for-SyFy film, so I was expecting that going in and am not really faulting anyone, more so than just offering a disclaimer as to what you should expect. At times, the digital effects don’t line up with what the actors are doing but on some level, that kind of adds to the film’s Corman-esque charm. And really, if you can get over the shortcomings of the FX, there is fun to be had here.
Steve Guttenberg is good as the past-his-prime action star Colton West. He chews up the scenery with a zeal that lets us know he is very much in on the joke. His costars are pretty good, as well. Nia Peeples of ’80s and ’90s pop music fame (who may be better known to millennials as Emily’s mother on Pretty Little Liars) is great as Colton’s wife, Olivia. She plays the role with a tough-as-nails exterior and a kick ass now, take names later attitude. Also worthy of mention is an enjoyable turn from Patrick Renna (Dark Ride, The Sandlot) in a sidekick type role. Ian Ziering (Beverly Hills 90201, Sharknado) also pops up in a cameo that pays tribute to his turn as a SyFy channel disaster movie hero.
The onscreen relationship between Colton and his wife Olivia is quite sweet. I expected them to be at each other’s throats but it really wasn’t like that. They work together cooperatively and Olivia kicks just as much ass as Colton does. She is resourceful and brave. And he steps up in a way that no one really expected him to. They work together to ensure the survival of their family and the city.
Lavalantula is out on DVD from Alchemy, now. I would recommend checking out if you are a fan of Mike Mendez or of SyFy fare (it aired there originally). This one probably isn’t for everybody but I definitely had a good time time with it.
WICKED RATING: 6/10
Director(s): Mike Mendez
Writer(s): Neil Elman, Ashley O’Neil
Stars: Steve Guttenberg, Nia Peeples,
Release: November 3, 2015 (DVD)
Studio/ Production Co: Alchemy, SyFy
Length: 81 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Monster Movie, Disaster Flick