I was somewhat skeptical when I read Syfy’s press release claiming that its latest original movie, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, was “ripped from the headlines.” Until I saw this headline yesterday. Syfy couldn’t have asked for better timing for that encounter. And it is true that the general starting plot point of the film — non-native pet pythons being released into the Everglades and causing havoc on the ecosystem — is in fact happening in Florida. But from there, as you have come to expect from Syfy originals, the headlines from which the story is ripped are more likely to be found in the Weekly World News, as this film’s freed pythons somehow turn into 100-foot behemoths able to strike at low-flying helicopters and eventually do battle with equally massive, ‘roided-up alligators. But that’s the sort of twist that makes Syfy films so fun, including this one.
Specifically, the main reason the film is enjoyable is because of its much-talked-about leads — ’80s singing icons Debbie Gibson and Tiffany (who are both also credited as co-producers). (A third pop star also turns up, as ex-Monkee Micky Dolenz plays himself in a cameo). Gibson and Tiffany have each previously starred in Syfy originals — Gibson in Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, and Tiffany in Mega Piranha. So they are no strangers to battling movie mega-fauna. Gibson plays a fanatical environmentalist who frees the pythons into the ‘glades, and Tiffany is an equally crazed park ranger who will go to any lengths to restore the natural balance — including feeding steroids to gators.
Frankly, if it weren’t for these two starring in this, the film would be fairly forgettable Saturday night fare. The continuity, editing and special effects are about what you’d expect from a Syfy movie, but I was hoping for a bit more cohesiveness when I saw that Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary) was helming the project, becoming the first woman to direct a Syfy original movie. It seems like the main goal was finally giving fans the chance to see the pop-princess smackdown of Debbie Gibson vs. Tiffany, and that comes across more intensely than the Mega Python vs. Gatoroid battle, which doesn’t exactly take place (there are actually several Mega Pythons and Gatoroids). The two actresses get to call each other “bitch” a number of times, there are sly references to lyrics from each woman’s hit songs, and — in what has been a long time coming for any hot-blooded, daydreaming ’80s boy — they get into an epic catfight involving food, whipped cream, wrestling and splashing around in water.
The ending, following an assault by the animals on Miami, is somewhat surprising at least. Overall, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid is about as substantial as a lesser pop song, the kind that lacks the staying power of some of the better tunes by the likes of Tiffany and Gibson but yet has its moments while you’re listening to it. There are surely plenty of other mega-creatures out there for the actresses to battle in future films, and headlines from which to rip for the creators.
Mega Python vs. Gatoroid airs Saturday, Jan. 29, at 9pm ET/PT, on Syfy.
© NBC Universal, Inc. Credit: Syfy