Oh yes, because every bad hand of Scrabble has the chance of becoming a SyFy Original, but only few chosen puns can become a Sharknado spin-off, featuring even Ian Ziering as as a “seal of approval” of sorts. And Phantom from Devil May Cry (along with its many sons) needed a new gig anyway.
The plot see an old action movie actor, Colton West, quarrel with his director and then leaving the set, but an earthquake makes the Santa Monica Mountains erupt, spewing lava bombs all around. And also giant magma spiders, because of course they do fuckin exist, which prompts Colton to contact his family and warn them of the peril. With the help of a half-sized Police Academy cast reunion, the power of of cinema industry related thingies and the middling ability to refence other movies, Colton and other survivors search for a way to stop the infestation of the lava-spewing arachnids.
The main attraction (often used on DVD releases) is the cast, featuring a lot of actors known for their work on the Police Academy series, with Steven Guttenberg, Michael Winslow, Marion Ramsey, Leslie Easterbrook, alongside a lot of people that had careers before and after Lavantula, like frigging Time Winters, Nia Peeples, Carlos Bernard, etc. And as said in the beginning,we also have Ian Ziering, playing Fin Shephard here as well, to tie this movie into the Sharkenado-verse, which apparentely is a thing. Even Leigh Whannell is in it, acting as Colton West’s director for the movie within the movie.
Then again, this casting extravaganza isn’t that insane, because Leigh Whannel’s character appears only in the first 10 minutes, Ian Ziering is basically there to be told “Hi, Ian Ziering from the Sharkenado series, what are YOU doing here?” and after 30 seconds of screentime he’s gone, and half of the Police Academy reunion cast doesn’t do anything or is even present until the end of the third act. Most the movie is following Steven Gutenberg as he plays this washed up but passionate old action movie star that ends up saving the day while searching for his family and becoming a true hero, despite crazed fans, people believing this is just an elaborate marketing campaign for an action movie, and the frigging lava tarantulas.
And it’s actually a honestly decent B-movie, decent characters, with decent-good production values (and NO, it’s not an Asylum joint, it’s produced by CineTel Films), alright CG for the spiders, but explosions and cheap muzzleflashes aplenty, nothing that bad or worth complaining about. Thankfully the movie references aren’t obnoxious or overbearing, just quick jokes made possible by the spiders attacking Hollywood as well (or made as the classic fake movie posters in the background), and the movie doesn’t it takes itself too seriously. Mostly, some deaths are a bit ghastly for a movie where Steven Gutenberg and his friends shotgun magma spiders and then use a mammoth’s tusk when they’re out of bullets, like he’s Frank West or something.
While Lavalantula it’s fun, fairly well directed by Mike Mendez, who already demonstrated he could do a fun b-movie about spiders with Big Ass Spider three years prior, there’s a feel it should have been even better, if anything to get good use out of the cast. I mean, it’s great we have a Police Academy mini-reunion, but the script doesn’t take much advantage of that, just has Michael Winslow and Marion Ramsey reprises the mannerism from their Police Academy characters just for the hell of it at the end of the movie. I’m not ragging on the actors, they seem to have fun, but it’s hard to shake the feeling the movie could have been improved by a better AND way more insane script, the attitude was perfect to get away with even stupider stuff than lava spiders.
And while i understand the reason for calling Lavalantula instead of Lavantula (which would have kept the pun intact anyway), yeah… Lavantula just sounds better.
Still, decent b-movie, and as the ending narration strongly implied, we got a sequel a year later, with 2 Lava 2 Lantula, because why the fuck not as this point! 🙂
Yeah, i’m doing that next!