05th May2017

‘Lavalantula’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Steve Guttenberg, Nia Peeples, Patrick Renna, Carlos Bernard, Michael Winslow, Marion Ramsey, Leslie Easterbrook, Ralph Garman, Danny Woodburn, Noah Hunt, Diana Hopper | Written by Neil Elman, Mike Mendez, Ashley O’Neil | Directed by Mike Mendez

lavalantula-dvd

Back in 2012 I reviewed a Syfy channel monster movie called Arachnoquake, which saw an earthquake in New Orleans unleash fire-breathing giant spiders. Flash forward to today and we have a Syfy channel monster movie called Lavalantula which… features giant fire-breathing spiders unleashed by an earthquake AND erupting volcano in Los Angeles! Retreading old ground? Technically yes. But given that this is a movie by Mike Mendez, there’s guaranteed to be some air of originality about it.

As the cover art states, Lavalantula is something of a Police Academy reunion. Not only does the film star Steve Guttenberg, but also featuress Michael Winslow, Marion Ramsay and Leslie Easterbrook – who buys the farm in truly spectacular fashion, easily having the most impact of the Police Academy crew here (even without flashing her iconic cleveage as she did in that comedy franchise!). But Guttenberg is, as he was in the classic 80s funny films, the hero of this tale – he plays Colton West, an action movie hero who star is on the decline, still trying to work in a Hollywood which is becoming tired of his antics.

West is on the way home from set, after a ruckus with his director (played by a cameoing Leigh Whannell, from the Saw and Insidious franchises), when the Santa Monica mountains literally explode, causing earthquakes, and spewing lava AND fireballs on to an unsuspecting Los Angeles. Only the fireballs turn out to be giant spiders, born of fire and lava, who like nothing more than buring their victims with their firey breath and munching on the charred remains (yeah a pretty gross concept for what is a TV movie, right?). Determined to rescue his family, West must travel into the heart of the city, battling his way through the kiler spiders to find his son and wife and get them out alive.

You know, your usual monster movie plot. However, like all GREAT modern creature features, Lavalantula knows how ridiculous the concept is and has fun with it… And nowhere is that more prevalent than in the scenes between the Guttenberg and the spider queen as the film draws to a close.

But then what do you expect from Mike Mendez? This is a director that knows how to walk the fine line between genres, no matter what the subject matter. From my personal favourite of his oeuvre, The Convent; to his other creature feature Big Ass Spider! and even his most recent Don’t Kill It; Mendez always strikes the right balance of horror and fun, giving his films an edge over the competition – even when it comes to dodgy CGI monsters and cameoing heroes from other Syfy channel monster movie franchises!

As a fan of creature features, monster movies and your typical Syfy channel cheese, Lavalantula is right up my street. Even moreso given that most of it’s cast that have stepped straight out of the 80s – including Nia Peeples, who here returns to the kinds of badass character she used to play back in the day (think Deepstar Six‘s Scarpelli). Here’s hoping UK distro Kaleidoscope pick up the sequel 2 Lava 2 Lantula for DVD release very soon!

Lavalantula is out now on DVD from Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment.

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