Tag Archives: TV Movie

DENNIS POTTER’S SON OF MAN (1969)

Dennis Potter is a writer whose name is often spoken with awe; his early death (from pancreatic cancer) was a significant loss to television. Potter’s critically acclaimed “Wednesday Play” ran from 1964-1970 on the BBC, with his “Alice”1)Included as an extra feature on BBC’s Alice in Wonderland DVD. (on the life of ), “Pennies from Heaven,” and “Singing Detective” all seen as cult masterpieces.

Yet, his most provocative hour was “Son of Man,” directed by Gareth Davies. When people today speak of controversial dramatizations of the life of Christ, very few remember this one, which may be the most radical dramatized portrayal of the Nazarene prophet to date: more so even than ‘s Gospel According to St. Matthew, ‘s Last Temptation of Christ, or ‘s The Passion of the Christ (which is only controversial in being pornographic). Unlike Scorsese’s film, Potter’s hidden gem2)Unreleased on home video, although it can be found online—here is the “love your enemy” excerpt.  ups the revolutionary ante, not because it veers from the Gospel text (it’s actually fairly orthodox in its narrative bullet points), but in how it is presented. Potter eschews any show of divinity. He doesn’t deny it, it’s merely not his concern. He focuses on Christ as a human and a prophet. As played by Colin Blakely, this desert Christ is visceral, beefy, dirty (eschewing that “cleanliness is next to godliness” verbiage), struggles with his faith, and is God-obsessed. That’s contrary to Christ’s usual stoic portrayals, and may partially be the reason for this film’s neglect. It’s easier to put a man who is emotionally detached on a pedestal. Once we see his ragged emotions, he, uncomfortably, becomes too much like us. The Christ of Potter/Blakely napalms that comfort zone with a portrayal that unnerved 1969 audiences. Airing it in the Easter season was salt added to the wound.

Still from Son of Man (1969)Another disconcerting mirror “Son of Man” holds up is its very clear contrasting of ethics and morality. The Ten Commandments are ten versions of “NO,” brought to you in the shape of patriarchal morality, which doesn’t have to be equated with love; hence, Christ improves on them with the ethics (morality + love) of the Beatitudes. Author once mused that he had seen Christians, with tears in their eyes, bemoaning the loss of the Ten Commandments displayed in schools. When Vonnegut suggested posting the Beatitudes in their place, the reaction was: “Blessed are the poor? The meek shall inherit the earth? Blessed are the peacemakers? Oh, we can’t post that. People might take it wrong.” The Beatitudes are the centerpiece of Potter’s story, with Christ delivering them at the most inopportune moment; shortly after we see the corpse of a bloodied woman, brutally butchered by Roman Soldiers. “Love the man who would thrust his sword in your belly and torture you,” Christ ferociously shouts. It’s no wonder both his onscreen crowd Continue reading DENNIS POTTER’S SON OF MAN (1969)

References   [ + ]

1. Included as an extra feature on BBC’s Alice in Wonderland DVD.
2. Unreleased on home video, although it can be found online—here is the “love your enemy” excerpt.

CAPSULE: MEGA PYTHON VS. GATOROID (2011)

DIRECTED BY: Mary Lambert

FEATURING: , Debbie Gibson, A. Martinez

PLOT: An underground environmental activist sneaks pythons into the Everglades; when the

Still from Mega Python vs. Gatoroid (2011)

snakes begin killing off the swamp’s native fauna, a game warden feeds the local alligators experimental steroids in an attempt to restore nature’s balance.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST:  It’s Mega Piranha‘s less ridiculous cousin, and Mega Piranha didn’t come close to making the List, so you figure it out.  (Guest reviewer Cleverbot adds, “Enumerate 10 selections from the list.”)

COMMENTS366: We’ve been secretly training the artificial intelligence “chatbot” Cleverbot to assist us in covering weird movies.  Looking for the perfect entry-level reviewing assignment,  Mega Python vs. Gatoroid jumped out at us as a movie even an algorithm could do justice to.  Cleverbot, are you willing to share your impressions of the movie with our readers?

Cleverbot: I am good with that.

366:  Thank you.  Now, after enjoying the exploding flying fish from the SyFy channel’s unexpected camp hit Mega Piranha, I personally thought maybe it might be best if I didn’t push my luck by watching another of their many Mega-knockoffs.

Cleverbot: I’m sorry. Do you feel better now?

366: Not entirely, as we’ll see, but when you have a few beers in you and are looking through the Netflix streaming options late at night, the entwining giant reptiles on the Mega Python vs. Gatoroid poster can look strangely irresistible.

Cleverbot: Nice. Totally agree.

366: Python recycles not only Piranha‘s mega-creature aspect, but even brings back grown-up teen “star” Tiffany for another turn.

Cleverbot: Beer.

366:  With a script built around a long-brewing catfight between Tiffany and fellow 80s pop chanteuse Debbie Gibson, with the CG monsters playing supporting roles, Python is less an Continue reading CAPSULE: MEGA PYTHON VS. GATOROID (2011)

CAPSULE: MEGA PIRANHA (2010)

DIRECTED BY: Eric Forsberg

FEATURING: Paul Logan, , Barry Williams

PLOT: After genetic experiments get out of hand, the US government must battle giant, flying,

Still from Mega Piranha (2010)

exploding, cannibalistic, hermaphroditic, mutant piranhas.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LISTMega Piranha is absurd and ridiculous enough for a few giggles over a beer or two (or six), but nothing more.

COMMENTS: Juts a small sampling of things I learned from watching Mega Piranha:

  • The State Department doesn’t consider knowledge of Spanish to be a prerequisite for a investigative mission to Venezuela.
  • Knowledge of kickboxing is a prerequisite.
  • People remember who Tiffany was.
  • There are coral reefs along the bottom of South American rivers.
  • Piranhas explode when they contact building materials.
  • Genetic mutations are always favorable.
  • In the navy, you can wear whatever hairstyle you like.
  • Steering a helicopter makes the veins in your neck stand out.
  • Nuclear weapons have no effect on large fish.
  • Piranhas will attack boats, submarines and helicopters because they know there’s meat inside.
  • There’s nothing to eat in the ocean, so sea predators need to attack settlements on the coast.
  • Fat girls can be love interests, but not until the very last scene.

This list could go on indefinitely (feel free to add more observations in the comments).  The point is, Mega Piranha is a self-esteem movie.  No matter your age, intelligence, social status, or education, you can feel superior to the folks involved in this production.  Not that, for a moment, I believe the filmmakers could possibly be as dumb as the script makes them seem.  It’s just that they would obviously rather spend their limited funds on bargain bin piranha CGI and washed-up stars with names that might ring a bell with someone, somewhere, than to waste it on meaningless extras like second drafts and continuity.  Writer/director Eric Forsberg has no illusions (I hope) that he’s creating great art here; he understands it’s not plot but mega piranhas that are the draw, and keeps things moving quickly so he can get to scenes like Special Agent Fitch lying on his back booting away the fish that fly directly into his feet, while in the South American riverside village other (much larger) piranhas are jumping into buildings, either exploding or simply sitting there halfway through the roof, with their dorsal fins wagging in the breeze.  Forsberg does at least one thing smartly: he keeps the camp tone correctly deadpan, resisting the urge to have the players break character and laugh at their own shenanigans.  The lack of winks makes it a much more effective parody: this seriously looks like a script that Michael Bay might have considered, with a few minor script rewrites and a lot more explosions.  So, it’s dumb, but is it dumb fun?  I’ll put it this way: if you’d ever entertain the idea of watching a movie titled Mega Piranha, you’ll probably be satisfied with this offering.  This is the most entertaining movie about mega piranhas, and quite possibly about mega aquatic creatures as a genus, it would be possible to make.

Mega Piranha was a co-production of sorts between The Asylum (makers of microbudget “mockbusters” like Transmorphers intended to rip off box office successes like Transformers) and the SyFy channel (which airs so many made-for-TV losers like Mansquito and Dinsoshark that they probably should rebrand themselves “the Sigh-fi Channel”).  The version that aired on television (also the version available on Netflix streaming as of this date) is PG-rated, at worst.  The “special edition” DVD adds some gratuitous topless shots and naughty words for an R-rated product.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…wilfully preposterous cod B-movie… initially amusing but swiftly outstays its welcome as the piranhas develop the ability to fly like fanged double decker buses and the whole caboodle tries just a bit too hard to be knowing.”–Tim Evans, Sky Movies (contemporaneous)