Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

The Planet | Razortooth

By Steve Anderson
Jan 1st, 2010

The Planet --- science fiction DVDThe Planet
***
DVD
Directed by Mark Stirton
Written by Mark Stirton
Starring Tim Branston, Ashley Branston, Patrick Wight, Scott Ironside
Produced by Michael G. Clark
R
2009
70 mins

Do you have any idea how rare good science fiction is?

Conversely, do you have any idea how even more rare good direct to video science fiction is?

And by the time I bring in "imported" to "good direct to video science fiction", well, I've just blown the scale of possibility wide open to the "you really should look into good psychological help" level.

The Planet will definitely qualify in that latter category, as amazing as it sounds, this is good imported direct to video science fiction.

It features a group of mercenaries on board a ship carrying cargo of a prisoner back to charted space when they're attacked from out of nowhere by a group of space fighters. The ship acquits itself bravely, but a suicide attack on the main drive forces the massive vessel down. What they find when they hit dirtside is a monster they weren't expecting, and that was just the prisoner in the cargo hold. What the planet is holding secret, meanwhile, is much, much worse on a downright galactic scale.

It's impressive to find a purely CG space battle that's believably staged--and that's what you'll get with the first few minutes. The rest of the movie, meanwhile, at least manages to hold its own thanks to some excellent performances on the rest of the cast's shoulders.

Oh, sure, there are problems here, some fairly weak explanations and a somewhat secondary sense of plot development. But with some suspension of disbelief, you should actually come off all right here.

The ending may well be the strangest thing of all, as the massive poorly explained beastie emerges and is defeated by equally poorly explained means. But it is still a treat to watch, so I won't hold that against it.

The special features include a making of featurette, cast and crew bios, audio options, Spanish subtitles and trailers for The Planet, Displaced, Magus, and Death on Demand.

All in all, The Planet is a pretty big surprise, for taking on an ambitious prospect and doing fairly well with it. You've got to respect a movie that tries as hard as this one did, and so respect is definitely what it's getting.

RazortoothRazortooth
**
DVD
Directed by Patricia Harrington
Written by Jack Monrow, Matt Holly
Starring Kathleen LaGue, Doug Swander, Simon Page, Kate Gersten
Produced by Joseph P. Genier
R
2009
90 mins

Well, folks, if you've been hungering for a monster movie--and these days, monster movies are pretty much the exclusive province of the steadily more horrible SyFy Channel (I still personally resent typing that title. It literally hurts to type it.)--then you might be happy to see Razorteeth, a monster movie quite a bit unlike many you've seen lately in that, one, the monster looks somewhat lifelike and two, the effects aren't a complete joke.

Seriously, one guy got bit in half about five minutes in and it looked like someone used blended cow parts for the effects on that one. It was that gooshy.

The plot, of course, is monster movie standard--there's something roaming around down in the Florida Everglades and it's a NASTY little package. It's big, it's quick, it's hard to see, especially at night--thing looks like nothing so much as an enormous fusion of an eel and a piranha(as it turns out, eels are involved!)--and it's chewing up people in the area left, right and center. Now it's up to an animal control officer, the local sheriff, and a bunch of college kids to take out the beast before it renders the Everglades permanently uninhabitable.

I don't know whether to laugh or be horrified that the diner in Razortooth is called "Kormann's", just like Roger Corman, the guy who did this kind of thing on a regular basis. But what I do know is that there's a surprising amount of humor involved in Razortooth, and there's nothing like a few laughs to help an otherwise odious monster movie go down smooth.

Razorteeth is actually a pretty entertaining experience; this could have been a lot worse than it actually was, and I'm reasonably happy with how it turned out. Me and monster movies are not good friends--I don't get very scared of monsters that are suffering from a terminal lack of feasibility--but while this one wasn't scary, it was sufficiently entertaining to be worth a rental.

The ending, much like the rest of the movie, is a little shorter on the laughs than what preceded it, and pretty short on believability, but still kinda fun besides. Seriously, it's quite possibly the single most outlandish ending I've ever heard for a monster movie.

The special features include a behind the scenes featurette, a music video for some reason, and English and Spanish subtitles as well as a collection of trailers that can't be accessed from the DVD menus themselves. For future reference, I REALLY hate that.

All in all, keep your expectations low and your funnybone primed, because this isn't a great horror flick, but a few decent chuckles will be had.

Want to receive an expanded version of Reel Advice as an E-Newsletter?? Email to thevideostoreguy@columnist.com with "The Advisor" in the subject line.  Steve Andersen, much to his own chagrin, is a five-plus year veteran of the direct to video market. He has spent an alarming amount of time in video stores and seeks to provide the public with advance information on all the video releases that they may never have heard of...whether they want to hear of them or not. Steve appears in one way or another weekly, biweekly, or monthly on such fine entertainment-related ezines as Film Threat, Dream Forge, Reel Horror, Acid Logic, Chaotic Culture Magazine, Malicious Bitch webzine, and many others. Readers, agents, or editors can email Steve at thevideostoreguy@columnist.com




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