What do you get when you reunite part of the Police Academy cast and pop them in the next send up monster movie series from the minds of Sharknado? That’s right – Lavalantula! Whilst it never really caught on quite like the lightning in a bottle franchise that preceded it, Lavalantula is just as stupid and idiotic and so fans of one will love the other.
The disasters faced
Lava, spiders, lavalantulas, a bad script, terrible CGI, a lot of puns, bombs that don’t go off, spider egg hatchings and the problem of people running in straight lines instead of ever stepping to the side to avoid things!
Colton is a washed up actor now playing b-movie roles for cult so-bad-its-good action movies. He has a huge home, a lovely wife in Olivia and great friends in tv team Marty and Teddie but is just isn’t happy. He also hasn’t realised he isn’t the superstar he once was. He walks off of a wonky tv set from a botched scene take and is busy storming home when the movie takes a turn for the crazy. It is at that point where from out of literally nowhere – lava spewing giant spiders jump out from the hills that erupt like a volcano and start killing everyone in sight!
Colton survives the first attack on the motorway and rushes home to wife Olivia who is more than capable of handling herself. The problem is their son Wyatt is out with friends being a mopey teenager and Colton wants to find him and protect the family. Olivia stays home incase Wyatt returns but Colton goes out on the hunt.
Wyatt is busy in town with his friends who include Jordan, the girl he fancies. She’s a toyboy and way too cool apparently. They stumble across a spider hole and suddenly get caught up in the next attack where the spiders hit the city! As several of their friends get killed, Wyatt, Jordan and Travis, a third friend, are trapped in a warehouse with nothing to help them. In the escape Jordan is stabbed in the leg with a spider leg and needs both of them to drag her through.
Colton meanwhile has lost his car and teamed up reluctantly with Chris, a tourist bus driver who loves celebrities and is following Colton around after he steals the bus to get home to Olivia after the first attack. Chris wants to be the sidekick and becomes the comic relief in the movie. That is until they meet up with Pirate Jack! Friend of Colton, Jack has a car and a pirate costume and the trio work together to try and find Wyatt and understand what has caused this crazy Lavalantula attack. Olivia meanwhile is under attack at home after discovering her neighbour Doris burned to a crisp. Olivia meets up with Colton to save Wyatt from the warehouse.
Colton, Chris and Jack also make a trip to a museum and run into Dr Eric who attempts to explain these spiders with some craziness. This allows them to hatch a plan which brings in Colton’s TV friends Marty and Teddie. Using their budget special effects knowledge and pyrotechnics, everyone bands together to take on the queen spider in a final battle. Who will survive to the end? Will you stop laughing throughout?
Why is it worth watching?
Coming from the people whom made Sharknado, which arguably outstayed its welcome, Lavalantula felt like the new mix up that SyFy needed for the cult classic mokumonster send up revival. This time, actual big stars (4 people from Police Academy) including Steve Guttenberg at the helm, have all signed up to be part of the meta story line. This is that Guttenberg is playing a fallen from grace actor who hasn’t seen how low he has fallen yet. The whole send up is really well done and the script is so perfectly clunky, it actually enhances the whole experience. It is also funny because Steve only took this part because he passed up on being offered Sharknado so its a triple meta sandwich!
Whilst the rest of the movie hangs off the genius premise of lava spewing giant spiders, it’s mostly familiar SyFy fair. They pump out so many that its a struggle to really distinguish them but its well put together and pacey. What distinguishes this is the acting and the “we know you all had a blast together in the 80’s” vibe. It is funny and endearing at the same time. The reunion of three Police Academy stars basically reprising their roles from that film under a dodgy guise is worth the wait and the Fin cameo is silly too. I think if you are a child of the 80’s, you’ll get more out of it but it is a very, very guilty pleasure.
Whilst some of the still shots are passable, the spiders themselves do not feel part of the environment at all and lack any kind of detail. The lava is bad too. It feels like a lot of the effects come from premium mobile apps or stock fire assets you can get on Humble Bundle. A mini shout out for a couple of the make up effects of injuries which look good though.
I’ve already mentioned that Colton, Marty and Teddie basically reprise their roles as Mahoney, Jones and Hooks. Doris is also Callahan in a brief cameo for good measure. Chris makes a good comedy act as the bubbling side kick whereas Pirate Jack is far more capable and gung-ho. Somewhat left alone is Olivia but Mia Peeples does well with her own set pieces and she joins the rest of the gang for the finale thankfully. It does feel a bit like she’s in her own mini episode inside the movie though. Thankfully the majority of the cast are warming and cheesy like a late 80’s action movie.
What bugs? I hate bugs. I can’t do a bug movie. I’m not doing–
It’s so funny that you say that, because you’re in a bug movie right now.Colton and ari arguing about how their thriller movie turns into a bug movie… inside a bug movie!
Three memorable moments
- Sharknado / Lavalantula cross over moment.
- The death of Doris is hilarious.
- Seeing the Police Academy trio together organising their final mission like its 1989 again.
The obligatory weird moment
Strangely, not Michael Winslow’s amazing vocal abilities as Marty! Throughout the entire film, everyone in the background is wearing costumes from films, but it’s never explained why. I assume there is a convention going on but because you never know, you just get loads of extras posing for death in weird movie throwback outfits. Very SyFy indeed!
The drinking game
Stupid people dying stupidly on-screen by standing still and screaming or just running in a straight line from something chasing them or rolling towards them…. or each inserted news report. There’s too many news reports and they’ve clearly they paid to be in the movie to pad the runtime. It’s the one downside to this movie – it has so many news reports for no real reason – it stinks of commercial buy ins but without the subtlety to make it less obtrusive.
Irrelevant, stupid but damn right entertaining in it’s all badly made but beautifully acted gusto – Lavalantula is a cult classic that deserves some love. I hope that its sequel doesn’t jump the shark too much ala Sharknado and they keep it in the Tremors style route – but this one is a blast. Well done all.
Rating – 4 / 5 (Excellent)
If you enjoyed Lavalantula, then you may like…
- 2 Lava 2 Lantula – the sequel is more of the same mash up.
- Sharknado – The original is possibly still the best of the lot.
- Big Ass Spider! – This has the same tone and wink wink humour about how bad it is.
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