Starring Jeff Fahey, Jo-Bourne Taylor, Hristo Mitzkov, Evgenia Vasileva, Jonas Talkington, Stefan Ivanov
Directed by Tommy Withrow
I couldn’t shake the feeling watching Scorpius Gigantus that I’d seen this movie before. Something about it felt very familiar to me and not just in the run-of-the-mill monster movie sort of way. It honestly felt like I’d seen this very film before. Afterwards, I took a little trip to IMDB to look something up and, sure enough, I had seen Scorpius Gigantus before; only the first time I saw Scorpius Gigantus it was called Carnosaur 3: Primal Species. Terrorists, commandos, warehouse, ship, and rampaging monsters – here we go again. At least Roger Corman chose to clone one of his own movies from a decade ago so it won’t seem as familiar to most viewers, unlike Jim Wynorski who just twice remade one of his own movies from only two years ago. Still, it’s a shame when Corman has to stoop to producing remakes of movies that already sucked big time the first time around. On the plus side, at least Scorpius Gigantus is a better movie than the Corman/Wynorski Raptor, a film that was composed of obvious B-roll footage from the various Carnosaur films with new scenes shot around it.
Russian mob types ambush and steal a US military truck believing they’re stealing uranium. Turns out the truck was transporting a genetically engineered superbug. It kills them and seeks refuge in a warehouse where it’ll begin to reproduce. The military calls in a general played by Jeff Fahey and his not-ready-for-primetime commandos to do a little exterminating. All does not go as planned. Most of the movie will be set in the warehouse; the rest of the movie on board a freighter – pretty much in lock step with the goings on of Carnosaur 3: Primal Species. If you’ve seen that film then you’ve seen this film. If you haven’t seen that film but have seen Aliens or any of the countless knock-offs that those two films produced then you’ve still seen this movie before. Scorpius Gigantus doesn’t bring anything new to the formula, nor does it even aspire to do so. That would be acceptable if it at least did a good job being a retread. It doesn’t.
About the only thing that does make Scorpius Gigantus standout is that it was shot full screen in hi-def digital. This gives the film an odd look that takes some time to get adjusted to. Just imagine what your typical Sci-Fi Channel original movie would look like if it had been shot for Japanese television instead. Having viewed some recent programming from Japan, I kept waiting for Garo, the Fanged Wolf or one of the Masked Riders to show up to fight the monsters. It would have been an improvement over Jeff Fahey just barking orders.
The film is set in Eastern Europe; the explanation for which is that the scientific experiments at the heart of the film were too dangerous to be conducted on American soil. In reality, it’s cheaper to film a movie in Bulgaria than in America. The actors come cheaper too. That’s why most of the cast is Slavic. Some of them are clearly Slavs playing Slavs while a few actually seem to be trying to mask their natural accent for something more American with little success. Sometimes I honestly couldn’t tell. All it really amounts to is some of the most deplorable acting you’re likely to see this year. I’m talking about acting so abysmal that Jeff Fahey starts looking like Russell Crowe compared to the rest of the cast.
Despite the film’s suitably goofball title, the monsters aren’t really scorpions. We’ll eventually be told by a female geneticist sent along on the mission that they were created by the military for bio-warfare after they seized and bastardized her research, which involved genetically engineering a new breed of insect to be used as the source of a universal vaccine derived from bug DNA. Seriously. Hey, those little suckers really are resilient you know? The weaponized bugs the military have created are a hybrid of scorpion, spiders, cockroaches, and other assorted vermin with exoskeletons to create an entirely new breed of insect that – in addition to the often low rent computer effects giving life to them – come across as the beta versions of the warrior bugs from Starship Troopers.
Some of the effects are done via more tradition means. Those effects scenes, while equally fake, at least don’t look nearly as cartoonish as the video game quality bug monsters look much of the time. The bugs also seem to be of inconsistent size. Sometimes they’re big, sometimes they’re not as big, and sometimes they’re friggin’ huge. We never even get an explanation as to why the genetically altered bugs grew to this size to begin with.
Scary as this may sound, the CGI bugs aren’t even the worst special effects in the movie. There’s a scene where a soldier is supposed to get scared by an actual spider the drops down from the ceiling on him. I know this film was made on a very low budget but when the rubber spider on a string that wouldn’t even scare a 7-year old falls onto him – I mean come on already! Heck, there’s a major ship explosion at the end of the movie that looks to have been created using flash animation.
But the shoddy effects work is the least of this film’s problems. It’s primarily a plotless bore. There really is no story to speak of outside of soldiers endlessly wandering about a warehouse or cargo ship where they either: A) engage in inane banter with one another, B) get killed by monsters, C) try to capture at least one of the monsters, D) shoot at monsters, E) run away from monsters, F) stand around and talk about the encounter they just had with monsters. The word “perfunctory” best sums up every aspect of the film. “Amateurish” would be another good one. Suckius Maximus would have been a better title too.
Let me give you an example of how poor the virtually non-existent plotting gets from late in the film. Do I dare issue a spoiler warning? Can something this crappy even be spoiled? Anyway, two soldiers come across some egg sacks laid by one of the creatures. The female soldier starts to destroy them only to get physically stopped from doing so by the other soldier. This other soldier had been mortally wounded earlier but recovered after being injected with a vaccine the geneticist derived from one of the bugs they managed to briefly capture. I kept waiting for him to show some adverse affects from the admittedly unstable serum but it never came until this one scene. He tells her that he is turning into one of the bugs and their hive mentality is taking control of his mind. He then rips his shirt off to reveal the beginnings of an insect-like exoskeleton. After just stopping her from destroying the egg sacks and telling her all this in as sinister a tone as possible, he turns right around and begs her to kill him. An entire character arc, a whole subplot, all of it crammed into about 90 seconds. It’s so rushed, so awkward, so out of the blue that the film’s tedium turns momentarily entertaining just because of the stupidity of it all.
By the time one of the soldiers sarcastically asks one of the bugs a question just before he knows he’ll surely be killed and that bug responds with an understanding nod of the head, that’s when I realized that even the filmmakers had accepted their fate and were just trying to throw anything they could out there in hopes of milking some drops of entertainment from this dud. A few tiny droplets are all they could muster.
A description line on the back of the DVD case pretty much sums up the overall terribleness of Scorpius Gigantus: “In the tradition of favorite sci-fi classics comes another edge-of-your-seat thriller from the producer of PIRANHA and DINOCROC.” First of all, my favorite sci-fi classics aren’t cheap, boring, retreads of another cheap, boring film. Secondly, the only time Scorpius Gigantus will get you on the edge-of-your-seat is when you’re resisting the urge to just get up and eject the disc from the DVD player. Third, don’t remind us of Piranha and Dinocroc. Both are far more entertaining to this mess. Oh, Roger Corman, why must you break my heart so?
And I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the person at Buena Vista Entertainment that allowed their adolescent child to Photoshop the cover for the DVD case. Great work. That’s so much better than actually trying to create eye-catching artwork. When Scorpius Gigantus was first announced, the promo art put out there was quite good and gave you hope that the film would turn out to be an enjoyable creature feature. Even though it turned out to be lower tier Z-grade junk, it still deserved better DVD than the Photoshopped in 10-minutes artwork they slapped on this thing.
The DVD also doesn’t come with any extras. The least I’d ask for is an apology.
1 out of 5
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