By Robert Isenberg
Special to MSN TV
In the world of science fiction, there's good, there's bad, and there's just plain cheesy.
Sure, you can go back to the Old Days, when folks paid a nickel for Them (giant ants) and Robot Monster (space-alien in guerilla suit and diving helmet). But thanks to Syfy (formerly the Sci Fi Network), the deliciously horrid B-movie lives on.
What Sunday afternoon would be complete without a mutant extra-terrestrial or half-baked medieval epic? For the past decade, Syfy has been churning out the most cheese-tastic films ever to be unleashed on cable -- from supernatural slashers to beastly battle-epics. With their preschool plots and acting only a mother could love, these films have caused riotous laughter in dorm-rooms around the globe. And between groaning sessions, we can't help but love 'em.
Bing: Video of 'Triassic Attack'
On the eve of Triassic Attack, we thought it was time to honor the Syfy Original -- in all its gut-busting glory. Long live camp!
Triassic Attack (2010)
For centuries, Native Americans suffered stolen lands and bad treaties. Now, revenge: An "Indian ritual" brings dinosaurs back to life, so that they may wreak havoc on an unsuspecting college campus. Not the whole dinosaur, mind you, but their re-animated skeletons. What's more terrifying than a bony pterodactyl swooping down and ruining your convocation ceremony? How about a T-Rex stomping through the countryside, chewing up everyone in its path? (And cows!) For sheer goofiness and full-blown ethnic insensitivity, this B-movie is Grade A.
Scientists are always messing around with DNA. But Dr. Jennifer Allen is just experimenting with some radiation and a few mosquitoes -- harmless, right? But when a convict gets lose in the lab and is exposed to dangerous chemicals, he starts to transform. Is he man? Is he mosquito? Or is he Mansquito? Like the six-legged love-child of The Fly and District 9, Mansquito brings all the bloodsucking insectoid mayhem we could possibly desire -- plus chases, explosions, shoot-outs, disemboweling, the works. What could possibly be worse? How about the Mansquito's desire to mate -- with Dr. Allen!
Back in 1975, Jaws made people afraid to go in the water. After Sharktopus, you'll be afraid to go anywhere near the water. You won't sunbathe, for fear Sharktopus' tentacles will drag you in. You won't go yachting, because Sharktopus can lift his gilled head out of the waves and devour you on your own sundeck. Not even bungee-jumping is safe: Ol' Sharkie will chomp your tanned body in mid-leap. If it wasn't for the U.S. Navy commissioning a mad geneticist to engineer a half-shark, half-mollusk super-killer, none of this would have happened. (Alternate title: CGI versus Bikinis).
Android Apocalypse (2006)
Okay, so civilization has been destroyed, and androids have taken over the world. Got that? There's a guy named Jute, a flesh-and-blood man, who escapes from prison, but he's stuck in the desert with a human-looking robot named Deecee. So Deecee starts developing emotions, and the two survive together in the dusty wastes... anyway, it's kind of a Bromance in the Future. Is there lots of fist-fighting? Yes. Lots of guy-talk about feelings? Yes, that, too. Apocalypse takes cheesy to a whole new level of awkward.
Dog Soldiers (2002)
The moral of Dog Soldiers: Don't mess with werewolves. Even if you're an elite platoon of British soldiers. Even if you think you've got enough ammunition. Even if that little cottage in Scotland looks harmless -- werewolves don't mess around. Notable for its nonstop action and gory decapitation scene, Dog Soldiers is your classic stuck-in-a-house-at-night thriller (the plot is almost identical to Night of the Living Dead) but with a guns-vs.-claws twist.
Red: Werewolf Hunter (2010)
But if you do have a werewolf problem, leave the slaying to Virginia Sullivan. Descended from the original Little Red Riding Hood (no, seriously), Sullivan is an athletic carrot-top who stalks around blighted neighborhoods with a pistol full of silver bullets. Everything is fine until her fiancé, Nathan, finds out about her second job. Now he's in over his head, and it's only a matter of time before Nathan ends up flirting with lycanthropy himself. As action-movies go, Red is kind of a snooze, but there's plenty of cross-bolt impalement and wolf-men bursting into flames to keep things moving along.
Beyond Sherwood Forest (2009)
Through the centuries, Robin Hood has faced every kind of enemy. He has dueled Guy of Gisborne, matched wits with the Prince John and been upstaged by Alan Rickman. It was only a matter of time before Robin fought a fire-breathing dragon. In this horror-movie reboot, the Sheriff of Nottingham is dabbling in some seriously black magic, so Robin goes through a portal and cavorts with wizards. What he can't battle with one-liners he opts to shoot with burning arrows. And surprise! Erica Durance, of "Smallville" fame, co-stars as Maid Marian.
Yeti: Curse of the Snow Demon (2008)
All they wanted was to play their next game -- but they never reached the stadium. When a football team crash-lands in the Himalayas, they are soon stalked by... well... yetis. These guys may be big, white and covered in fur (cute, on paper), but they're also fond of dragging their victims into the woods and disemboweling them. As if getting stuck in a remote mountain chain weren't bad enough! What's left to eat when somebody else is doing the cannibalizing for you? Meanwhile, SyFy seems determined to catalogue all the evil creatures of yore: There's Ogre, Goblin, Ghouls, Hydra, Cyclops and Cerberus, to name a few. Throw in Carny (about a man-eating sideshow demon) and you've got a real monster's ball.
Anacondas: Trail of Blood (2009)
Because America just can't get enough colossal underwater snakes. The franchise that has starred Ice Cube and David Hasselhoff simply required a fourth installment, and so we find a giant anaconda that can regenerate, even after it's been blown up by grenades. (Trail of Blood was filmed in Romania, of all places). But this is the glory of SyFy: When every other studio has given up on creating superfluous sequels, this plucky station will take up the challenge. Hence the existence of House of the Dead 2, Lake Placid 2 (and 3), Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud and Dungeons & Dragons II: Wrath of the Dragon God. Because if SyFy doesn't incur dragon god wrath, who will?
Robert Isenberg is a writer and stage performer. His book, The Archipelago: A Balkan Passage, was released in November.