Anyone who has endured the consecutive horrors of Mansquito and Gargoyles: Wings of Darkness knows that the Sci Fi Channel has a proven formula for creating low-budget quasi-horror/fantasy/sci-fi/action flicks that ably insult the intelligence of the average science fiction/fantasy/horror fan. Absurd premise + Vancouver filming locations + has-been stars + five-year-old cheap CGI = Sunday movie marathon.
Why actors agree to appear in these celluloid atrocities is beyond me. It's almost like the Hollywood sheriff's department considers acting in a made-for-Sci-Fi movie a viable alternative to jail time for C-List celebs that get caught shoplifting a Costco. What agent would greenlight their client signing up for this crap, otherwise? The randomness of the movie loglines is almost too bizarre for human comprehension.Take, for example, the upcoming Ice Spiders, which has Vanessa Williams fighting giant mutant spiders at a ski resort. Clearly, the Eight Legged Freaks effects engine just went freeware, Vanessa chose the wrong followup to her Radio Shack commercial gig, and some ski lodge in British Columbia went bankrupt and chose to work off its debt as a film location. But seriously, ice spiders? Since when are spiders an arctic phenomenon, and since when do giant mutant monsters show up anywhere besides uncharted tropical islands, nuclear testing grounds, New York or Tokyo?
Somehow, Sci Fi pops out one of these gems every month! Its almost like somebody wrote a Perl script to throw up plot summaries for these flicks. And I think I found it...
The Cool Bits Story Generator, a snarky little online applet designed to cure the amateur writers' dearth of ideas by cobbling together random tropes into a too-wild-to-not-write-it jumble of geeky goodness. Clearly, this is just the leaked version of the Sci Fi Channel's internal tool, since my first few tries spit out:
- "The story begins in a carnival during winter, when a beefy yet intelligent man and a tragic singer meet because of being stuck in a confined space with something trying to kill you. It is about the universe's sense of time vs. human time." —Let's see, we'll have Dean Cain and Nicole Eggert get trapped in a sewer with a werewolf that escapes from a Russian carnival that has existed since the dawn of time, constantly replacing its exhibits with new victims cursed by the evil of the old (hint, Dean gets bitten saving Nicole). We'll use old X-Files sets and American Werewolf in Paris CGI. I give you Midnight Carnival!
- "The text starts as a noble hero who is immature on occasion encounters betraying one's creators while in a ruined cathedral. The overall narrative is about the ability of ordinary people to make and do and change things." —This time, its a cyberpunk Frankenstein pastiche set in post-apocalyptic America, with cyborg Billy Zane rebelling against Lance Henriksen for the love of Jolene Blaylock, using leftover Borg makeup and Dresden Files sets. I give you, Frankendroid!
- "The plot starts because of a misunderstanding about architecture that curves like the human body. The protagonist, a mutant who has wings, ends up in the mountains with a changeling." —Architect Corin Nemec is told by Julian Sands that his designs are inspired by God, but doesn't believe it until he begins sprouting angel wings. Following Sands to his mountain retreat, Nemec learns he's a child of a mutant cult ruled by Sands, and that Nemec is their prophesied savior. With the help of fellow mutant Kristanna Loken, Nemec must stop Sands from bringing about the end of the world. Dogma-level effects and makeup augment Stargate SG-1 location shoots. I give you, Curse of the Changeling!
Click through to Cool Bits and see if you can predict Sci Fi's upcoming releases. Extra points for including Lou Diamond Philips, Bruce Campbell, and/or Michael Ironsides. Enjoy.
Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can also follow him on his personal blog.