Sunday, 10 March 2013

Soft Porn Sunday: Debbie Gibson & Vic Chao

"Who played the main character in that?" asked the young raver inquisitively. I knew the answer immediately, having stared at the DVD case for over a year but having resisted the urge to crack it open, knowing that watching Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus would be more entertaining with my group of friends than on my own with a stuffed rabbit and a bowl of sadness popcorn.

"Debbie Gibson," I supplied, "that woman from the 80s."
"Fair enough," replied the young raver, his fingers flashing across his iPhone's screen, tapping out the words "Debbie Gibson naked" into Google.

"There was a sex scene," I pointed out. "Isn't that enough?"

Although, to be fair, there wasn't much of one.

Appearance: Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009)
Characters: Emma MacNeill & Seiji Shimada

Oh, hai background.
The Asylum is a strange beast, existing mostly to sell itself - it works with three prongs of operation: mockbusters, both lampooning and ripping off big-budget films (Snakes on a Train being a prime example), Christian films published under a fictitious company name "Faith Films" (Sunday School Musical being particularly disappointing, because the songs are quite good, but the sound balance is awful!), and - its most famous output - this little series of films with giant cardboard beasts battling other giant cardboard beasts. Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus and Mega Piranha are all examples of this, but the first - and by far the best - has to be this one. The title alone says it all.

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.

You can't resist a title like that.

So what, you may be asking, is it doing in Soft Porn Sunday? I shall inform you. During the course of the film, we have the main plot (which involves something to do with sharks and octopuses, I'm not sure), several subplots, including the best one: characters spouting various exposition on why they're on a 'plane ("We're about to get married!") before Mega Shark flies through the air and eats it, and the necessary romantic subplot which involves completely gratuitous sex.

Which is what I will attempt to dissect.

The three leads in this film (read: the characters who don't either disappear from the cast with no explanation or get eaten) are Emma MacNeill, played by 80s pop sensation Debbie Gibson, her mentor Dr. Lamar Sanders - the Obi-Wan Kenobi character played by Sean Lawlor - and Seiji Shimada, who couldn't get any more Asian-American if he tried, her romantic interest/sex partner played by Vic Chao.

Who can't act.

Mega Hair vs. Giant Hands
As most of the film centres around these three characters in a lab illegally working out ways to contain the two battling creatures (who both end up dying anyway, so it's kind of pointless, except Mega Shark returns a few films later, OMGZ SPOILERS), the writers clearly had to struggle for something to tide the viewers over until the gore-fest begins* (*it never begins), and so there's a romantic subplot shoehorned in at the last minute. I say that because it literally lasts a minute.

There's no explanation or any hint that Emma and Seiji are at all attracted to each other until they share a kiss in the lab (completely ignoring Lamar, who's RIGHT THERE WORKING ON THE EXPERIMENT THEY'RE MEANT TO BE FINISHING) without preamble (other than a few whispered words). This quickly leads into the best dialogue in the whole film, clearly of a standard Joss Whedon could only ever hope to emulate:

Emma: "I'm gonna go take a walk."
Seiji: [complete silence]
Emma: "You know... a... walk?"
Seiji: [complete silence]
[Emma walks off. Applause please.]

Lamar, who's just remembered he's in the scene, then adopts a very creepy creepy-old-man smirk as Seiji still looks blank and then JUMP CUT OH MY SEX!

Fifty Shades of Blue
Oh no, wait, there's no actual sex here, it's just hardcore porn music (and I mean that, there's the kind of soft jazz swing thing going on with electronic beats in the background, the only thing missing is an "oh yeah" in deep baritone) and something resembling a kiss between Emma and Seiji, except it actually looks like Gibson is attempting to throttle Chao, masked by the fact that the television appears to have forgotten red and green and instead hands you the entire scene in blue; even the bright white lab coats they are wearing appear to have no effect on the scene at all.

Still, the kiss is kind of hot. It's not brilliant by any means, but I get the point of the whole idea. I mean, repetitive and possibly tedious work in a laboratory trying to find a way to neutralise two potentially apocalyptic creatures threatening the Pacific Rim? Wouldn't random sex with an attractive co-worker be a good prospect? I can see the point of the scene... it's just a bit out of place. Still, I wonder what they'll JUMP CUT WHAT THE FUCK AFTERGLOW?

Yes, it seems what they have decided to do is edit out the sex (and the music, which stops just after it gets going) and end with a might-but-it-doesn't-matter-be-naked scene of the two basking (or, actually, sitting) in the afterglow. And that's when Debbie Gibson comes out with another absolute cracker of a line:

"That felt good."

I'm so pleased for you, Emma.

"Soft kitty, warm kitty..."
As you can tell, I have a problem with this - but why do I? It's a mainstream film, so why should there be sex? Well, it seems almost like a prerequisite. Designed for laughs and a bit of gore rather than being a major turn-on, Mega Shark doesn't have to have anything titillating in it at all, but one might think (I would, anyway) that if there was going to be any sex, they might make good use of the 15 rating and hot female actress and put a little inoffensive nudity in? A lot of genuine soft porn has sex scenes where you see nothing more than somebody's back and bum!

Not that I'd probably enjoy a scene with these two in. The effect on my friends may not have been exactly pleasant. But that's not really the point I'm getting at. It's badly cut, completely random and totally superfluous to the film. It would be a lot more worthwhile if even the littlest amount of sex were shown - a few seconds might be enough, the scenery (a stock room) is one of the classics - rather than just a vocal report on how it felt! It's not going to make anyone come, so why not at least use this opportunity to show a bit of flesh? It's called Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus and you're definitely showing everything else!

So would I recommend Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus? Yes. Yes, I would. But not with your pants down. That's all kinds of wrong.

Unless you're into that sort of thing. I mean, tentacles are involved somewhere...

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