In the days of my youth, back when I was filled with hopes and dreams and unsightly boogers, the local neighborhood convenience store was where my friends and I would hang out and discuss the intricacies of life. We’d also spend our lunch money on sugary foods, high-calorie carbonated beverages, and, occasionally, cheap knock-off G.I. Joe figures encased in flimsy cardboard containers. As I tore away the colorful packaging to interact with my latest molded plastic purchase one sunny summer afternoon, my unfortunate investment’s arms and legs immediately fell away, leaving only his head and torso to answer for this unsettling crime. And while I can’t recall the exact name of this ultra-cheap cash-in, I do remember the overwhelming sensation of sadness when I discovered I’d been completely ripped-off by a shady corporation looking to make a few bucks off skinny little suckers like me. Bitterness, I’ve found, never really goes away.
Instead, it lies dormant, waiting for the opportunity to live again.
Not surprisingly, this debilitating series of unwelcome emotions came screaming to the surface after viewing Scott Wheeler and Davey Jones’ opportunistic adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic novel Journey to the Center of the Earth. In true Asylum fashion, the film makes it direct-to-video debut around the same time New Line Cinema’s Brendan Fraser 3-D extravaganza dances its way into cineplexes all over the entire world. There are, however, a number of significant differences between this low-budget nonsense and the source material, though I seriously doubt that anyone who purposely rents this drek knows how to read. No offense to those who simply have absolutely no taste in film, as I’m sure your ability to comprehend the written word is outstanding.
Here’s what you get for the suggested retail price of $24.95: A team of sexy female adventurers suddenly find themselves stuck in the center of the Earth after a ridiculous scientific experiment goes horribly wrong. The only possible way to solve this problem, of course, is to assemble another team of military-minded individuals and send them straight into our planet’s majestic core to retrieve these curvy gals before something extremely unpleasant happens to them. Along the way, two saucy sisters will bicker and fight, a slew of hideous monsters will attack, and you’ll probably fall into a deep, uncomfortable sleep before the half-hour mark. Assuming, of course, that you haven’t destroyed your DVD player in a fit of blind, unadulterated rage.
After consuming this wonky rendition of Journey to the Center of the Earth, I’ve come to the realization that maybe, just maybe, the films produced and distributed by Asylum were not conceived with yours truly in mind. This might explain why I felt my entire body revolt against the film’s miserable excuse for dialogue, plotting, special effects, and all stops in-between. Additionally, I’m not a huge foaming fan of low-budget science fiction, especially the kind that was blatantly crafted to take full advantage of its big-budget counterpart’s box-office success. Does this make me a stick-in-the-mud who doesn’t get the joke? Perhaps. Then again, maybe I just value both my entertainment dollar and my precious free time. I’m putting my money on the latter.
Is there anything in this motion picture that makes it worthy of at least one drunken night’s rental? That depends, I think, on what you’re looking for. If you’re hungry for yet another creamy cinematic treat starring Michelle Pfiefer’s sleazy little sister Dedee, this might satisfy your unsightly urges for sickly blonde women with no talent. Don’t get me wrong — Dedee’s a great actress, that is, until she opens her mouth and begins to speak. The same can be said for co-star Greg Evigan, best known for his role as Joey Harris on My Two Dads. To be fair, every single actor does the best they can with the script, which was probably composed on a used pantie shield in-between inhalations of paint thinner. They gave it their all, I suppose, but I’ll keep the pretty gold star for myself, thank you very much.
Journey to the Center of the Earth is one long barrage of cheap special effects, shoddy acting, and bargain basement writing. If you’re into this sort of thing, perhaps you’ll find this sad excuse for a motion picture to be to your liking. More power to you. However, if you’ve been burned by Asylum and their questionable attempts to make a buck off other, more accomplished films in the past, you’d do well to stay far away from this one. Like those atrocious Sci-Fi original movies, Asylum’s output caters to a specific audience, one that I have absolutely nothing in common with. And if you do find suddenly yourself struggling with the decision to bring this title into your cozy little home, ask yourself this simple question: Which would you rather have, a cheap imitation or something that’s actually worth your money?
I have a head and a torso that would love to assist you with your decision.