If you wish to go to the current Fangoria site, you may click the top logo, "Home" or "News" links. Or click here.
Lots of genre filmmakers have been harking back to the ’80s in terms of style, but a string of flicks from Syfy and The Asylum have taken a different tack to homaging the decade: casting its most popular teen-pop singers in leading roles. The latest is MEGA PYTHON VS. GATOROID, and at the film’s world premiere at New York City’s Ziegfeld Theatre (!), Fango spoke to Deborah Gibson and Tiffany, as well as one of the flick’s producers, about their involvement.
MEGA PYTHON VS. GATOROID, which debuts on Syfy this Saturday, January 29 at 9 p.m ET/8 p.m. CT, casts Gibson (who previously starred in MEGA SHARK VS. GIANT OCTOPUS) as Nikki, an animal activist who releases captured snakes back into the Florida swampland overseen by park ranger Terry (Tiffany, from MEGA PIRANHA). When the bigger serpents start preying on the local alligator population, Terry decides to give the latter critters a scaly leg up by feeding them steroids. The result is…well, not so much mega pythons vs. gatoroids (the two species don’t so much clash as wreak havoc alongside each other) but Debbie vs. Tiffany, culminating in a knock-down, drag-out catfight at a fancy outdoor reception as the rampaging reptiles approach.
Sworn enemies on screen and presumed rivals from their pop princess days, Gibson and Tiffany say they actually couldn’t have been happier sharing screen time in the movie. “After I did MEGA SHARK and she had done MEGA PIRANHA,” Gibson recalls, “I was pretty much waiting for the phone to ring with that call, and it did. I questioned it at first, and thought, ‘Is this too gimmicky?’ but then I felt, ‘What could be bad?’ She and I kind of symbolize kitsch and camp anyway, we kind of get our own joke, and so I realized it was actually a perfect fit.”
David Michael Latt, one of the movie’s Asylum producers, recounts the history of the singers’ involvement in the MEGA movies: “With Debbie, it was her agent who suggested her. I thought it was a very different kind of casting suggestion and didn’t know how it would play with my partners, but they thought it was a great idea too. She hadn’t done a lot of acting in front of the camera—she had done a lot of Broadway and whatnot—so we didn’t know what we were getting, but she embraced it and did amazing with it. Once we knew we were doing MEGA PIRANHA, it was not really that difficult to think who we were gonna get to star in that film. The only reason we made this one is because Syfy said, ‘Hey, MEGA SHARK did really well, MEGA PIRANHA did really well. What if we put a film together with Debbie and Tiffany in there and call it MEGA PYTHON VS. GATOROID?’ That was the title they gave us, and we thought it was phenomenal.”
The grown-up songbirds’ involvement ensured a high curiosity level, particularly when it came to the duo’s onscreen smackdown. “We were both very aware that we were playing out other people’s fantasies of what that fight would have been, or what our rivalry was,” Gibson says. “We had never actually had a rivalry, so we were laughing in between takes, going ‘Oh my God, what are we doing?!’ [Laughs] But we knew we were giving the pop-culture fans of the ’80s what they wanted. It was such a blast to do, and it was even more of a blast to watch. It was kind of like, ‘OK, we can go home now, we’ve seen the catfight scene!’ ”
“It was so much fun,” Tiffany agrees. “We had to use our stunt girls at times—they made us. We wanted to do all that stuff ourselves. But we’re go-getters; we just dive in there and have a good time with it, and she was lovely to work with. I had a really good time with her.”
Acting opposite a fellow ’80s star is one thing, but MEGA PYTHON VS. GATOROID also confronted the actresses with the Syfy challenge of performing for digital creatures to be added later. “What’s funny is, now that I’ve seen it all pieced together, it’s like I believe now that I was there with them, and I’m gonna see my shrink about it next week,” Gibson laughs. “It really is fun, because it takes you back to your youth when you were in your backyard playing and imagining. I used to line my stuffed animals up on the bed and have them sing and dance…”
“Did they ever eat each other?” Latt interjects.
“They never did, they weren’t on steroids,” Gibson replies. “I didn’t know what steroids were! Anyway, to see it all pieced together, it feels like you were part of something so big, so larger-than-life, which is very cool, like, ‘Oh my God, I look so little next to that giant alligator!’ ”
She notes that one key facet of her performance caused the most concern: “As a vocalist, it was my worst nightmare to scream like that. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m doing concerts in three days and I have to scream!’ It was so strange. I had to develop a scream technique. But you know, coming from theater, horror is so theatrical that I feel like it’s a weirdly natural fit for me. I’ve also been meaning to do a musical next. I need to do a horror/sci-fi musical!”
“I loved the creatures,” Tiffany says. “Even though I wasn’t able to see them, the wheels were spinning in my head. That’s why I’m a huge Syfy fan—it’s because of the monsters. They’re the main ingredients, you know? And that was so easy to tap into—running for your life, trying to kill them and stuff.”
Both actresses agree that they were significantly helped along by director Mary Lambert (who discussed MEGA PYTHON here), the veteran of the PET SEMATARY films who made her Syfy helming debut with this project. (In fact, this is a pretty unique film for its genre in having not just two women in the leads, but in the key creative spots as well; the script was written by Naomi L. Selfman.) “PET SEMATARY is one of my favorite movies!” Tiffany raves. “It’s funny, my son and I had just watched the movie about two months prior—he had never seen it before—and then I got the call that Mary was the director on MEGA PYTHON, and I was like, ‘Yeah!’ Mary brought the full force, and really made my dreams come true. I just adore her, and I’m so appreciative. You know, a lot of times we had lines where we were like, ‘Really? Where’s this coming from?!’ but especially when it came to the comedy factor of the movie, she had a vision, and it really played through.”
For Tiffany, this was a different kind of experience than she had with Eric Forsberg, her director on MEGA PIRANHA (which she also talks about here). “He’s definitely more improv,” she recalls. “Even though he was the writer too, he’d be like, ‘Let’s just roll it and see what happens,’ and that was great as well. But it was different having two girls on the set [for MEGA PYTHON], and they really pumped up the efforts on this one. I think the storyline is a little bit deeper, and everyone was definitely on the same page. It’s not like it wasn’t like that on MEGA PIRANHA, but that was my first time out of the box, and I think everybody was just getting their feet wet a little bit.”
If another MEGA movie—or any other Syfy project—comes her way, Tiffany says she’ll be all over it, though currently she’s busy preparing for the release of her new album ROSE TATTOO, which drops next month. Her co-star is equally enthusiastic, having developed a fondness for Syfy and The Asylum’s over-the-top brand of creature features. “I was not that familiar with Syfy movies when I got the [MEGA SHARK] script,” Gibson recalls. “But then I was like, ‘Oh my God, if this is what Syfy’s all about, I wanna be a part of it,’ because it was so outrageous and imaginative, and there were no limits. That’s so delicious to me, and I wanted to be a part of it. MEGA PYTHON is in a whole new league, I must say. MEGA SHARK kind of broke me in, and people loved it and got a big kick of it; this one just takes it to a whole new level, though.”
JOIN OUR COMMUNITY AND BE THE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT NEWS, CONTESTS, EVENTS AND MORE!
All contents © 2011 Fangoria Entertainment