Centipede Reviews

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½ April 23, 2006
I've got a bone to pick with you, Maverick "Entertainment." I've grown accustomed to the fact that most new release DVDs now start off with a trailer or two, followed by a silly ad telling me how awful of a person I am for downloading episodes of "Veronica Mars" from peer-to-peer servers, but pretty much every DVD distributor has the decency to allow you to skip these things and go straight to the menu. Hell, even Disney, who'd sell its' customers' flesh to the Japanese if they felt it would make more money, lets you skip 'em and go straight to the start of the latest direct-to-video [i]Mimic vs. Hellraiser [/i]sequel they're desperately trying to squeeze money out of.

But no, Maverick, not you. No, thanks to you, I was forced to sit slack-jawed through two overlong trailers for more of your craptastic shot-on-DV shite, both of which had Ron Jeremy, and both of which I might have actually given a chance to had I been allowed to watch the trailers on my own terms. I love craptastic B-movies, especially ones with attention-whoring porn stars, but I'm not going to bother if I can't just cut right to the chase. I'd be perfectly happy to watch bits of your upcoming sludge after the movie, when I'm in the mood to get excited about something other than the piece of shit I just watched, but before-movie trailers are meant for theatrical films only.

It's essentially enough to make me swear off Maverick DVD releases forever, and considering I'm one of the few people who's goine to voluntarily sit through [i]Centipede![/i], it's probably not that good of an idea to piss me off. [i]Centipede![/i] is pretty much indicative of the Maverick catalog--it's blandly-made, unexceptional, PG-13 level Sci-Fi channel premiere junk--and it doesn't even feature a slumming porn star. So the fact that you're shitty movies aren't enough to put me off, but your forced-trailer initiatives are should give you cause for pause.

[i]Centipede! [/i](the exclamation point, apparently, is so people don't confuse it with a film adaptation of the video game, which presumably would be much better) is about as generic a creature feature as they come. After an opening prologue where two Indian geology students get attacked by an unknown critter* while searching through some caves (you know the drill: school talk, fake scare, distracted by sex, real scare, monster!!), we're introduced to a band of seven fairly indistinguishable twentysomethings who decide to go spelunking down said cave in India to celebrate a bachelor party.

(Yeah, I don't really get it either. They try to justify it, and while I admire the effort, it seems pretty pointless that it's a bachelor party because we never see the bride-to-be, and the guy ends up getting back with his old girlfriend anyway. Why not just say the guy's going into the army or something?)

Now, the history of spelunking-themed horror films isn't exactly a legacy of riches. There's[i] The Boogens[/i], which is okay, but doesn't really feature that much cave action. There's [i]The Strangeness,[/i] which has some okay creature effects but it way too dark to see. There's [i]The Cave[/i], which I haven't seen, but, erm, features a cave of some sort. That's about it. It's kind of shocking that there's so few, as it seems like a natural element for a good horror film--lots of shadows, cool lighting effects and creepy isolated passageways.

[i]Centipede![/i] manages to squander the concepts worse than any previous cave-set horror film, and that's actually pretty impressive. Want cool lighting? Sorry,[i] Centipede! [/i]features some of the worst lighting of any film I've ever seen, not that it's impossible to see anything, but that it's completely inappropriate. The caves are lit as though it may as well be the middle of the day and even though the climbers are "three miles down," I've been in dingier basements. The characters seem to keep losing their special mining helmets, but it never gets any darker, so when the creature finally shows up, it doesn't skulk around in the shadows--it's just there, anxiously awaiting for the actors to freak-out. Even the above-ground scenes look like someone bathed the sets in ugly flourescent light.

To be fair, the special effects aren't[i] too[/i] bad--at least they're obviously unconvincing models, rather than even more unconvincing CGI--but the scare effects are so poorly staged that nothing ever remotely frightening ever comes of things. There's some odd inconsistancies as well--like why does a flare cause a cave-in? Or why does a GPS tracker somehow manage to tell where the centipede is?

Some of this might have been compensated for by interesting characters, decent character actors or clever dialogue (it went a long way in [i]Deep Rising[/i], for example), but writer/director Gregory Gieras (of the Leif Garrett-starring [i]The Whispering[/i]) gives us nothing. The people on screen are bland as hell and have nothing but the most generic of love triangles to work with, and honestly, some of them I couldn't even tell apart when they died. The acting's not [i]dreadful[/i], but even great actors couldn't pull off parts that could have been conceived on a napkin.

As bad as [i]Centipede![/i] is, it's not really actively awful enough to be even worth watching for desperate Sci-Fi channel thrills. There's no real energy to anything going on, and the score seems determined to put you into a coma, so watching it even as a group drinking activity would be a bit of a chore. It may get some notation in the history books as the first giant centipede movie shot in India, but that's about the only thing it's got going for it.

Needless to say, if you've been forced (via one of Maverick's other releases) to see a trailer for [i]Centipede![/i], you could probably have figured that out already, but hey, I can still warn the rest of you. And judging from the obligatory trailers that I became increasingly irritated while watching, you can probably steer clear of [i]The Wickeds[/i] and [i]The Creepies[/i] as well.


[size=1]* -- Hint: It's a centipede.
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