SyFy Original Movies. The very utterance of these three words bring to mind cheaply rendered CGI effects, cheaper actors with questionable acting skills, and plots so embarrassingly trite that you cringe over the fact that some group of faceless film executives (if that’s what they should even be called) actually gave the movie’s creators the greenlight to start shooting. Still, for all our lambasting and cheap shots, there is a guilty pleasure to be had watching oversized reptiles and blatant mockbusters take up roughly 90 minutes of our time which otherwise would have been spent on something equally as unproductive, if not more so. But for those of us who actually sit down and take the time to appreciate this cinematic garbage, one may begin to notice that these films tread familiar territory time and time again. For the sake of the audience, how many mega sharks, dino sharks, or mega dino sharks versus giant octopi can one person take before they demand something new and with a little more substance; essentially, a SyFy Original Movie that dares to break conventional barriers and delve into the weird world of more obscure monsters from myth (they’ve already done it with Manticore)!
Don’t change the channel or you’ll miss eight weird creatures that need SyFy movies (but I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to watch it On Demand, anyway).
A hallmark of any SyFy Original Movie is the use of substandard CGI technology and skills to create the various monsters and effects that fail to distract viewers from the ungodly acting and plot. And you can bet that the more grandiose or detailed the monster, the worse off it is going to look. So for the sake of the digital artists’ ineptitude (hey, they aren’t Industrial Light and Magic material), it’s best to work with something that requires minimal effort to render, and that’s where the Blemmyae comes in. The Blemmyes, according to myth, are a race of cannibalistic wild men with no actual heads, but compensate for this shortcoming by naturally having their facial features and orifices grow on their chest — as well as having an uncanny resemblance to Christopher Walken. So if anything, SyFy would be smart to create a movie centered around the Blemmyae since 1) Even a digital art school dropout can render one with relative ease, and 2) The CGI costs wouldn’t be so steep, as well as helping to meet SyFy’s yearly crappy movie quota.
Looking somewhat like an unshaven, and utterly dazed, vagrant who wandered into the house, the Domovoi is a whimsical Slavic spirit that guards over a family’s home and makes sure that everything is in proper order… unless you happen to live like an absolute slob, because that’ll completely piss off the little guy. From banging on pots and pans to sitting on you while you sleep, among other generally terrifying activity, the Domovoi can turn into a pretty nasty fellow; which is why his ghostly escapades would make for a good SyFy movie, granted that things would be embellished for entertainment purposes, of course (a tad more violent, for example).
But the whole thing with a horror movie based on the Domovoi is that it can go either one of two ways. The first would be an original plot probably centered around a family coming into contact with a murderous Domovoi left behind by the houses’ previous owners (for obvious reasons) and discover that no evil spirit can break the bond of a family, as hackneyed as it is. The second, and the most likely to be chosen, option is a blatant ripoff of Gremlins — or to a lesser extent Munchies — with multiple Domovye in their place. Who knows, Howie Mandell might be up for lending his voice to the creatures!
6) Sea Monk
Having nothing to do with the falsely advertised Sea-Monkeys of so, so many disappointed childhoods, the sea monk is the result of travel-weary — or sauced — sailors mistaking squid and large marine mammals for monk/fish hybrids. While the average person would view the sea monk as nothing more than crazed hallucinations, the average and healthy SyFy Channel executive should be seeing movie potential followed by their pupils turning into dollar signs. And the premise for this made-for-TV masterwork? A tourist who strays away from the pre-established tour of Vatican City stumbles upon a dark and insidious secret beneath the city’s streets: A laboratory where, for years, the papal conclave has been splicing human and fish DNA to create an unstoppable army of sea monks. Their mission: Nothing short of world domination, of course. It’s not a very novel plot, but you’d be lying if you said you wouldn’t watch this.
If the Domovoi was anything to go by, it seems that Slavic spirits have the tendency to lash out over mundane things, some more so than others. But the one spirit that leads them all in this regard is the Polevik, who makes the Domovoi’s angry antics look like a child’s tantrum. Looking like a deformed dwarf with grass-like hair and different colored eyes, the Polevik despises the sight of lowly humans sleeping on the job. As fitting punishment for your sloth, you’re either rewarded with a disease — don’t want to know how this is done — or one of his many other colorful forms of lethal corporal punishment, such as having a horse trample you. But the Polevik’s wrath can be easily remedied with two eggs (exactly), a rooster, a crow (no ravens!), and a toad left in a ditch.
It’s the Polevik’s bizarre list of demands that would make for emotionally driven storytelling for a SyFy movie. When an overworked coal miner closes his eyes for “just a few seconds,” he wakes up to find an angry Polevik ready to thrust a pickaxe square through his forehead. But before the spirit administers its own deranged brand of workplace justice, he offers the miner’s family this proposition: Gather what he wants before midnight and the life of their familial patriarch will be spared. It soon becomes a race against time as the family scours the countryside searching for the items the Polevik demands, hoping that it will please him. Oh, and did I mention that the Polevik’s arms are getting a little tired holding up the pickaxe? Tick-tock, tick-tock…
Umib?zu are just one of many sea monsters that terrify sailors in Japanese mythology. Purported to be the disembodied spirits of monks who drowned at sea — as evidenced by their shaved noggins — Umib?zu are described as towering, pitch-black ghosts that accost passing ships solely on the principle that they’re giants and must therefore go out of their way to be complete and utter jerks; that or they really don’t like their moments of prayer disturbed. But rather than go the barbaric route and smash the ship to smithereens, the Umib?zu politely asks if the ship has a barrel on board. If you’re stupid or extremely scared enough to comply with their demand, then you have the honor of watching the towering dirtbag use it to fill your ship with water causing it to sink.
If we’re going to turn this into a SyFy Original Movie, it’s paramount that the entire myth be placed in a more contemporary setting, one that’s trendy and hip enough to resonate with the kiddies at home. Instead of the Sea of Japan, let’s make it, say, off the coast of the Jersey Shore or the Hamptons. And in place of a barrel, it would definitely be a beer keg being used as the instrument of the party yacht’s guests’ demise. Of course, this occurs after the Umib?zu gets plastered from a “totally sick” keg stand.
If you’ve played plenty of Dungeons & Dragons and/or Final Fantasy, you already know what this thing is. But for the few that haven’t, the catoblepas is practically a bovine from Hell given its scaly back, shaggy, unkempt mane, and bloodshot eyes. But other than being the hot mess of the mythical animal kingdom, the catoblepas has poisonous breath and/or a petrifying gaze, accounts varying from one naturalist to the next. However, due to its rather weighty head, the beast can never truly look straight up, rendering the creature harmless… but not in a SyFy Original Movie.
Picture this: An innocuous mom-and-pop petting zoo receives an Area 51-bound catoblepas instead of their expected cow due to a shipping yard mix-up. Things go from bad to worse when guests begin dropping dead and turning to stone from its poison breath and Medusa-like glare, respectively. But why stop there? The catoblepas, by description alone, sounds like a foul monstrosity, so why not turn it into a vomiting fart machine as well? A gross-out, tongue-in-cheek B-movie that will… probably be way overbudget for SyFy.
It would be superfluous to make any additional commentary about this image of tanukis doing what they do best (besides drinking), but if SyFy ever decided to actually make a movie about these crazy critters and their… unique ability (i.e., giant, inflatable testicles), the FCC would have a field day — and their work cut out for them.
1) The Mobile Leprechaun
The place: the Crichton area of Mobile, Alabama. Thought to have been expunged by mystics millennia ago from the Ancient Tomes of Crichton, the story of the Mobile Leprechaun and his pot of gold surface once again; in its wake an outbreak of mass hysteria as everyone clamors to claim the gold for themselves. However, one of Crichton’s more avaricious and foolhardy citizens commits an act that seals the fate of his neighbors and the state of Alabama at large. Driving a backhoe — his rationality blinded by the Ahab-like obsession to find the Mobile Leprechaun’s gold — the man destroys the tree that had once been the creature’s eternal prison, unleashing a primordial and devastating force that does not want to be contained. As the death toll rises, the community places reluctant faith in the local leprechaun hunter that they once ridiculed, and the arcane flute of dubious mystical ability that he holds in his hands — the bane of the Mobile Leprechaun’s existence. And with the monstrosity making his way to the city to sate his hellish bloodlust, the hunter must rely on the arcane wisdom of his forefathers to save the lives of millions. “Who all see da Leprechaun say DIE!” Yes, this is an unabashed ripoff of Leprechaun. And it’s for this reason that the entire project will be handled by The Asylum — purveyors of the unoriginal!