“The creature flexed its enormous simian forearms, clutching the deck railing of the ruined oil tanker. The current was strong here. Despite its size, the oceans in this place could easily carry it away, deposit it off some tropical island.
Maybe someday. But right now…the small boat had arrived a long time ago, the divers deploying from it like dropped pebbles. They wanted to know the fate of their ship. They wanted to know what could take down a vessel so large, so vital.
The first diver came into range and the beast pushed off, silent. His maw gaped as he approached, his muscular arms stretched wide to shove the unsuspecting human into his waiting razor teeth.”
I love bad science fiction. Realm of those implausible mash ups where our brain plays free-association and churns out something completely improbable. And it’s not just animal hybrids either. While I love things like ‘Sharktopus’, B-movies are also the playground of aliens from other dimensions, science experiments gone awry (though I suppose ‘The Fly’ is really the first animal mash-up movie, isn’t it?), nature fighting back, and more.
“Erika stood on deck of the search and rescue vessel Orca, rolling gently in the placid sea. There were no storms for leagues. The water was temperate. There was nothing that could have sunk an oil tanker. There was no reason for it to be anywhere but 100 miles to the East, putting in to port in New York City. She squinted hard against the midday sun glinting off the water. Even through her aviators, it was blinding. She could hear her mother clucking at her about wrinkles, age lines, sun spots. The woman always cared more about the state of her uniform in newspaper photos than she did the people she rescued. She’d prove herself yet…
Her reverie was broken by a squelch of noise from the transmitter in her hand. Erika waited for a follow-up that didn’t come. The silence stretched out. Frowning (more wrinkles!), she thumbed the channel open. “Gary? Steve? What’s the situation?”
Nothing. Despite herself, her heart beat a bit faster, her mouth a little drier. Erika had never been comfortable sending divers down in her stead. It was one of the long arguments she’d had with her CO, also her husband of three years,and it had ended with threats of disciplinary procedures, slammed doors, and several days of long, silent dinners.
When the fin broke the water 100 yards from the boat, she feared the worst. When it kept rising till it eclipsed the deck as it cruised towards her, she knew that something had gone horribly wrong.”
B-movies are brave enough to provide a place for all of those late night “What-ifs” to play out to their most insane conclusions (if we’re lucky). They’re the place where we can stop worrying about how the universe being presented works; because established rules are left at the door. Heck, basic physics is often left at the door. The best become morality tales where the wicked find comeuppance, no matter how well they defend themselves or where they hide, and the virtuous are nearly always able to escape the insanity and return things to order. Despite their ridiculous creatures and implausible plot lines, they’re cathartic. We root for the heroes, half the time we root for the monsters, because we know it’s safe to do so.
“100 miles east, on the New York coast, a cell phone buzzed to life. It sat on a table underneath a poster with a kitten hanging from a tree branch with the caption “Hang in there!” Someone had carefully cut out a picture of a gorilla’s head and pasted it over the kitten’s face.
A scruffy-haired technician scooted across the lab, pushing back hard from his work station and coasting on his chair. He scooped up his phone as he flew by the table, turning himself around to face the refrigerator mid-traverse and answering the phone at the same time. “Rick!” he barked into the phone as he leaned his entire torso into the fridge, coming out a second later with a Coke.
“We’ve had an incursion, Richard.” The voice on the other end was even, practically robotic.
Rick scrambled as the Coke slipped out of his hand, catching it before it could roll off his lap. “No! That’s impossible! I’ve been watching the portal the whole time!” He glanced back over his shoulder to the screen where a young William Shatner faced off against a guy in a green lizard costume.
There was a tutting sound on the other end of the line. “Despite your…vigilance, we’ve lost a tanker. A local Coast Guard captain reported seeing a fin as tall as their cutter at the site of the wreck.”
Rick stood and rushed back over to his computer, dismissing Captain Kirk and pulling up a spreadsheet. He began muttering numbers as he scrolled through. “Got it! 3:01 AM. Last night. There was a significant energy spike in the portal. The signatures were simian and…icthyian?”
“Meaning, what, exactly?”
“We’ve got a gorilla shark, ma’am.”
There was a pause on the other end of the line. Rick wondered if she had hung up. “We are not calling it that.”
We love B-movies because we live in a world where resolutions are so often unsatisfying. Once in a while, we need a moment or two when we know that justice will be done.