I was chased by a 14-foot shark off the coast of Cape Cod in 1975, about a month before I had a chance to see that summer’s blockbuster movie, “Jaws.”
I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I was to be behind the curve culturally. My head was clear of Hollywood nonsense and I was able to think calmly and rationally. And I got out of a sticky situation it with decent story to tell.
I felt the same sense of gratitude wash over me the other night as I watched “Poseidon Rex” on Coral Cable’s Channel 18, where it seems to be running in a perpetual loop.
I’ll explain this particular form of gratitude in a minute.
“Poseidon Rex” (or “Poseidon Wrecks” if you are Belize TV Channel 7 News, which may be more accurate ….) is a made-in-Belize movie about a monster which lurks at the bottom of the Blue Hole. The amphibious T-Rex-with-gills-and-a-tail-kind-of-a-thing is riled when gold hunters set off dynamite charges at the bottom of the hole, in hopes of exposing this elusive pile of ancient Mayan gold coins.
The explosion uncovers the Mama Amphibian Rex’s pile of incubating eggs and she goes all Sara Palin on the divers. Like that recent Alaskan party brawl, there are arm and legs flying everywhere.
One guy survives. He is found floating unconscious on the surface of the Blue Hole by some tourists. The floater is what we refer to as the film’s anti-hero — a grizzled and chiseled guy who does bad things, like stealing ancient Mayan gold coins, but who is also capable of rescuing humankind from imminent disaster.
OK, stop right there.
Twice I have mentioned ancient Mayan gold coins and you have not slapped your forehead once in stupefied amazement.
Exactly. What ancient Mayan gold coins?
So, here’s the point: If you over-think “Poseidon Rex” your head will explode.
For example, how is it that a super-hot, red-bikini-clad scientist with a bazooka can accomplish what a pair of hot-shot US fighter jet pilots with a full rack of missiles can not?
Thinking. Thinking. Thinking. Ka-boom! Splatter!
When all the time the answer is so simple: Because it is a movie.
Some things you should know to help appreciate this movie: Mama Rex seems to acquire a taste for tourists. But really, anyone who acts like a jerk is going to die. And that includes Belizean gangsters. The dialogue mostly consists of people yelling at each other — Run! Shoot! Duck! Hide!Faster! Shoot again! Run faster! — which I think will translate well into foreign languages.
And finally, this movie is hot — cult hot.
Not as pandering and deliberately bad as “Sharknado” and not nearly as cynical and calculated as “Snakes on a Plane” — but pretty close to one of my all-time favorite bad cult movies, “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!” Which, by the way, resulted in at least three sequels.
And just to digress, so I can brag, I spent a whole day watching the crew shoot the final film “Killer Tomatoes Eat France” and turned down the opportunity to join a crowd of angry baguette-waving “Parisians.” Having regretted that lost opportunity, I agreed to play a religious fanatic on a bus that plunges over a cliff in another obscure cult film “Shrunken Heads.”
And I actually got paid by my newspaper for doing these things.
By the way, the “Killer Tomato” movies got got progressively worse and less-fun as the newly enriched film producers poured money into improving the production values.
Production values can be highly over-rated in a movie.
So, just how so-bad-it’s-good is “Poseidon Rex”?
3. Drink whenever someone dies. This also happens quite frequently.
4. Have a sip for every unconvincing Jamaican accent. Mind you, the film takes place in Belize, but everyone in the Caribbean talks like a Jamaican.
5. Sip on your drink any time someone mentions the foreboding “blue hole.”
10. Drink every time we see a sonar device. Double it when sonar malfunctions, as it inevitably does.
12. This one won’t make sense until you see it, but sip every time we see “the human binocular.” Several times in the movie one of Tariq’s henchman uses binoculars to try and find Jackson Slate. The henchman has a henchman, the aforementioned human binocular, who silently stands by his side, and tries to find Jackson by putting his hand on his brow like a moron. It’s incredible.
OK, I’m not sure how tongue-in-cheek this movie was meant to be but it is what it is. And it seems that most everyone we have run into on the island has seen it — possibly because, for some freak reason, every channel on Coral Cable was locked in a frozen data stream on Thursday night except this one.
And everyone has gotten a kick out of looking for familiar places and people.
“Poseidon Rex” simply is a hoot.
Now, why am I grateful that we didn’t see it a few weeks ago?
Because that is when we went out to snorkel the Blue Hole for the first time ever.
So, I am grateful that we were able to enjoy the majestic underwater bounty of the reef that surrounds the hole without thinking about some skanky CGI P-Rex rising up from the depths to crunch on us like we were candy bars.
It was a long and beautiful day, starting at 5:30 a.m. when skipper Mike picked us up at the end of the Cloisters pier. There were already four people from resorts up north in the boat. We ended up with about a dozen people, evenly divided between divers and snorkelers.
It is a long ways out to the Blue Hole, made longer by the fact that nobody talked with nobody. People mostly dozed off and concentrated on keeping down last night’s rum punch during the rocky ride. It was different on the way home with blue skies; three terrific snorkels/dives under our belt; a tasty lunch on Half Moon Caye; and — whoa — where did that ice cold rum punch come from?
The Amigos Del Mar crew was most pleasant and helpful with the gear. They were great spotters in the water, pointing out sharks, turtles, coral arrangements and gorgeous fish that rookies like us might have otherwise missed.
And they regaled us with everyone’s favorite apocryphal Blue Hole story, the one in which environmentalist/explorer Jacques Cousteau dynamited a channel through the coral reef, so that he could navigate the Calypso into the Blue Hole. There is some debate about that. But there is documentary footage of Cousteau dynamiting the reef so that he could inventory all the dead and stunned fish that floated to the surface.
Did he or didn’t he? And if he did, why didn’t the P-Rex chomp his head off?
That’s what I’m asking.