At the same time, Lambert and Tiffany would happily work on another Syfy flick (“chasing monsters and alligators and snakes — that’s totally me in my backyard when I was 10 years old,” Tiffany says), while the Asylum’s Latt gratefully acknowledges that “we are who we are in large part due to our relationship with [Syfy].” Thus the only limitation on the continued health of the franchise is the imagination of Syfy and its partners. And if they’ve only scratched the surface after more than 200 films, they’re not likely to run out of ideas anytime soon. A quick tango with a chupacabra, anyone?
Recent months saw Syfy roll out a pair of holiday-themed movies, a Snowmageddon blast in December and what Vitale jokingly calls “our own original take on Irish folklore,” an evil-leprechaun flick set around St. Patrick’s Day. “If you have any ideas for the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving, I’m all ears,” he adds.
But good luck getting your pitch heard. With only rare exceptions (Vitale’s father came up with the idea for Snakehead Terror, which played off headlines about an ill-tempered fish species that could potentially wreak enviro-havoc on U.S. pond ecosystems), Syfy only accepts pitches from production companies that have already created sci-fi, creature or disaster flicks for TV.
Unsurprisingly, then, Vitale isn’t swayed by an enthusiastically conveyed concept from a fanboy who may or may not have been me. My plucked-from-the-headlines idea — Cyborg Hippie, in which an evil financial conglomerate designs a paramilitary cyborg to infiltrate anticapitalism protests … until it all goes horribly, horribly wrong — fell on deaf ears. “Historically, robots/cyborgs have yet to do well for us,” Vitale shrugs. Latt, on the other hand, is kind enough to humor a genre-auteur wannabe: “If Syfy wants it, we will have it ready for them in three months — starring Vanilla Ice and Dr. Ruth Westheimer.”
Just don’t pitch Vitale anything involving a bastardized version of an unthreatening creature. “I can’t tell you how many pitches over the last 10 years we’ve had for a ‘killer koala,’ ” he says. “It’s funny and the alliteration is great, but koalas are cute. Yetis, spiders, snakes — you can have escapist fun with that. A koala, not so much.”
Junk-TV connoisseur Larry Dobrow counts Manticore and House of Bones as his favorite Syfy original flicks.