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Mess-terpiece Theatre: But that's what Syfy's Mega Python Vs Gatoroid is supposed to be

Debbie Gibson and Tiffany star in Saturday night creature feature. Syfy photos

Far-fetched creature features used to be drive-in movie staples. The bigger and scarier the monsters, the better chance you had of getting to second base or beyond.

Syfy has revived this arguably proud tradition with its ongoing Saturday night series of low budget original monster fliks. Anonymous Rex, Mongolian Death Worm, Android Apocalypse and so on. Most critics might sniff. But the come-on and the title for Mega Python Vs Gatoroid have sent your friendly content provider careening into full-blown, crazed Uncle Barky mode.

"Are you ready for the television movie event of 2011?" prospective reviewers are asked in publicity materials. Sure, why not. Then brace yourself for double-barreled terror and copious use of the word "bitch" when Debbie Gibson and Tiffany "get down and dirty in their long-awaited pop princess smackdown."

Both of these "1980s singing sensations" have been this route before, with Tiffany a veteran of Syfy's Mega Python and Gibson emoting in the network's Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus.

So with a key assist from Tiffany's always on display mega-cleavage, here we go with a blood-spillin', invective-spewin' Florida Everglades rumble premiering Saturday, Jan. 29th at 8 p.m. central.

Tiffany plays park ranger Terry O'Hara, who's fated to clash with Gibson's obsessed animal rights activist, Nikki Riley. Their favorite reptiles respectively are alligators and pythons, both of which grow to enormous proportions during the course of this gruesome but also riotous saga.

But as the above poster for the film suggests, a good deal of the action also is devoted to verbal and physical bouts between the two leading ladies.

"Ooh, somebody had bitch for breakfast," Nikki declares early in the game after Terry tells her to keep her mitts off of her.

Personal tragedy soon strikes, leaving Terry distraught, borderline psychotic and lashing out at the woman she blames for her miseries. That would be Gibson's Nicki, who looks almost emaciated next to Tiffany's decidedly full-figured authority figure. Terry further lays the wood by branding Nicki a "crazy, cold-blooded, snake-lovin' bitch."

Mega Python Vs Gatoroid also includes a buncha knuckle-draggin' hillbillies suitable for snacking and a still-in-there-punching A Martinez (no, there's still no period after A) as a heroic herpetologist who declares, "I just encountered a gator of literally massive proportions."

The special effects are expectedly cheesy, but not unduly so. And you won't have to wait very long for the snakes and gators to strike again. In an early growth stage, though, one of the wild-eyed slitherers looks more than a little like a vacuum cleaner hose after it get scrunched by a pickup truck tire.

A surprise participant in this outing is good ol' Kathryn Joost, a two-time Emmy winner for her guest star role of Karen McCluskey on Desperate Housewives but better known by many as the devoted Mrs. Landingham on The West Wing. Joost plays a deputy park ranger named Angie, whose occasional one-liners are supposed to break the tension or something.

There's also an appearance by a very hammy Micky Dolenz, who plays himself and is billed as a trained Monkee at Terry's big fundraiser for everglades preservation. But Terry's also been a very bad girl, maniacally plying the resident alligators with steroids in hopes they'll grow big enough to conquer the pythons.

All of this has been building, of course, to a big catfight between the two principals. And Tiffany and Debbie don't disappoint, pelting each another with fundraiser food items before rolling their way across a lawn and into a pond. Tattoo-dotted Tiffany remarkably stays within the confines of her low-cut evening gown, although perhaps the European version will be a bit more expansive.

Publicity materials note that Mega Python Vs Gatoroid is the first Syfy Saturday Original Movie to be directed by a woman -- namely Mary Lambert. She can't be accused of using a light touch. Or of getting anything more than cartoonish performances from either the actors or the monsters.

Still, the pacing is crisp and the sight gags occasionally a bit inspired, as when a gargantuan snake and gator poke their heads through the wall of a mall having a "Monster Sale Today."

When all is said and devoured, Mega Python Vs Gatoroid emerges as a fairly enjoyable waste of time, particularly if you watch it in the grip of your mood enhancer of choice. Too bad it's not in 3D. All of its mega attractions, both human and reptilian, are just begging to further pop off the screen.

GRADE: What better to give a B-movie than a B-minus?