Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At

Y2K movies

Y2K (1999)

Released on DVD in 2001 as "Terminal Countdown"

Remember how civilization collapsed as we know it on December 31, 1999, because all the computers went berserk because they were given only the two-digit year ď99Ē and werenít programmed to figure out what the year is after that? Remember? Everyone and his brother was predicting it. Nike even put out a TV-ad spoofing it (a guy jogging along in his sneakers while planes fell out of the sky, cars crashed and electric lines blew up).

This was one of many novels and movies that came out on or before 1999. It stars Louis Gossett, Jr. (of the MonsterVision movie Aces: Iron Eagle 3 as the leader of a military team debugging computer systems before the clock turns over. Also stars Jaimz Woolvett. With Malcolm McDowell of the New Fantasy Island as Seward. Currently showing on cable.

So, whatís sadder than a y2k disaster movie seen after 1999? That would be, of course, a movie that didnít even come out in any way before the magic date. Read on as Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At:

Y2K, Shut Down Detected (2000?)

drive-in "Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In" for the week of January 14, 2001
By Joe Bob Briggs, Drive-In Movie Critic of Grapevine, Texas

We didn't get quite as many Y2K computer-bug movies as people expected, because our computer-gone-haywire phase had pretty much played out in the late eighties. (Remember MonsterVisionís WarGames?) We'd watched all the Y2K movies about ten years before anyone heard of Y2K, and that's good, because the real Y2K didn't exist, so we got the virtual reality version of it.

Here are the rules for making a good computer-scare movie:

1. Show the computer as little as possible. Nobody likes watching an unemployed soap-opera actor pretending to type. (Actually, in most of these movies, you can create anything on the screen by pressing one key!) And green electronic symbols scrolling across a screen hasn't been cool since Tron.

2. Make the people using the computer more evil than the computer itself.

3. Make sure the end of the world is involved.

4. Mix in a few other crimes so it turns out it wasn't the computer after all. It was just plain ole nasty people.

I think the best example is "Entrapment," one of the most underrated movies of 1999. The whole ending is about Y2K but that's not what you remember. What you remember is how nasty Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery are, even if they are in love.

And I wouldn't think I'd have to add this fifth rule, except I just watched a movie called "Y2K: Shut Down Detected":
5. Make sure your Y2K movie comes out before Y2K.

Y2K: Shut Down Detected was planned in 1998 by eight El Lay effects guys, camera guys, film students--aspiring young filmmakers who work on crews, for the most part. By the time it came out--25 months later!--five of the eight had quit, and the press kit alludes to friendships permanently destroyed. What they ended up with was a 22-minute movie and a one-hour "Making of . . ." documentary on what happened--which I thought would be great, because who wouldn't like to watch a dysfunctional film crew screaming at one another? But they never really tell you . . . what happened! The five phantom investors who quit and were never seen again are never mentioned by name, never seen on camera, never shown storming out of the room in close-up "Real World" footage. Instead we get a bunch of shots of special effects models (very cool monsters, most of which were never built), zombie makeup being applied to producer/narrator Trent Shumway, a couple of amusing slacker types laying down the music tracks, and crew members slinging slime onto a screen to create the "Blob"- like Devouring Goo effect.

The film itself is notable mainly for the pink-headed pit-faced black-tooth red-eyed zombie who stomps through a genetic engineering facility munching on the staff. Something goes haywire right before midnight, an "alien life form" shows up on the screen, and pretty soon we've got Mutant Jubilee. Not very original, but full of so many special effects it's intriguing to watch even if you don't know who these people are.

They only spent a total of $2,100 on the movie, so you can't really rag on these guys, but what they came up with is really just a calling card for the movie they might make someday when they've got money, time, lights (they had none--they used natural light), and sound (they had no location sound--everything was dubbed later). But who would invest in a movie based on Y2K in the year 2001?

Anyhoo, cool zombie.

Five dead bodies.
One undead body.
No breasts.
Black-goo attack.
Lizard-tail slime monster.
Zombie neck-munching.
Security-guard zombie execution, with pistol shot that blows out the back of his head.
Computer-graphics Fu.
Electrified-fence Fu.
Mutant-interruptus left-field ending.
Drive-In Academy Award nominations for writer John Gonzales, zombie/producer Trent Shumway and cinematographer Slava Siderman, who did all the photography, acting, editing, special effects, producing, and punched all the little holes in the film. It's an El Lay Thing.

Not a real movie yet, but . . . One and a half stars. Joe Bob says check it out. If you can.
To check out Joe Bob's voluminous guide to all the B movies ever made, go to or email him at Snail-mail: P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, TX 75221.
© Copyright 2001 United Press International and Joe Bob Briggs

For more of Joe Bob's pre-TNT reviews in Grapevine, Texas, go to his Drive-In Reviews Archive over yonder at www.Joe Bob

"Terminal Countdown" availability on video and on DVD from

There was also called Terminal Error
An ex-employee (Timothy Busfield) of a computer firm bent on revenge befriends the president's son & gives him a MP3 file with a computer virus in it which creates havoc all across the city by poisoning the water with chlorine, making planes crash and neearly causing a meltdown at a nuclear power plant. The gorgeous Marina Sirtis from Star Trek-The Next Generation plays his estranged wife. Directed by John Murlowski

MonsterVision host segments for WarGames, in which a computer (not Terminatorís Skynet) decides to launch all our nuclear missiles to see what WW3 looks like

Joe Bob's review of Terminal Virus

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