Directed by Paul Wynne, 2001
I watched Tail Sting with the guarantee that it was the worst film ever made. This is bullshit. Tail Sting rocks and rocks hard, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Yes, it is a horrible movie, but it is a kick all the same.
Snakes on a Plane? Fuck snakes! Scorpions on a plane? Not good enough! Giant, mutant scorpions on a plane? Hell. Yes.
Let’s get one thing clear. The scorpions in Tail Sting are, perhaps, the least threatening creatures to ever star in a creature feature. Calling them stars is even more misleading, because you never get to see an entire body shot throughout the whole picture. But God bless Paul Wynne for using giant models and not going with CGI.
So why is it entertaining? It’s all about the characters and the mood. Yes, that’s right. I’m endorsing a shameless, Z-level movie about giant scorpions on a plane because of the supporting actors. But before I get to the characters, I better explain why there are giant scorpions on a plane. I know you’re dying to know.
There are giant scorpions on a plane because scripters Timothy Griffin and Peter Soby Jr. are geniuses. Or, more likely, they randomly chose a slip of paper that read, "scorpions" out of one hat and another slip which read, "greedy scientist" out of a second hat. The third hat, determining the setting, clearly read plane. And there you have it. Just imagine any movie you’ve seen about nature gone amok and you know what is going on in Tail Sting. One scientist got too greedy, accidentally releases some mutant creature, and the unsung, low-level heroes step in to clean up the mess.
The supporting characters, which I’ve touted as the main source of entertainment, are pretty much exactly what you would expect. The all-talk minority, the lonely-but-tough girl from New York/New Jersey, the attractive female doctor, and the handsome hero (in this case, Captain Jack). Griffin and Soby throw two Muslim passengers into the mix, who surprisingly become the two most likable characters in the whole thing. Then there are the flight attendants and random other passengers, all who will inevitably get stung by an out-of-proportion prop scorpion tale.
So if they’re so stock, why are are they so entertaining? I honestly don’t have any clue. The only explanation I have is that the cast just had a freaking blast, and it shows on screen. But you can laugh constantly at all of them (presumably intentional laughs) as the stakes escalate into even more absurdity. Like when Captain Jack, right before having to land the plane, gets conveniently stung only across the eyes and goes blind. Or when the greedy scientist starts to act incredibly coked out. Or when the passengers arm themselves against the scorpions and one of them actually tapes knives to her arm. Or when the FAA brings in some "elite" hackers to help secure the plane. Or that you can tell every external shot of the plane is stock footage from 1980’s promotional videos for Boeing.
It’s silly. It’s stupid. It’s a mediocre affair all around. However, I never realized it until now, but setting something on a plane gives it a +18 to enjoyment. We all want to run around and do zany stuff on a plane, so why not watch a bunch of no-name actors run around and do zany stuff on a plane with scorpions?
I’ve seen far worse. Tail Sting knows what is up and it never pretends otherwise. This isn’t Tim Sullivan saying trash like 2001 Maniacs is a metaphor for a post-911 society. This is absurdity from minute one. But it never laughs at itself, and I truly respect that in movies like this: