The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

SYFY-PALOOZA PART 2: SHARKS

SHARKNADO (2013) **

When The Asylum’s Sharknado premiered on The SyFy Channel last summer, it became an instant cult classic. Viewers went nuts on social media during the broadcast and the film became one of the most talked about movies of the year. I wanted to wait until the hype died down a bit before I got around to watching it so I could view the flick with a little bit more objectivity.

Of course, only I would want to watch a movie called Sharknado objectively.

A tornado appears over the ocean and draws a school of sharks inside its funnel cloud. The storm hits Santa Monica and sharks start falling from the sky. The storm causes massive flooding, and of course, the flood waters are filled with sharks. A bar owner (Ian Ziering) goes inland to save his estranged wife (Tara Reid) and various other people along the way.

Ian Ziering and Tara Ried are the names in the cast, but it is the CGI sharks that are the real stars. And it has to be said that the opening scene of people standing in front of a greenscreened CGI whirlwind while CGI sharks whip by taking a bite out of them is pretty funny. The scenes of sharks landing on the Santa Monica pier and trying to eat people are less so. And the scenes of the cast members dodging sharks in the flooded streets of Los Angeles are decidedly ho-hum. I did like the bit where a shark landed in the cement of the Chinese Theatre though.

Sharknado plays like a hybrid of a disaster movie and a shark attack flick. Interestingly enough, the disaster movie scenes are more fun than the shark attack scenes. The effects for the ferris wheel rolling down the Santa Monica pier are surprisingly well done and the scene where our heroes have to avoid the windswept letters of the Hollywood sign is rather great.

The flick tries to take things as serious as possible (or as serious as a movie called Sharknado can be). Therein lays the problem. Had the film really went for broke on the goofiness (as it did in the opening scenes), we could’ve had a real winner on our hands. The finale where Ziering’s kid tries to fly into the sharknado and blow it up is rather disappointing too and the nods to Jaws fall flat. Overall, Sharknado isn’t awful by any stretch of the imagination, but it just never really lives up to its title.

Still, if you ever wanted to see a former star of Beverly Hills 90210 fight his way out of inside a shark using a chainsaw, then this movie is for you.

GHOST SHARK (2013) ***

Ghost Shark was directed by SyFy Channel vet Griff Furst. I’ll never forget the time he trolled my review of Lake Placid 3 and called me a “punk ass” for giving it a negative review. I guess he missed my semi-favorable reviews for I Am Omega and Swamp Shark. At any rate, I’m not one to hold a grudge. I only bring that up because his film Ghost Shark is one of the nuttiest things I’ve seen in a long time (and if you are reading this Mr. Furst; that is indeed a compliment).

Some rednecks kill a great white shark while night fishing. Minutes later, the glowing ghost of the shark leaps out of the water and eats them. Since this Ghost Shark has supernatural powers, it can appear out of the water anywhere at any time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a swimming pool or a bucket of water or a mud puddle, it can still jump out and get you.

The shark attack scenes are pretty nuts. This thing looks like a shark-shaped lightsaber and the way it leaps out and unexpectedly chomps down on its victims is a hoot and a holler. The hilarious thing about Ghost Shark is that the shark attacks can happen anywhere at any time as long as water is present. That means any time chicks in bikinis hold a charity car wash or a plumber fixes some leaky pipes or kids play on a Slip n’ Slide; shit is bound to hit the fan.

I do take issue with the scenes involving the annoying teenagers. None of the young cast comes close to matching the charisma and screen presence as Ghost Shark. Richard (The Sword and the Sorcerer) Moll is pretty good as the town drunk though.

Whenever things threaten to get dull, something extremely crazy will happen to keep you smiling. My favorite moment comes when a guy gets a drink from a water cooler and Ghost Shark kills him from the inside out. Seeing the dude’s head split in half while a ghostly great white emerges is a sight I don’t think I’ll forget for some time.

Oh, and did I mention the scene where Ghost Shark attacks a guy while he’s on the toilet?

Sharknado is a bit more polished than Ghost Shark and features better acting. However, I have to give the edge to Ghost Shark for its zany premise. (Yes, it’s zanier than a tornado full of sharks.) I’m not sure if I’d rank it up there with Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy or Mansquito as one of the all-time great SyFy Channel movies (it kinda runs out of steam before the finale), but it’s definitely better than most.

Best line: “The car was hot waxed with the entrails of the girl washing it!”

Tags: g, horror, s, syfy
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