I don’t normally blog about TV movies, but I feel like this is a special occasion, after all, the sequel will premiere next week. Sharknado really started as one of the SyFy channel’s typical Saturday night creature-feature movies. In case you are unfamiliar, SyFy premieres these beautifully terrible movies usually about two a month. They cover various genres (horror, fantasy, science-fiction), but my favorites are the ones featuring ridiculous creatures that go crazy and attack a bunch of people using CGI that is on the level of (or worse than) what you used to see on Hercules and Xena.
Trademarks of these movies are D-list actors, terrible special effects, average to poor writing, and even worse acting. While that sounds bad; in reality, that is what makes these movies great. They are absolutely so terrible that they are epic. Using the format Roger Corman developed in the 50s, every single person involved knows exactly the type of movie they are making, and when they commit to making something completely self-aware, the result is two hours of pure turn-off-your-brain entertainment. There have been way too many of these to list, but most of them are available on Netflix now, so you should go back and check out of a few of the better (and remember, by better, I mean more entertaining) movies.
Arachnoquake starred Edward Furlong (yes, the kid from T2) and Tracey Gold (yes, the girl from Growing Pains) and covered the perfectly believable story of an earthquake in New Orleans releasing fire-breathing giant spiders on the city. In an environmental twist – the earthquake was caused by frakking, so this one had a message!
Ice Spiders is one of my favorites and stars Patrick Muldoon, Vanessa Williams and Thomas Calabro (I think those are all Melrose Place vets – but I am not positive on that) as well as the late, great, Stephen J. Cannell. Scientists working in a secret lab near a ski resort have created giant spiders, which of course get loose and terrorize everyone at the resort. It features insane shots of skiers jumping off moguls and getting attacked mid-air by terrible CGI spiders. The environmental message with this one was more along the lines of “don’t mess with nature”.
There are two Mega Shark movies already – a third will premiere next week during SyFy’s Sharknado hype week. Of the two existing; the first is Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus starring Lorenzo Lamas and Deborah “not Debbie” Gibson, but I prefer the second, Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus starring Jaleel “not Urkel” White and Gary Stretch. The environmental message with MegaShark I believe comes from an anti-global warming place. Global Warming caused the glaciers to melt, which released the monsters.
There is the fantastic Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, which starred the aforementioned Deborah Gibson and her teen pop rival Tiffany. I think there’s an environmental message with this one too, but I don’t remember it.
My absolutely favorite is Sharktopus (who earlier this year took on Mermantula, and next week will take on Pteracuda), where an evil scientist – played of course by Eric Roberts - creates a hybrid Shark/Octopus for the military, which then of course gets loose and goes crazy on a Mexican resort town. The message with this one is the “don’t mess with nature’s genetics – and for sure don’t expect to control nature”.
There are many others (Sand Sharks, Dinoshark, Piranhaconda, etc.), and like I said – SyFy just throws them together and airs them regularly. But last summer, something extraordinary happened. Sharknado, which of course is about sharks in a tornado (the science is sound) became an internet sensation – I am not sure what it was about this one in particular, but it blew up on Twitter as everyone who was watching it got in on the fun, and commented all the way through. And to be fair, this one is completely over the top.
It opens with the environmental message scene. There is a suspicious scene between two businessmen on a boat – one is exchanging money for the other’s shark-finning catch (incidentally, shark finning is a brutal and disgusting practice – and anyone who does it should have their arms cut off, and then be thrown into the ocean – since that is what they are doing to sharks. That’s basically my belief with any perpetrator of any kind of animal cruelty – they should have done to them what they are doing to the animals…but I digress) to make shark fin soup – at least, that is what implied. They are off the coast of Mexico when this freak hurricane comes up. We later learn that the hurricane is a result of global warming – so this movie has a double environmental message! Basically, the scene serves to let you know there are a lot of sharks in one area of the ocean for some weird reason. Meanwhile, we’re introduced to our hero Fin (yes, his name is Fin), a local surf-legend and bar owner. There is a shark attack in the water while Fin and his Australian friend, Baz, are out surfing. Again, really just to point out there is a surprising number of sharks around. Fin, his bartender Nova (yes, her name is Nova), Baz, and a drunk bar patron, George, are all in the bar he owns on Santa Monica pier when the hurricane rolls in to L.A. Since there were so many sharks in the area, they get swept into the town as the water rolls in. Then, the hurricane produces three tornados, and sure enough – the sharks get swept up into the tornados, and then randomly come crashing down into different places and events, chomping the whole way. Hey, the science is sound.
Fin and the gang head over to his ex-wife’s house to rescue her and his daughter, they lose her new boyfriend – he’s a bit of a dick, so it is not really a loss. Then they head to the local flight school to rescue his son. Along the way, he and his ex, April, realize they still have feelings for one another, because if a sharknado can’t get you in touch with your real feelings, nothing can. Once they arrive at the flight school, they form a plan. Essentially a tornado is circulating air currents, and if they can disrupt those currents, like with a bomb, then they can shut down the tornados filled with chomping sharks, right? The science is sound.
They head to a hardware store to collect materials and weapons. Nova presents an amazing monologue that explains why she hates sharks (one of the lines is, “And that’s why I hate sharks”), Fin picks up a chainsaw, and quickly follows the Ash rules for chainsaw wielding in genre battles – Groovy. They build some bombs, and then Matt (Fin’s son) and Nova take a helicopter up into the air to defeat the sharknadoes. They successfully eliminate two of them, but in the process of defeating the third, a shark clamps onto the bottom of their helicopter.
Nova gets it loose, throws the last bomb, but falls out of the helicopter – directly into the mouth of Great White – who is flying by with its mouth open at that time. Remember – the science is sound.
Back on the ground, Fin and company are corralling residents of a retirement home into the building – because sharks are raining down everywhere, especially into their pool – they head out into the streets just as Matt lands. Fin sees a Great White heading directly for his daughter, and tells her to duck, then runs and jumps directly into the mouth of the shark – chainsaw-first. The family begins to grieve the loss of Fin, but then, you hear the chainsaw and he hacks his way out of the shark’s belly! And, that is not all, after popping out, he reaches back in, and pulls out Nova! After some CPR, she’s just fine. The group rejoices, and the movie ends with a black screen and the word “Fin”. Come on – that is brilliant.
- There are several reasons why this particular piece of SyFy geninonsense (that’s the Syfy ability to combine genius and nonsense) was such a bigger hit than any of its others, but the main reason is Ian Ziering as Fin Shepard. Ziering attacks this role and plays it with perfect over-the-top genuine-ness. He is completely aware of how silly the situation is, but still allows Fin to be the perfect hero for the situation.
- Tara Reid has never been a good actress, and that is especially evident here, it just happens to make sense in this role! She seems to be half-asleep through most of the movie, and does spend some time yelling at Fin for trying to save everyone, what?
- The great John Heard chews the scenery (yes, that’s a shark pun) as he plays bar patron George, and he looks like he is having the time of his life running from fake sharks, carrying his bar stool, and saving a dog.
- Cassandra Scerbo plays Nova, and really, she’s pretty fantastic for this particular type of thing. She was in one of the straight-to-DVD Bring it On sequels, and will reprise her role in the Sharknado sequel. Thank goodness – how would New York survive without Nova and her hatred of sharks?
- Jaason Simmons (yes the one who was the Australian on Baywatch for a while) played Baz Hogan, and he had some terrible one-liners right up until he was eliminated by falling sharks.
- Chuck Hittinger plays Matt – and he does some impressive fake flying of a helicopter – and by impressive, I mean that it is the worst fake flying of a helicopter you have ever seen!
- Aubrey Peeples plays the daughter Claudia, and she is mopey and broody, even when surrounded by Sharknadoes.
You can stream the original free on Amazon Prime, you can rent it on Netflix, and SyFy will replay it this week before the sequel airs on Wenesday, July 30th at 9/8c. For the record, they had a contest for fans to name the sequel, and since it is taking place in New York, I suggested “Sharknado 2: Taking A Bite Out Of The Big Apple”, which I felt was pretty strong, but could not compete with the winner, “Sharknado 2: The Second One”. Watch the first one, then watch the second, and please keep in mind – they are supposed to be terrible, and anyone who catches you watching them and tries to steal your joy by pointing out how poorly put together they are, just say, “yes, that’s the point, be quiet.” If they try to point out anything in the movie that ‘could not happen’, that is when you respond, “The science is sound.” Because seriously, anyone who tries to argue the science in one of these movies with you deserves a knunch. That’s where you simultaneously knee and punch them – it takes some skill, but it’s worth it.
10 out of 10 – absolute complete geninonsense. Gained points for the sharks falling in the pool, gained points for rescuing the kids on the bus, gained points for John Heard, gained points for the shark in the flooded house, and gained all the points for Ian Ziering and his chainsaw at the end.
Bonus Video 1: Trailer for Sharknado 2: The Second One
Bonus Video 2: Trailer for MegaShark vs. MechaShark
Bonus Video 3: Conan O’Brien will be in Sharknado vs. Pteracuda
Bonus Video 4: Cast Interviews