The only reason I can imagine that you don’t know about The Asylum’s latest opus, Sharknado, would be that you didn’t touch any social media platforms in the past week. If SyFy (I still hate that name switch) had put this much effort into promoting series like Stargate Universe, the show’s ratings would have likely been more than enough to keep it going….not that I’m sore about that or anything. Still, I think the ramped up ridiculous-ness of this “series” of mega-monster films is definitely to thank for its popularity and presence in our collective social consciousness. It’s become not unlike a bad joke that you just keep telling hoping that it will somehow get funny. Mostly, that doesn’t work. With last night’s premiere of Sharknado it absolutely did.
The Asylum started out making original films, but soon found out it could make more money creating all those “terrible” mockbuster films that we’ve all shaken our head at while browsing video store shelves (admit it, they’re barely gone, but you miss that too). The formula is great, find out what blockbuster films are coming out at any particular time, fart out a script, hire “washed-up” but recognizable names, ex-A-listers and the like, then release your film with a similar title the day before the big studio blockbuster comes out. Films like H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds or The DaVinci Treasure, both starring C. Thomas Howell, Snakes On A Train, Transmorphers, The Day The Earth Stopped, etc… But in 2008, something changed. They released a film called Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus and the world would never be the same.
Now, I have a STRONG love of b & cult films. Growing up there were PLENTY to choose from and at the time, a lot of them even made it into theaters. Mind you, I grew up in the 80’s, just as VHS was overtaking Betamax, and Video Rental shops were just becoming a thing, so there was no real “straight-to-video” market. However, in the past 10 or so years, that “so-bad-it’s-good” genre of b-movies has kind of disappeared. Sure there have been exceptions, though for the most part bad movies have just been, well, bad.
A friend of mine is a huge fan of sharks. While looking through YouTube one night for a particular video I’d seen on the news earlier that day, I came across this clip.
Everything was different. This was so bombastic and wonderful in its own, special, awful way, I had to find out more. Here’s this movie with CGI fx comparable to the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation (okay, maaaybe slightly better), that was just doing ridiculous things with them. This was a feature-length movie version of the weird CG stuff that graphic animation students do to amuse themselves and their friends. I had to see it. Afterwards, I was hooked. It was awful in the way that you just wanted to see the guys from MST3K riff on it because you just KNEW that there was so much more to joke about then you could process. It was also one of the most fun times I’d had watching a bad movie with my friends in a long time. With that in mind, you can imagine how excited I was for last night’s première of Sharknado.
Sharknado hits the ground running. It starts off with some barely comprehensible scene about a deal of some sort going down on a fishing vessel in the middle of the ocean during a storm. What? Then the sharks….oh the sharks. As you’d imagine, of course, all watery, fishy, heck breaks out and the digital man-eaters create a blood-bath.
CUT TO: Beverly Hills 90210 alumn Ian Zeiring is out surfing with his mumble-mouthed Aussie pal, when UH-OH! a swell comes in, sharks start eating everyone…..go figure, but this is pretty much the quietest part of the movie, the “calm before the Sharknado” if you will. After that, and a brief introduction to inconsequential characters, all shark breaks loose, and the fish start flying. Then in a bit of “Shawn of the Dead” style motivation, Ian decides he needs to go save his ex-wife, Tara Reid (who honestly, surprisingly, looks much better than she has in some time) and their kids, one of whom looks to be about as old as Reid (CASTING!!). So all the while, there are sharks dropping out of the sky, pouring out of storm drains, rocketing 30 feet through the air from a sewer through a manhole…..wow. But our heroes won’t just sit back, oh no siree, they’re armed with guns (Ian seems to have once been a master marksman with his pistol, and one of his friends has a shotgun that seems to have a shot so powerful you’ll wonder if it didn’t come straight out of the Halo franchise), knives, chainsaws, and a bar stool. There are a few scenes, however, that will immediately make you wonder why they didn’t have any Bat-Shark-Repellant on hand -you’ll get the joke when you see it (assuming that you’ve seen the 1960’s Batman: The Movie). All in all, this is a remarkable cheese-fest chocked full of over-the-top ridiculous scenes that you won’t be able to look away from.
The folks over at one of my personal favorite sites, io9, did an interview with one of the writers who had these wonderful tidbits to say:
(Regarding why he took the scriptwriting job) They gave me about half a page of notes which I read and replied “This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read… I’M IN!”
How are the sharks cognizant enough to keep biting people while they’re flying through the air?
If you were a shark and you found yourself flying through the air, wouldn’t you keep biting? I think you’d be pretty pissed about being plucked out of your nice familiar ocean where you’re king of the predators, and you’d probably take it out on whoever got in your way. Honestly, I don’t understand why people are so perplexed by this concept. The logic is undeniable.
So, if you’ve nothing better to do on a given night, I highly recommend you have some friends over, pool up the snacks and sodas, and sit down for a fun-filled viewing of Sharknado. You won’t be impressed, but you will be amused.
Can you give spoilers on a movie like Sharknado? I don’t know. However, here’s some snippets that I took notes on during the screening as I intended to do this write-up. Mind you, these are our actual (granted, drunken) remarks to what was going on during the show:
- “Is this all first take? Did Ed Wood direct this?”
- (during a death scene (one of MANY at this moment) on the beach) NO CRAP!
- “I don’t know this guy’s name. I bet even other Australians call him ‘Mumbles’.”
- (during a flood sequence) Mike: “That would never happen on the 405 those are like 30′ walls” Chris: Science has no calculations to protect against SHARKNADOS!!”
- “This is like a bad nature show. There’s shitty stock footage every 2 minutes.”
- Chris: “Did she just shoot a shark that was…” Amanda: “Yeah, mid-air. It shot out of the sewers.” Chris: “….oh”
- “We need to make a Sharknado drinking game. Take a drink every time there’s stock footage or a weapon does video game level damage.”
- “…….aaaaand we have a period joke.”
- “How does the shark keep changing size from second to second?”
- “California must have the fastest DPW ever. That bridge is suddenly clear of all that debris from a minute ago.” “Yeah, and look how fast normal traffic has resumed.”
- “Wow. That was a Birddemic-level CG explosion.”
- “….yeah, because all rental places carry Hummers with nitrous installed……..okay, maybe in LA.”
- ACTUAL LINE FROM THE SHOW DURING A SCENE WHERE AN ACTOR SHOWS OFF A HORRIFIC SCAR: “Hey, I fell off a slide when I was 2.” CHRIS’ RESPONSE: “What? Was that slide made of Survival Knives?!”
- Linda: ” How is that the exact same shark?” Amanda: “It’s Sharknado.”