The producers of “Super Shark” clearly didn’t think the title alone would be enough to hold you past the opening credits, so this film stars nine-tenths of the way in, then cuts to “1 week earlier”. If only it started with a shark jumping around the beach and a tank on legs, then went on from there!
If you’ve seen one of the shark films that we’ve reviewed, then you’ll know how they work, the beats they tend to cover, and luckily, this one is no different. A deep sea oil drilling platform uses some chemical to dissolve some super-hard stone (I have no idea) and this releases a shark of truly staggering size – although its size see-saws at times, early in the film it’s big enough to tear down an entire oil rig.
After a funk theme song and formerly famous US TV actor / standup Jimmy “JJ” Walker giving us his catchphrase “Dyn-O-Mite” and telling us about a Queen Of The Beach bikini contest coming up later that day, we meet our stars. First up is John Scheider (Dukes of Hazzard, Smallville), head of the drilling company and seemingly nice guy; then we get Sarah Lieving (lots of really bad movies) as a federal agent. If I had to join any fed group, it would definitely be the Oceanic Investigation Bureau (OIB).
If news of a bikini contest wasn’t enough to set alarms off, then the next scene will tell you just what director Fred Olen Ray thinks his audience wants. Lieving hires a boat to go and see the site where the oil rig was, and she hires lovable sea captain Tim Abell (another man who appears to have written his own IMDB bio). So, she’s wearing a very flattering trouser-suit, he’s in palm-tree shirt and baggy shorts. Then, for absolutely no reason, she take off her top to reveal the bikini underneath. Hot day, maybe? Guess how many layers of clothing the boat captain removes?
I’ve not even mentioned the B story! Two beautiful young women go to the beach to become lifeguards for the season, and there’s a bit of a love triangle with a male lifeguard. Tension abounds, but if you guessed the resolution to this story would come in form of them all being eaten by the shark about halfway into the movie, then hats off to you! it’s like they’d already filmed a bit of that, then decided it wasn’t going to work so goodbye. Well, they needed to get rid of one story to give the bikini plot developments room to breathe, inclusing a seemingly endless competition in the bar, then the two winners going to shoot a calendar on the beach the next day.
Regular readers may remember my “rules of shark movies”, and this film fulfils all four!
Rule 1: ‘there must be a shot where the heroes are on a speedboat looking ahead with determination’
Rule 2: ‘ there must be a large seafront entertainment event that can’t be cancelled, for some reason’
Rule 3: ‘at least one character must behave in a brain-buggeringly stupid way, to drive the plot along’
Rule 4: ‘sharks be super-powered’
Rule 3 is my favourite. The shark is, for some reason, attracted to radio waves, so Lieving demands the captain turn off the boat’s radio…even though it’s only a receiving one. She does know that your average living-room radio doesn’t actually broadcast a signal, right?
I enjoyed this. By now, low-budget shark movies are like slipping on a pair of comfortable slippers, with their plots that all follow the same path, the same relationships forming, the same hail-mary pass at the end which saves the day. So really all we viewers should be looking for is that they do them right. There were times when watching this that I was convinced I’d seen it before, but as we’re not here for originality that’s okay.
You’ll struggle to remember a thing about it the day after you saw it, but you’ll enjoy it while it’s on. Just that puts it in the upper half of the films we’ve reviewed here.
Rating: thumbs in the middle