Much like everyone remembers the “Sinbad” series as Ray Harryhausen movies, even though he didn’t direct any of them, the name Roger Corman has been attached to many movies that he only produced. Admittedly, that’s often because the movie was so terrible that his name is the sole reason anyone would bother watching it, but that’s by the by.
After the original “Sharktopus” in 2010, it was the enormous success of “Sharknado” (I can already tell the word “shark” is going to lose all meaning to me by the end of this review) that brought the creature back for a sequel – 2014’s “Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda”, which we loved. Conan O’Brien cameo’d, Robert Carradine was great, it had the all-time great line “I have an appointment with a dolphin”, it knew exactly what it was aiming for and hit the bullseye. There was an announcement of a “vs. Mermantula” sequel, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside: let’s keep our fingers crossed they’re saving that for part 4.
What they’ve done here is make a straight-up comedy. The creatures, drama and action sequences, while all fine, are definitely just there to serve up jokes and ridiculous situations – we have writer Matt Yamashita (who also wrote the last one) to thank for that. We’re also given a wide variety of funny characters, even the ones with only a few lines have had thought put into them. I’m starting to gush!
Our star is Ray Brady (Casper Van Dien), a perpetually drunk hire-boat captain, and we first see him drunkenly emerging from his cabin to find his ship is being used to bury someone at sea. He has his slightly more sober sidekick Pablo (Jorge Eduardo De Los Santos) to thank for that, but there’s no time to argue, as Sharktopus attacks! I can’t tell you what a relief it is to have a movie that gets going quickly, that doesn’t feel the need to have the first half-hour be dull setup.
It’s set (and filmed, by the looks of things) in the Dominican Republic, which is baseball country, and we get a down-on-his-luck major leaguer, Felix Rosa (Mario Arturo Hernández), who’s gone back to the island to visit the Reinhardt Anti-Ageing Clinic; apparently, even steroids aren’t enough to keep Felix in the Bigs, so he’s prepared to try anything. Dr Reinhardt (Catherine Oxenberg, who’s married to Van Dien, although the two of them don’t share a second of screen time) does a ludicrous German accent – bit too young to be a Nazi, although you know that’s what they were aiming for – and, thanks to her job at the place that invented Sharktopus, has got the technique for splicing DNA down pat. Felix eventually agrees to treatment, perhaps because he wants to have sex with the nurse (Jennifer Wenger), and after the first blast from a DNA-altering laser, demands another dose immediately. This appears to kill him? It’s at this point my streaming service started stuttering and I missed this whole scene, as it looks like the doctor dumps him in the bay but in the next scene he’s back in her lab, fully transformed into…Whalewolf!
The other part of the story is voodoo master Tiny (Tony Almont) and his desire to control a Sharktopus. Brady owes him some money so he’s forced to go out hunting Sharktopus on his behalf; officer Nita Morales (Akari Endo), who happens to be Brady’s ex-girlfriend, gets involved too when she sees Sharktopus kill a couple of party girls late one night.
But all this is just the framework for farce, and all manner of knowing dumbness. There’s a hilarious parody of “The Bachelor” called “El Soltero”, with the bachelor reading his lines off a cuecard and the women petrified of taking his rose as the first one he gave it to was immediately eaten; how about how Sharktopus has a Twitter account (he follows back very promptly)? The cop who shouts “call the Navy, the President, maybe the Pope”? Van Dien is an absolute star in this, despite not doing much comedy in his career he’s great at it – almost every chance he has to be a hero, he just gets drunk instead, preferring the life of a layabout (he even almost sets off for Belize, deciding to leave everyone to Sharktopus). And he fights dirty! After a brief blast of stardom post-“Starship Troopers”, he’s found a niche starring in movies like this, and long may it continue. He and Corin Nemec need to team up at some point.
The special effects during the many Sharktopus / Whalewolf fights (actually, those guys should have teamed up) are cheap and rubbish, but seriously, don’t embarrass yourself by complaining about them. It all adds to the glorious melange of oddity that is this movie. Provided you go into this expecting a comedy movie with giant monsters in it, as opposed to a giant monster movie with the odd funny line, you’ll have a great time. Well done SyFy Channel, well done Roger Corman, and long may the series continue.
Rating: thumbs up