5-Headed Shark Attack (2017)

A while ago, I came up with “Indifference Theory” when talking about SyFy Channel original movies. It’s not my most original thought, but quoting myself from years ago saves me having to write something new (and this movie does not deserve that).

SyFy Channel need material cheap enough to allow them to make a profit from selling advertising. They absolutely don’t care what it is or if it’s any good or not, and nor do the advertisers. The director has a set amount of time and money, and knows that if the film’s good, bad or indifferent, it makes no difference to him. People watching it are either like me (hipster scumbag film reviewers) or people who saw the title and thought it would be marginally better than staring at a wall for 2 hours. And thus the Indifference Theory creates another film enjoyed by no-one (not the people who made it, paid for it or watched it) and which will disappear without a trace, save a footnote in a few academic treatises about SyFy’s only real success, Sharknado. I will hopefully have forgotten it in a few days, and this review will drift into the ether, to the delight of no-one.

I missed out on “3-Headed Shark Attack”, which had Danny Trejo and pro wrestling legend Rob Van Dam in it, and there was no 4-headed version, so I’m jumping straight from “2-Headed Shark Attack”. And it seems several of my criticisms of that can be applied to this, but before we get to that let’s discuss the IMDB synopsis.

Shaped like a demented starfish, a monster 5-headed shark terrorizes the open ocean before invading the beaches of Puerto Rico, endangering the once peaceful island paradise.

Hmmm.

Shaped like a demented starfish

No it isn’t.

a monster 5-headed shark terrorizes the open ocean

No it doesn’t.

before invading the beaches of Puerto Rico, endangering the once peaceful island paradise.

This movie set in a peaceful island paradise was released in 2017. Also in 2017, Hurricane Maria landed in Puerto Rico, causing $91 billion in damage and leaving the island devastated, devastation it has yet to recover from.

After a surprisingly strong environmental message about plastic in the ocean, we just meet the titular shark, who for the first half of the movie only appears to have four heads. The fifth head is…at the end of its tail. How does that even work? Am I a fool for even worrying about the logic of a movie called “Five Headed Shark Attack”? Anyway, a photographer and his distinctly average-looking models are eaten by the shark, so the Puerto Rican cops go to the local aquarium and ask the director and the head scientist about the creature.

The director sees dollar signs and the scientist sees…science, I guess? So they take the students / interns and go looking for a shark – only one of them dies so they have to get help. That help is Red, the movie’s comic relief / hero, a boat captain who has a romantic history with the scientist, Dr Angie. Like all scientists (and like the stars of 2-Headed Shark Attack) they take no scientific equipment, and use a flimsy tourist boat. Oh god I’m bored of writing about this so you must be bored as hell of reading about it.

There’s a grand total of one funny or clever line in this movie, when the students complain that Red is yet to catch the shark. “That’s why they call it fishing, not catching” is his reply, and it may be old as the hills, but it’s new to me. The rest of the dialogue is abysmal, which might be related to the three credited writers, none of whom have much in the way of previous writing credits. Or director Nico De Leon, for whom this is his only credit of any kind. Who knows.

It’s just so dull. Every bit of “action” is tediously predictable, people continue to act like idiots so the shark has a nice steady supply of food, the shark is a genius, able to avoid sonar by hiding under the boat, and the ending is only interesting in that it doesn’t pan across the ocean floor to a couple of baby five-headed sharks, ready to carry on Mum’s work, just before the credits roll.

Oh yes, one more thing – this is a production of The Asylum, the company that produced cheap and unpleasant movies with titles (but not plots) based on whatever big budget title was due out that year; before stumbling onto worldwide success with “Sharknado”. I dislike them due to their poor health and safety record and rotten treatment of freelance writers, but I can’t be bothered to go into that again. Best just to avoid anything with the Asylum’s logo on it, aside from the Sharknado series, I think.

Not just bad, but boring. Avoid unless your TV is broken and stuck on the SyFy Channel, and you’re trapped on your sofa.

Rating: thumbs down

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Relentless Justice (2015)

It’s over! The review series that started over a year ago, when I thought “wouldn’t it be fun to see if all David A Prior’s movies are as entertaining as Deadly Prey?” ends with the rather definitive answer “no” (to both parts of the question), and yet another journey to the woods of rural Alabama.

There’s still “Dancin’: It’s On!”, which Prior co-wrote with producer / director David Winters, who funded him back in the AIP days; but Prior didn’t direct that and I have absolutely no desire to watch a low-budget version of a genre I already had no interest in. We have a short film called “Way of Redemption” and a full-length one called “Assassin’s Fury” both listed as in “post-production” on IMDB – but, as Prior died in 2015 and there was no big money behind him, I’m guessing they’ll never see the light of day.

Anyway, let’s talk “Relentless Justice”. Although, I could just copy and paste my reviews of “Killzone”, or “Deadly Prey”, or “Death Chase”, or indeed his last movie “Deadliest Prey”, as it’s yet another take on perennial bad movie favourite, “The Most Dangerous Game”, where a group of (usually rich) assholes hunts some poor fool for sport. When the plot began to unfurl, I wondered why Prior had bothered making what was largely the same story, minus the gender of the hunted, and then I realised it’s a perfect end to his filmography; in other words, annoying and confusing.

The first thing we see is a woman park right in front of a “no parking” sign, seemingly not deliberately. A young woman is going on a camping trip with her new boyfriend, and the mother is rather paranoid, telling her to be careful, and giving her a code to survive by. It sounds like “ippity”, but it actually means “Identify, predict, decide, execute”. If you’re wondering if this code will prove useful, either to the daughter or mother, at any point in the course of “Relentless Justice”, then be assured it’s just a massive red herring. Or maybe Prior forgot about it. Who knows? The mother, Victoria De Vries, runs an MMA gym, and actually looks good doing it, unlike almost every other female fighter in the history of low-budget cinema.

Victoria is played by Leilani Sarelle, who was also in “Night Claws”, and in this movie she’s doing an Australian accent (we learn later she used to be in the Australian SAS, in a speech that’s known as the “ultimate badass” among we bad movie enthusiasts).

So, the couple go for their camping trip, but are immediately interrupted by the boyfriend getting his throat cut by a group of angry locals, an all-star team of scumbags. We have the Mayor (Vernon “Commando” Wells), the Sheriff (long-time Prior associate David Campbell), a gent by the name of “Boozer” (Art James, another Prior regular) and Matthews (Ted Prior, who seems to enjoy playing a villain, quite a way down the cast list). He’s killed immediately and she’s captured because they want to use her as bait to get to Victoria, who they think would be a better prey for their little hunting game.

Okay, a quick aside. Vernon Wells, as you may remember if you’ve seen “Commando”, is Australian. He makes no attempt to hide his accent here, and Satsuma, Alabama (a real town, and clearly where they filmed most of the exteriors, such as they are) may be the only deep-south town with an Australian mayor. But, as we mentioned a few paragraphs ago, Sarelle is also doing an Australian accent. Now, that seems like the sort of thing that would be mentioned later on, when the two characters meet. Perhaps they know each other? It would be an extra layer, that’s for sure. Want to guess if anything is made of two major characters in this Alabama-set movie being from Australia?

After not hearing from her daughter in like 12 hours, Victoria decides to go for a drive to where she’ll be camping – she’s paranoid enough to have a GPS tracker set up on her daughter’s phone. Now, bear in mind her daughter is an adult and doesn’t have to call, and is going to the wilderness where there’s never cell reception – okay, it turns out her fears are legitimate, but it still seems pretty weird.

So, she comes up against the town’s crooked leaders, but finds a few good people – Deputy Deborah (Sonia Curtis) and the town’s doctor, Traci Lind (Tara Kleinpeter, a Prior regular by this point). Traci’s husband was killed by the hunters soon after their arrival in town, and Traci wants revenge and hopes Victoria can get it. A solid basis for a plot, definitely.

If you’ve cheated and gone and read the cast list for this, you’ll be wondering what’s happening with the biggest name attached to this project – Eric Roberts – and other name actors Mark Rolston (“Aliens”, “The Shawshank Redemption”) and Sherrie Rose (ISCFC classic “Summer Job”). Well, they clearly had Roberts for half a day, so to say he’s crowbarred into the movie and has absolutely no relation to the main plot whatsoever would almost be an understatement. He’s a mafia guy who is told by Rose of a small town in Alabama where he can store all his drugs, or whatever. He comes in for a meeting with the Mayor, and then drives off. That’s it. Rolston is a hired gun, brought in when it becomes apparent that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew with Victoria. One might think it’s a bad idea to introduce a new main character with 15 minutes of your movie to go, but no-one ever told David A Prior that.

Much like “Night Claws”, main characters die in completely meaningless ways, lessening any drama the movie might have. The doctor’s off-screen death and then her post-death contribution to the plot is really top-level bizarre.

“Relentless Justice” is so slow. All the fun stuff – the hunting of Victoria – happens in the last quarter of the movie, which up to then has been somewhat leisurely paced. Some bits of that final chase are fun, but it’s nothing you’ve not seen dozens and dozens of times before, in the filmography of the same man even. A thoroughly unsatisfying end to a largely unsatisfying career.

I’ll be doing a career retrospective of Prior for We Are Movie Geeks (www.wearemoviegeeks.com) to purge myself of him, and then we’ll be moving on to more fun projects, more reviews of the sort of thing we love to entertain both ourselves and (hopefully) you.

Rating: thumbs down

Deadliest Prey (2013)

In 1991, a fan of the TV show “Doctor Who” decided to launch a direct-to-VHS series called “The Stranger”, starring former Doctor Colin Baker, his former TV sidekick Nicola Bryant, and former Doctor Who villain “Davros” as characters just dissimilar enough from those roles to avoid legal issues. While not as terrible as that could have been, the feel of it being a home movie for the benefit of one man – its maker – was occasionally difficult to shake off.

So it is with 2013’s “The Deadliest Prey”, a sequel to Prior’s most famous movie, “Deadly Prey”. Although the names are the same, and it has a handful of the same people in it, it’s very little more than a fan-made tribute to the first movie, with the money man actually making an appearance as a money man, funding the all-new hunt of Mike Danton.

Colonel Hogan (David Campbell) didn’t die at the end of the last movie, way back in 1987, and has in fact been in prison all that time – he might be the only person to receive an appropriate legal punishment in this entire filmography. He’s picked up on his release from prison by Sophia (Tara Kleinpeter, who was in all of Prior’s last three movies), who clearly has a thing for old angry men, and she’s already set up a new military base so he can exact his revenge.

Mike Danton (Ted Prior) is living a nice quiet suburban life with his new wife Alison (Cat Tomeny) and son Michael (Ted’s actual son, also Michael), but he’s caught, in the exact same was as he was in part 1, while taking out the garbage. So he’s captured, taken out to the woods – yes, once again we’re getting treated to a lesson on the flora and fauna of the areas immediately surrounding Mobile, Alabama – and sent out (in his pyjamas) to run away from a large group of men with guns.

Oh, and there are three “nerds” who I presume are Kickstarter backers – one of whom is wearing an “Everything Is Terrible” shirt, so he may belong to that group – for this movie, as none of them are actors, sat around a table playing a game and bemoaning the lack of realism in modern gaming. The woman says “true that” to a point where she’s clearly trying to launch a career at fan conventions as the “true that lady”. They decide to help Danton later, but their subplot is so awful and amateurish I can’t be bothered to talk about it.

Let’s talk Bad Guy Economics!

I wondered, for a while, how Hogan was funding this, how he found people willing to die in order to hunt and kill one guy in the woods. In the first movie, he had a job, and that job was training soldiers by having them hunt the most dangerous game. Simple, and effective. But now he’s hiring people, and these people all have to agree to track another human through the woods and kill them, not because he’s a bad person or anything, but because Hogan wants him dead. Plus, not a single one of these people can go to the cops and say “do you know what this lunatic is planning out in the woods?”

Turns out his entire enterprise is being funded by a couple of rich douchebags, who want to turn it into an online TV show. Let’s discuss this. First up, every ISP in the Western world would block any and all links to a stream of murderers trying to commit murder, and anyone who tried to pay to watch it would be arrested. It’s not like you can fund Isis via PayPal! Also, anyone can watch it at any time (it’s on in bars, and the three nerds find it almost immediately) so, how are these guys making their money?

But I’m getting ahead of myself a little. Danton starts slaughtering Hogan’s men immediately – I counted 15 deaths in the first 20 minutes – and continues killing at the same grim pace throughout. At no point does he check one of the soldiers for a mobile phone or a radio he can try and get help with; he seems happy to be trapped in a forest with apparently hundreds of men trying to murder him with guns which they all decide not to use when they come into sight of our hero. Danton really kills a lot of people, and shows zero remorse, even when one of the guys begs for his life after saying he only took the job because he needed the money. As this is all on camera, he’s going to have a rough time explaining it to the authorities, one would think. Oh wait, they don’t exist! Not a single cop is seen doing what it takes the nerds ten seconds to – track down where the broadcast is coming from and go there.

Fritz Matthews, who was killed in part 1, returns in part 2 as his own brother, wanting revenge on Danton – the years haven’t been too kind to him, but he does his job as well as could be expected. I was hoping for a brief appearance from Doug “Pappy” Harter, who I know wasn’t even in part 1, but it looks like he’s retired. Or died, and no-one told IMDB. Hope you’re okay Doug, if you’re reading this!

Having now watched all but one of the officially released David A Prior movies, I’m really not sure why “Deadly Prey” is so beloved by bad movie aficionados. It’s okay, for sure, but isn’t much more than a bog-standard “The Most Dangerous Game” re-telling with a sprinkle of “Rambo”. “Killzone”, “Death Chase” and “Night Wars” are all either weirder-plotted or more entertaining (or both) and “The Final Sanction” has the campy entertainment in spades, too.

According to the limited information online, this was filmed at least partly because they had a few days extra either before or after filming “Relentless Justice”, which will be the end of this long strange trip. It shows, too. If you really liked the original, then I guess watch this for whatever closure you assume it may bring to you. If not, then seriously avoid it and just remember Prior for when his bad movies were at least fun.

Rating: thumbs down

Night Claws (2012)

I present to you what might be the ultimate ISCFC movie, a culmination of so many different review threads and interests that we’ve shown in our 6 years of operation (don’t worry, we’re carrying on. As long as there are weird B-movies, we’ll be here). So here goes:

Reb Brown! He was in two Bruno Mattei / Claudio Fragasso movies (“Robowar” and “Strike Commando”), an Albert Pyun movie (“The Sword And The Sorceror”), a cheap superhero movie (“Captain America”), an MST3K episode (“Space Mutiny”), and the not very great “Yor, The Hunter From The Future”.

Sherrie Rose! She’s been in teen raunch (“Lauderdale” and all-time classic “Summer Job”), martial arts movies (“No Retreat, No Surrender” parts 3 and 4), an old David A Prior movie (1992’s “Double Threat”) and a bunch of genre gems that I watched before I started working for this site and never got round to re-covering – “Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight” and the Cynthia Rothrock classic “Martial Law 2: Undercover”, to name but two.

Leilani Sarelle! After being very good in “Basic Instinct” (she was Sharon Stone’s girlfriend) she was not very good in Italian 80s horror “Neon Maniacs”.

Frank Stallone! The all-important “relative of someone much more famous” quotient of ISCFC reviews (see: Joe Estevez, Chris Mitchum, many others), he’s also been in “The Roller Blade Seven”, in the conversation for all-time worst ISCFC movie.

The “we can’t close the local festival even though there’s loads of deaths or we’ll ruin the economy” plot!

Sasquatch movie!

David A Prior! The director who’s filled our review schedule for the last six months or so.

All we’re missing is a link to Donald Farmer, Charles Band, and Len Kabasinski, and this would be at the centre of some FBI agent’s board, with bits of string going to all these other photos and genres (when they were trying to work out why I went crazy and committed those heinous acts, obviously).

Anyway, I suppose I’d better get on with it. Several different groups of people descend on the woods outside of Mobile, Alabama (which we’ve come to know and love as the budgets of Prior movies have gone down the toilet) – first up, is two couples and a guide, who’ve gone for a three-day wilderness adventure, learning to live off the land. Of interest to us is Ted Prior as Charlie and his trophy wife Cindy (Alissa Koenig, who was also in “Zombie Wars” and apparently retired from the acting game after this movie). Anyway, Charlie is, for absolutely no reason we’re ever given, a tightly wound ball of rage, threatening to murder the husband of the other couple after knowing him for about 30 seconds and nothing but wildly hostile to everyone he meets. I can’t help but think he told his brother that’s how he was going to play the character and David never bothered writing any explanation into the script.

Group two is led by Colonel Hunter Crawford, played by returning David A Prior villain David Campbell. Now, Campbell’s character has the same name and rank as his character from 1985’s “Killzone”, but whether this is a pointless Easter egg for us Prior obsessives or he just forgot is a question that we may never get answered. They’re huntin’ something!

Group three is the cops, led by Reb Brown and Sherrie Rose, who are just starting on a relationship, it would seem. I’m not sure even Alabama cops allow their deputies to wear their shirt as low-buttoned and cleavage-revealing as Sherrie Rose, but never mind. They’re accompanied by group four, which is Sarah (Sarelle), a scientist from a local-ish college, and her assistant.

All of a sudden, Bigfoot has awoken and started killing people, and that’s all the explanation we get. There’s a subplot about the real reason one of the characters is there which may or may not tie into “Killzone” (I mercifully remember almost nothing about it), but that’s about your lot.

“Night Claws” features some of the all-time worst “day for night” shots ever – when it’s very obviously daytime but the film is either underexposed or darkened in post-production to make it appear like it’s night. They even film a fire, which looks every bit as murky as the background around it, which is just lazy.

We’re also treated to a stealthy sasquatch, as the 8-foot tall, huge, hairy beast is able to get the drop on our human characters over and over again. I don’t care how naturally agile you are, if you’re that big, someone would hear you coming. And then there’s a few twists at the end which just leave you annoyed. Also high on the annoyance scale is how major characters are just killed off seemingly at random, as if the people who’d made this had no idea how drama works.

I’m genuinely delighted we’re getting to the end of this series now, dear reader. This might as well be a SyFy Channel original movie, just one with an older cast who’s slightly better at acting; I’m just annoyed now. I think I’ve found the person to blame, and that’s Fabio Soldani. He appears to be a rich kid who wanted to be a producer so threw some money at David A Prior – he also has story credits on these later movies, so I guess he went “hey David, I want you to do a sasquatch thing”. He even appears as a money man in the next Prior movie, so I may be on to something.

Anyway. Avoid, obviously.

Rating: thumbs down