6-Headed Shark Attack (2018)

Well, dear reader, it appears adding a head was the way to go because the difference between this and the same year’s “5 Headed Shark Attack” is night and day. While it’s a very long way from being a great film, it’s still a lot of fun, better paced and better acted than its predecessor.

That might be related to director / co-writer Mark Atkins, who got his start as a cinematographer for The Asylum (“Snakes On A Train”, “Transmorphers: Fall Of Man” and many others from their mockbuster era) and has directed his fair share too – “Sand Sharks”, an ISCFC favourite, was one of his, and he’s also responsible for a series of movies (beginning with “Empire of the Sharks”) where sharks have taken over the world after the melting of the polar ice caps. Will there ever be an end to shark movies? It appears Atkins is one of the bigger talents working in this low budget world, and this movie just adds to the plus column on his resume.

In the Isla De Corazon area of Mexico, William (Brandon Auret) runs a marriage boot camp, with four dysfunctional couples attending. Well, it’s a wooden structure and a few shacks, the actual camp is hinted at more than shown. Well, it’s not even hinted at, the Asylum long since stopped caring about such things. The four couples are…interesting, visually? Two of them are young women with much older men – oddest of all, contract lawyer Mary (German-South African actor Thandi Sebe) and her angry husband James (Cord Newman, better known as a stunt performer and possessed of one of the oddest heads of hair I can remember).

Shark! The cold open of the movie is the shark’s first attack, from 1984, against the members of a scientific base – a base which appears to be nothing more than three different pontoons, tied together, with a rack of test tubes and a few papers lying around – you know, like all high-end scientific establishments! This, at least, provides some explanation for the titular creature, who’s the result of experiments at this base. The five-headed version was just…there?

The movie doesn’t waste a lot of time getting going, which is nice. The couples bicker, William and his estranged wife, his partner in the boot camp, are getting divorced (irony!), and they keep getting chased or eaten by the shark. I like Duke (Jonathan Pienaar), one of the older men, who turns into a natural hunter when the rest of the men are panicking. He doesn’t last all that long, but he has a great impact.

So the movie rips along, and it has a shark with, as advertised, six heads (none of that oddness with the last head being in the tail, like in the previous movie). But it does have some problems. Firstly, they all wear wetsuits – which they keep on for the rest of the movie – for a relatively short swim from the shore to a party pontoon that William owns. Now, this would be pretty unlikely if you’re in the nice warm waters of Mexico; completely normal if they were filming somewhere like Canada or Eastern Europe, where lots of movies are located and where it’s quite cold. Obviously, two of the women constantly remove the top half of their wetsuits so you can see them in their flimsy bras, I mean, this is still low budget cinema we’re talking about here.

Later on, the female half of the hippy couple says she’s a meteorologist and there’s a storm coming; William suggests they shelter in a nearby lighthouse but she says there’s not enough time and they should shelter in that same base from 1984, which is still floating off the island and still containing the exact same items in the same condition as they were 35 years ago. Not enough time to get to the lighthouse, because of the storm. Want to guess if that storm ever shows up? And if they eventually go to the lighthouse and ignore the hippy lady? It’s possible she’s just a really bad meteorologist, which would be sort of a fun twist.

I would like to talk about the shark now. Six heads, as advertised, but the only two that do anything are the front ones. The four at the side are only used as – wait for it – legs when the shark starts attacking them on land! The back two “heads” have a pretty rough deal of it, if we’re being honest, and I feel sorry for them. Thank heavens they share a stomach, I guess. I presume the special effects people just used a crap template and mapped shark features to it, which gives the poor creature a very peculiar look.

There’s oddly timed deaths, an implausible growing romance at the centre of things and stuff like the shark swimming so fast in a circle it causes a whirlpool which capsizes a boat, and the volume of silly stuff happening without it being pitched as a particularly camp movie does wear after a while.

But, you know, after such a miserable previous instalment, I can’t complain about this one. The acting, especially Brandon Auret as William, Jonathan Pienaar as Duke and Thandi Sebe as Mary, is strong (fun fact: Sebe’s sister Naima is one of the other people at the marriage boot camp, it might have been fun if they’d done some “you look familiar” jokes). The effects are cheap but okay, there’s only one egregious “it was daylight, then night really quickly, then daylight in the next scene” transition, and despite a little lull as they realised they started things off quickly and had nowhere to go for act 2, it’s a fine little movie.

Let’s hope that, after this, the final “Sharknado” is my last encounter with Asylum, having promised to stop watching their cheap-and-un-cheerful movies several times now.

Rating: thumbs in the middle

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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

Sharks In Venice (2008)

Our mission to watch and review every single SyFy Channel original movie, long-dormant, returns! I saw a trailer for this, almost by accident, on Youtube one evening and decided to track it down, so delightful was it. Stephen “The Usual Suspects Was So Long Ago” Baldwin! Sharks! Bad Venice effects!

My first thought while watching was “I bet Venice’s waters aren’t that clean”, as we see a diving expedition beneath the city. Running things topside is a fellow who sort of looks like a cross between your typical Eurotrash and a caveman – in fact, let me see if I can find a picture of the fellow:

They’re after treasure left there by Marco Polo, I think? Anyway, everyone gets eaten by sharks, because of course, and if you’re wondering, there is an explanation as to why Venice has sharks. It is, however, so stupid and self-defeating that you’d rather wish there wasn’t; but before you’ve got time to enjoy the rather decent shark effects, we’re in academia and being introduced to Mr Baldwin, aka Professor David Franks. Baldwin wins the non-coveted “Brooke Hogan Award” for unconvincing scientists in movies – he looks vaguely miserable, like he realises this is as good as it’s ever going to get for him. One of the divers was his father, and for absolutely no reason whatsoever, the University offers to pay all his travelling expenses, as well as those of his assistant / fiancee Laura (Vanessa “sister of Scarlett” Johansson), so off we go to Europe!

While meeting the local cops and visiting the corpses in the local morgue (none of which are his father, a dropped plot thread like they were going to bring him back at the end and then just forgot to do so…or I wasn’t paying attention when they did), is when I began to wonder if this was a comedy, perhaps at the expense of its star. The line “then…this was a shark”, delivered with that sort of camera angle like Hercule Poirot fingering a murderer, was hilarious – it’s possible Baldwin was in on it, but I’m really not sure.

This satire continues when there’s a chase through the streets of Venice, and every thirty seconds or so it cuts from the stunt double (who’s taller, slimmer and has different hair to our star) to an extreme closeup of Baldwin’s face, trying to look heroic. He’s either posing like that or wearing diving equipment from the company “Aqua Lung” (who paid a pretty penny for all that product placement) for most of the movie…well, that or getting beaten in fights. He’s pretty pathetic all round, if truth be told, but hating on him is like hating on a lame dog.

So, there’s a cave full of treasure, sort of protected by the hordes of sharks and sub-sub-Indiana Jones traps; the Mafia guy who I mentioned above, who wants to pay Baldwin a big stack of cash in order to find it; the occasional scene where a pitifully dubbed foreign actor gets eaten; lots of awful fight scenes; lots of awful stock footage; and a weird subplot with the obviously suspicious as hell Italian cop. The only way to get much enjoyment out of this one is to pretend it’s making fun of Baldwin, that he’s shown to be a pompous ass with every inappropriate camera angle and fight he loses. It probably isn’t, because I’m not sure anyone involved in it gave enough of a damn.

Thoroughly underwhelming movie from Nu Image (I’m sure there’s a DVD somewhere which says “from the producers of The Expendables”); it seems director Danny Lerner had a thing for sharks, having also directed “Shark Zone” and “Raging Sharks” – great title, and it’s got Corin Nemec and Corbin Bernsen in it, so expect a review soon – and produced parts 2 and 3 of the “Shark Attack” franchise.

I think there’s too much entertaining garbage in the world to ever complete our SyFy mission, but we’ll keep trying to entertain you with our words even if we’re not entertained with the movies, as often as possible.

Rating: thumbs down

Super Shark (2011)

Super Shark

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.

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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?

supershark-1

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

Avalanche Sharks (2013)

avalancheshark1

If it weren’t for the owners of holiday resorts needing to keep things open on the biggest weekend of the year, this site would have no films to review. Well, that and companies drilling where they shouldn’t. Never change, guys!

This is, amazingly, the second film about snow sharks that we’ve reviewed here, after the truly abysmal “Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast”. It’s safe to say that home movies of your second cousin’s christening would be more entertaining than that, so “Avalanche Sharks” clears that comfortably. But it’s also from the producers of “Sand Sharks”, one of my favourite recent films, so on the other hand it’s got a lot to live up to; although they hired director Scott Wheeler, previously known for the godawful “Transmorphers” sequel, so…anyway, time to get on with the film. Also, I suppose, given there’s no avalanches in this film, you could add it to our “misleading titles” series, but it’s not as bad as some.

There are way too many people in this film. I tried to make notes about them, but I just got bored of writing them after a while, so I assume you’d get bored reading them. It’s a ski resort, that looks like an actual ski resort that gave them permission to film; some sort of weekend bikini skiing contest, so tons of hot women with an aversion to dressing correctly for the temperature; the Sheriff, the lazy ski patrol guy and the sleazy owner; and several groups of friends up for Spring Break. It’s one of those films where I think people must have paid to be in it, or something, because otherwise they spend a lot of time building up cannon fodder.

“Sand Sharks” had a great central performance from Corin Nemec, and someone like him is what this film sorely needed. It’s got hints of the comedy that made that film so enjoyable, but in the end they can’t make a break from the “blood, boobs and beast” convention. Aside from a brilliantly unexpected ending, you could plan the beats of this film even if you’ve not seen as many of them as I have (almost 200 reviews, and that’s just since this site started).

There is no escape. Apart from going somewhere there's no snow

There is no escape. Apart from going somewhere there’s no snow

There is a drinking game for this film – every time they show stock footage of people skiing or snowboarding, take a shot. You will unfortunately be dead before the halfway mark, though. Also, if you want to make some sort of game for “every time someone is far too excited about a mundane holiday activity like going in a hot tub, take a shot” then that would probably just get you comatose.

Everyone who deserves to die, does so, there’s bits and pieces of fun, but ultimately you’ll be checking the clock before it ends, willing the snow shark to kill them all. For a film, also set in a ski resort, also about unlikely snow-based monsters, which will keep you entertained all the way through, I recommend “Ice Spiders” from 2007, starring oughta-have-been-bigger Patrick Muldoon.

Rating: thumbs down