Malibu Shark Attack (2009)


Very very long term readers of ISCFC may vaguely remember our four rules of shark movies, which were roughly as follows:


  1. There’s a beach event which can’t possibly be cancelled
  2. One scene where the cast are stood on a boat as it goes to the final confrontation, all determined-looking
  3. One character needs to be an idiot, to drive things along
  4. Sharks be super-powered


Sadly, it appears we’ll have to retire them, as “Malibu Shark Attack” only really has no. 4 (in the shape of the Goblin Shark). Cleverly, it’s replaced all that stuff represented by points 1 to 3 with…nothing! Hurrah, SyFy Channel, you’ve done it again, by producing something that looks like a movie but has had all the fun and excitement removed. You know we like low-budget shark movies too (“Ghost Shark” and “Sand Shark” are both excellent), but this is a stinker.


Let’s see if I can sum up this thrill-ride. Two locations – a lifeguard station (and surrounding beach, giving them the opportunity to repeat the same footage of an admittedly very attractive young lady in a black bikini turning over, approximately a dozen times) and a nearby building site. Two groups – lifeguards and builders. Head lifeguard (Peta Wilson, from the original TV “La Femme Nikita”) and head builder are a couple; head lifeguard used to go out with the busted Matthew Fox lookalike lifeguard. Then there’s Dull Lifeguard and Cute But Nasty Beach Girl and their will-they-won’t-they; and two other couples (but they all get eaten so I don’t need to worry about them too much). An earthquake causes a tsunami, which disturbs the deep-sea habitat of the Goblin Sharks, so while the wave is destroying great swathes of California, the two locations above, right on the sea-front, are left flooded but otherwise okay, with a bunch of hungry sea creatures wanting to get to them.


One would think or hope that a group of lifeguards in an area susceptible to earthquakes, flooding and so on would have a basic understanding of what to do in such a situation. Of course, that would rely on the scriptwriter doing research, and not just assuming, “they’d behave like a guy with no training other than scriptwriting would in this instance, right?” Not a single one of them has much of an instinct for self-preservation, much less helping others in a catastrophic flood / shark attack, so our sharp-toothed friends have a pretty easy time of it. Well, they eventually kick ass, thanks to a chainsaw and other makeshift weapons, but they have to otherwise this would be even flatter and more boring than it already is.


There’s just no tension in this movie, at all. At the beginning, when the alarm starts sounding, everyone just sits there on the beach and carries on with their day – even after the clearly panicked lifeguards have screamed through their megaphones for people to clear the damn area! The music is an awful attempt to ape “Jaws”, and the lack of locations really doesn’t help.


Far worse than the lack of tension is the lack of any common sense. This manages to trump even the average SyFy movie for stupidity, because it comes at you from both angles- the way the characters are written, and the nuts and bolts of this movie’s “world” (yes, I appreciate this is more thought than they deserve). One of the shark fodder is about to get his PhD in Marine Biology, despite telling us via his his fiancée (also a PhD Marine Biology student) that he started off with a degree in Theatre Arts. There’s no way they’d let him convert from one to the other, surely? There’s firing bullets into the water, when Mythbusters has taught us that all you need is about 18 inches of water and you can stop an elephant gun. What else? Oh yes, the builders don’t leave because Head Builder is worried about his investment. He’s building on an incredibly expensive piece of property but doesn’t have insurance? There’s the way the flimsy lifeguard shack survives the tsunami  completely unscathed; or indeed, the way that Busted Matthew Fox (BMF) gets on the roof (by going out through the floor and swimming round…when the roof has a damn hole in it he could have just climbed through!) There’s the way the goblin sharks (which aren’t extinct, by the way) appear to prefer to hunt the lifeguards rather than eat one of the no-doubt hundreds of lovely blood-soaked bodies floating in the water. They’re out there for a solid 12 hours, maybe more, and in this extraordinarily wealthy part of LA, no-one even drives past and says “we’ll be back to rescue you later!”  When they do find a boat, rather than head inland, where there’s likely to be land, they head out into deeper water, where there’s sharks. There’s the way that no-one mentions that BMF used to be a Navy SEAL until ten minutes before the end; then the way that his extensive training has no bearing on the end of the movie at all.


And so on, and so on. I’m going to have to spoil the ending, so flip to the next paragraph if you don’t want things ruined! At the end, all three parts of the love triangle survive, and neither man is shown to be an asshole (well, the lifeguard is obviously cold and distant and would be a terrible boyfriend, but that might just be his acting). So, in a shocker, while indulging in a little “haha all our friends are dead”, Peta Wilson says “”You both went to preschool? Did you learn how to share your toys?”  It’s a rare movie which ends with the woman suggesting an MMF threesome, it must be said.


Welcome back, spoiler avoiders. It’s not so much that it’s bad (although it is), it’s just really boring. It evidently bored director David Lister enough that he never made another movie again; although writer Keith Shaw is a more dependable hand (“Ice Road Terror”, for one), so he has less of an excuse for making something this dull. Avoid, unless you’re a movie reviewing idiot determined to watch every cheap shark movie ever.


Rating: thumbs down


Shark Man (2005)


Well, three-quarters terror at least

The world of film would truly be a poorer place were it not for the mad scientist. Whether he’s into world domination, money making, revenge or just because those stuffed shirts wouldn’t approve his crazy research methods, mad scientists get the job done in low-budget films. And we have a particularly fine one in this very early SyFy Channel original movie (when it was still called Sci-Fi).

Another uncharted island? You’d think, with this and our recently reviewed “Danger Island”, that you can’t put a boat in the ocean without running into some weird island or other. Anyway, there’s experiments and a casual disregard for human life going on, you know the drill. The people who will be eventually fed to Shark Man are the board of a big pharmaceutical corporation, and their board meeting has normal-looking men, some older, some younger, and the few women who are there are all model-beautiful, of course.

Our stars are William Forsythe as the head of the IT department (I think) and Hunter Tylo as…something to do with research. Who cares? Tylo has spent the last 20+ years on US soap “The Bold and the Beautiful” (1,903 episodes and counting) and despite being 43 when this film was made, has used the finest of the surgeon’s art to try and look like she’s in her late 20s. I only mention it because she’s on the verge of looking a bit…plastic? Anyway, I was writing down “she’s definitely going to do a pose in a bikini at some point, to show she’s still got it” and before the sentence was fully written out, there she was. Not the boldest prediction I’ve ever made.


Anyway! Jeffrey Combs is the mad scientist, he tried to save his son’s life (cancer) by splicing some hammerhead shark DNA in with his cells. This turns him into some mostly-shark, and Combs’ efforts to save him just seem to involve lots of people getting killed. He used to work for the big pharmaceutical firm – kicked out for his crazy methods, of course – but his discovery interests his old co-workers who fly out to see him.

I don’t know if “The Island Of Dr. Moreau” ever explained how Dr Moreau could afford an island, but this film certainly doesn’t. He has a gigantic research centre, lots of staff paid well enough to kill for him without question, and a seemingly endless supply of human guinea pigs. He’s figured out, with all this experimenting, that if he can get his son to breed with a human, the DNA from that kid would be able to solve all the world’s medical problems…

I feel I have to comment on this. Test-tube babies, artificial insemination, all that good stuff, has been around for decades, and clearly Combs should know about all that. But he’s insistent on his female subject getting inseminated “the old fashioned way”, which just seems wasteful given HIS SON’S A SHARK


“Mythbusters” has ruined films like this for me, for two big reasons. Firstly, if you’re near an explosion, you don’t just get thrown backwards, the force of it will kill you; and secondly, to stop even the most powerful gun in the world, all you need to do is get more than 18 inches under water (because water doesn’t compress, the bullet uses up all its energy getting through the water almost instantly). The makers of this film weren’t concerned with such details though.

Unsurprisingly, this film was not very good. I can’t say it was terrible, it just sort of existed. All films like this needed to be was entertaining enough to get you to watch the adverts, and then make a few £ on DVD release (under a different name – this one has also been called “Hammerhead”), and I suppose it just about succeeded. It could have done with either being a lot worse or a bit better, though.

Rating: thumbs down

Sharkzilla (2002)


This is a curious film. It’s a sort of mashup between “The Abyss” and “Deep Blue Sea”, where there’s no real villains, no-one you’d really call a hero, no romance, and few deaths. It’s the quietest, mellowest giant monster movie you’re ever likely to see.

Also, it’s renamed from “Megalodon”, which leads me to believe this is a TV edit (I watched it at 4 in the afternoon on one of the lower satellite channels). I wonder if the uncut version is a breakneck speed gore-filled romp? Nah, probably not. The problem with calling this “Sharkzilla” is there’s an actual film from 2012 with that name, which has some of the “Mythbusters” team in it playing themselves. But then, there’s another film called “Megalodon” from the same year as this, and…ah, who cares?

Why can’t low-budget films ever get news broadcasts right? The newsreader’s always too small in a corner, and usually the background is weird too. This film’s newsreader appears to be stood up and casually leaning forward against a table, and she gives us the environmental disaster news and then tells us of Colossus, the world’s biggest oil rig and one designed for the deep see stuff no-one could ever get to before. Christen, the reporter for the news channel, goes to Colossus to do a hard-hitting story about them.

The problem is, she never really gets it. The bloke in charge of Colossus is a fairly decent guy with no hidden secrets; the rest of the extremely small crew of the monstrously large oil rig are all, by and large, okay people – including Mark Sheppard, best known to TV fans as Crowley from “Supernatural”. She interviews the crew on the rig as well as going down in what amounts to a lift, down to the bottom of the ocean. Their drilling finds a path to an amazing variety of animals, all sealed off from humanity for lord knows how long, including the Megalodon, a prehistoric shark-like monster.


I make notes while watching films, so I can give you readers maximum entertainment. For this one, they’re pretty much all “this film’s a bit quiet”, “everyone’s too calm” and “HURRY UP YOU SHARK BASTARD”. He doesn’t show up til past the hour mark, and you know what? I’m not sure a story of people going up and down in a lift and chatting about the environment is really enough to hold a film called “Sharkzilla” together.

So, I say if this film comes on TV, you can still get some enjoyment from it. The scene where they find the cave with all the weird creatures in it is quite beautiful, and it’s an experience quite unlike any other giant shark movie you’ll ever see.

Rating: thumbs down (sorry)