A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 519 – Hammerhead

Hammerhead – August 1st, 2011

Shark Week 2011 continues with yet another incredibly cheesy shark movie we bought because I saw a few minutes of it while flipping channels. Unfortunately, the third one I spotted isn’t available yet, but even if we’re not still doing the full project by next summer (we’ve only got about 100 movies left so we’d have to come into a windfall of cheese to make it another year) I promise we will buy Malibu Shark Attack and review it. But before we go thinking about a year from now we’ve got this. And oh, it is some impressive drek.

All I’d seen of this movie prior to buying it was a short snippet of some people stumbling through the jungle, pursued by a hybrid half shark/half man. Obviously I had to have it. And I stand by this decision even if this movie did feel like it was about a million years long. Mostly I stand by it because the concept is definitely a throw back to mad scientist movies of the past. Within the first few minutes there’s even an Igor. We have our mad scientist, Dr. King, and he’s doing something with sharks and people and he’s obviously going to be the bad guy doing horrible evil experiments. And we have his assistant, whose name I don’t recall because as soon as the movie’s monster bit his hand and he started walking around all hunched he became Igor to me. It is so clearly an intentional reference that he couldn’t be anything else.

Unfortunately, the stuff with the mad scientist and his creepy experiments in creating shark people just doesn’t make up the majority of the movie. It’s certainly a key part of the plot, but most of the movie is spent following a group of people as they run around the uncharted island King’s lab is on. We get the plot laid out for us early on and then it’s run run run stumble fall nom nom nom. Lather, nom, repeat. Most of the shark bait in the movie are employees of a struggling pharmaceutical company (seriously?) and its CEO. They’ve come to the island to talk to Dr. King about a new treatment he’s developed involving stem cells. Turns out he’s managed to use shark stem cells to cure his own son’s cancer, but said shark cells also turned his son into a shark man and the shark man is now not much more than a shark with arms and legs, feasting on whoever he can grab.

In the long run, the plot involves the son’s former fiancee, Amelia, being strung up so Dr. King can try and get her pregnant with little shark babies, which is so very wrong on so many levels, but while I saw that coming a mile away, the movie didn’t seem to. King seems surprised to see her when she arrives with the group from the pharmaceutical company (she’s the head of R&D there) and as he explains to the CEO and other employees that he blames them for his ouster from said company, he apologizes to her because he knows she loved his son and he never planned for her to be a part of this. Okay, fine. I mean, the woman who gives birth to a shark baby and is then killed made it pretty obvious to me, but the movie treats the plot like it’s an accident that Amelia’s even there. Dr. King invited the rest of the group because he intended to kill them for revenge. Okay, that’s standard mad scientist stuff. But you’d think he’d have planned to lure Amelia there. Nope. But hey, he doesn’t pass up the opportunity to use her when it comes his way.

Fortunately for Amelia, her current boyfriend turns out to be a super badass and saves the day. Not that he saves anyone else. There’s a whole crew of disposable characters here who might as well walk into the movie with shirts that say “Shark special: All you can eat ME” on them. And boyfriend Tom does his best to shoot lots of guns and make lots of stuff explode in order to save them, but they all end up eaten anyhow. Tom, by the way, is the IT guy for the company. I suspect that his whole guns a’blazin’ routine was some techie’s wish fulfillment. He’s the computer geek with the hot girlfriend and he gets to shoot guns and stuff! Whatever. I don’t really care about him.

I only really care about Amelia, and mostly because the movie goes out of its way to make it clear just how horrible her situation is. I mean, let’s be frank here: King is strapping her down so his shark monster can rape her. Isn’t that a lovely thought? Clearly it’s the plan of an evil and terrible man and to the movie’s credit, there’s nothing remotely sexy about it. At no point do Amelia and the shark man share a tender look where Amelia questions her reticence towards human/shark intercourse because he used to be the man she loved. Which I wouldn’t have put past the movie. I was curious to note that despite the fact that Amelia wears pants through the whole movie, when she’s been stripped down for the shark she is wearing a slip. A bra and a slip. I know it’s an odd and petty thing to pick on in a movie like this, but it just seemed so clearly done for modesty so this could be shown on television.

Anyhow, I was disappointed that we didn’t see more of the shark man. We catch little glimpses of him every so often, and there are lots of frenzied shots of his mouth chomping on people. But for the most part there’s just an effect used on some first person POV shots so they don’t have to actually show him since he’s the one looking around. If it had kept with the whole mad scientist thing, or kept with the whole shark man chasing people through the jungle thing, then I’d have been a lot more interested. But it ends up messy, and I’m not just talking about the blood. I don’t expect a lot from a movie like this, but I did expect more than I got here.

August 1, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hammerhead

August 1, 2011

Hammerhead

This was another movie that Amanda recommended for the project. She had seen parts of it, or maybe just a preview, on SciFi and it looked to her like just the kind of cheese that we needed for our new Shark Week. It does have that flair to it, I have to admit, but I’m not sure this movie knows exactly what sort of movie it is. When it gives in to its b-movie roots it’s pretty fun, but then there are long stretches of the film where it’s trying to be a Rambo style action movie – and it just doesn’t work for me.

At its heart this is a mad scientist movie. The insane Doctor King, living in exile on an uncharted tropical island, has tampered in God’s domain. He (with the help of his hunched Igor-like sidekick and a crazy German woman with horn-rimmed glasses) has saved his son’s life from terminal cancer by blending his DND with that of a hammerhead shark. I think that’s what any loving mad scientist father would have done. But he doesn’t stop there. Dr. King is obsessed with the notion that his hybrid shark/man son is evolutionarily superior to humankind, and he has been trying desperately to have the Hammerhead monster mate with a human woman to start spawning a new race.

All that is some classic mad scientist stuff. The whole “sacrificing women to the monster” thing is very creepy – especially all the mostly naked women in tubes throughout King’s lair. I did wonder what his apparently never ending source of victims is – but then again he also has this big compound and a private army – I guess being a mad scientist in exile just pays well.

Doctor King has lured to his island domain a businessman in the pharmaceutical industry that he blames for his exile. He intends to feed his rival, Mr. Whitney Feder to his shark monster son. Mr. Feder brings along his post-divorce arm-candy girlfriend, his head of research and her boyfriend the head of IT for Whitney’s corporation and a couple bits of shark food so forgettable that I never learned their names. By odd coincidence the head of research, Amelia Lockhart, turns out to have been engaged to King’s son back before he became a mutated beast-man.

It starts out fine with King trapping them in a conference room then flooding it so that he can sick his shark-son on the whole group, but they quickly escape and the movie veers off the rails. Now I’m usually completely in favor of nerds being the heroes of movies (since I’m a nerd myself I kind of enjoy that dynamic.) The nerd in this case, however, IT director Tom Reed, doesn’t use his brains to save the day – he somehow transforms into Rambo instead. He wrestles armed guards, he blows up motorboats by shooting them with a rifle, he actually explodes a giant helicopter with a pistol and like Rambo he seems never to get shot no matter how many squibs are going off all around him.

I’m frankly puzzled by this whole aspect of the movie. It feels so out of place in a cheesy monster horror movie. I kept waiting for the firefights and the stunts and the explosions to end so that we could get back to a hilarious rubber monster eating people, which is what I had really signed on for. It also doesn’t help that William Forsythe as Tom and Hunter Tylo as Amelia have less than zero chemistry. He keeps calling her “sweetie” and “darling” and telling her how much he respects her and all, but not a single word of it rings true. Maybe if I actually wanted to see these people living happily ever after it would be easier to watch the interminable action chase scene that their part of the movie becomes.

I feel betrayed by this cheesy shark movie. I expected low budget cheese, and although I hadn’t been expecting quite so much mad scientist stuff thrown in I’m willing to accept that in my rubber monster movies. It’s all very Creature from the Black Lagoon. But then the movie is co-opted by all this shooty explosiony stuff which doesn’t fit at all. Oh, I’m a fan of ludicrous explosion filled action too – see my review of Action Jackson – but it feels so out of place in a monster horror movie. It messed with the pacing of the film and made an hour and a half feel like it was about three hours long. I kept waiting for the film to end, and it just kept going on. Never a good sign.

It’s too bad, too, because the actual shark man himself looked so completely hilarious. I am disappoint. With luck tomorrow’s movie will live up to the promise displayed in its absolutely marvelous trailer.

August 1, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment