A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 520 – Sharktopus

Sharktopus – August 2nd, 2011

After last year’s Sharks in Venice I suspected that no terrible shark movie would ever be able to remotely compare. And I’m not saying that this movie is as horribly great as that one was, but it is magical in its own special way. It was definitely the perfect movie for us to watch on our anniversary. If any shark movie was to be watched today, this was it. This is a thoroughly ridiculous movie with a thoroughly ridiculous plot and premise and it knows it. It is completely and totally aware of just how laughable and horrible it is and it barrels its way forward anyhow, as if daring anyone not to find it hilarious.

I do apologize about this review. It’s several days late because I was so completely wiped after we watched it and then we watched Deep Blue Sea, which actually made me resent Shark Week and only now am I getting back to it. Which is just plain silly because I thoroughly enjoyed every cheesy minute of it. Oh, it’s not a good movie. But it is a magical movie. It’s one of those movies I think we need new terminology for because while it’s bad, it’s also wonderful. What do you call that? How do you describe that? Because there are bad movies that are just plain bad. There are cheesy movies that are cheesy without being fun. This movie? Is at the same time terrible and awesome because it is so terrible. It’s got a level of self-awareness that makes everything amazing. I don’t think I have enough superlatives for this movie.

First of all, let’s talk plot. This is a “we tampered in god’s domain” type plot here. Near the end of the movie one character actually describes the sharktopus as a crime against nature, and she’s one of its creators! A bioengineering firm has created a shark/octopus hybrid with a brain implant as a new weapon for the military. Supposedly it will allow the military access to areas they can’t send mechanical vehicles or regular soldiers into. So when a member of the military comes to see how they’re doing he of course tampers with a system the scientists warn him not to tamper with and the sharktopus casts off its control device and heads off to terrorize Puerto Vallarta. Since it’s a military funded monster, obviously the head of the project wants it captured intact, but since it’s a giant killer shark with tentacles, that’s obviously highly unlikely.

Really, the sharktopus is the point of this whole thing. It attacks bunches of people and it’s introduced by way of a different shark attacking a woman and then being eaten by the sharktopus instead. It pops out of the water to snack on a bungee jumper and it crawls over rocks to join in a folk dance celebration. By eating people. It yoinks a couple of painters down off their perch on the side of a ship’s hull and it drags a scantily clad beachcomber into the water just after she’s found a gold doubloon (which is then snagged by Roger Corman in a cameo). And no, this monster is not the most realistically animated monster I’ve ever seen. It’s almost painfully obvious how computer generated it is. But that is the point. While I have no doubt in my mind that there wasn’t a huge budget for this movie, I also highly doubt that anyone ever thought that the monster should be realistic.

But completely aside from the monster in the movie, there are the people. No one in this movie is out of the ordinary and the whole cast seems to know that perfectly well. There’s the head of the bioengineering company, played by Eric Roberts. He chews scenery and is nicely morally gray. His daughter, Nicole, is his star employee and has overseen the vast majority of the project. When it gets loose they call in Andy Flynn, a former employee who doesn’t get along with the head of the company and was fired some time back. He demands big bucks to come back and help them track the sharktopus down. And then there’s the brassy reporter from a trashy network and her skeptical but along for the ride cameraman. I think you can probably figure out who out of that group is doomed to be sharktopus food, right? Flynn and Nicole start out sniping at each other, so of course they’ll end up together and no one else really matters in the end.

The movie spends a lot of time following its monster around as it eats people. I mean, that’s what this movie is for and it delivers. It even gets a few shots in at our beefy hero, Flynn, and offs his best pal. Every time we meet a new unnamed character it’s pretty certain that they’re going to die. I suspect most of them are locals or tourists who were nearby when the movie was being filmed because the level of “acting” is laughably low. High school drama class low. But really the best marks of this low budget flick are the extras reactions to the shark attack. Clearly there were no practical props used to represent the shark and the tentacles were all added in post. It’s incredibly obvious. Which means it’s also incredibly obvious that these people had to writhe and spin and wave their arms and scream with absolutely nothing wrapped around them or stuck through them or anything. It’s fantastic.

In the end you know the sharktopus is as doomed as its victims were and you know that the survivors will be the burgeoning couple. There’s nothing innovative here, but there doesn’t need to be. This is a movie that has fully embraced its nature and run with it at full speed. It’s got a great balance of shark attacks to plot and the plot doesn’t try anything complicated or serious. And it’s very clear on its status as a cheesy movie. It even jokes about how of course the shark won’t come back to life! That only happens in the movies! It’s ridiculous, but it knows it. It’s cheesy but hilarious. It’s a slightly different creature from Sharks in Venice, but I think I’ve got to rank them side by side. Definitely, they are two shark movies for all others to live up to.

August 2, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sharktopus

August 2, 2011

Sharktopus

It is the anniversary of my wedding to Amanda today. Last year on our anniversary we watched the spectacularly bad Sharks in Venice. This year we’re reviewing Sharktopus. This must say something about us. I have been looking forward to this movie for months. Ever since I heard the title I’ve been in love with this movie. It’s like Snakes on a Plane – the title really says it all. Then I saw the preview and I became even more convinced that this was the perfect ultimate cheesefest for today, and boy was I right.

This movie has EVERYTHING. It has a secret military project to build a perfect biological weapon (which goes horribly wrong of course.) It has beautiful women in bikinis getting eaten by a mutated shark-octopus monster. It has the sexy but smart daughter of the man in charge of the S-11 project who is out trying to re-capture the beast before it can kill again. It has the rogue war veteran who only cares about the money being offered by Sands to capture the Sharktopus. It has the hard-nosed female reporter determined to break the story and the alcoholic sea captain who is her only witness. It is frighteningly self aware – with characters actually making fun of the plot of the movie because it is so very predictable. It has the obligatory Wilhelm scream. It even features a cameo by producer Roger Corman (although his role is far smaller than in Dinoshark, which we reviewed a couple days ago.)

Sharks in Venice may have been the most hilariously badly made shark movie we own, but this movie is the absolutely best digital shark monster movie ever. It fulfilled my every expectation from its Mortal Kombat style digital dismemberings to its delightfully predictable plot. A number of the extras that the shark eats are clearly not professional actors and their line reads are hilarious – as is their flailing as the digital creature attacks them.

I was delighted with every aspect of this movie. Eric Roberts, the only big name actor in the movie, portrays the villain Nathan Sands with scenery chewing relish. The rest of the cast, non actors included, are completely invested in the film and bring it to wonderful life. A couple of the establishing shots are of strangely low quality with clear artifacing on the DVD we were watching, but balancing that out on the other hand there are these incongruously artistic segments of the film where director Declan O’Brien presents phone conversations between Sands and his daughter Nicole as a sort of dynamic split screen.

As an added bonus this movie works as a sort of companion piece to Dinoshark, which was also produced in the same year by Roger Corman. Both digital shark monsters for some reason end up menacing the same Mexican resort town. I guess Corman just got a bulk deal for filming there – and he’s always been one to save a buck in every way possible with his movie making. I’d say that Dinoshark is superior, just in that it has such a laughably silly monster, but both are fantastic examples of the genre of digital shark monster attacks. If you’re the kind of person who gets delight from watching a digital shark monster eating helpless tourists I can’t possibly recommend this movie enough.

August 2, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment