Directed by: Anthony C. Ferrante
Starring: Ian Ziering, Cassandra Scerbo, Jaason Simmons, Tara Reid, Chuck Hittinger, Aubrey Peeples, John Heard, Robbie Rist, Alex Arleo
As you probably know by now, The Asylum is a production company that has practically cornered the market on bad movies. Started up by some guys who tried to do low-budget horror, they quickly realized that everybody and their grandparents and neighbors do low-budget horror, but doing low-budget mock-busters that rip off major hits while bragging about it – well, not many people do that. This is probably because most people are afraid of getting their pants sued off by big-time Hollywood lawyers. Not The Asylum – they crazy! Since the early 2000s, they’ve been making lots of money by creating cinematic manure passed off as “films” including Transmorphers, Snakes on a Train, I Am Omega, The Day the Earth Stopped, and as we covered here – Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus.
With Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, the Aslum discovered something interesting – people love shark movies. It doesn’t matter how bad they are, somebody will distribute them. Doesn’t matter how illogical they are – people will watch them. Just throw in some trashy celebrity, has-been actor, or “ironic” choice (Debbie Gibson and Tiffany!). You end up with something like 2 Headed Shark Attack (with Carmen Electra!) or Sharknado (Ian Ziering! Tara Reid! John Heard!). Sharknado, now there’s a piece of work. It’s like the Asylum guys just wrote a bunch of ideas on slips of paper and then spun them around in a lotto machine. In this case, the concepts of “Shark” and “Tornado” won out. So you can be certain that at some point while watching Sharknado, you’ll see a tornado full of sharks. It doesn’t matter how stupid it sounds – it’s practically guaranteed to have the stamp of “Syfy Channel Original” printed on it.
But you can’t just show the “sharknado” right away. No… you have to build up to it. So we are introduced to bar owner/surfer “Fin” (Ian Ziering, from Beverly Hills, 90210, – remember?) and his Australian buddy Baz (Jaason Simmons – from Baywatch) and bar employee Nova (Cassie Scerboto, I have no idea who she is) who sorta has a crush on Fin. The movie informs us that “global warming” has caused a giant hurricane off the coast of Mexico and it is making its way towards Los Angeles. Typically, when a freak hurricane is barreling down on the California coast, people evacuate. That’s just how it works. But people in Sharknado practically blow it off until the storm is right on top of them. I admit, it’s difficult to know when the storm is coming. That’s because director Anthony Ferrante likes to shoot a scene in broad daylight and clear skies and then a few seconds later, show the very same location under black clouds and damaging winds. To say that this film is edited by morons does an injustice to morons. As one guy said on IMDB, “the same scene moves from daylight to dusk, rain to sunshine, storm surge to quiet beach, with every single new camera angle.” It’s like when MST3K savaged Attack of the Eye Creatures (another movie that switches between day and night in the same scene) by determining that director Larry Buchanan “just didn’t care.”
Poor John Heard. He actually had somewhat of a career. Look at what he’s doing now – playing a beachside drunk (who lives in Beverly Hills! He just really likes that bar!). When John Heard’s character bites it on a bridge less than halfway through the film, you feel something like relief for him. He must have owed somebody a favor. Anyway, Fin decides that he has to go to Beverly Hills to save his estranged wife, played by a weathered Tara Reid, who is basically phoning it in. That’s right, I said it: Tara Reid is phoning it in. Of course, Tara’s character and her asshole boyfriend aren’t happy to see Fin and maintain that nothing is wrong. Not until a shark crashes through their window and eats the boyfriend. This actually caused me to rethink who the bad guys are in Sharknado – my theory is that it’s Fin and his friends. If you pay attention, sharks only attack a place after they show up. Take that bridge sequence, for instance. Everything was ok until they showed up and started warning everybody… then the waves come and the sharks attack. Watch the ending scenes when they show up at the airplane hangar, where everything was calm until they showed up. Coincidence?
I should back up a minute. About the sharks. The movie’s premise is this: the storm has picked up hundreds, maybe thousands of sharks and hurled them around, so that they land all over L.A. and feast on running victims. Now think about the absurdity of this: sharks literally falling from the sky and swallowing people whole while they are falling. Sharks landing in backyard pools, sharks landing on bridges, sharks swimming in floods no more than a few feet high. In Sharknado, it is obvious: sharks do not need water (especially salt-water) to survive. They can fly around, even inside an F5 tornado and not only live, but aggressively eat any living thing in their path. This whole movie defies even the most elementary laws of physics. It’s like we’re in another universe.
Just take basic things. An entire house is flooded out and filled with sharks. But when everybody escapes the place, the surrounding land and road is quite dry and in plenty good condition for driving away. In fact, despite assurances from the movie that everything is flooded out, their escape vehicle really doesn’t have much trouble getting them anywhere. Continuity doesn’t have any meaning here; if the plot calls for a sudden flood and shark attack, then that’s what happens.
Watch out for:
- the first scene involving an illicit transaction at sea which has no bearing on anything in the rest of the movie
- the beginning shark attack scene at a beach that in one frame shows hardly anybody around and the next frame scores of people hanging out. Fin screams “Shark!” at the top of his lungs but nobody pays any attention until it’s too late. And then after about 5 minutes of shark attacks, people are still running around and screaming their heads off… but they’re not running away from the beach- they just seem to be running in circles.
- “Experts are saying global warming is the reason for this unprecedented event!“
- The television news is quite clear that a major hurricane is headed for Santa Monica, but the bar/restaurant is still packed with people who don’t seem to give a damn. Fin doesn’t even think about securing the bar until the storm is right on top of them (too late, dude).
- The Jaws references. Cassie Scerbo’s story about how she got her scars (“Six people went into the water and one little girl came out. The sharks took the rest.”) and her quip towards the end (“We’re gonna need a bigger chopper.”) is meant to be an homage to Jaws but it just makes you think about how you should really be watching that movie instead of this one.
- Silly attempts at human drama. Some crap about Fin and his wife and estranged children. It has practically no impact; I wonder why they even bothered. I did laugh, however, at how Nova had a crush on Fin and ended up getting with Fin’s pilot-son Matt instead.
- Tara Reid’s boyfriend sarcastically says “Everytime it rains in L.A., everyone says it’s the storm of the century!” Obviously, people in Beverly Hills are so cut off from the world that they have no idea what a hurricane is.
- Winds that pick up and carry heavy objects, except for people, of course.
- A helicopter flying right beside a tornado with somebody throwing bombs into it. Sure, that’s plausible!
- A flying shark eating somebody in mid-air. That same shark eating somebody else, who chainsaws his way out and also manages to save the first victim while he’s at it. Hmm, that really does make the helicopter thing plausible, doesn’t it?
- A Bus driver/comedian (Robbie Rist, who also did the soundtrack!) who says “My mom always told me Hollywood would kill me” before being crushed by parts of the Hollywood sign. Speaking of the school bus scene – you would expect that there would be other people and rescue teams to handle a full busload of schoolkids, but then we wouldn’t get to see how much of a hero Steve Sanders is!
- The use of a Hummer at the end of a film that blames man-made global warming for the weather. (And the Hummer has a Nitrous feature!!) Teh Irony!
- Everybody exclaims how much they hate sharks in this picture. Maybe that’s why the sharks are so mad.
As for everything else, Sharknado is your typical shitty-but-funny movie. Horrible CGI, even for stuff like this. No sense of where anything is in relation to anything else. Below-par acting. High school humor and dialogue. Some gore. And all-around hilarity, as the makers of Sharknado demonstrate no knowledge whatsoever of how hurricanes and floods behave, how tornados and winds behave, how sharks and flying objects behave, and how people behave. But hey, like the immortal Larry Buchanan, they just don’t care. I’ll give them this – as far as disaster flicks go, it’s much better than 2012. (And I like that song (The Ballad Of) Sharknado by Quint). Oh, good news, people, watch for the sequel Sharknado 2: The Second One, filming now, starring (again) Tara Reid, Ian Ziering, and a few other surprising guests. “The Second One” – oh, I get it! Very clever!
– Bill Gordon