Thursday, March 28, 2013

Blue Demon (2004)

Blue Demon is an incredibly silly shark movie about a team of scientists who genetically engineer a new breed of great white shark to use as defense against terrorists. I’m not kidding.

Like all excellent films, it begins with a bit of narration: “It started out as an experiment. The first change was in the eyes… I’d watch them hours on end…Sometimes I swear they were laughing at me…In a world that’s mostly covered with water, we needed a new kind of defense. Just another fish in the sea. But we made a horrible mistake. We meant to take the next step in evolution, but we created a monster.” (Should a woman who thinks sharks are laughing at her be involved in a military project?)

Well, one night three sorority girls decide to torment a pledge by making her swim out to buoy, which is like fifteen feet away. That is, after they cut through a fence with all sorts of warnings posted, including that it’s an electric fence. The pledge is cute, but for some reason they don’t want her in. Why not? The bigger question, of course, is why she doesn’t get naked before getting into the water. The cops arrive, and two of them try to make off in a small boat. But the shark gets one of them. It’s actually not a bad scene.

Then suddenly we’re in a different scene, and it feels like a different movie. The music is goofy, and the tone is different from the first scene. Like the film has decided not to take itself at all seriously.

Lawrence Van Allen, the midget in charge, tells Nathan and Marla Collins (Randall Batinkoff and DeDee Pfeiffer) their project is over because three hysterical college girls are in the hospital. They’re still trying to find pieces of the fourth. A shark breached the steel net. (By the way, it turns out that electric fence had been shut off because of budget cuts.)  Their project, Project Blue Demon, is genetically engineering a new breed of great white sharks capable of living in both salt water and fresh water and “trained to recognize specific targets to defend.” The point is to get an undetectable defense system, not a weapon.

There is lots of silliness, like Lawrence keeping his cell phone in a red-lined case in a locked drawer in his desk. He then calls for Inga, his assistant, who is totally hot. Lawrence asks her to get a box of cigars. And then we never see her again. Why is that? She pops in for one moment, looking all sexy, then disappears forever. Maybe she went over to the next soundstage and found a better film to be in. Or maybe she’s still looking for that box of cigars. Maybe she’s just very slow. These genetically engineered sharks are also very, very slow, as we see when Marla slips into the water.

Six weeks later, they give their presentation before the military folks, including General Remora (Jeff Fahey). It’s done in a deliberately silly style. This film seems to consider itself more of an action comedy than horror. Lawrence says they’re creating a squadron of sharks trained to seek out and neutralize terrorist threats. But the sharks are gone. Someone opened the gate.

Meanwhile the maintenance crew is finally fixing the underwater fence. That’s right, six weeks after a shark got out and killed a sorority girl. Did they ever catch that one? Well, as punishment to the maintenance guys for being so slow, the sharks eat them.

Then the sharks swim in attack formation to populated areas. But don’t worry – these are the slowest sharks ever. Watch those dorsal fins basically standing still. A couple of teenagers have their first kiss in the lake. And then a shark comes up to them. I wouldn’t say it chases them or attacks them because it’s moving slower than a ninety-year-old woman with a walker. Glaciers could outrun these sharks. The teenagers get out of the lake without any trouble.

It’s a lake, but Nathan calls the Coast Guard for help. Lakes aren’t really coasts, but… Well, they don’t pay any attention to his call anyway. And soon the sharks have “breached the lake” and are in the ocean. Do freshwater lakes usually lead to the ocean?

It turns out it was an inside job, turning the sharks loose. Someone reprogrammed a shark to carry a bomb to San Francisco so that the country will then get tough on terrorism again.

I have to say, as stupid as this entire film is, I enjoyed it. It was fun. And it was basically done well, though the sharks look terrible. At the end we get the opening voice over again. And at the end of it, we see Marla speaking in front of a United States flag. It’s enough to make me proud of this great nation of ours.

The movie isn’t quite over, however, because every single actor gets his or own special segment in the closing credits. Except Inga. Poor Inga. No credit for her, as she had no lines. We miss you, Inga. The closing credits move almost as slowly as the sharks. They really wanted this film to be ninety minutes, I guess.

Blue Demon was written and directed by Dan Grodnik. On the box, his named is spelled two different ways: Grodnik and Grodnick.

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