Monday, March 4, 2013

Shark Zone (2003)

I love shark movies. And if you’re going to enjoy watching shark movies, you’re going to have to enjoy watching bad shark movies because very few of them are any good (at the moment I can think of only Jaws and Open Water as examples).  Shark Zone is certainly a bad shark movie. And yes, I truly enjoyed it.

Oddly, this film begins in 1712, when the Santa Cruz, a Spanish boat crossing the Atlantic, encounters a serious storm just off the coast of the New World. According to the opening narration, the boat disappears in an uncharted reef.

Then we are in current times, in San Francisco, where Mr. Wagner takes a group diving to tour the boat’s wreckage. Wait, the boat sailed from Spain to California?  He takes the group by helicopter rather than by boat. I’m not sure why, as they don’t actually go too far from shore. Among the diving group is Jimmy, Wagner’s son. Wagner calls him Jimbo, and so shall I.

They all jump out of the helicopter into the water, and though Wagner reminds them to stick together, they all ignore him and go off in pairs (except for his son, of course). Somehow they can communicate, though on the close-ups you can tell no one is actually talking (perhaps they communicate through telepathy). They find the wreckage of the Santa Cruz, which isn’t far beneath the surface, but then a great white shark attacks and kills them. Jimbo is the only survivor.

Ten years later in San Francisco, Jimbo (Dean Cochran), now a father himself, misses his dad. He is in charge of beach security, and the Beach Fiesta is coming up next weekend. That weekend is also the anniversary of his father’s death.

By the way, Carrie, Jimbo’s wife, is played by an incredibly inept actor. She is shockingly bad, and also completely unbelievable as a mother. She seems more like a porn actor. Instead of delivering dramatic dialogue, she should be shown with semen dripping from her face. And with a name like Brandi Sherwood, she probably was a porn actor.

In one of her early scenes, she and Jimbo are taking a boat ride. The sky is blue behind them, but as soon as they kiss, they’re in a squall. A shark begins eating their boat, and, graciously, eats Carrie. But then, what a bloody tease, it was only a dream. The awful wife is still alive.

Anyway, a shady businessman named Mr. Volkoff (Velizar Bineu) wants to know where the Santa Cruz is, because he believes the stories that there are diamonds in the wreckage.  If a diving team went down there, clearly its location is no secret. Hell, they did it just off shore from a helicopter. Plus, it’s really close to the surface. Are we really to believe that Jimbo is the only one who is aware of the boat’s location? Apparently. Well, Jimbo won’t tell him, because that’s where his father died.

Volkoff is funding the Beach Fiesta, but with the understanding that in exchange he’ll be shown the location of the Santa Cruz. He threatens Mayor Cortell (Alan Austin) that he will withdraw his support if he’s not given the information.  Hold on, the Fiesta is this weekend. Hasn’t the money already been spent? Also, this is San Francisco. Is the entire Fiesta funded by a single businessman?

When Jimbo’s son, Danny, learns that his grandfather was eaten by sharks, he says, “You know, I hate sharks. They suck.” Jimbo replies, “Yes, they do.” And that is a sweet father-and-son bonding moment.

Well, great white sharks start attacking swimmers at the beach. It’s cool that they use footage of actual great whites. But they probably shouldn’t have used the shot with the bait clearly visible in the water. It kind of ruins the effect.  Anyway, lots of people die. But the mayor refuses to close the beach. He tells Jimbo, “I know some people lost their lives out there. I’m not completely insensitive to that, okay? But I’ve got to deal with the people that make their livelihood in this town.” Jaws, much?

Jimbo is really like the Chief Brody character in Jaws, except this is San Francisco, not a tiny beach community, so it’s not really believable at all.  Jimbo tells the mayor that these sharks are bigger, faster and more aggressive than any he’s seen before. Then he goes to hunt the sharks with a team of three friends.

The geography is all weird when they go to hunt the sharks. They travel by boat for a while. But when Jimbo’s wife at home looks out her window, she can see the boat. By the way, beach security must be a high-paying job in San Francisco, because they have a giant beachfront home. I couldn’t even afford a studio apartment in San Francisco. Hell, I can’t afford the parking in that city.

Well, the guys in the shark cages are supposed to be killing the sharks. (And tagging the ones they’re unable to kill.) So I have to wonder why they have big yellow underwater cameras rather than guns. As the sharks attack the cages, one of the divers says “Get away” to a shark. But it doesn’t listen. When the sharks have finished eating the three men, Jimbo (safe on the boat) gets angry and shouts, “Bastards.”

I’m not sure if he’s angry with the sharks, or with his men for taking cameras rather than guns. Either way, he has to get more volunteers for his next fight with the sharks. As anyone would do in that situation, he turns to his bartender.  This time they bring guns.  (In the next fight, that shot with the bait is used again. Geez, once was bad enough.)

Then they get in a helicopter and drop explosives into the water in order to kill the sharks. Apparently they’re successful, so Jimbo quips, “Class dismissed.”  Seriously. I am guessing the line is intended as a joke on the idea of a school of fish. Of course, there were only three sharks, and I’m not sure how many sharks make up a school.

But the film isn’t over. Because Volkoff (remember him?) is still keen on retrieving the diamonds. He threatens Jimbo, and when that doesn’t work, he has Jimbo’s son kidnaped. Jimbo doesn’t tell the mayor or call the cops or anything. Instead, he cooperates. And Volkoff’s divers find the diamonds. And the sharks find Volkoff’s divers.

This film taught me that great whites growl like dogs. Wait, didn’t that happen in Jaws: The Revenge? Wasn’t that one of the things that made that film laughable? What a strange detail to rip off from a film that’s even worse than this one.

By the way, there is a nice bit of nudity with a cute brunette. But she is killed in about ten seconds, and no mention is ever made of her again. So I’ll just mention her here: nice breasts.

Shark Zone was directed by Danny Lerner, who also directed Raging Sharks and Sharks In Venice (and yes, both of those are in my DVD collection).

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