Monday, December 9, 2013

Swamp Shark (2011)

I love baseball and I love shark movies. So a shark movie with Wade Boggs in a supporting role couldn’t possibly be all that bad. And it’s not. Swamp Shark also stars Kristy Swanson, whom you might recall from Buffy The Vampire Slayer and 8 Heads In A Duffel Bag. It’s an enjoyable (though ridiculous) film about some previously unknown type of shark that can survive in the deepest parts of the ocean and also in the shallows of the Louisiana swamps. It’s also fond of leaping out of the water. There is a bit of the showman in this shark, but who can blame him? After all, he finally has an audience.

Anyway, at the beginning of the film, the sheriff orders some kids out of an area near the water, and then instructs a tanker truck to come in. The tanker is carrying an exotic animal, and somehow the tank comes loose from the truck, and rolls down the hill into the water. And the shark escapes, thus becoming Swamp Shark. The sheriff says, “What a lousy way to start the summer.” But you can’t help but wonder what the plan had been. Why had the truck pulled up to that specific spot in the first place? Later we learn that the sheriff is the middle man in some scheme to sell rare and endangered animals. But what specifically was supposed to occur at that spot by the water? Was the buyer going to take a look into the tank and then tell the driver to continue on? Well, let’s not worry about it.

Kristy Swanson plays Rachel, a woman who runs a restaurant called Gator Shed, where the main action is letting children watch her brother feed alligators out back. It’s a family place, as not only Rachel and her brother Jason work there, but also their younger sister Crystal.

Early on, we get that tired scene of the drunk stumbling around the pier and becoming food for the shark. But in this version, Rachel is woken by the noise and runs out onto the pier with a gun, seeing the shark. So this film doesn’t waste a lot of time with people in the dark about what’s happening.

Apparently the drunk guy didn’t provide enough sustenance for Swamp Shark, because the shark also ate all of the alligators in the restaurant’s pen. The sheriff doesn’t believe Rachel’s story about the shark, though he’s of course partially to blame for the trouble. The sheriff then wants to shut the restaurant down for some reason.

So Rachel leads her employees on a hunt for the shark in order to save the restaurant. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but that’s okay. Also, I’ve worked at a few restaurants, and I had no trouble walking away from those jobs. But this is mainly a family thing, so it’s a little more understandable – though Rachel and her brother (who used to be a professional football player) don’t want Crystal tagging along. That’s because they want to keep her safe, but what it really does is give her the opportunity to put herself into more danger by accepting an invitation to go on a houseboat with some college kids.

Oh, did I mention that it’s Gator Fest? Yup, just like the fourth of July in the original Jaws, Gator Fest supplies the opportunity for lots of people to be put in danger. Well, it should have been lots of people. Unfortunately, this film seemed to be able to afford only a dozen or so extras. So Gator Fest comes across as a very lame celebration. Really, Gator Fest would provide little more than a light snack for Swamp Shark.

Anyway, the shark hunt begins, and twice people remark surprise that the shark didn’t flinch when they shot at it. It’s a seriously stupid thing to say, and it’s said twice. The shark didn’t even flinch. Ah, no matter, because what you’re probably wondering is, Where the fuck is Wade Boggs? Well, he plays Deputy Stanley. Jason (the ex-football player brother) is arrested, and Wade Boggs is in charge of watching him there at the station. Wade says to him, “I played a little ball myself.” Awesome. That right there makes Swamp Shark better than most of the other shark movies.

And of course Wade Boggs has the perfect name for a film set in a swamp. By the way, this film has some great locations. And it has the deliciously retarded shot of the shark leaping onto land at one point.

Swamp Shark was directed by G. E. Furst.

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