Friday, December 25, 2015

Sand Sharks (2011)

As you’re probably aware, recent government bills lifting restrictions on sharks have allowed them to expand into new territory. They are no longer limited to the ocean. Sharks are everywhere these days – in lakes, in swamps, in the snow, in tornadoes – so it should surprise no one to find them in the sand. Sand Sharks stars Corin Nemec (whom you might recall from Raging Sharks), Brooke Hogan (whom you might recall from 2-Headed Shark Attack), Eric Scott Woods (whom you might recall from Avalanche Sharks), Gina Holden (whom you might also recall from Avalanche Sharks), and Vanessa Evigan (whom you won’t recall from Avalanche Sharks, though she did work on it in the visual effects department).

It opens with some guys riding dirt bikes on the sand. Now when riding dirt bikes one thing you’re not worried about is a shark attack. But if they had read the title on the DVD case, they’d know better. Jimmy Green (Corin Nemec) is a slightly shady guy with a plan to get the town back in shape. He wants to start a celebration, which he calls The Sandman Festival, to draw people to the town to help its economy. His father is the mayor, so he’s able to put his idea into motion. Meanwhile Sheriff John (Eric Scott Woods) and his deputy Brenda (Vanessa Evigan), who is also his sister, are investigating the deaths of the dirt biker riders. They decide to call in Dr. Powers, a shark expert. Instead, they get his daughter, Sandy Powers (Brooke Hogan), who apparently is also a shark expert. These things run in the family. Oddly, in 2-Headed Shark Attack, Brooke’s character also inherited her father’s knowledge and expertise, that time in welding. Go figure.

This movie lifts a lot of stuff from Jaws. There is a guy with a dorsal fin hat chasing a girl around on the beach, like the young prankster from Jaws. The sheriff then closes the beach, and when the merchants get angry, the mayor says it will be for “twenty-for hours only,” which is also in Jaws. And then we get Angus, a weird old fisherman who says he can catch the shark, but demands more money than what is being offered. In Jaws, Quint demands ten thousand dollars, and that’s probably what leads Angus to choose his amount, which is also ten thousand dollars. “For that, I’ll bring you the head,” he says. Sound familiar?

The sand shark eats a cable on the beach, which causes a power outage in town. Sneaky fish. But what’s good about this movie is that halfway through, the sand shark is killed. So the festival can go ahead as planned. But again, if they looked at the DVD case, they might notice that the title is Sand Sharks, not Sand Shark. Sandy Powers reminds the sheriff that this shark was a baby so the mother is likely out there looking for her child (because sharks are such good parents). And hey, are we getting a bit into Jaws: The Revenge territory here now?

Not many people show up for the festival, but Jimmy talks it up to the crowd anyway, saying it’s the best beach party ever. The few dozen people there react like he’s telling them the truth. And the camera man helps Jimmy by providing lots of close-ups to make it seem like more people are there. But we do see Jimmy’s human side when he tells Amanda off. Amanda’s death scene is great, by the way. And even better is Jimmy’s reaction, jumping from the sand onto the little step of his trailer.

There is also a seriously excellent moment when two men on the beach shout out in horror and fear, and the rest of the crowd hears it and shouts out in response, but in joy. I love that this film makes fun of stupid crowd mentality, those idiots who shout because others are shouting. The festival goers are all morons anyway, for when the sharks begin attacking, they run around in circles on the beach, rather than making a straight line out of there. And it turns out it’s not just the sand shark’s mother that shows up, but its whole family – siblings, aunts, cousins, perhaps even some neighbors.

This movie is actually a lot better than most of these shark movies. For one thing, it has a good sense of humor, at one point even mentioning Roger Corman and Dinoshark.  Who?” Sheriff John asks. “Obviously you’re not a B movie fan,” Sandy Powers says. “Nope,” he agrees. Another thing is that the actors actually seem invested in their parts. Corin Nemec’s performance, for example, is good, as is Vanessa Evigan’s. And for CG, the sharks, for the most part, don’t look all that bad.

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