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.

Monday, December 21, 2015

3 Headed Shark Attack (2015)

Just as the sequel to the remake of Ocean’s Eleven was titled Ocean’s Twelve, and the sequel to the film version of 21 Jump Street was titled 22 Jump Street, the sequel to 2-Headed Shark Attack is 3 Headed Shark Attack. And I’ll tell you right now, I’m looking forward to the sixth or seventh instalment of this series. Well, this three-headed shark is even more dangerous than its predecessor, as it goes right up onto the beach in search of snacks. Just when you thought it was safe to go near the water.

Maggie is a gung ho young intern arriving for her first day of work at an underwater research station studying pollution and its effects on marine life. Dr. Laura Thomas, a chick with amazing boobs, seems to be in charge (twenty minutes into the film, I glanced up at her face and was disappointed), along with Dr. Ted Nelson. Also arriving on this day is a small group of environmental activists, who are invited to work with the scientists. We learn that pollution is causing mutations in between twenty and twenty-five percent of specimens the facility is studying. I like that this movie has a nice environmental message: Don’t pollute, and we won’t have to worry about giant three-headed sharks.

This shark has some interesting abilities. Besides jumping onto shore for lunch, it’s able to somehow swim in water that’s only three feet deep without breaking the surface (perhaps it tucks that dorsal fin in), then leap twenty-five feet into the air and dive straight down into the shallow water and disappear. It’s kind of amazing.

It’s not long before the shark attacks the research station. This movie taps into one of my secret fears – being eaten by a shark while I’m seated on the toilet. Oh, I’m going to have nightmares for weeks. Well, the shark causes an explosion, and it looks like the only ones to make it out alive are Boobs, Ted Nelson, Maggie and the activists. Uh-oh, they are the heroes? Well, the activists’ boat is a good distance from shore. So the plan is for one guy to swim to the boat, start it, and drive it to shore, so everyone else can get in. But the first guy who reaches the boat can’t get it started. The second has trouble. The third, Alison (the cute one), just seems shaken. The fourth one doesn’t make it. Finally they get it started, but then immediately abandon their plan, saying the water is too shallow. So the last three have to swim to the boat anyway. Way to draw out a scene, folks. Boobs goes into the water to distract the shark, so that the other two can make it to the boat (though three have made it already without any such distraction). Boobs’ plan should work. I myself am distracted. And, unfortunately, it does work. Boobs is eaten, and I’m a little less interested in the movie. We still have Alison, who is cute but worthless. Anyway, they try to contact the coast guard, but instead reach Max Burns (Danny Trejo), who is out fishing with a couple of friends. They try to convince him to come help them, that they’re being chased by a giant three-headed shark.

But the shark, having already eaten Boobs, understandably loses interest in pursuing their boat, especially when it spies a party boat full of hot girls nearby. So actually Maggie, Ted and the remaining activists are safe. And hey, the shark eats trash on its way to the party boat. Nice. It’s cleaning the ocean, not only of bad actors but of beer cans. Speaking of bad actors, here comes Danny Trejo to the rescue.

Well, instead of using the opportunity of the shark being otherwise occupied to go to shore (which is really close, by the way), Maggie convinces the others they have to rescue the drunks on the party boat. She says that they have to do something because she just watched all her friends die. Wait a minute. She was an intern, and this was her first day. She hadn’t even met most of the people at that research station. How is she calling them her friends? Don’t you hate people who try to take others’ tragedies and somehow make it personal to them? Greg, one of the activists, gets in on it too: “We just watched all of our friends get eaten by that monster. All of them.” Well, one of his friends was eaten, but the others are on the boat. That’s assuming that he has no other friends anywhere in the world. Greg must just be caught up in the excitement. Later, at home, he’ll be able to give a more accurate assessment of what transpired.

Anyway, the shark is supposedly following the trail of trash from the party boat, but the trash is all beer cans, and everyone on the boat is drinking from plastic cups. Whoops! One guy on the party boat sees the three-headed shark and says, “That’s odd.” I agree. The shark then jumps right onto the party boat, eats some people, then swims away. But suddenly almost everyone is gone from the party boat. Where did they go? Did they run out of money for extras in the budget? Some of them appear again a little later.

By the way, the DVD box says, “Uncensored” and “Unrated,” but the word “shit” is missing at one point, having been cut, and at two other points the word “shoot” has clearly been substituted after the fact. The guy sees the shark coming right for him and says, “Aw, shoot.” Uncensored, my ass.

Well, there is a shot of one guy riding the shark, which is hilarious. It’s one of my favorite moments of the movie. So their plan had been to rescue the drunks, but they managed to only rescue three people from that party boat, while losing at least one of their own. Nice plan, Maggie. But Maggie isn’t done being an obnoxious and stupid little bitch. When told the boat would only last another twenty miles, she tells them to drive to an atoll that’s ten or fifteen miles ahead because it’s the only land they can reach. But even as she says this, we can see land on either side of the boat, and it’s quite close. But instead of pointing this out to Maggie, they follow her instructions and drive forward. These people are fucking idiots. And what is up with this series and atolls?

And why does Danny Trejo have all these big guns on his fishing boat? And there is suddenly something about the shark being able to grow more heads (preparing us for the next movie in the series, I assume).

Well, this atoll has badminton nets and park benches and so on. And it has a couple of boats, just like the atoll in the first film. So they split up, getting into the two boats. The shark, of course, chases one of the boats. And… have I mentioned how fucking stupid these people are? The people on the other boat yell “Shark!” to Alison, but she’s like, “What are they shouting?” Silly bitch, what else could they possibly be shouting? What is the one thing you’ve been trying to get away from for the last ninety minutes? Alison is cute, but when the shark finally eats her, I’m glad. You know, there is land everywhere you look in this film. These idiots could have been safe at any time they desired. But instead they just keep getting on boats. At the end of the day, they’re just too stupid to live.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

2-Headed Shark Attack (2012)

Charlie O’Connell and Carmen Electra take a boat full of brainless, horny college students on a trip. The students are baffled by a sextant, and things become even more difficult for them when a shark slams into the boat, breaching the hull. So they go to shallower waters near an atoll to fix the boat. One of the girls has amazing vision, because while they’re still a long way from the island she somehow notices some sticks bound together far up its shore and squeals, “Oh thank god, civilization.” That also makes me wonder how and where she was raised.

Well, Charlie O’Connell takes the students to the island to look for scrap metal (uh, okay), while Carmen Electra sunbathes on the boat (and strikes poses for God), and a woman named Laura goes underwater to do some welding, or at least to wave the instrument around in the water in the vague direction of the boat (which seems much smaller underwater) until a two-headed shark eats her.

Back on the island, the students find some abandoned shacks, and Charlie O’Connell reminds them to look for scrap metal. One of the girls reveals she is afraid of water and took this class to confront her fears. Other girls, not so afraid, go swimming topless. Hurrah! And then they start making out with each other. I’m actually a little disappointed when they get eaten by the shark. Other students find two small boats. Charlie O’Connell says, “Two boats are better than none,” apparently forgetting about the boat that brought them all to shore. Actually, let’s talk about that little boat. It’s probably only big enough for like three or four people at the most. And there are at least seventeen students. So how long did it take them just to get everyone ashore? It doesn’t seem like time passes at all in this movie. The whole thing seems to take place in the early afternoon.

Charlie O’Connell bangs his leg and then acts like his leg has actually been removed. Quit whining! Anyway, two students take him back to the main boat just to relieve the suffering of the others, who must quickly tire of listening to him acting. Uh-oh, Carmen Electra is the ship’s doctor. (But in a world where Charlie O’Connell is a college professor, it sort of makes sense that Carmen Electra would have a medical license.) By the way, the boat seems to suddenly change positions in relation to the island. Look how far away it is in the wide shot. Then a second later look how close it is from the reverse shot from the island. Magic! Then it’s far away again. (There’s a buoy in one of the shots, by the way.)

Charlie O’Connell, while still on that boat, notices something alarming. “The atoll, it’s sinking! Quick, the kids!” I guess it’s time for another five or six trips in the little boat. Good thing time doesn’t pass in this movie. The kids, however, are having trouble with the two-headed shark. But hey, look, it’s not all CG! Wonderful! Also wonderful (and hilarious) are the reactions of those still on shore as they watch their friends get eaten, and later as they watch one unscrupulous student make off with the boat. “Cole stole the ship,” the blonde tells them. This means the rest are stranded on a sinking atoll. The reaction to this news? “Dumbass,” one girl says. Another girl mumbles her line, but it's something about Cole being an idiot.

I just can’t believe they’ve abandoned their quest for scrap metal.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

90210 Shark Attack (2014)

There are a lot of bad shark movies out there, but 90210 Shark Attack is something special among these movies. Seriously. It opens with a weird instrumental tune that sounds suspiciously like “Dancing In The Sheets” from Footloose, and lots of images of Beverly Hills. In fact, there are so many images that after a while you’re like, “Yes, I got it, it’s Beverly Hills, get on with the movie.”

Well, a couple of rich, spoiled students arrive at a mansion that they’ve rented while in town for two oceanic field trips. Four others soon arrive, along with Pamela, their teacher. While one girl (supposedly the nerdy, awkward girl) walks around the house, porn music plays. It’s confusing, because this girl has her clothes on. She stares out the window at one of the guys swimming in the pool, and the film cuts back and forth between her face and him swimming. It cuts back and forth many, many times, while the porn music continues. But nothing happens, and neither of them is naked. It just goes on and on, and I began to wonder if it was on some loop, or if I were supposed to be seeing something important in her face, some thought or emotion. But no.

Alyssa (identified as the weird student) appears with what seems to be the nice boy. But Alyssa seems like kind of a bitch. Her father was apparently an oceanic anthropologist, and nerdy Jess, who is also a bitch, mentions, “There’s still a mystery about how he died.” Then she whines, “She shouldn’t get a better grade because her dad died – that’s not fair.” Whoa! By the way, these six students are taking a class on oceanic anthropology, and apparently they’re supposed to be in high school (we know because one talks about getting into college). It seems like they’re quite a bit older, and one of them, Marcie, is clearly a moron, and you wonder just how she got into this class. Maybe in your twelfth year of high school, you get special treatment. Well, it doesn’t matter.

Alyssa asks the teacher if her dad is coming back. Pamela answers: “No. All I know about the ocean is that she guards her secrets well.” Wait, if that’s all you know about the ocean, how are you teaching this class? Anyway, she tells Alyssa to write about her dad, saying it will really help her. She says this twice, so I guess she believes it. She also tells Alyssa she doesn’t have to go on the oceanic field trips, which is the whole point of them being there. Is Pamela the worst teacher ever?

It seems that Pamela thinks she’ll score with Alyssa. “We’ll just talk and we’ll see where it leads us,” Pamela says to her. By the way, Pamela is played by Donna Wilkes, who was in Jaws 2 and also starred in Angel. Anyway, so we don’t get bored, the film keeps cutting to stock footage of sharks, some of which seems to have been shot in an aquarium (or are we to believe there are red and blue lights hanging over the ocean?). And Jess tells us the story of Alyssa’s father, how he stole objects from indigenous peoples and sold them. Apparently he found some Indians who worshiped a great white shark, and he organized a hunt and killed the shark, which is actually pretty funny.

Well, the porn music returns as Pamela watches one of the male students showering. He showers like a girl, being sure not to get his hair wet. What’s up with that? Well, the two of them are in on some scheme to write a best seller about Alyssa’s father, a nice little development. A crazier development is where Bryce pretends to like Alyssa, and they kiss by the pool, and then Alyssa turns into a shark and bites Bryce’s head off. It is fucking wonderful. Instead of giving Bryce head, she takes it. Soon after that, the teacher asks her, “Are you hungry?” “No, I’m feeling kind of full,” Alyssa says. Perfect!

Marcie was secretly filming the Bryce and Alyssa scene with her phone, but later when one of the other students finds the phone and looks at the footage, the perspective is all wrong. It’s the same footage we saw, rather than new footage from Marcie’s perspective. And the footage doesn’t keep the boy from wanting to have sex with Alyssa. Hey, maybe he’s into fish. So much for the nice boy. And then with nine minutes left in the film, we return to one of the shots of the Beverly Hills sign, just in case you’ve forgotten where this all takes place.

The teacher sees the headless body of one of the students, and hardly reacts at all. “Is that Tyler in the pool?” she asks. She must have worked at some tough schools before this one. By the way, the DVD contains a commentary track by the director, and in it he says he shot the film in two days. What? Two days? That’s basically impossible. No wonder he keeps repeating shots and going back to stock footage.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Attack Of The Jurassic Shark (2012)

I can’t help myself. I keep watching these delightfully bad shark movies. And while Attack Of The Jurassic Shark is certainly bad, it also has an odd charm at moments. And it’s fun. It opens with two blondes at a deserted beach, and one wonders why it is deserted at the height of summer. The other reasons: “Who cares? Let’s just enjoy it.” Not that the first one is all that bright. After all, she is carrying a paddle, but doesn’t seem to have a boat. Plus, she doesn’t like swimming in lakes because she is afraid of sharks. What a silly tart! Except you know and I know that her silly fear might just save her life this time. It doesn’t, however, as they both go in the water. They pretend to splash each other for a while, though both are so weak that it doesn’t seem either is able to hit the other person, even though they’re standing maybe two feet apart. “Boy, you’re so going to get it,” one of them warns the other. Uh-oh, cue the shark. And down goes Tiffany. The other calls Tiffany’s name many times. But Tiffany doesn’t answer. And the other would have likely gone on calling her name indefinitely, but the shark kindly disposes of her.

Meanwhile two men (a doctor and the chairman of some board) discuss oil and some ice that melted and was shifted to the lake. There are a few more discussions with people who apparently work in some sort of combination of lab and oil drilling operation. The budget clearly didn’t allow for that sort of thing, so these conversations are in hallways and stairwells.

A bossy chick, who has apparently murdered a cop while stealing a painting, and her four henchmen arrive on the island. One of the guys says to the other, “Look, you’re my only brother, now help me with this.” There was an “Additional Dialogue” credit in the opening credits, and I’m wondering if this line is one of the additional ones. Also arriving on the island are Jill and three friends. Jill is a journalism student who is there to investigate illegal drilling, hoping her paper will win her an internship.

A couple of the painting thieves are picked off by the shark, while the survivors do their absolute best to deliver their lines. “I can’t believe it. He was almost to shore. He could have made it.” The painting they stole is now at the bottom of the lake. The shark then goes after the students, killing the one guy and leaving the three girls to call out for him repeatedly. They do find his leg, but that’s just not enough. Also, it confuses them. “What the hell, is that Mike?” one asks. And soon the three thieves and the three students meet up.

I have never seen a shark that big or ugly before,” one of the girls says. Could that be one of the additional lines of dialogue? Or maybe this line: “I thought this island was abandoned – why do I keep hearing machinery all the time?” Anyway, the six people walk through the woods to find the lab, but Jill apparently leaves her camera equipment behind. I don’t think she’s going to get that internship.

It’s not long before the thieves turn on the girls and force them to attempt to retrieve the painting from the bottom of the lake. I’m thinking that the painting might be damaged and so not worth the amount of money they were expecting, but none of the characters seem worried about this. “Get your skinny ass back in that water and bring me my painting,” the bossy chick says. “Or what? You’ll kill us? Lady, between you and it, you’re no threat.” Nice! Then the shark leaps over the students to eat the lady, and then somehow turns around mid-air to land back in the water. Pretty impressive move there.

What would happen if that thing found a populated beach elsewhere?” one of the girls wonders. Well, it’s a lake, so… But of course Jason Voorhees took a boat from Crystal Lake to New York, so anything is possible.

The slowest credits in the history of cinema help pad this trifle, taking what is a 65-minute movie and making it nearly 79 minutes. Seriously, the end credits last thirteen and a half minutes. I think that’s even longer than those fucking credits to that Lord Of The Rings DVD where they listed every single person in the fan club for no good reason.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Avalanche Sharks (2013)

If you haven’t been paying attention to the news lately, you might not be aware that sharks are turning up in some unexpected places – in Venice, in swamps, even in snow. Avalanche Sharks is a film that shows us that sharks can even turn up in someone’s mind. Yes, that’s right, everything that happens in the movie is just a story that a character within the movie tells.

A guy in a hospital wants to tell his sexy hallucination the story of how he broke his leg. And we see the story (well, except he never actually tells how he broke his leg, but no matter). Some guy sets off some explosives on a mountain where two guys are snowboarding. There is no reason for him to set off those explosives, but they apparently wake up some glowing alien sharks, who quickly eat the snowboarders. Meanwhile some arrogant little bitch named Becca and her friend get a ride to Mammoth from a guy named Randy. And Randy – is Randy the guy from the beginning? Not sure – tells them a story on the way there. A story within a story? Well, we see this one too, and it involves hundreds of intelligent space sharks searching for a new planet. (Isn’t this the basis for Scientology?) One of the shark pods lands on Mammoth.

Anyway, it’s spring break, and there are a lot of girls on the mountain, though it’s impossible to tell just how many, because they’re all blondes, and I have trouble telling them apart. One of the blondes is a marine biologist. Good thing she’s on this mountain. Good thing her boyfriend or father or uncle or whoever he is told us she’s a marine biologist, because obviously this will come into play later. Except it actually never does. It’s never mentioned again. And weirdly, an old guy refers to the glowing sharks by the word invented by Randy in his story to the girls – skookum, or something like that. So apparently we’re still within the story within the story within the movie. Oh boy. That means that anything that happens doesn’t even matter within the world of the film, let alone to those of us watching.

As you might expect, there is a lot of silliness in this film. As in Snow Shark, the avalanche sharks are able to travel in snow that’s only a few inches deep. But I like that a child’s drawing from twenty-five years ago is still in the sheriff’s cabinet, but that he apparently has never seen it. The sheriff’s office is actually at the ski resort, which is also odd. Odder still is that the owner of the Mammoth ski resort is able to fire the sheriff and give the job to the head of his ski patrol. Okay. The blonde who drew that picture twenty-five years earlier says these sharks killed her parents, and that there is some Native American legend about these sharks swimming up a river and ending up in the ice. So they didn’t travel through space?

Back in the hospital, the guy’s hallucination gets angry with the inconsistencies in his story. So I guess the hallucination is the character we’re supposed to side with in this film. And because the whole thing is a story made up by a character within the imagination of a character within the film, should I even bother to point out weird plot problems, like that some chick rides up the mountain in a gondola with one guy, presumably to ski, only to be shown moments later riding on the back of some other guy’s snowmobile? Probably not.

And while a lot of people are fighting the sharks, some oriental chick (and I love that the hallucination refers to her as an “oriental chick”) quietly becomes the hero of this story within the story within the film. And then the movie takes us to Mars for some reason. But don’t worry about that.