Should I Watch..? 'Sharknado'
What's the big deal?
Sharknado is a made-for-television disaster movie released in 2013 and distributed by The Asylum studios, renowned distributors of B-movies such as this. It became an overnight cult sensation primarily due to Twitter and a large number of celebrities including Olivia Wilde, Wil Wheaton and Cory Monteith tweeting about the film. As it became more popular with each showing on the Syfy channel in the US, the number of viewers kept increasing so much that it has now become its own franchise and arguably the most popular film by The Asylum in their history. It was also given a one-night only midnight showing in 200 cinemas across the US where it grossed less than $200'000.
What's it about?
A freak cyclone is approaching Los Angeles, prompting surfer and bar-owner Fin Shepard to evacuate his bar before the storm hits. Sadly, he's too late and is forced to escape with his best friend Baz, waitress Nova and barfly George. Fin decides that he has to rescue his estranged wife April and daughter Claudia and sets off across the city to take them to safety.
But this is no ordinary storm - the cyclone has swept up hundreds of sharks and it begins depositing them all over the city. As sharks rain down on the terrified population, and the flood waters continue to rise, will Fin and his ramshackle team find and rescue April or will they all turn into lunch?
Anthony C. Ferrante
Release Date (UK)
11th July, 2013
Disaster, Horror, Sci-Fi
What's to like?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to shtick like Sharknado. One is that hateful phrase "so bad, it's good" which suggests that a truly terrible movie can somehow redeem itself by being so awful that it becomes funny. The other is my personal philosophy which is that all films, regardless of budget, should be assessed on a level playing field - after all, where is the sense in giving this film 3-stars just because it's so dreadful when many other films try to entertain but simply fail, sometimes through no fault of their own? However, if you feel that you are in the first group, then Sharknado will be everything you've ever dreamed of and more. At times, it is laugh-out-loud funny as Fin goes from a humble bar owner to the sort of hero who's a cape short of being Superman.
Although none of the cast ever comes close to convincing us that they are in mortal danger, I suppose that credit is due because at no point does anyone burst into fits of giggles spouting the lines they're given. It reminded me, in a weird way, of when you used to play the original Sim City all those years ago - specifically, that point when you get bored of building industrial units away from residential zones and inflict every one of the disaster settings on your city and you sat back and watched it burn. Sharknado feels like the twisted nightmare of a six-year-old but given a thorough B-movie gloss. It is staggering in its ineptitude.
- The entire film was shot in just 18 days.
- The set for the flooded house was placed into a pool but there was no way of heating the water. If you look carefully, you can see the actors shivering.
- Ziering was unsure about doing the film until his wife insisted he do it as they had another child on the way and he needed the work. Steve Guttenberg turned it down, though he later regretted doing so.
What's not to like?
For me, almost everything. The CG sharks look appalling, the cast are hopeless, the direction is maddening and for some reason I can't entirely fathom, the sharks all growl and roar like lions which is a useful feature to have when you spend your entire life underwater! I realise that I am missing the point - Sharknado is supposed to be bad, to a point when you laugh at it instead of going with it - but I simply cannot believe that the film should become immune to criticism because it doesn't care what critics say. Granted, neither do its audience. After all, you'll probably get a good feel about how a movie is from the poster, the trailer or in this case, its title. You're not stupid, are you?
And yet... there's something about Sharknado that doesn't quite ring true. I've no doubt that the film is designed with the 'so bad, it's good' mentality in mind and if that's the case then the filmmakers can pat themselves on the back for a job well done. But it's bad by design, not by accident - compare it to that most notorious of turkeys The Room which was just as badly made as this but done so accidentally. Tommy Wiseau's cinematic benchmark is a failure in every sense whereas Sharknado had the misfortune of actually succeeding in being this bad. Is this making sense?
Should I watch it?
Unless you're a sucker for the utterly irredeemable, the absolute worst of the worst that Hollywood can offer then you would be wise to avoid Sharknado like an unnecessary prostate examination. The rest of you will find a movie that revels in its craziness, ignores the blatant awfulness of its effects and treats its audience to what might just be the daftest movie ever created. Well, until Sharknado 2: The Second One came along...
Great For: bad movie nights, home commentaries, The Asylum's bank balance
Not So Great For: critics like me, audience's IQ scores, justifying the budget
What else should I watch?
Practically anything. On a serious note, there are much better shark movies out there than this one. Deep Blue Sea offers plenty of thrills and spills and their CG sharks look a lot better than the ones seen here. It also helps that the cast has more than two recognisable faces in it. Then, of course, there's the daddy of them all - Jaws - which maintains its tension throughout, despite the fact that the shark itself is as fake as a flight attendant's smile. Or if you want more of the same then any of the inevitable sequels offer much the same sort of fare but with tongue further in cheek and lots more celebrity cameos. And I use the word "celebrity" with some measure of caution.
Of course, it's not easy trying to find movies that are so bad, they're good. But allow me to offer you some suggestions - Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever, Santa With Muscles and the pre-Marvel Studios Nick Fury: Agent Of SHIELD are all good places to start. There's even the daddy of them all, Tommy Wiseau's bizarre and downright laughable The Room, a film so bad that it has passed into notoriety and become the stuff of legend.
© 2015 Benjamin Cox