Written by: : Mike MacLean
Directed by: Declan O’Brien
Starring: Eric Roberts, Karem Bursin, and Sara Malakul Lane
Reviewed by: Brett G.
“You just unleashed an eight-legged man-eating shark on the world.”
“A minor setback.”
“A minor setback.”
Speaking of unleashing, if there’s anything that’s arguably worse than the killer shark genre, it’s all the other killer animal movies that were unleashed because of Jaws. It seems only natural that some enterprising mind would find a way to bring the worst of both worlds together by combining a crappy shark movie with Tentacles, thus yielding Sharktopus (or, in Lamberto Bava's case, a Devil Fish). It seems only appropriate that something like this would come together under the gaze of another unholy union in the form of Roger Corman and the SyFy Channel. Sure, we all love Corman, but there’s no denying that his name isn’t always synonymous with quality; meanwhile, SyFy’s track record speaks for itself, as anyone who’s spent a Saturday night with their original programming will surely attest to.
Dr. Nathan Sands (Roberts) is a genetic scientist who has been tasked with creating the ultimate weapon for the United States Navy. His genius yields the title character, which is indeed half-shark and half-octopus. After a test run goes horribly and fatally wrong, the Sharktopus is freed and heads down to Mexico to sample the delicacies. Sands tracks down a former Navy Seal and fellow geneticist, Andy Flynn (Bursin), who teams up with Sands’s daughter, Nicole, to track down and capture the beast for a reward.
Like its title character, this movie probably shouldn’t exist, and once you’ve laid eyes on it, you’ll probably wish it didn’t. A terrible film in most respects, Sharktopus is delivers precisely what you would expect from SyFy: cheap production values, z-grade acting, and general stupidity all the way around. But, to be fair, the film seems to be aware of the expectations set forth by its title, as it embraces the absurd at nearly every turn. And, if anything, it doesn’t shy away from being a goofy creature feature, as it only takes about five minutes for all hell to break loose when Sharktopus makes its first appearance; from there, the film is merely a succession of more hell continuing to break loose, as the creature is provided with fodder every few minutes. At times, it feels like the equivalent of film-makers just throwing chum out to lure the beast out for audiences to see.
They’ll hardly be marveling at it though, as it’s brought to life by some primitive CGI that looks like it’d belong in a Pixar movie. Its attacks are generally seen from long shots, perhaps to wisely mask just how fake it looks, but there are plenty of in-your-face money shots that will remind you of that fact. It’s a shame too because, as stupid as the concept is, it lends itself to some fun sequences in theory. Since the Sharktopus isn’t confined to the water, there are several instances where it comes landside to attack its fleeing prey. This leads to a number of death sequences, and the film doesn’t hold back too much on the gore, at least. Though the effects (again, mostly computer-generated) are crude, there’s no shortage of blood and guts. Then again, this wears thin pretty quickly since said blood and guts are being splattered onto the screen from the opening scene.
There’s not much else to complement the grue, save for Eric Roberts, who is seemingly in competition with the title character when it comes to chewing the scenery. His performance is anything but subtle and hardly revelatory, but it at least brings a bit of a spark. The same can’t be said of anyone else, and, if anyone from this somehow goes on to have a noteworthy career, this film will stand as the embarrassment on their résumé. It doesn’t help that they’re all saddled with nearly every conceivable action movie/creature feature cliché imaginable. Random firing of bullets out of rage? Check. Loud, pronounced “noooo” yelled out of anguish? You bet. On a humorous note, Corman himself shows up in a cameo that involves him finding a gleaming gold coin, which he happily pockets; I can only hope this is somehow symbolic summation of his entire career, or, at the very least, his participation in this film.
So, yes, Sharktopus is a bad movie. But you already know that without me telling you; I’m just here to assure you that it probably doesn’t fall too far below the standards you’ve set for crap like this. It’s a killer shark with tentacles, and it kills people, which is about all you can hope for. And it sort of delivers on that level. After debuting as a “hit film” (the DVD promotion’s words, not mine) on SyFy last year, Anchor Bay has brought this bad boy home to DVD and Blu-ray. Presentation-wise, the DVD is solid: the transfer is anamorphic and the 5.1 surround track will let you hear the Sharktopus fling its tentacles all around your room. Special features include the film’s trailer and an audio commentary with Roger and Julie Corman. Fans of bad movies and killer aquatic creature movies (which are often not mutually exclusive) should get a minor kick out of this one. What scares me is that I’ll be back for second helpings, so long as Sharktopus is paired with something as equally-ridiculous (like, perhaps, a Piranhaconda). Don’t judge me. Rent it!
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