By Simon Miraudo
September 24, 2013
Sharknado was made with the worst intentions. You need only look to its dismissive tagline – “Enough said!” – for evidence of its attempt to capitalise on the popularity of bad movies. Cheaply – and poorly – produced, it was meant to be consumed by groups of people who’ve congregated specifically to drink copious amounts of alcohol and make fun of it, as they already do with The Room, Plan 9 from Outer Space, and The Iron Lady. (Okay, maybe not The Iron Lady yet, but trust me, in twenty years, at Halloween parties across the land, you won’t be able to move for giant-toothed Meryl Streep impersonators.)
Here’s the big difference: The Room‘s director, Tommy Wiseau, wanted to make a kitchen sink drama that burned with the passion of Tennessee Williams (as its infamous, typo-ridden billboard falsely promised). With Sharknado, knock-off studio The Asylum, the SyFy channel, and director Anthony C. Ferrante sought only to make a movie bad enough to be mocked. It worked. Upon its original broadcast on SyFy in the U.S., Twitter was, well, atwitter with gobsmacked viewers shocked (and delighted) by the awesomeness of a tornado comprised entirely of sharks. As of this review’s writing, Sharknado boasts a 91 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes; a higher score than those bestowed upon Woody Allen‘s Blue Jasmine, Elysium, and pretty much every blockbuster that came out in 2013. As it stands, it is the most critically acclaimed feature Tara Reid has ever starred in. And she starred in The Big Lebowski.
Ian Ziering plays Fin (geddit?), a bar owner and former champion surfer wary of a storm headed straight for California. When the tempest hits – hurling a seemingly infinite number of sharks into the city – he makes a run for it with an Aussie risk-taker (Jaason Simmons), flirty barmaid (Cassie Scerbo), and resident drunk (John Heard), hoping to find his estranged wife (Reid) and daughter (Aubrey Peeples) before they’re claimed by the dreaded fishicane. I refuse to Google the character names. Similarly, I pledged to not spend more time summarising the plot than the screenwriters likely did penning the script. So, I’m done.
Sharknado was born to suck, but I’m hesitant to accuse its enthusiastic viewers of being rubes. The prime reason: I’m an enthusiastic viewer of it too. Though it’s meant to be intentionally atrocious – always a sure fire way to make your faux-exploitation film totally inessential – Sharknado is still amusingly inept in ways that I don’t think even the makers could have anticipated. The visual language of the thing is incomprehensible; the performances abominable; the stock footage totally incongruous; the continuity not entire continuous; the brief flashes of comedy more cringe worthy than even the CGI. And then there are outrageous moments that are actually impressive in their audacity, such as the moment in which a shark tries to climb a rope, or the pièce de résistance, in which our hero Fin jumps up and into one of the beasts with a chainsaw as an act of violent revenge.
The makers probably just wanted to produce something on a budget that would be accidentally watched by undiscriminating viewers (like those who accidentally rent The Asylum’s Transmorphers instead of Transformers). Rather, they magicked upon a winning combination of shi**iness that sees their picture enter the pantheon of crappy cinema. Plus, it has more deaths – bloody ones, too – than that abysmal Australian film Bait 3D, so that’s something. This is where the star-rating system falls apart, however. Sharknado is fun, but it’s terrible, born purely from cold-blooded monetary gain, and inexcusably kills off John Heard almost immediately. (Spoiler alert?) Can I give it one and a half stars, and still recommend it?
Sharknado is now streaming on Quickflix. It will be available on DVD from October 9, 2013.