What’s scarier than a shark?

sharks_with_frickin_laser_beams_attached_postcard-p239174773458964175baanr_400We all do it. There’s a rotten, putrid smell of something on your finger and you just can’t stop sniffing it; you’ve got a loose tooth and you can’t stop wiggling it with your tongue even though it hurts; there’s a fiery car accident on the 405 and you can’t stop looking at the mangled bodies; your next-door neighbor is skinny dipping in her pool and even though your binoculars are shaking, you can’t take your eyes off her tan lines. I remember the entire typing pool at work went to see Deep Throat on their lunch hour: were they porno fiends or was it just a cultural stink they couldn’t resist? Stop and think back; I’m sure you too have your own personal examples of such behavior.

Me? I subscribe to the cinematic theory that if you see something lethally frightening, unbelievable gross, utterly hopeless, or featuring sharks with lazar beams attached to their heads, you can face anything in your every-day life … at least it’s not the shark.

Speaking of sharks: there are movies I have been warned against and held off seeing; then when I finally gave in and sat down in the movie theater or popped a DVD in the Blueray, I discovered that the film was nothing like the hype. I did this with The Exorcist (not scary), Seinfeld (not funny), Love Story (not believable), and so many more. Note that I still have avoided the torture of watching The Sound of Music so I won’t comment on that one. But now I have added yet another movie I had avoided because of the hype and can now affirm that it was as bad if not worse than the commentators and comedians have been saying. But it was also great!

Yes. I’m referring to that magnum opus of the SyFi network (conveniently available on Netfix) titled Sharknado. Two hours ago I would have told you it was a stupid movie about a monster that was a clone of a tornado and a shark and you would have laughed along with me. But now I can attest that it is actually a stupid movie about a huge hurricane with resulting tornadoes that Climate Change whips-up in the Pacific to slam into Los Angeles and … here’s the trick … the storm not only picks up beaucoup de water in it’s water spouts but also hundreds of deadly sharks to rain down of unsuspecting Angelenos. Sharks falling from the sky; sharks swimming out of storm drains; sharks in all the pools in Beverly Hills; no dolphins or whales or rogue plankton … only sharks.

But there were some things about this film that were a tad unbelievable. First, as I hinted at, Climate Change only generates super-storms that attract sharks. If tuna fish had rained down on L. A. how scary would that be? At best it would call for a new entry on the Pink’s menu. Then there are the bombs that save humanity, bombs made of a small canister of oxygen tied to a road-flare and thrown into an F-5 tornado causing the storm to disintegrate with the explosion and rain soon-to-be spattered sharks down on the city. There are one or two other events in the movie that defy credulity but not enough to stop the movie from being fun.

As you might expect, the production values in this film approached award status. One critic suggested that the acting rivaled the wooden dialogue you might encounter in a bad porno, but I take exception to that short-sighted conclusion. Think about it: if you were making a movie about sharks flying around in a tornado and eating anyone south of Santa Clarita, would you want Lord Larry to be showing off his round vowels? Be thankful there were no ex-body builders in the cast. And how brilliant were the scenes where the heroes were speeding down the boulevard with a tornado chasing them and sharks falling from the sky but the other cars in the scene were driving like it was a Sunday afternoon on the Strip? Now that’s acting!

Being a long-time student and teacher of literature, I would be remise if I didn’t mention that Sharknado is ripe with allusions and outright thefts paying homage to many of the Shark movies that have gone before, especially Jaws. The most memorable allusion comes when the helicopter approaches the first tornado and the ingenue borrows Roy Scheider’s famous ad-lib, “You’re gonna need a bigger chopper” … wait, that might be a theft and not an allusion.

There is so much more to this movie, I can only suggest that you see it for yourself. Oh, did I mention that it’s almost as gory as a good Japanese slasher movie?

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