30th Jun2011

‘Swamp Shark’ Blu-ray Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Kristy Swanson, D.B. Sweeney, Robert Davi, Jeff Chase | Written by Eric Miller, Charles Bolon | Directed by Griff Furst

On a remote patch of swamp, an illegal animal smuggling deal goes bad and a vicious creature is released into the river. Meanwhile at the Broussard family-owned Gator Shed restaurant a disgruntled customer and their whole pen of gators are mangled to bits by whatever has gotten loose. In the commotion, Rachel Broussard, the head of the clan, catches a glimpse of a massive, armored, shark. The crooked town sheriff pins the deaths that pile up on the Broussard’s ‘escaped’ pack of gators – when he’s the one who brokered the shark deal to begin with! Unwilling to go down without a fight, Rachel and her family – with the help of a mysterious stranger named Charlie, take on the Swamp Shark in order to clear their names, save the restaurant, and prevent the unwitting folks at the upcoming Gator Fest from being torn to shreds!

Let me make something clear before you read any further – I’m a huge fan of low-budget monster movies/creature-features such as Mega Piranha, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus et al. so my enjoyment of Swamp Shark may vary WILDY from yours. Do bear that in mind as you read on.

So, that said, how does Swamp Shark compare with its predecessors? Well for one it stars Robert Davi, who makes any movie at least 10x better than one without him. That Davi doesn’t feature in the majority of the films running time makes no difference. Davi = quality… Then of course we have D.B. Sweeney, the charismatic leading man who really should have been a bigger star than he became, his role as the undercover FBI (?!) agent investigating shark smuggling is pretty much a bog-standard role for Sweeney, he walks through the film in an oh-so-familiar fashion which still puts him waaaay over and above the majority of the rest of Swamp Shark‘s cast. When it comes to leading-lady Kristy Swanson – well she actually gives the self-same performance she gave in the original Buffy movie – this time portraying a cafe/bar owning gator-hunter – with the same vacant stare and Valley-girl attitude we saw in her first major film. Nothing much has changed with Swanson, apart from a slightly more “muscle” to her frame – the girls obviously been working out for this action-filled role! The rest of the cast? Pretty much filled with unknowns – the best of which is definitely Jeff Chase as Swanson’s hot-headed on-screen brother.

The film itself is the flimsiest of plots – shark escapes captivity, ends up in a gator-filled swamp, goes around eating gators and people, group of wannabe shark hunters take on the eponymous beast. Beast is vanquished. As they say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and with this simple but effective tale they’re right.

Like all good monster movies the monstrous Swamp Shark is kept off screen or in quick cuts and shadows for the majority of the films running time. When the shark is on screen it’s a combination of CGI and practical effects work, with the emphasis more on the CG sadly. Like Jaws (yes I am about to compare the film to that classic) gore is kept to an effective minimum – there are plenty of in-water deaths where, like Spielberg’s film, we see the bloody aftermath in the water. There is, again like Jaws, one standout gruesome scene featuring the remains of one of the sharks victims but the rest of the movies deaths are disappointingly CGI-friendly chomp-fests…

Whilst Swamp Shark isn’t the best of the recent shark-based monster movies (that honour belongs to Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus) it’s a damn sight better than Sharktopus and Mega Shark in Malibu, both of which I’ve have had to suffer through so you didn’t have to. If, like me, you’re a fan of these kinds of flicks then you’ll definitely enjoy Swamp Shark.

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