28th Apr2016

‘Sharknado: The Collection’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Combining Sharknado, Sharknado 2: The Second One, and Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!  – Sharknado: The Collection is a 3-disc boxset filled with shark-infested splatter-fest action! With the set due for release on May 2nd, here’s our review of all three Sharknado movies…

sharknado-collection

SHARKNADO

Stars: Ian Ziering, Jaason Simmons, Tara Reid, Cassie Scerbo, John Heard, Alex Arleo, Neil H. Berkow, Heather Jocelyn Blair | Written by Thunder Levin | Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante

When a freak tornado swamps Los Angeles, thousands of man-eating sharks are sucked into the swirling vortex, terrorizing the waterlogged populace and flooding the city with shark-infested seawater. Surfer and bar-owner Fin (Ziering) sets out with his friends Baz (Simmons) and Nova (Scerbo) to rescue his estranged wife April (Reid) and teenage daughter Claudia from the sharks raining down from the skies. With nature’s deadliest killer ruling sea, land, and air, they soon realise that the best chance they have to survive the deadly shark-infested maelstrom is to find a way to destroy it themselves.

What can I say about Sharknado that hasn’t already been said? A film that caused a social media furore on its Syfy channel debut, this is another product of The Asylum made for the Syfy channel and is yet another “concept first, plot second” flick The Asylum have become somewhat synonymous with. Thankfully the Syfy channel has become home to these types of cheesy low-budget creature-features – genre which has has renewed success on television since the debut of Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus – and I hope they continue to be. This time round Syfy/The Asylum team up with Anthony  C. Ferrante, who has scripted a number of well-received horror films (Boo, Scream of the Banshee) in the past as well as some truly awful movies – House of Bones I’m looking at you. Thankfully Sharknado sits somewhere in between: yes it’s incredibly cheap and cheesy but it’s SUPPOSED to be!

It’s easy to see why Sharknado captured everyone’s imagination – its dumb, loud and incredibly stupid but it’s also fun. The cast look like they’re having fun and that translates well on screen which means us, as an audience can have fun with the film too. Disaster movies are a staple of Hollywood, as are creature features/monster movies, so why wouldn’t a mash-up of the two work?

But, for me, the reason Sharknado works is it’s script, which was penned by one of the coolest sounding screenwriters ever, Thunder Levin, who also wrote and directed The Asylum’s Battleship and After Earth knock-offs, American Warships and AE: Apocalyse Earth. Levin was also responsible for co-writing Atlantic Rim, another recent better-than-average Asylum “mockbuster” of the big-budget kaiju flick from Guillermo Del Toro. Here he manages to imbue the film with a sense of fun (without resorting to knowing winks to the audience), which I can safely say was missing from some of the more recent Syfy channel giant monster movies flicks, his script managing to bring back what I like to call the “WTF? sense of wonder” that was present on Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus’ debut.

And that climax? Friggin’ genius! Really looks like someone’s been watching their low-budget horror movies lately. Speaking of the climax, just a quick note to casting directors… Cassie Scerbo is one hell of a leading lady, convincingly balancing sexiness with a bad-ass attitude (even in an OTT production like this) – in my opinion she needs to be in more movies pronto… And no it’s not JUST because she’s a hottie!

Stupid, dumb, fun and funny, Sharknado is one of those movies that demands little from its audience other than to sit back and enjoy. It ticks all the boxes for me – onto the sequel I say…

SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE

Stars: Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Vivica A. Fox, Mark McGrath, Kari Wuhrer, Courtney Baxter, Dante Palminteri | Written by Thunder Levin | Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante

Fin Shepard (Ziering) and his ex-wife April (Reid) are flying to New York City when their plane enters the most unnatural of storms and is battered by airborne sharks. As blood is shed and passengers are maimed in the skies, New York awakens and people spill onto the streets, unaware of the peril descending rapidly towards them… a sharknado is about to hit the big apple! Armed with weapons and explosives, Fin realises he must risk all to save his sister’s family from the greatest of danger as floods and storms crash into the city.

The first Sharknado was something of an unexpected phenomenon. Your typical monster-movie produced by The Asylum, it captured the imagination of more than just those of who usually tune-in to these kinds of cheesy low-budget B-movies; and it seemed, at the time, everyone was cheering on this crazy high-concept flick. Judging by Sharknado 2: The Second One however, that wave of goodwill may wear out well before this franchise has run its course. What started out as a film that cheekily knew just how bad it was and had fun with it, has somehow evolved – even after only two movies – into the type of cheddar-laced, celebrity-filled, disaster movie that Irwin Allen became synonymous with.

The big disappointment is that many of the “laughs” and knowing nods found in the original have been replaced with in-jokes and celebrity cameos, of which there are WAAAY too many – including (and this is all the ones I can remember off the top of my head) Wil Wheaton, Kelly Osbourne, Robert Hays – as a pilot no less, Andy Dick, Pepa – from Salt ‘n’ Pepa, Judd Hirsch, Billy Ray Cyrus, Perez Hilton, Jared – from the famous US Subway ads, WWE/TNA wrestler Kurt Angle, scream queen Tiffany Shepis and even rapper Biz Markie. Plus a whole heap of American TV news and weather “celebs” who I doubt will resonate with anyone outside the US. Told you this was more like an Irwin Allen production didn’t I?

Of course I shouldn’t complain, we ALL knew what to expect from Sharknado 2. After all joe public was in on the plot, the celebs and even the title of the film from its inception. We are responsible for the B-movie behemoth that Sharknado has become. Yes we helped shape, and are to blame for, a movie that features the line: “We predict shark-fall rates of 2-inches an hour.” Really? Really?!

There are some plus points – the cutaways to the tornadoes descending on New York look stunning (almost like they’ve stepped out of a Hollywood blockbuster rather than a cheesy B-movie – stock footage perhaps?) and Ian Ziering slicing a flying Great White shark clean in half with a chainsaw really upped the ante on “bad-ass scenes in B-movies” for everyone. Well that’s until Tara Reid crafts herself a band saw for a hand. Yeah you read that right… A band saw for a hand. Just let that sink in for a minute. Oh, did I tell you that you haven’t got time to let that sink in… Here’s come Ian Ziering again – this time he’s sky-surfing on the back of a shark! If you haven’t gathered yet, Sharknado 2: The Second One is filled with almost as many crazy ideas as it is celebrity cameos.

As an actual, real-life fan of Syfy’s cheesy creature-features and the first Sharknado movie, there wasn’t anything to the sequel I could say offended me or even that I heartily disliked. In fact I enjoyed it for the cheese-filled, CGI-tainted, crapfest it was. Sharknado is what it is and nothing anyone says will change that – after all, a third film in the franchise was announced before Sharknado 2 even debuted! And just like any genre picture the law of diminishing returns applies.

SHARKNADO 3: OH HELL NO!

Stars: Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Mark McGrath, Cassie Scerbo, David Hasslehoff, Frankie Muniz, Ryan Newman, Mark Cuban, Bo Derek, Blair Fowler, Michael Winslow | Written by Thunder Levin | Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante

Hellraiser did it, Jason Vorhees did it, and now the killer sharks of sharknado are doing it… they’re heading into SPACE!

Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No continues the story of Fin Shepard – fresh from receiving a medal of honour from the President of the United States  and a mini-battle with a sharknado in Washington, D.C. – who, this time round takes on an ever-growing succession of sharknado’s that, eventually, build to a sharknado “wall” that can only be stopped by launching Fin Shepard and his dad (played by David Hasslehoff) into outer space to literally burn the sharks out of Earth’s upper atmosphere!

As per the previous film, Sharknado 3 is filled with celebrity cameos, including Mark Cuban as the President of the United States; Ann Coulter as the Vice President; Michele Bachmann as herself; Jerry Springer as Mr. White, a manic tourist; Washington Redskins tackle Tom Compton as a reporter; Chris Jericho, who portrays Bruce the roller coaster ride operator; Penn & Teller as friends of Fin Shepard’s dad; a whole host of US daytime TV hosts (many of whom I couldn’t name if I tried); Lou Ferrigno, as the bodyguard of the US Vice President; one of the Real Housewives (can’t remember her name, only the fact she’s a raging alcoholic; and the list goes on, and on, and on, and on.

You see writer Thunder Levin and director Anthony C. Ferrante have forgone any actual story and instead opted for a series of “celebrity panic” and/or “celebrity death” montages for this movie… Then there’s the rehashing of scenes we’ve seen in previous movies – for one, Ziering once again dives into the mouth of a shark and Tara Reid chainsaw out of one. Talk about running out of ideas. Although that’s not going to stop Levin and Ferrante – the film ends with the announcement of part four!

For fans of the series there really is only one reason to tune into Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No, the third (and definitely NOT final) installment of the franchise. Cassie Scerbo. Yes, Ian Ziering’s co-star from the original movie returns for this sequal as Nova, who has taken the trauma she experienced in the first film and channeled it into becoming a badass and incredibly sexy shark hunter, ably assisted by former Malcom in the Middle star Frankie Muniz, who has a brilliant, some would dare say inventive, death scene – probably the best death in the entire franchise!

Of course by now there’s nowhere to go for the Sharknado franchise but into even more insane territory – hence heading into space for this film. Where the series goes from here remains to be seen, but judging by what has come before there’s absolutely NO WAY to predict what this franchise has in store (Sharknado vs. Lake Placid vs. Anaconda maybe?). All I do know is that, despite my protestations, I’ll be tuning in. After all, we all like to rubberneck at a car crashes right?
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Sharknado: The Collection is released on DVD on May 2nd. Pre-order it here

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