09th Nov2020

‘Shark Encounters of the Third Kind’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Titus Himmelberger, Natalie Himmelberger, Jennie Russo, Steve Diasparra, Jeff Kirkendall | Written by John Oak Dalton | Directed by Mark Polonia

Ahhh, the late ’80s/early ’90s… the heyday of shot-on-video horror. Where anyone could pick up a camera, make a movie and get it into video stores; well at least in the US. This was also the era that made household names out of the likes of Donald Farmer, Tim Ritter, and the Polonia Brothers… Filmmakers who, to this day, are still producing low budget genre films and still have a rabid fan base! I’m not going to lie though, the oeuvre of these filmmakers is somewhat of an acquired taste. Always low budget, often made with recurring cast and crew, very much what you’d call DIY filmmaking – right down to using familiar stock music and stock video footage. Yet often times truly falling into that “so bad they’re good category.” Case in point, Mark Polonia’s latest opus, Shark Encounters of the Third Kind, which has one hell of a brilliant concept in that mash-up title, even if the execution – for some viewers – won’t be all there…

Shark Encounters of the Third Kind sees a group of hostile aliens crash land at the bottom of the ocean, and via mind control use sharks to terrorize a small town full of secrets in the hopes of completing their invasion mission. It’s up to a disparate group of townspeople to sort it out, but in the end it’s sharks versus aliens in a surprising climax!

Told you it’s a brilliant concept – what’s not to love about an alien invasion-come-shark movie? This one comes from director Mark Polonia and writer John Oak Dalton, who previously worked together on Jurassic Prey, which I reviewed back in 2017. Now that partnership, at least for me, was something of a success – with Jurassic Prey being one of my favourite Polonia movies of recent years; so I had high hopes for Shark Encounters of the Third Kind – and as a slice of cheesy filmmaking this one did NOT disappoint.

Of course I’m not going to proclaim this as high-art, but there’s something fun about seeing a bunch of rubber-masked aliens using sharks, of the bad CGI variety, to terrorize joe public. It’s like flashing back to the past, to a more innocent period of filmmaking, where ideas came first; where million-dollar budgets were unheard of; where – as I said in the opener – anyone could make a movie and get it in front of a rabid fan base. And in terms of shark movies I can honestly say I have definitely seen worse! At least Shark Encounters of the Third Kind is crazy enough to be fun – it’s the kind of “throw ideas at the wall till they stick” kind of filmmaking that can lead to some amazing, and amazingly bizarre, storytelling. And that’s certainly the case here because this is one bizarre film!

Aliens walking around zapping people with lightning from their hands; using telepathy to make not only sharks but also people and CATS(!) kill the locals; incompetent fishermen trying to find the “buried treasure” in the ocean, treasure that turns out to be the aliens spaceship; and finally – the pièce de résistance in this slice of cheese – sentient TALKING sharks! Yes, you read that right, sentient… talking… sharks. Sharks who – it looks like – would be ready, willing and able to return for a sequel, Planet of the Apes-style.

If you’re a fan of the Polonia brothers; that shot-on-video style of DIY filmmaking; or you’re just a fan of cheesy sci-fi films then Shark Encounters of the Third Kind is definitely one for you! The film is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime now.

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