This is number 166 of the series, so by now readers are ready. You have been sure all the while that sooner or later this one was going to pop up, and here it is at last. It’s Sharknado, from 2013 out of Syfy Films.
I have to admit, I gave a lot of thought to searching this out. Nah, I thought. This is never going to show up on Amazon. I thought several times about checking, but each time it slipped my mind by the time I got around to firing up the computer. Today I was doing absolutely nothing (retired) and said to myself, “Go right now to the computer and check whether Sharknado is on Amazon.” It’s there (as of 13 April), so I spun it up on the big screen, made some hot chocolate, and sat through it—about 87 minutes. Here it is. Wikipedia has the cast list:
- Ian Ziering as Finley “Fin” Shepard, an ex-surfer who owns a bar.
- Tara Reid as April Wexler, Fin’s ex-wife.
- John Heard as George, a drunk man who spends all his time at Fin’s bar.
- Cassie Scerbo as Nova Clarke, a bartender who works for Fin.
- Jaason Simmons as Baz, Fin’s right-hand man.
- Aubrey Peeples as Claudia Shepard, April and Fin’s daughter who feels left out.
- Chuck Hittinger as Matt Shepard, Fin and April’s son in flight school.
- Christopher Wolfe as Collin, April’s boyfriend.
- Robbie Rist as Robbie, a bus driver.
- Alex Arleo as Bobby, one of Matt’s friends in flight school.
- Connor Weil as Luellyn, one of Matt’s friends in flight school.
- Julie McCullough as Jonni Waves, a news reporter.
- Adrian Bustamante as Kelso, a lifeguard.
With all that what you get is a spoof of all disaster movies. It’s junkyard Jaws and predictable to watch. What is not predictable is the opening sequence, a seamy drama that plays out in an empty theater.
A fishing boat is dodging a giant storm (hurricane) in the Pacific off the coast of Mexico. They are catching sharks, cutting off their fins, dumping the carcasses back. The aim is shark fin soup, a delicacy in Asia. We see an Asian man negotiating money for the day’s catch. The captain and the buyer are miles apart on terms. The storm hits, guns come out. Topside, planning to keep the money, the buyer is eaten by a shark that blows aboard. Then the captain and presumably the remainder of the crew. The sharks exacting some revenge? Nobody knows, because nobody survives to tell this part of the story.
The hurricane moves north to California, and the scene shifts to Santa Monica Beach. Yeah, I can tell it’s meant to look like Santa Monica Beach, pier and all, but something tells me they shot this elsewhere and filled in with some views of Santa Monica Pier. Here is one shot that does remind me of Santa Monica Beach, at least Venice Beach. This one is for you, Steve.
Then the storm strikes. But first the storm drives sharks to the Beach, and the sharks start eating people. A comely lass on a surfboard makes a quick snack for a large shark. Fin decides it is getting too dangerous, and he closes his bar, ordering everybody out and to higher ground. Do they promptly get up and leave? No, not until sharks start flying through the front window. Fleeing down the pier Nova, who has had a previous, life changing encounter with sharks, blows one of the critters away with her weapon of choice.
The iconic wheel breaks loose, rolls down the pier, and crashes into a building.
A shark eats George, and the survivors, including Fin, Nova, and Baz make it to April’s (Fin’s ex wife) house in Beverly Hills. There they encounter Fin’s daughter Claudia and April’s boyfriend, Collin, an absolute jerk. You know he’s going to shortly get eaten by a shark, and you are not disappointed. He never makes it out of the house.
Fin’s son, Matt, is at Van Nuys Airport, and the survivors, including Nova, April, Claudia, and Baz head that way. They stop along the way so Fin can rescue some kids from a stalled school bus.
At the airport, Matt devises a plan to snuff the tornadoes that are tossing sharks all about. He will fly a helicopter into the funnels and throw out home made bombs to deflate them. Nova goes along to toss the bombs, but a flying shark snares the helicopter and consumes Nova whole.
The tornadoes are successfully quenched, but sharks are falling all over. One eats Baz. Fin faces off the last remaining, chain saw at the ready. The shark swallows him whole. But then we see Fin cutting his way out of the shark’s belly with the chain saw. He reaches back in and drags out Nova, barely alive.
And that’s enough heroics for the day.
Special effects are overboard, but the plot is the definition of thunder struck. Fortunately, this was conceived as a comedy spoof, so everything is in its proper place. You want reality, go see Apollo 13.
I’ve been to Santa Monica Pier a few times, and I do recall the bikini bottoms, so that part is authentic. However, there is no building at the end of the pier for the giant wheel to roll into. That part is a small bit of fabrication.
Also, no home made bomb is going to stall a raging tornado. Compare an elephant and a mosquito in terms of energy dissipation, and you get the idea.
This production introduced a lively franchise, but this is the only one I’m going to waste my time on. Catch it on Amazon Prime Video or on Hulu.