Review Date: April 16, 2011
Released by: Anchor Bay
Release date: March 15, 2011
Widescreen 1.78 | 16x9: Yes
Itís just fun to say.
Really, that has to be one of the all-time greatest bad movie titles. I pity the person whose heart is so hard that they donít at least crack a smile when they say it. It really is a genius title and for fans of 70ís monster on the rampage exploitation flicks, it conjures up images of toothy, tentacly, gut-chomping carnage. Roger Corman returns to bring us another tale of science gone wrong and beasts gone wild. Does the movie live up to its title, or should it have been condemned to the depths? Letís dive in and see.
Bio-engineering firm Blue Water, under contract to the Navy, has created what is to be the militaryís next super-weapon. Dubbed the S-11 the creature is a shark/octopus hybrid remotely operated by an electronic control collar. When the Navy Commander (Calvin Persson
) pushes project head Nathan Sands (Eric Roberts
) to test the S-11 beyond its proven operational capacity, it collides with a high speed boat. The collision kills the boaters and destroys the collar, the scientistsí only method of controlling the beast. No longer beholden to the whims of its human creators the S-11 makes an immediate beeline for the warmer waters off the Mexican coast. To get it back Sands contacts ex-Blue Water employee, and wannabe badass, Andy Flynn (Kerem Bursin
The S-11 leaves a blood trail of victims in its wake on its way to Mexico. After multiple sightings, the creature is dubbed the ridiculous, but undeniably fun to say, name ďSharktopusĒ by the renegade reporter, Stacy Everheart (Liv Broughn), who has been covering the creatureís rampage despite being dropped by her station.
Andy suspects that thereís more to the Sharktopusí rage: itís too deliberate and vicious to just be acting on the feeding instincts of a wild animal. Project scientist Nicole Sands (Sara Malakul Lane
) confronts her father Nathan. He reveals that he tampered with the S-11ís design specs to make it more aggressive and powerful, as well as able to breathe on land as well as in the water. These revelations may be too late to be of any use as they come when the creature makes landfall at a Mexican resort community.
A movie like Sharktopus
isnít difficult to make Ė the output of The Asylum is testament to that Ė but itís exceedingly hard to do well effectively. With the current fascination with pandering to Gen-X nostalgia, so many movies have tried to capture the glorious cheese of the grindhouse era. Most have a fundamental misunderstanding of why those movies are so fun and as such totally botch the tone. Itís a great idea to make a $70 million ode to drive-in movies, but when intentionally aged stock and ďmissing sceneĒ inter titles are winking at the audience you canít help but feel the filmmakers, no matter how much they love those movies, really donít understand them. Contrast that to the Roger Corman pictures of the 70s and 80s currently being released by Shout Factory. Those films combined a lack of pretence at their purpose Ė usually ripping off a popular movie Ė with a genuine effort to make an entertaining film as slick and polished as the budget will allow. Corman didnít just set out to make Alien
rip offs, he set out to make the best Alien
rip offs possible. Itís that commitment to the craft of filmmaking that makes those Corman films ripe for rediscovery thirty years later. Who in thirty years is going to remember any of The Asylumís cynical ďmockbustersĒ? Hopefully no one.
a success or failure? I try and take the Roger Ebert approach and evaluate a film in terms of its aim. How well does it accomplish what it sets out to do? If it does that well, then all other factors are largely irrelevant. In this instance, however, the approach breaks down. Iím simply baffled as to what Sharktopus
í intentions are beyond eating up air time on the Sci-fi Channel (I refuse to refer to it by its inane, rebranded name). Did Corman and crew set out to make a movie thatís not only bad, but boring as well? They managed, but Iím not sure that even if that was their intent itís something they should get plaudits for. Without at least a minimum of effort, you canít really claim any sort of accomplishment. Sharktopus
, relatively speaking, was made on the same budgetary level as those 80ís Corman classics. Whereas the older films did their best to stretch their limited funds, Sharktopus
can barely be bothered to deliver the bare minimum the $1,000,000 budget would allow.
Eric Roberts doesnít exactly give the performance of his career, but he consistently hits the right notes by playing it straight. The rest cast is strictly amateur, which I was expecting. What I wasnít expecting was that, with one notable exception, theyíd all be so flat and lifeless. The one exception is Kerem Bursin as Andy. Heís flat out terrible, donít get me wrong, but he occasionally approaches his scenes like the Sharktopus
approaches its victims: he tears into them and leaves a bloody mess behind (terrible metaphor, sorry). At least Bursin gives the audience something memorable to watch: Iíd completely forgotten about Liv Boughn and her go-nowhere subplot until I had to consult the IMDB for some information.
The limitations imposed on broadcast television are very apparent. Though thereís a fair amount of cheap looking blood splatter, more than I would have expected, the language and sexual content is strictly PG-13 level. As far as I know, the home video version doesnít contain any extra footage or additional gore.
I didnít expect Sharktopus
to be good in any traditional sense, so I wasnít disappointed when it sucked. However, I had hoped that the film might be at least the kind of goofy fun its title suggested. It was truly disappointing to me was that nobody even seemed to care enough to try and make a fun, energetic film. If youíre looking for a modern film that recaptures the feel of 70s and 80s exploitation flicks, the recent Piranha
redux, Drive Angry
or Hobo with a Shotgun
are all much better bets than Sharktopus
. Those films were crafted by people who intended for the finished product to entertain an audience and who kept thinking after they had their titles in place.
The video presentation is a mixed bag; while the well-lit outdoor scenes look clean, establishing shots and interior and underwater scenes tend to be soft and loaded with noise and color banding. Colors are strong, although reds tend towards blooming and flesh tones tend towards the unnatural. Thereís no single, glaring example I can point to that encompasses all the issues I had; Sharktopus
í video presentation suffers a death by a thousand cuts.
Like the film, the 5.1 is a dull disappointment. While thereís occasionally a surprisingly prominent surround effect, theyíre rarely effectively utilized for effect. Most of the soundtrack is resigned to the front channels. That said, dialogue is always audible, music well balanced and sound effects clear.
Producers Roger and Julie Corman collaborate with moderator Perry Martin on the sole supplement of note: the audio commentary. Itís not hard to hear how Corman could have convinced investors to give him money or actors to work for next to nothing; the man has such a soothing, pleasantly paternal voice that itís easy to forget heís as big a huckster as Lloyd Kaufman. Not surprisingly, the commentary is at its best when the Cormans are discussing anything other than the film theyíre watching, but itís far from the most entertaining or informative commentary Cormanís ever done.
Thereís also a trailer. Yay.
To have any hope of true cult status Sharktopus
would have to be a lot better or a lot worse than it is. Cormanís legacy is already assured, but itís still kind of depressing that he canít muster the enthusiasm to make a truly terrible movie. I guess itís an unavoidable by-product of an age of cynicism and irony where information and opinion is disseminated lighting fast via social network that filmmakers try and pre-empt legit criticism by saying Ēitís supposed to be bad.Ē Shooting for the lowest common denominator has always felt like a cop out to me. There are good bad movies and there are movies that are simply bad. Claiming you intended to make the latter is no real defense. Itís one thing to make an intentionally campy or tongue in cheek movie, thatís a valid approach, but if you set out to intentionally make a piece of shit then youíre an idiot or a cynical profiteer.
Movie - D-
Image Quality - C
Sound - C
Supplements - C
- Running time - 1 hour and 29 minutes
- Rated Not Rated, 14A
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio
- English SDH subtitles
- Spanish subtitles
- Audio commentary with producers Roger and Julie Corman