Last night SyFy aired Sharknado, the most recent addition to the noble genre of Shark Horror, brought to you by the masters of C Movies pretending to be B Movies, The Asylum. It was gory, really stupid, and filled with bad acting, and also sharks. Dedicated as I am to this website (and addicted as I am to bad shark movies) I watched all of Sharknado and what follows are my incoherent ramblings as I annotated the whole thing live.
Welcome to the Shark Apocalypse, people. The Sharkalypse, if you will.
We open on a fishing trawler out at sea, throwing the corpses of dead sharks over the side of the ship. All the corpses are finless and we find out why: the Captain has been selling them to the Chinese so they can make Shark Fin Soup. (Which is a real thing.) And immediately I’m tricked into thinking maybe Asylum has produced a movie that will deal with unethical shark-murder and maybe the Sharknado for which this movie is named is actually more like shark revenge. (Sharkvenge?)
I think “Oh man, Asylum, I’m really proud of you for tackling such a sad and not cheesy topic,” but luckily this is not the case because out of nowhere a storm whips up, and cue the crazy. Scruffy Captain and Suave Chinese Businessman continue their deal, until sharks start dropping onto the deck of the ship. The first mate is trying to convey this strange turn-of-events to the captain, but before this guy can even finish his sentence, a shark drops onto the deck of the ship and, I shit you not, SLURPS THE DUDE UP LIKE SPAGHETTI.
That’s right folks. First death of the movie is some dude swallowed whole by a shark barely bigger than him. Thank you, Asylum. Thank you.
No one really notices the poor guy getting the linguini treatment, and there’s a pointless shootout between Businessman and Captain, that ends in the Businessman getting eaten by a shark and the boat getting sucked up into a tornado and the Captain killed bite by bite as sharks are flying around him. I’m not really sure what the point of this scene was, but I’m going to pretend it’s a deep and meaningful commentary on poaching endangered species.
Cut to a beautiful, sunny, crowded beach. Dudes surf. Girls in bikinis do stuff that girls in bikinis do. Dogs play in the water. Welcome to California everyone, though these two dudes over here seem to be concerned about the waves. They think they’re unnatural. (Unsharktral? I’ll stop.)
And then we’re in a bar and—holy shit is that the dad from Home Alone? That’s totally the dad from Home Alone.
Dad from Home Alone is drunk and starts hitting on this bikini clad waitress, trying to pick her up by complimenting her Mysterious Scar. She refuses to tell him how she got it, but I know the truth will come out eventually. It’s a known rule of the universe that in bad shark movies, the protagonist (usually a lady) has some horrible back-story about how she hates sharks. See: Super Shark. See also: Two-Headed Shark Attack.
Anyways, Mysterious Waitress is concerned about the weather, because someone she knows is out at the beach today and all I can think throughout this entire scene is that it’s been five minutes dammit where the heck is this Sharknado I’ve been promised?
Cut back to the beach. Those two dudes that were so concerned about the waves being weird are now out on the water. I’m going to call the one on the surfboard Dude Surfer and the guy on the jet ski, Dude Jet Ski, who also has an attractive Australian accent.
Dude Surfer and some other surfer (a lady surfer!) decide to compete or something but honestly I’m not really paying attention since I’m not here for the surfers but for the sharks– AND THEY FINALLY ARRIVE AND GO FOR LADY SURFER.
The camera pans out and we see not only the one shark terrorizing the surfer chick, but a whole bunch of them making a bee-line (shark-line? Last one I promise) for the crowded beach. Lady Surfer meets her end at the jaws of a CGI-rendered frenzy, a shot we’re likely to see many times. (FUTURE CHRISTINA: Surprisingly, we don’t.)
Dude Surfer shouts for people to leave the beach, and because everyone is either ignoring him or can’t hear him since it doesn’t really look like they’re all at the same beach in these shots, people are suddenly grabbed from ankle-deep water and destroyed in a wave of red and gore. The lifeguards (always kind of useless in these kind of movies, huh?) try to clear the place and Dude Jet-Ski goes for his pal, Dude Surfer, who has now attracted the attention of sharks, mostly by flailing around and making a lot of noise.
And then a shark bites the shit out of Dude Jet-Ski’s leg! Like, out of nowhere! Just jumps up and latches on like my puppy does at home when he’s in a particularly happy and murderous mood.
And the wound on DJS (who’s Tasmanian apparently) doesn’t look at all bad. They don’t even go to a hospital apparently, because he’s drinking at the bar in the next scene. Dude Surfer also tends bar! Dad from Home Alone makes a really good lecherous drunk and I can feel my childhood dying.
For some reason Dude Surfer is suddenly concerned for Tara Reid and calls her. I originally wanted to call her Rich Girl in Lavender House since she plays some rich lady who lives in a lavender house, but there’s no indication that she’s actually acting at all so we’re just going to call her Tara Reid.
ANYWAYS, Tara Reid is annoyed that Dude Surfer has called her and wants her to leave town (which is LA apparently?) because of the hurricane, but Tara Reid (his wife apparently? Ex-Wife? Oh my god where are the sharks) refuses to do this and hangs up.
Cue the storm rolling in. Stock footage of large waves breaking aND THEN A SHARK COME SLAMMING THROUGH A WINDOW OF THE BAR AND NEARLY EATS SOME UNNAMED CO-ED BUT THEN SHE STABS IT THROUGH THE SKULL WITH A POOL CUE. (Sharks are made up of the same stuff that gummy bears are, right?)
Everyone runs from the bar, but sharks are tossed up onto the pier I guess by the storm surge, and instead of just flopping around in terror and suffocating, they start eating people like it’s their job. (Again, are we sure the sharks didn’t cause this freak hurricane? Are we sure this wasn’t their plan all along?)
All of this leads to a showdown straight outta jaws: Dude Jet-ski shoves a tank of helium into a shark’s mouth and Dude Surfer shoots the tank, causing it (and the shark) to explode. Also Dad from Home Alone saves Mysterious Waitress by hitting a different shark in the head with a bar stool. (Seriously, are sharks real life gummy candy?)
So the pier is destroyed and I’m reminded again that this takes place in LA. The group (Surfer Dude, Dude Water Ski, Dad from Home Alone, and Mystery Waitress) all head out to check on Tara Reid and also some daughter I guess, named Chelsea or Christie or something.
There’s flooding! And driving through rain! And SHARKS IN THE STREET. Swimming past the car. Which leads to this exchange:
MW: That’s a Tiger shark!
DJS: And how do you know that?
MW: Shark Week.
I like Mysterious Waitress. Did I mention she has a shotgun? Because she does.
They start running sharks over. Which should kill the sharks like it does literally every other animal, but for some reason doesn’t. Dad from Home Alone suggests taking the highway since it’s elevated and probably not flooded.
There’s some bullshit with the entrance ramp to the highway being blocked by what I can only assume are partying Brooklynites (from their accents) and this basically just results in a lot of nameless people being ripped apart by sharks when the thing floods. Oh, and Dad from Home Alone is crushed by a wave of sharks right after he saves a dachshund from a locked car. As far as I know, the dog survives. So it’s all good.
The Shark Crew ™ continues to Tara Reid’s house. Along the drive we’re greeted to some really fun street views of sharks in high rises, swimming out of sewer drains, and just sort of eating everyone they find. And then we get to Tara Reid’s house and she’s in the middle of denying Dude Surfer entrance to the house when a shark comes launching out of a sewer, sending the manhole cover flying, and Mysterious Waitress shoots the poor thing right out of the sky before it can eat anyone (the shark not the manhole cover) and deadpans to Tara Reid “By the way, I’m not a stripper.”
Yeah, Mysterious Waitress is my favorite character.
There’s more family bullshit in the house and an argument between Dude Surfer and Tara Reid’s new boyfriend and I’m getting antsy when the house suddenly floods and a shark crashes through a window because sharks have a hard time opening doors with their pectoral fins.
Anyways, the shark apparently has a thing for jerks and goes after Obnoxious Boyfriend and bites him to death. The others manage to kill the shark, by crushing it with a table and then shooting it a lot, and then there’s a joke about periods because the water is full of the shark’s and Obnoxious Boyfriend’s blood.
Did I mention we’re only an hour into this two hour broadcast?
I’m wondering where the fuck else this can go and I’m guessing so did the writers, because suddenly Dude Surfer and Tara Reid also have a son! And he also needs rescuing! So they pile into the car and head out to pick him up at flight school.
(FUTURE CHRISTINA: And now we’re at my least favorite part of the movie. Be prepared for tedium, people.)
Dude Surfer comes across a school bus and decides he needs to save anyone that might be trapped in it. He rappels from a bridge onto the roof of the bus (so many questions left unanswered about that rappelling equipment) and the kids and lone teacher are all so happy to see him. So The Shark Crew starts unloading students from the bus one by one until it’s just the teacher left. He’s from Wyoming! He hates sharks! He moved to LA to be an actor! Haha he’s shouting comical things! Comically!
Everyone makes it up onto the bridge and a single ambulance takes all dozen children either to their respective houses or to a death that is best left not described.
While they’re on the bridge, the storm gets better, and then much worse. The teacher is crushed by part of a flying billboard or something and everyone jumps back in the car. They get the car running and suddenly there are water spouts all over LA. Dropping sharks, I imagine?
And yup my ‘dropping sharks’ assumption is proven true when a shark drops head first onto the roof of the car, breaking through with its adamantium-sharp teeth. They shoot the shark and everything seems fine except that the car stops working and then they all run for some reason and just as they’re all safely away the car explodes.
I’m not going to lie. I sort of dozed off at this part. They’re all in a convenience store of some kind and there’s a weather report of possible tornados (FINALLY DEAR GOD) and somehow they steal a hummer. Then there’s the most lethargic police car chase in cinematic history in which the solution to being chased by the cops is to literally just drive faster than them.
We make it to the airfield and thank god because we’re then treated to a shot of LA being terrorized by three separate tornadoes. Full of sharks. It doesn’t seem to be a pressing issue though because everyone just kind of mills around in the abandoned hangar and then we cut to commercial.
A sidenote: This is the longest I’ve watched the Syfy channel in a long time and watching these commercials about their current and upcoming programming helps me to remember why.
Finally the movie is back. They’ve found the son! And he looks older than both Tara Reid and Dude Surfer.
Everyone decides that they’re going to fight the tornadoes, instead of like hunkering down and waiting for them to go away, which tornadoes do, like all the time. Their plan? Drop bombs in the tornados. I’m not kidding. The Son and Mysterious Waitress volunteer to go up in a helicopter and drop bombs into the three tornadoes until they stop.
And just in case this doesn’t work, Dude Jet-ski has rigged the hummer with explosives, so they have another thing to blow at least one tornado up with if the helicopter plan doesn’t work. At least someone is thinking here.
Before we can actually get to the explosions, though, we have to learn the cause of the Mysterious Scar on Mysterious Waitress’s leg. The Son has his own Mysterious Scar and they bond over this and Mysterious Waitress tells him the most depressing story I have ever heard. I hesitate to tell it to you, but you’ve read this far so you might as well know. But feel free to ignore the next paragraph if you’re just here for the sharks:
She was on vacation with her grandfather when she was little, and they went on a fishing tour and the boat sank. Over the course of the next two days, everyone else that was on the boat is eaten by sharks, including her grandfather, but because she was on the only life raft the ship carried, Mysterious Waitress was fine. As if this wasn’t bad enough, when the coastguard picks her up, a shark jumps out of the water with the sole intention of biting her on the leg. Hence the scar. Hence her hatred of sharks.
Tragic back-story over with, Mysterious Waitress and The Son climb into the helicopter and set out to drop bombs on downtown LA.
Most of the dialogue at this point is about how many sharks there are and there are quite a few. How are they all staying airborne? Don’t sharks weigh a lot? Also: “We’re gonna need a bigger helicopter” is a thing that is actually said at some point. Please Spielberg, please sue these people.
Finally, Mysterious Waitress throws the first bomb into the heart of the first tornado and instead of annihilating the houses below her, she somehow blows the tornado apart. Success!
Meanwhile on the ground: Dude Surfer cuts a shark in half with a chainsaw as it flies at him, and then shoots several out of the sky, and one of the flight school guys is impaled onto the hummer. Because a shark hits him. And so there’s emotional resonance, Dude Jet-Ski is attacked by a shark and swept away by the tornado. Goodbye Dude Jet-Ski. Goodbye.
And then there’s a mostly useless cut to the retirement home next to the flight school where it’s basically a nice day out still and they’re watching a fake news reporter get eaten on live TV.
Mysterious Waitress and The Son drop the second bomb into the second tornado and it works, too! Cue falling sharks getting electrocuted on powers lines, and falling onto people, and into the pool at the retirement home. Dude Surfer has this handled though, and dumps gas onto the apparently Great White (!) and lights it on fire.
The old people are all startled by the chainsaw wielding, shotgun toting, blood splattered group, but they take it all in stride. Dementia can be a good thing, sometimes. For some reason an old lady says to Dude Surfer that he must be proud of his son, even though all it looks like to people on the ground is that someone is throwing bombs out of a helicopter.
(FUTURE CHRISTINA: At this point in the game, I’m more on the shark’s side than the humans. Every time one of them hits the pavement I’m cringing a bit. Most of these sharks are endangered! They’re probably just stress eating! I would be stressed too if a tornado tore me from my home and dropped me in LA.)
The last bomb doesn’t work, of course, and a shark attacks the helicopter, which causes MW to fall out of the helicopter and…right into the mouth of the falling shark. Like, it just sort of swallows her as they both fall. Goodbye Mysterious Waitress, we knew you way too well.
The helicopter has to make an emergency landing and while the old people lethargically get away from the windows, DS runs to pull his son from the now…well I can’t really say crashed helicopter because the thing looks perfectly usable. But they abandon it anyways.
Sharks are now just kind of smashing into things when Dude Surfer decides to ‘end this’ by taking up the plan Dude Jet-ski had earlier– driving the hummer loaded with explosives into the heart of the tornado. Somehow he manages to do this, AND jump free of the car just before it blasts into the tornado and explodes.
The day is saved! Except for the thousands of dead sharks and a ruined ecosystem and the fact that sharks are still kind of falling out of the sky, including one that’s headed right for The Daughter (oh my god I forgot she was a character)and Dude Surfer pushes her out of the way and basically like leaps into the shark’s throat, somehow with a chainsaw even though I’m not sure where he got it?
The shark kinda swallows him and then drops dead, and everyone thinks Dude Surfer will surf no more, though no one seems particularly upset over this even though the only people still alive at this point are his son, daughter, and ex-wife, but then comes the unmistakable humming of a chainsaw and there it is cutting out from inside the shark’s stomach and then Dude Surfer is crawling out, and who does he have with him? None other than Mysterious Waitress. Who was swallowed whole and is, apparently, perfectly fine besides being covered with gross shark insides.
The Son is overwhelmed with what I’m assuming is joy. “I really hate sharks,” Mysterious Waitress gasps.
The old people come out of their hovel. Tara Reid makes out with Dude Surfer. The sun comes out. It’s going to be a beautiful day in the City of Angels.
And every character in this movie is slapped with the biggest lawsuit Greenpeace has ever had.
I’m going to bed.
Edit: Buzzfeed has this interesting interview with the director, Anthony C. Ferrante, if you wanted even more Sharknado in your life.