Origins: Sharks, Sharks Everywhere

theMEGposter
IMDb

We all know how sinister predators seem to be a real thing in summertime flicks. Maybe it’s because summer is when people go camping or to the beach or something–it’s an imagined feeling of impending doom. There’s not much that compares to watching a roller-coaster of a disaster movie, armed with popcorn and Milk Duds, then emerging into the hot sunlight, safe and sound. Anacondas. Aliens. Grotesquely large primates. Gargantuan reptiles (dinosaurs or otherwise). It’s all fair game.

Tomorrow The MEG hits theaters, and it’s just that sort of summertime thrill-fest. Let’s jump right into the trailer, shall we?

Yep. Another shark movie. Or is it nodding to The Abyss? Maybe? There are definitely a few hints of Captain Ahab and Moby Dick going on. too. And what’s the deal with Comic Relief Guy? It seems like the movie already knows it’s going to be parodied someday. Or at least it hopes it will be.

Speaking of parody, it’s mind-boggling how many shark movies are out there. Amazon Prime all by its lonesome has some weird stuff, and I mean weird. So, without further ado, here’s a very small sample of the good, the bad, and the impossibly ludicrous.

Jaws (1975)

jawsposter
IMDb

Everything that’s been said about Jaws is true; namely, the shark does look fake. I could have sworn I saw it jiggle in one scene. In spite of that, the attacks can be a bit freaky and bloody, but not nearly as scary as I thought. The story is terrific, and while it does give little clues as to what’s going to happen, it also has a way of lulling viewers into complacency. Whether it’s the Amity mayor’s natty collection of sportscoats, or Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, and Robert Shaw harmonizing on “Show Me the Way To Go Home,” the movie earns its jumpscares. Jaws will be a perennial classic, no matter what new and better effects we have now and in the future.

Open Water (2003)

openwater
IMDb

Rated ‘R’ and not for the squeamish, Open Water was inspired by the true story of Tom and Eileen Lonergan, who were mistakenly left behind by their scuba diving group in 1998. The movie is chilling and intense, because the couple, Susan and Daniel, have nothing to do but float in shark-infested water and wait for something to happen. Filming took place in actual ocean with actual sharks, even some untrained ones, which made the finished product that much scarier. Personally, I’m not a good swimmer, so Open Water was an uncomfortable experience.

Soul Surfer (2011)

Soul_Surfer_Poster
Wikipedia

Shark attacks are definitely no joke. Another true story, only with a much happier ending, Soul Surfer is based on the autobiography of the same title by professional surfer, Bethany Hamilton-Dirks. Dirks was thirteen when a shark bit off her left arm, and struggled to recover both her health and to get back on her board. The cast features durable actors Annasophia Robb, Helen Hunt, and Dennis Quaid and is both inspirational and aspirational. It isn’t often a disaster movie can wind up with protagonists gaining rather than losing, but this one does.

Sharknado (2013)

sharknado2013
IMDb

Sharknado’s plot is easily summed up: A tornado carrying hundreds of hungry sharks makes its way up the Western Hemisphere coastline, landing in Santa Monica. It falls to beachside bar owner and 90210 alum Ian Ziering to save the day while Josie and the Pussycats alum, Tara Reid, looks on. I didn’t see Sharknado when it originally aired on the SyFy Channel, but I did read the tweets from that night. These sum up the general mood nicely:

Yes. Yes, they did. And now, having seen the movie on Amazon, I can safely say they were right. The acting is really bad. The story is really bad. The special effects are really, really bad. And to top it all off, the whole tornado-with-teeth thing was caused by global warming. Regardless of whether or not one believes in man-made climate change, there’s no way to find any of this very menacing. In spite of its lameness, SyFy likes Sharknado enough that it’s made five more films, the last due to hit on August 19, 2018. Appropriately enough, its full title is The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time.

Ice Sharks (2016)

icesharks
IMDb

Not even the Arctic is safe from sharks, and when the polar ice caps start melting faster than predicted, a group of scientists fall one by one to their deaths. Implausible? Yep. Hokey? Absolutely. Never mind that sharks can’t break through ice of any thickness because they aren’t narwhals, but whatever. It’s another SyFy movie, and anyone who’s seen one of those knows what to expect. Basically, SyFy is Lifetime, only with CGI and explosions. Same mediocre plots, passable to poor acting, and cheap results. For most viewers, it’s nothing but a guilty pleasure.

Piranha Sharks (2017)

piranhasharksmovie
IMDb

Hmmm, the poster for this one looks awfully familiar, doesn’t it? Yeah. Anyway, Piranha Sharks is a massive stinker. Great White sharks are bred to be the size of piranhas, complete with piranha teeth, and marketed to rich people in New York City for their exotic fish tanks. What could possibly go wrong? Well…anyone whose first thought was that the sharks get loose wins a giant virtual gold star. On the bright side, Kevin Sorbo, best known as Hercules, plays the mayor. On an even brighter side, Sorbo’s reputation as an actor was presumably not hurt by making this film, since most people haven’t seen it. When a movie’s budget is estimated at $100,000, marketing is probably not a high priority. In this case, that’s a real good thing.

House Shark (2017)

House-Shark
Voices From the Balcony

House Shark would have probably loved to have had Piranha Shark‘s bankroll, because it looks like it was made by college students. A guy, Frank, finds some rare breed of shark has somehow gotten into his house, and how does he become aware of it? The babysitter has just been eaten while answering the call of nature, and then Frank sees a shark fin come up out of the toilet. Suddenly everyone in the house is in danger. Frank gets advice from Zachary, the world’s lone house shark expert. A former real estate agent is also along for the ride, and for some strange reason, he thinks he’s Abraham Lincoln. His beard is so clearly fake it must have been bought at Party City. Ronald Reagan, Ulysses S. Grant, and Lady Bird Johnson also make appearances. Don’t ask why, because I don’t know either.

Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre (2015)

Sharkansasposter
Horror.cz

Piranha Sharks and House Shark have nada on Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre. No, really. This film is so terrible that it defies description, so I’m going to make it easy and show you all the trailer:

Yes. The sharks have spikes and can swim in a foot of water while hunting Barbie-like inmates in short shorts and tank tops. But hey, reality was never a thing here, so who cares, right? Groan. I got the biggest belly laughs watching this movie. Sharkansas made its debut in Thailand…on DVD. The only country that got to watch it on TV was Poland. They must have felt so lucky. Heh.


It’s kind of amazing that one creature can inspire so many subpar films. Granted, a subpar movie can be a great escape, not to mention a nice ab workout from all the guffaws. When a movie is as terrible as most of these are, though, watching them only makes a person want their life back.

As for The MEG, if it’s anything like its predecessors, it’ll be all about shock value, and it may shock us by being a decent film. Then again, Hollywood is batting zero when it comes to promoting competent stories. The odds are good that we’ll get Jaws-like production values mixed with a Sharknado-esque plot.

Mmmmkay, our second Atomic Age Friday is on the horizon. Thanks for reading, all, and hope to see you tomorrow!

 

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