Shark Month rages on with this more ‘local’ offering which makes next to no sense but does star one of the greatest action heroes of all time. One on whom I think I might still have a crush (look Masters of the Universe came at an important time in my life and was revisited often).
Shark Lake (2015)
A classic american thriller where the lines between man and beast blur and are questioned.
Clint Gray (Lundgren) isn’t a bad guy per se, he’s just done some questionable things. This is what plucky cop Meredith (Lane) tells their young daughter Carly when she asks if her dad is the baddie he’s being made out to be by the locals. Gray is estranged from his ex and has been out of Carly’s life for long enough that his sudden reappearance raises red flags.
You know what else raises red flags? People being gobbled up in the lake. Luckily the local fuzz are on it and are convinced the first attack has been carried out by a hungry bear. On capturing and exterminating an innocent local black, they congratulate themselves thoroughly on a job well done but a visiting oceanographer called Peter has another theory. When diving the lake (which looks suspiciously like the bottom of a swimming pool), he finds the victim’s missing arm and concludes this can only have been removed by a shark.
WHAT?! A shark in the bottom of a lake? Say it isn’t so.
But of course he’s right and, teaming up with Meredith, manages to finally convince those in charge that they should clear the lake of visitors. Unfortunately, there’s a Summer regatta planned and the mayor isn’t happy to lose out on the tourism… kidding. The dramatic attack of two bikini-clad para-gliders backs them up nicely and they’re able to clear the area without too much faff.
Meanwhile, Gray is some sort of ex-con with a wrap sheet as bulky as his pecs. As a former animal dealer, he’s got form when it comes to the exotic and Meredith is convinced her ex is responsible for the shark in the lake. In that she’s convinced he put it in there on purpose.
Since this is a film about sharks in a lake it won’t shock you to note that this isn’t just a hilarious slur against him on her part, he is actually guilty as charged – but has returned to sort out his mess. Like the responsible adult he truly is.
Meredith is also fucked off to learn that her boss has brought in reality show shark hunter Garreth Ross (Miles Doleac) to take care of business. The ridiculous stereotype of a British dandy royally bodges the job but I must admit that his segments are the most enjoyable.
As he searches the lake for his prey, he hopes to make some TV gold and I guess in a way he really does. His demise also illustrates the fact there’s more than one shark in the water and they seem to have a plan…
Will Gray the exotic animal whisperer find and destroy said sharks in time to rescue his estranged lady friend and child? Indeed, will he make the contact he wishes to with his long lost daughter?
Remember that the dude isn’t all bad…
I mean, this is better than some shark movies I’ve seen. Jill, remember Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre (2015)? (Sadly not reviewed for the blog).
Dolph isn’t terrible as at least he has a presence and the main character is a woman I don’t dislike, mostly because of her use of the term ‘ass clown’.
The shark action is fun but I would have liked even more. Shark movies by now have no excuse not to fill their run time with flying limbs and it baffles me when they squander the opportunity for maximum gore.
Peter’s scene in which he knocks out a shark with a crow bar is quite funny and you have to admire the spunk.
Otherwise, SL is largely forgettable. Still, there’s a reason I never go into the water, even ponds and lakes and it’s because you just never know who’s put a shark in there.
Does it pass the Bechdel Test?
Like last week, this one doesn’t appear on the list. Don’t quote me as I wasn’t paying much attention but I think there might be one conversation between mother and daughter that isn’t about a dude?
Then again maybe I’m just being hopeful, there aren’t that many female characters to choose from.
What does my queen of everything think of Shark Lake? Would she dredge it soon as look at it or swim with the fishies? Find out here.
UPDATE: There are some inaccuracies in this review because I’ll admit, I wasn’t really paying attention. Meredith isn’t Carly’s mother or Clint’s ex. Also, there’s an explanation as to how the sharks got in the lake which I also missed. Kind of important.
My bad. Go read Jillian’s review for a better handle on the story.
This week’s shark pick borrows extremely heavily from a very famous – the most famous – shark movie of all time and I’m actually almost impressed by the audacity. Ripping something off idea for idea is the highest form of flattery, no?
The Last Shark (1981)
James Franciscus tries to save hundreds of swimmers in a coastal resort after a Great White Shark starts terrorizing the area.
Dude, who the fuck is James Franciscus?! LOL (JK, he’s the actor playing main hero Peter Benton) and that synopsis says a lot about the standard of this flick.
While preparing for a huge regatta coming up over the weekend, a hopeful windsurfer practices his admittedly impressive moves on the water. Alas, something is rotten in Denmark and he disappears after his board has a huge chunk taken out of it. His friends, who’ve been watching on the shore, quickly notice he’s disappeared and run to tell one of the girls’ dads, horror author Peter Benton.
Benton teams up with professional shark hunter Ron Hammer (Vic Morrow) and they agree this is obviously the work of a great white – but do you think ambitious mayor William Wells (Joshua Sinclair) wants to believe that shit? Course not with the career enhancing regatta on the horizon – so he installs a couple of flimsy shark nets and calls it a day.
Well, we all know why we’re here so it would be naive to think this would prove to be effective in any way and the promise of nubile teenage flesh splish sploshing in the water is too much for our toothy friend to resist. There are casualties, including the mayor’s loyal aide and he can no longer ignore the signs. Peter and Hammer head into the ocean with the plan to feed sharky some dynamite but he’s not having it. He chases them into a cave and they’re forced to use the explosives to escape his hungry jaws.
Meanwhile, Peter’s plucky daughter Jenny (Stefania Girolami Goodwin) and her buddies – which includes the mayor’s son – go out on the water with a shot gun to catch the fish themselves. Obviously this ends in disaster. Jenny loses a leg and Peter is understandably enraged.
Mayor Wells actually shows some conscience at this point, choosing to go out in a chopper with a piece of steak on the end of rope (really). In a pattern of dubious ideas I would say that this is up there as the absolute worst of them and the fall out is impressive. Mayor Wells pays the price for his previous inaction (a polite notice to Trump and Boris Johnson in relation to current global affairs) – and doesn’t make it back to land.
All this leads us to the nail biting climax, as the shark pulls part of the boardwalk out to sea and systematically works his way through the remaining cast members.
There are times I felt a little stressed out but The Last Shark doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It doesn’t have even a quarter of the suspense of the film it’s worked so hard to steal from. I liked the ending though – Peter Benton fights to the death to save his family – and there’s a subplot about a couple of network news reporters desperate to get something more juicy for their slot that I enjoyed.
What strikes me the most is the lack of gore. Sure there are a couple of torn up torsos but there’s no bloody red water to be seen anywhere. I guess I’m disappointed by that. The shark itself is pretty clunky – he’s certainly no Bruce – and a lot of the shark action has been spliced together by real life shark footage. This works in some places but there are times it looks like they may have used the wrong type of shark which is careless. The shark’s ultimate demise is gloriously camp but this is very forgettable.
Does it pass the Bechdel Test?
I’m not sure, it doesn’t appear on the list. And I couldn’t be bothered to work it out myself.
Let’s say – no?
Ps. This is an Italian film and is dubbed which I didn’t actually notice until I read up about it afterwards. This might illustrate how much attention I was paying. The lore goes that it never got a cinema release because one Stephen Spielberg had is banned for its similarity to a couple of his films. I can’t think why.
What does my wife think about this one? Would she lure it out of the ocean with a hunk of manky meat or leave it in the shallows? Find out here.
It’s accidental Shark Month here on the collab, which delights me because God knows, at least you know where you are with a shark movie.
This week we’re exploring the first film in the Mega Shark franchise. You might remember we’ve previously reviewed number three in the series, the one with Mecha Shark – and let me tell you, it wasn’t even that bad. I’m not saying I’m going in with high hopes or anything but I am expecting fun. Please let this be fun.
Fuck knows what day it is let alone month, or what theme we should be working towards. I think Jill and I have just about landed on things that take our minds off all the shit that’s happening in the world – and what’s better than silly but pretty people being gobbled up by sharks?
Exactly. Nothing at all.
Late last night (of course) I got inspired to look back on the shark movies Jill and I have reviewed for the blog. It was a lot of fun so I thought, in honour of undoubtedly the best movie of the year opening this weekend, I would revisit them properly in a post.
That movie, to be clear, is The Meg and I’ll be there on Friday clutching my popcorn with the biggest grin on my stupid face. I’ll also be wishing Meghan Lightle was with me because this is a movie ripped straight from our minds, frankly.
Anyway, to the sharks. It’s hard to sort these into order of preference because there’s love in my heart for each of them, no matter how ridiculous.
Planet of the Sharks – 1.5/5
The planet is now mostly ocean and it’s full of angry mutant sharks. It’s a very bad scene, man. Survivors are living on makeshift rigs in the middle of open water just trying to dodge a bloody fate and while it’s far from ideal, some self-made tribes are getting on just fine.
Help might just be at hand when a bunch of plucky scientists rock up but at what cost really? AT WHAT COST?!
Ghost Shark – 3/5
A favourite of mine, Ghost Shark is the tale of a wronged Great White who exacts glorious, witty revenge on the small beach town that let her* down. This might sound familiar but, wait – Ghost Shark is special because she has the power to manifest in any body of water – with hilarious consequences.
An absolute highlight. *I like to think of her as ‘she’.
Sharknado – 2.5/5
I’ve never ventured beyond the first Sharknado but this was a lot of fun to rip apart. Plus, apparently I have a thing for Ian Ziering, who knew?
You probably don’t need me to give you a synopsis on this one, given that it’s one of the most well-known modern shark B-movies but there’s a hurricane heading towards LA and the tornado at the centre of it is spitting out killer sharks. Luckily, sex pot Fin Shepard (geddit) is on hand to save the world and look damn fine while doing it.
Mega Shark Vs. Mecha Shark – 3.5/5
Sometimes there’s only one way to deal with a problem and that’s to build an identical steel version of that problem – and have both versions fight it out to the death. Throw in a kick-arse central character and you’ve got yourself quite the treat.
I’m not even being insincere when I say this one was pretty okay.
3-Headed Shark Attack – Priceless
What’s better than a shark movie starring Jason Statham? That’s right, a 3-headed shark movie starring DANNY FREAKIN’ TREJO, King of my Heart.
This film has a lot to say about the environmental impact of all that plastic in the ocean and I appreciate it honestly because you don’t always get a message from your straight-to-DVD titles. Triple the heads = triple the fun.
12 Days of Terror – 3/5
A shark (or two) terrorises the beach one hazy summer while the Jersey Shore tourist board turns a blind eye to the carnage because tourism, yo.
Hot lifeguard Alex isn’t about to let this slide though – and if all this sounds familiar it’s because 12DOT is based on the TRUE STORY that also inspired the Rolls Royce of Shark movies, Jaws. So not bad for a TV movie and it might also be thanks to salty sea dog, Captain (John Rhys-Davies).
I’m quite sure there will be many more shark movies in our future but until now, enjoy these gems.
What, you’re not already on your way to pick up all these titles now? What’re you waiting for? 🦈🦈🦈
Start the year as we mean to go on I thought, so I chose something very much relevant to my interests. Why wouldn’t I? It’s our Collab and we do what we want.
This one has sharks, good-looking but unbearable beach bums and found footage – the holy trinity basically.
So, straight in with the first pick of 2018.
Open Water 3: Cage Dive (2017)
Three friends filming an audition tape for an extreme reality show, take part in shark cage diving, only to be left in great white infested waters, turning their recording into life and death.
Jeff and Josh (Joel Hogan and Josh Potthoff) are brothers (I think). Jeff is in love with Megan (Megan Peta Hill) and the three of them are tight af – living life as only blessed young people from Laguna Beach can. The three friends decide they’re going to make an audition video for an extreme sports reality show but, don’t worry, things like that never go wrong.
For their show reel, they travel to Australia to stay with a distant cousin of the boys’. Their intention is to film absolutely everything they do on the trip, including the shark cage dive, which is the jewel in their audition crown.
I’m not sure how this will bode when it comes to exercising trust in the middle of a crisis (CLUE: Not well) but for now it gives us more of an insight into our main characters. With everything being filmed, it isn’t long before the camera picks up a secret rendezvous between the illicit lovers (we never learn how far the relationship has gone tbf) but luckily duplicitous Josh manages to conceal it in the nick of time.
Jeff seems nice if decidedly D-U-L-L. He also has some sort of a heart defect which is mentioned a lot, particularly by his mum just before they leave LA. Hmmm, could this be foreshadowing? Also, minor question, but when the trio leave the States why does Josh say “Thanks Laguna, you treated us well” (to paraphrase)? I don’t say that to Brighton every time I leave for a holiday – IT MAKES NO SENSE (unless he’s psychic and realises he isn’t going to return).
Annnnyway. After a few days partying, the kids make their way to the boat for cage dive time. We already know, via the medium of Found Footage and various news reports/interviews leading up to this recorded account of events, that Something Bad Happens.
Our gang get lots of cool content for their audition in the cage but things take a dramatic (and deadly) turn when a freak wave upends the boat, the cage and everyone on board. Ooopsy.
Well, as expected, there’s a warm shark welcome waiting for the tourists and crew when they hit the water, plus quite a few of the people have been injured in the capsizing, which basically makes them chum. It does not end well for several side characters, especially the dude with half his face hanging off already.
I don’t suppose much more needs to be said. As the trio drift further and further away from the boat’s original spot on the ocean, their chances of rescue seem more futile. With sharks still threatening at every turn, things are looking decidedly fishy (sorry) though it could be exposure to the elements that gets them first, or starvation.
Or they could just kill each other with their truths because where better to air your grievances than in the middle of the sea while great whites nibble at your toes?
When Jeff spots a blow up rescue boat bobbing in the near distance is seems as though things could be looking up. They suddenly have enough supplies and a relatively solid base to hunker down in until the coast guard show up. They even save another survivor who’s in a catatonic state. All they need do is relax and let fate take care of the rest.
Course things don’t really work out that way because Megan takes the most pointlessly stupid action of all time and fucks everything up for everyone forever. Will our reluctant menage à trois make it back to shore with all their limbs attached?
That this could be a happy ending for anyone is left open until the climax but you kind of already know going in. Have fun!
If I’m honest, I don’t have much time for any of the core characters. Megan is a screamer and although I’d be 1000% more hysterical in the same situation, I find her whining unbearable. She’s also playing both guys with little remorse. Like, brothers, Megan? How could that ever end well?
Josh and Jeff aren’t that well-rounded in terms of character. Josh is brasher than his brother who seems the best of a bland bunch but when they’re wet and screeching in the water, both with names beginning with a ‘J’, it’s hard to keep track of who’s who.
The shark action is satisfying though and although this is never going to be Jaws (because nothing is), I wasn’t disappointed by the horror of the situation our friends find themselves in. It’s literally the worst.
And yes, I did have to lift my feet onto the couch watching this, a sure fire sign this is scary, if only for the sharks.
3 smiling sharks out of 5. Tense because of the situation but you’ll be rooting for the great whites.
What does Wifey think? Would she cage dive with this one or leave it in the water? Find out here.
“Frank, that doesn’t even make sense!” ~ Sheriff Martin to Mayor Stahl, which pretty much sums up this film
Don’t let that put you off though.
This is the last instalment in our Shark Month and I’m part sad, part relieved. These damn movies are all starting to blend into one. Next month’s theme is still being decided but whatever happens it will be very, very different.
Until then, let’s focus on this made-for-the Sy Fy Channel special which, for want of a better way to describe it, is bonkers. Seriously, seriously cray balls.
Let’s also take a moment to say see ya later sharks, it’s been real.
Ghost Shark (2013)
When rednecks on a fishing trip kill a great white shark, its spirit comes back for revenge, and soon turns its sights on the town of Smallport.
Oh god. Oh my actual god. Well, at least the synopsis is a bit different, although every time I think of it, I think of 1990’s Ghost Dad. An interesting little tidbit there for you, if not particularly savoury. I’m sure Ghost Shark is the lesser of the two evils.
We begin with some arsehole fishermen (on the whole are fishermen really this dislikable? They’ve been portrayed very badly in every one of these movies). I say fishermen but there is a female present. Through every fault of their own, this heinous pair (against the wishes of the captain of the boat) manage to torture and kill a great white shark, simply for doing what great white sharks do.
I can’t really understand why the shark sticks around so long, but this isn’t the first time I will seriously question something in the next 90 minutes. The shark is eventually badly injured (via the medium of kaboom), so drifts off to die in a small cave next to a lighthouse, nothing odd about that.
Oh but wait, the cave begins to glow eerily, showing off some weird neon markings on the wall. What does it mean?
Well it means this isn’t the end of Sharky’s story (let’s not beat around the bush: he manifests as Ghost Shark) and justice is served piping hot on those nasty killers. Sadly, that includes the innocent captain which is a bit of a shitter as he’s a well-known local in the town of Harmony, with two daughters who are understandably concerned when they find his boat bobbing unattended in the middle of the lagoon (?).
From here it feels more like a shark movie (bikinis, teenagers, flying heads) but I’m pleased to report that, apart from the bitchy Queen Bee of the group, who doesn’t survive this introductory scene, the kids are alright. We have; plucky Ava (Mackenzie Rosman), her sister Cicely (Coe), laid-back potential love interest, Blaise (Davis), quite hot Mayor’s son, Cameron (Mitchell) and joker of the pack, Mick (Shawn C. Phillips).
I have to admit that I was bracing myself for a fat joke or ten at the expense of Mick, who’s a big boy but there weren’t any and that was refreshing to me. Look, you have to take decency where you can find it sometimes.
In fact, although this film does not appear on my favourite website, the Bechdel Test Movie List and I forgot to monitor it myself, it’s clear at all times who the hero of this story is, and it’s Ava. Women (some) tend to fare better in horror than in any other genre, and they particularly excel in shark movies *bicep emoji*.
How many more deaths before someone fucking believes the kids when they say there’s a vengeful shark of the loose, tho?! (FYI if there was a big dog in this film you could legitimately pass it off as a Scooby Doo movie).
Honestly, I can’t thrash back and forth all the way through this review because that will be very dull but there’s a pool party at Cameron’s house to commiserate Vicky’s death (so sweet!). It’s okay though, because everyone knows sharks are sea creatures only. LOL! Carnage ensues and we begin to lose some of the core group.
One of the perks, apparently, of being a ghost shark is that you get to pop out of any body of water to wreak horrible revenge, so absolutely nowhere wet is safe. Bath tubs, taps, puddles, buckets of soapy water being sponged onto sports cars by bikini clad cheerleaders, even cups of water from the cooler – *anywhere*.
Ghost Shark doesn’t even seem mad anymore, he’s just hell bent on killing everybody and I don’t really blame him. Murder never looked so fun and nobody is exempt. Eventually the towns people realise what they have on their hands (duh) and Mayor Stahl (Johnson) who’s very shouty, goes out on a boat with Sheriff Martin (Murphy). He has A. Plan but you can guess how well that turns out.
Meanwhile, Ava and Blaise meet an eccentric museum curator who’s creepy beyond words but also informative – and they find out about an ancient curse placed on the glowing cave (I think, honestly I tuned out a lot towards the end). They then team up with Sean Connery, a mysterious local fisherman, who’s also a drunk and rumoured to have killed his wife.
He tells the kids some more about the cave and they work out what they have to do to destroy Ghost Shark. There’s a big bad showdown at the end and someone wins.
Will the plan work? Did Sean Connery kill his wife after all? Who will make it and who will end up as chum?
Uh. Actually, this isn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen. I mean, it was almost worth it for the car wash attack alone (the scene itself is so damn gratuitous). In addition to the babes in swimwear, I feel as though the filmmaker did at least try to give this a back story and as mentioned, there was a strong female lead who didn’t have to hook up with the guy to be interesting.
She was steely, spunky and focused, exactly the person you’d want in charge during a ghost shark hunt. Imagine a team of shark hunting women comprised of Ava, Rosie and Nova? You’re welcome Sy-Fy Channel. Jill, perhaps we should write and direct it? (Although they’d only be hunting bad sharks, you understand).
The other characters were okay but not indispensable, Cameron was probably the strongest alongside Ava but I don’t know if that’s just because I fancied him a bit. Besides the bucket bit, my favourite scene was when Blaise finally twigged that as long as they stay away from water, they’ll be okay. Um, YAH.
The effects are horrible which makes them brilliant, the story is beyond stupid but it was entertaining at least.
Did Jill want to wreak bloody revenge on those who wronged her (aka. the director of this movie)? Or… did she like it? Find out here, if you dare!
Ps. If you see this is and enjoy it, there appears to be a sequel…