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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 3.03.14 Issue #296: Sharknado (2013)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 03.03.2014

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #296: Sharknado (2013)

Monster March: Week 1

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that thinks it's time for John Carpenter to make another movie, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number two hundred and ninety-six, Monster March begins with a look at the 2013 low budget TV movie that unexpectedly shook the foundations of popular culture for a few weeks last summer, Sharknado.

Sharknado (2013)

Sharknado, directed by Anthony C. Ferrante, is both a natural disaster movie and a full on monster movie, a strange combination that isn't tried all that often because, well, it's hard to strike the right balance between the insanity of the unexpected natural disaster (which is always something no one has ever seen before) and the insanity of the monster on the loose (or, in the case of Sharknado, monsters on the loose). But Ferrante and screenwriter Thunder Levin (what an awesome name) manage to find that right balance with Sharknado and have created a bonafide low budget classic.

The flick stars Ian Ziering as Fin Shepard, a divorced father and small business owner in Los Angeles who finds himself stuck fighting for his life in the middle of a seemingly impossible situation; a massive hurricane/tornado has managed to suck up thousands of man eating killer sharks from the ocean and dumped them into the now flooded streets of L.A. The sharks, big and small, either drop from the sky and attack or sneak up on you and destroy you. Fin, after accepting the fact that his seaside bar is gone, decides that he has to rescue his ex-wife April (Tara Reid) and his two kids (Matt, as played by Chuck Hittinger, and Claudia, as played by Aubrey Peeples) from certain doom. With the help of his uber hot employee Nova Clarke (Cassie Scerbo), buddy Baz Hogan (Jaason Simmons), and ex-surfer bum/barfly George (a very game John Heard), Fin makes his way to April's house in a rich neighborhood while fending off the panicked crowds of people and the killer sharks.

That, for the most part, is the plot. The movie moves along quickly and refuses to deliberately waste time. There are a few slow moments here and there, mostly at the beginning, but once the sharks show up and people start dying the flick kicks it into overdrive and never looks back. And while the premise and plot is, in a word, ridiculous, at no point does the movie stop, wink at the audience, and let us know that we're supposed to be having a good time while watching it. The movie is deadly serious, and it just assumes that you're having a good time, which is a refreshing strategy when you realize that Ferrante could have hit the audience over the head with how ridiculous the premise is and made it a straight comedy. Thankfully, Ferrante didn't take the bait (ha) and kept things serious. I mean, if the characters aren't afraid of the monsters and the whole thing is a joke why should I care about anything that happens in the movie? If nothing matters the movie is just pointless. That's never good.

The special effects are decent enough for what Ferrante needs to have happen. The CGI sharks are a little iffy at times, but the camera doesn't linger on them too long and, as a result, there are a few genuine jump scares that work (the opening scenes on the boat in the ocean are a prime example of this). The flick's few gore scenes are good stuff, although I would have liked to see a few more practical blood gags (the "face off" should have been a practical effect). The big scene in April's flooded house featuring the giant shark head is probably the best effects scene in the whole movie, as the size of the shark head really shows the audience what kind of danger everyone is really in. And the big end scene involving Fin and a chainsaw is one of the greatest low budget movie sequences of the last decade. I'm shocked no one else tried doing that scene before.

The only part I didn't really care for is the very beginning of the movie, when we see the sharks picked up by the hurricane/tornado. While I'm usually all for getting on with the story, it probably would have been wise to keep things somewhat slow right before the opening titles. I mean, if I didn't already know what the movie was about I doubt I would have known what the hell was going on. What's wrong with having a shot or two of a tranquil ocean with sharks swimming here and there right before they're all sucked up into a cyclone and thrown onto Los Angeles?

Ziering does a good job as the flick's hero Fin. He's believable in the action hero scenes, and he manages to project a sort of world weariness that makes you root for him. Fin is just a regular guy trying to get by; he isn't anything special. But when the hooey hits the fan Fin figures things out quickly and it's all about protecting his family. Ziering also has real chemistry with Tara Reid, which is always a plus when you're supposed to be lovers (or ex-lovers). As for Reid, she does a serviceable job in a role that was obviously designed to be filled by a sort of star looking for a quick paycheck. She doesn't do all that much, but then, again, that was likely be design. It helps that she has real chemistry with Ziering because if she didn't their scenes together would have been unbearable. Reid doesn't overdo it. She's there, she screams, she knows when to give Fin the chainsaw.

Cassie Scerbo kicks ass as Nova Clarke, the shotgun wielding babe in short shorts who just wants to survive. She takes no hooey from anyone, and she has no time to look for attire that's "more sensible." She doesn't want to get eaten by a goddamn shark; surviving is far more important than looking for a pair of sweatpants. And Jaason Simmons is awesome as Baz Hogan, the Kiwi badass that comes up with the brilliant "plan B." It's a damn shame what happens to him, but you sure as heck respect him by the end of the movie.

And then there's John Heard as the drunk George. Heard could easily made George a complete goofball but he knows when to dial things back to make George simply an asshole, which always plays better in this kind of movie (you never want an actor to be goofier than the movie he's in. It just doesn't work). I think you'll dig his love of his own barstool, and you'll probably wonder, like I did as soon as I finished watching the movie, why I can't buy an action figure of George killing a shark with his barstool. In this day and age that fact makes absolutely no sense.

Sharknado is a B-movie blast from start to finish. It's the kind of fun movie that I wish Hollywood in general made more often. It's ridiculous, sure, but it's still chock full of great moments, fine performances, and decent enough special effects. Just give it a chance and you, too, will have a great time.

Now, on to The Second One.

See Sharknado. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: Possibly thousands. There are sharks everywhere, man.

Explosions: Several.

Nudity?: None. It's a basic cable TV movie.

Doobage: A massive cyclone picking up sharks, bloody shark fin removal, a box full of money, low budget big waves, flying sharks, man eating, a shoot out, a badly damaged knee, bloody face removal, swimming and surfing, ominous dark clouds, hot babes in bikinis, a leg scar, low budget surfing, more man eating, a badly chewed up arm, leg chomping, shark through a glass window, pool cue to the top of the head, baseball bat attack, shotgun attack, bar stool attack, helium tank inside a shark's mouth followed by a massive explosion, runaway Ferris wheel, stock footage of flooded places, a massive traffic back up, blood on the windshield, shark up through a manhole, shotgun shark destruction, a douchey boyfriend, a bloody photo floating on the water, a room full of blood, repelling, a bus full of kids, flying Hollywood sign, sharks attacking a Jeep, exploding shark head, exploding Jeep, Hummer theft, a nitrous button, a woman is sucked through a window, a hangar full of weapons, a hedge trimmer, bomb building, a helicopter scheme, multiple chopper bombs, shark impalement, more leg chomping, more falling sharks, more exploding sharks, sudden bloody arm removal, a massive pool fire, shark stabbing, person eaten by shark in mid-air, man with chainsaw jumping into flying shark, internal shark surgery, a bloody mouth, and a giant pile of dead sharks.

Kim Richards?: Attempted and implied.

Gratuitous: CGI cyclone picking up CGI sharks, low budget big waves, multiple shark attacks, bloody face removal, Los Angeles, Ian Ziering, Ian Ziering surfing, John Heard, global warming, Tara Reid, Tara Reid not looking gross, a Jaws reference, runaway Ferris wheel, stock footage of bad rain and flooding, a massive traffic back up, "higher ground," John Heard killing sharks with a barstool, shark attack inside a residential home, a bunch of kids stranded on a school bus, multiple exploding sharks, a convenience store, a nitrous button, old people, Tara Reid carrying a hedge trimmer, a whiny daughter, a helicopter attack, a pool on fire, Mann's Chinese Theatre, In Ziering with a chainsaw jumping into a flying shark, internal shark surgery, a bloody mouth, and a giant pile of dead sharks.

Best lines: "What did I tell you? You can touch everything in this bar except me!," "Grandpa?," "Sharks! Hey, get out of the water! Sharks!," "Sharks don't like Vegemite," "George, wake up or I'm calling in your bar tab," "Give me something dangerous," "You have an ex-wife and a daughter?," "Bloody hell!," "Trust me, if there's one thing I know it's timing waves," "Gotta love L.A.," "By the way, I'm not a stripper," "There are sharks flooding the streets," "Easy come, easy go," "My Mom always told me Hollywood would kill me," "What is that? A water spout," "Hey, make it quick, I don't want to spend too much time here," "Dad! The police are chasing us!," "Why is there a retirement home next to the airport?," "He certainly is your son," "Oh, crap, look at all of those sharks!," and "I really hate sharks."

Rating: 9.0/10.0


Next week: Dinoshark!


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Facebook Page!

Please check out The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page, which can be seen here. There's not much there at the moment, but, as time goes by, expect to see daily questions and musings and other B-movie hooey (this really is going to happen at some point). And it would be cool if you "liked" it, too.

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page! Yeah!

And please check out my interview with director Brett A. Hart about the Ain't It Cool internet show and more!


Harold Ramis 1944-2014 RIP


Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1

- Dracano: This is a movie about dragons unleashed from an erupting volcano. I'm shocked that no one has tried to do this movie before. I mean, with the special effects big movie budgets can buy you'd think we'd already have a major summer movie franchise with this idea.

- Billy's Cult: The great Debbie Rochon stars in this thriller horror flick shot in Southern New Jersey. It looks and sounds very cool, and could very well be a part of Debuary: A Month of Debbie Rochon in 2015. Or it could get a review sooner than that. Who the heck knows?

- Children of Sorrow: The fine folks at After Dark Films are releasing this horror flick about a cult or something. I love the poster, and the trailer is pretty cool, so right there it's worth getting. And it's always worth checking out the latest flick from After Dark.

- Big Bad Wolf: This low budget horror flick used to be known as Huff, so there's a chance you may have already seen it somewhere under that title. I sort of like that name more than Big Bad Wolf, but then Big Bad Wolf is a very "no bullshit" kind of title, and I can appreciate that, too. Rentable.

- Uncut: This low budget British horror comedy was made as one continuous take, or at least that's what imdb.com claims. Based on that fact alone the movie is worth seeing, just to see if the gimmick behind it was worth doing in the first place. I mean, doing it one take, why is that important?


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week



The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Cassie Scerbo


Special Commentary: What Sharknado 2 needs to do

Sharknado 2: The Second One is, as far as I know, still filming in New York City, and is still expected to debut on the Sci Fi Channel this July. It will likely be a biggish hit when it does finally debut, as I'm sure Sci Fi, The Asylum, and the pop culture loving world will talk about it incessantly for several weeks before it actually debuts and get people interested in the premise again. Of course, there's a chance that the sequel won't have as big of an impact as the first one and the whole idea of a tornado full of sharks will be forgotten with a smarmy chuckle. I, personally, hope that the sequel kicks ass, gets a big rating, sells a lot of DVD's, and gets people to start thinking about a third one. However, in order to kick ass and whatnot, what will Sharknado 2: The Second One have to do?

- Take itself seriously: And by that I mean the story should be handled as seriously as possible and the actors (Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, and whomever else The Asylum manages to get involved) treat their characters seriously. The premise may sound ridiculous, but unless The Asylum and Sci Fi actually want a comedy the sequel isn't going to work if everyone involved thinks it's all a big joke. New York City is flooded and there are goddamn sharks falling from the skies. How is that a joke? It's goddamn happening!

- Feature more "shark" and less "nado": For my money the first movie didn't have enough shark attack sequences. I want to see more sharks jumping out of the water and eating people. I want to see sharks pursuing people on small speedboats, eating the boat, and then eating the people that fell out of the boat. I also want to see more bloody limb removal. Why not have a massive shark swarm at some point? The big tornado scenes are obviously going to have to be in the movie but are people going to watch because of the tornado effects or the sharks?

- Feature more "practical" shark effects: I want to see at least two more "big shark head" scenes in the sequel, as it's exactly the kind of scene that can make the audience squirm. And I would like to see at least one of those scenes involve a hammerhead shark, as I'd imagine that a flailing hammerhead snapping its mouth open and shut would freak everyone out. It's certainly freaking me out just thinking about it.

- More blood: I know that it's basic cable and, outside of "prestige" shows like Sons of Anarchy and The Walking Dead, there probably won't be any more gore than in the first movie. However, if you're going to eventually release the movie on DVD anyway, why not film some extra nastiness for home video? As far as I'm concerned you can ever go wrong with more gore.

And finally,

- Don't allow the celebrity cameos overwhelm the movie: Several celebrities have been announced to have cameos in The Second One including Kelly Osbourne, Andy Dick, and Judah Friedlander. While I do think that it's cool that so many people want to be involved in The Second One they can't be a distraction. They need to be a part of the movie. If we're meant to just "spot the celebrity" then what's the point of doing the movie?

The great Judd Hirsch is allegedly going to be in the movie, too. That'll be cool. And you can be sure that he won't let his celebrity get in the way of the movie. That just isn't his style.

Now, as I said above, on to The Second One.


Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2

- Oldboy: This is the Spike Lee remake that came and went in theatres last year. I really thought that the movie, starring Josh Brolin, would have had a bigger release and a bigger box office impact, as the original Oldboy is a modern thriller classic and it's a title people are aware of. Oh, well. I'm sure Lee's remake will find its audience on home video.

- Blast Vegas: Frankie Muniz, the former Malcolm of Malcolm in the Middle and Toyota Atlantics fame, stars in this low budget Sci Fi Channel disaster flick. It looks like fun, and that's what you want with this kind of movie. Fun.

- Blood Rush: This appears to be some sort of low budget zombie type deal, and it looks like it's also supposed to be a comedy, too. I'm fine with that, but Blood Rush is too cool a title to use for a comedy. It sounds more like an action movie title.

- Zombie Dawn: Chronicles of the Walking Dead: A zombie movie from Chile. When was the last time we had one of those? Damned if I know. Looks cool, and that makes it very rentable. And who knows, Zombie Dawn: Chronicles of the Walking Dead could show up as part of the June zombie theme.

- The Last Days on Mars: This lowish budget sci-fi horror flick did get a small theatrical release, so there's a chance that you got to see this in a movie theatre. It didn't play anywhere near me, so I didn't get a chance to see it. You would think that a movie starring Liev Schreiber would get a little more release respect. The great Elias Koteas is in this, too.


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week


This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to Alec Baldwin, for his latest public meltdown. Apparently Alec is thinking about moving back to Los Angeles because he just can't deal with the New York celebrity photographers. He's also still very mad at MSNBC for dumping his terrible interview show. And he has a problem with Anderson Cooper, who, I guess, thinks he's a homophobe.

Enough, Alec. Whether you think it's fair or not, you have to stop engaging the photographers, you have to stop confronting them, and you just have to stop whining about how much your life allegedly sucks. You're a mega rich Hollywood celebrity with a beautiful wife. You should be one of the happiest people on the planet. And since you know and I know that the paparazzi aren't going anywhere, perhaps it's time you just figure out how to ignore them. If you leave them alone they may, one day, leave you alone.

And stay out of the papers. You can do it, man. You're a smart guy. And you should do a movie where you play a gay guy, just so the whole "homophobe" thing will go away. Trust me on that.

And then there's everyone involved in the "celebrity children should be off limits to the paparazzi" movement, which is just ridiculous. Why is it ridiculous? Because it's yet another instance of mega rich celebrities publicly whining about how much their lives allegedly suck. First off, no one is forcing you to be famous. You don't want ignorant celebrity photographers hounding you every waking minute of your life? Stop making movies or singing or whatever it is you do and go off and live on a ranch in Montana. Second, if you want your kids to be off limits make your kids off limits and don't let them be photographed. If that means they have to be secretly moved through different entrances or whatever then that's what you'll have to do. The paparazzi, even with laws saying they can't, will continue to find ways to take pictures of your family. It's just what's going to happen. And third, stop being assholes about the whole thing. Stop screaming and flipping out on the photographers. Control your temper. Don't lose it in front of the camera. Figure out how to be composed at all times. Don't give the photographers what they want.

Why is this so hard to figure out?

Up next is producer Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey, for their appearance on Sean Hannity's Fox News program to promote their cobbled together movie Son of God. While it may have been smart business to promote your religious movie on a show with a large religious audience, it's still absolutely disgraceful to appear on Hannity's show. Sean Hannity is just an awful television personality and appearing on his program just encourages him. And was the "one nation under God" like really necessary?

And can someone explain to me when it allegedly became illegal in Hollywood to be religious? Isn't Mark Wahlberg religious? Has he been blackballed from major movies and whatnot? Of course not. So can we please stop the "Hollywood hates Christians" shit? It's ridiculous.

And finally there's Kiss, for announcing that the band wouldn't be performing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because it couldn't figure who should play. What kind of lame ass fucking bullshit is that? Why not just have everyone fucking play? Doesn't that solution solve the big non-problem?

Again, why is this shit so hard to figure out?


NASCAR and Indycar thoughts

The second race of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season was all about two drivers, eventual winner Kevin Harvick and front row starter Joey Logano. Unless they both wrecked or had some sort of massive mechanical failure the race was going to come down to one of those two drivers. Logano led first, and then Harvick, in his new Stewart-Haas #4, rocketed to the front and pretty much stayed there the whole day. Logano gave chase and was close to getting to the front, but Logano had to settle for fourth. Logano's Penske teammate Brad Keselowski, who started on the pole, was third (he was fast, too, but he didn't seem to be as consistently fast as Logano).

And Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who won the Daytona 500? He finished second. He was fast for most of the day, too, and was sort of in contention for most of the race. It seemed as though the only way he was going to get by Harvick was on a restart, as Harvick could just pull away. What the heck happened to "Little E?" Did car owner/convicted felon Rick Hendrick finally figure out that Junior needs to be up front and winning in order for everyone to make more money?

Jimmie Johnson was sort of fast most of the day, hanging around the top ten and eventually finishing sixth. And Ryan Newman, in the #31 car, managed to finish somewhere in the top ten (I don't remember exactly where, but he was up front at the end making moves). Newman was the only Richard Childress Racing car that managed to accomplish anything. Daytona pole sitter Austin Dillon didn't do shit. Is that what we're going to see from the #3 for most of 2014?

What the hell was Danica Patrick's crew chief thinking when he told her not to worry about the smoke inside her car? I mean, yeah, her car was already heavily damaged and she wasn't going to be running up front at the end, but why not play it safe, bring her in and see if she had a tire going down? Why allow that thing to blow?

The race, as a whole, was decent. There was way more passing via the apron than I thought there would be. I'm shocked that NASCAR allows those kinds of passes. Phoenix isn't Daytona or Talladega, sure, but isn't coming up off the apron potentially dangerous? Isn't that going to cause massive accidents at some point?

I didn't get to see the Nationwide race on Saturday, which Kyle Busch won. The race was rain shortened, and it sounds like it was a complete Busch rout. I really think it's time that NASCAR restrict the participation of Sprint Cup stars in the Nationwide Series. The Nationwide "regulars" just don't have a chance.

Las Vegas is up next for both the Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series. Fox and ESPN2 will carry the events.

Over in Indycar, the big news is the lawsuit Panther Racing has apparently filed against the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team for, I guess, "stealing" the National Guard sponsorship that had been Panther's for several seasons. Bobby Rahal has said that he intends to fight the lawsuit. We'll all have to keep an eye on the Racer Magazine website for details and developments.

It was also announced last week that 1995 Indy 500 winner and 1997 F-1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve plans on attempting to qualify for this year's Indy 500. Villeneuve, who is apparently running a full season of rally racing in Europe, had set up a ride with Sam Schmidt's team. I would like to know if Villeneuve brought money to the team, or if Schmidt actively pursued the 1995 winner for the car. If Villeneuve did bring money where the hell did he get it from? And if he's going to do an Indy 1 off, will he also enter any of the NASCAR Nationwide Series road course events? Will he have the time to do that, too?

March 30th is only a few short weeks away.


Well, I think that'll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.

If there's anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.

And don't forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.


Ian Ziering- Fin Shepard
Tara Reid- April Wexler
John Heard- George
Cassie Scerbo- Nova Clarke
Jaason Simmons- Baz Hogan
Alex Arleo- Bobby
Chuck Hittinger- Matt Shepard
Aubrey Peeples- Claudia Shepard

Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante
Screenplay by Thunder Levin

Distributed by The Asylum and Syfy

Runtime- 90 minutes

Buy it here


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