Each month, our marathon man straps himself to a sofa for a viewing fest. Pray for him
NOT FOR THE first time, Twitter’s created a monster. Originally intended as a Syfy schedule-padder, when Sharknado aired back in July 2013, the accompanying tweet-storm turned it into a WTF phenomenon. Or, go on then, finomenon.
Sharknado’s been huge for its makers, Asylum, and it hasn’t wasted a second. We’ve had four instalments in three years. Bingewatch the lot and your brain slowly curdles into cheese.
Graduating from the Snakes On A Plane school of title-first-movie-later, Sharknado is what it is: a tornado full of sharks. A stupid-genius mash-up of disaster flick and creature-feature, the original lobs a fish-infested water-spout over LA. Enter Ian Ziering who, armed with a chainsaw and a gobful of direlogue, is like a Poundshop Evil Dead Ash. Rendered in the kind of fluffy CG last seen in a Toilet Duck ad circa 2004, the spectacularly unspectacular sharknado here looks like somebody at the FX studio left the intern in charge. Somehow, though, the crap effects never get in the way of the preposterously overblown set-pieces. Typical moment: a great white invades a lounge only to get defeated by a bookcase. Embrace the Jaws-meets-twister lunacy, preferably after drinking a pint of Hammerite, and it’s weirdly charming.
Still, for the crap-movie connoisseur, the real comedy’s going on in the background. Take the opening beach attack. An extra tumbles down a set of stairs without being touched. Continuity stumbles from cloudy to sunny in the same scene. And the crowd can’t run away properly because they’re all wearing flip-flops. It’s all in the details.
So, is Sharknado so-bad-it’s-good? Or just terrifically bad? Unlike, say, the clueless innocence of Ed Wood, director Anthony C Ferrante knows exactly what he’s doing: Sharknado’s an ironic tribute act to cinematic ineptitude. If the campy cast winked any harder, their eyelids would fall off, with one notable exception: the fabulously inert Tara Reid. As hammerheads pelt down, she just stands there, arms crossed, frowning. Well, they must have had words about that.
Sharknado 2: The Second One opens with Reid getting her hand chewed off as she dangles from the back of a shark-infested jet. At last! She moves! Having eaten LA, New York’s next on the menu, with sharks landing like soggy chips on Big Apple landmarks. Forget plot: it’s more a series of nonstop non sequiturs with a battering-ram of Z-list cameos. Somehow, Billy Ray Cyrus as a worldrenowned surgeon is even less believable than the sky pissing sharks, but fatigue eventually sets in: the end credits roll for NINE MINUTES.
Two movies down and the joke’s gasping on a respirator. After trashing the White House and
a Daytona 500 race, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! heads into space. Finally, those weirdly weightless CG fish look right at home in zero-gravity, and Ziering gets a laser-chainsaw to play with, but the sharks are now such a character-free threat, they’re just sharp objects falling. It might as well be raining pineapples. With Reid crushed by shrapnel in a cliffhanger climax, Asylum threw it over to Twitter decide her fate: is she #dead or #alive?
Arguably #neither: Reid returns as a cyborg (more accurately, a sigh-borg) in the recently aired Sharknado: The 4th Awakens. Set in hollow, tacky Las Vegas, the series lands in its spiritual home, but the joy’s long been liposuctioned out of it. Random Star Wars gags abound, but here’s a film so bored with its own novelty we get served up nukenados, bouldernados, oilnados and cownados. If you think that’s overkill, the incessant cameos are so bafflingly obscure you need Google on tap (who, or what, is a Dolvett Quince?). Gary Busey as a mad-scientist sounds fun but he looks utterly undead. Ziering, to his credit, remains Sharknado’s deadpan saviour, but surely it’s time for this tongue-in-cheek nonsense to stop.
SHARKNADO 1-4: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION IS OUT NOW ON DVD