BINGE­WATCH

Each month, our marathon man straps him­self to a sofa for a view­ing fest. Pray for him

Empire (UK) - - REVIEW - WORDS SI­MON CROOK IL­LUS­TRA­TION PETER STRAIN

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

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