Sharknado (2013) Review with RiffTrax Live: Sharknado (2014)

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Asylum Catches The Big One.

Sharknado (2013): 8 out of 10: “Sharknado,” a made-for-TV disaster film released in 2013, has gained significant attention for its unique premise and cult following. Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante and produced by The Asylum, this B-movie extravaganza combines elements of science fiction, horror, and comedy,

Off the coast of Mexico, shark fin smuggler Carlos Santiago’s ship is engulfed in a hurricane during a meeting with a potential buyer. The storm tosses sharks onto the boat, resulting in a deadly encounter that claims the lives of all aboard. This opening scene has nothing to do with the rest of the film and is never referenced again.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the hurricane hits, flooding the city with seawater teeming with sharks. Fin, a bar owner and professional surfer, embarks on a mission with his friends Baz, Nova, and George to rescue his estranged wife April and their daughter Claudia after their bar and the boardwalk are destroyed.

As they navigate the occasionally and randomly flooded streets, they encounter chaos as sharks attack people trapped by the rising waters. George is killed off and honestly, till I went to write this, I had forgotten John Heard was in the film. Despite the dangers, the group presses on, reaching April’s home just before it’s flooded and overrun by sharks. Collin, April’s boyfriend from the Bushwood country club, falls victim to the sharks, but the rest narrowly escapes as the house collapses due to the light drizzle.

Their journey continues as they come across a school bus surrounded by sharks in the floodwaters. Fin heroically rappels down from a bridge to save the children and the bus driver who is Penn Jillette if Penn went into stand-up instead of magic and really let himself go. The driver quickly dies due to overacting and a sight gag. The kids hilariously appear and disappear on the overpass and all forty of them apparently fight into a fire truck ambulance that never leaves.

While traveling, they encounter more perils, including a shark landing on their car and ripping off the roof causing the gas tank to leak and the car to explode. They meet up with Fin and April’s son, Matt, who suggests using bombs to destroy the approaching Sharknados. (Shades of Trump vs Hurricanes?) Matt and Nova, who have grown closer during the chaos which since she was trying to hook with his dad about an hour ago is really kinda creepy, volunteer to carry out the dangerous mission.

As they attempt to stop the Sharknado’s, tragedy strikes when Nova falls from the helicopter and into a shark’s mouth. Matt is devastated by her loss, along with the deaths of Baz and Matt’s friends Bobby and Luellyn in the storm.

Then something awesome happens, and all is better. The skies over LA clear up, which is not really a surprise since they were clear for about half the movie

The Good

The Good: You know I just wrote up my review of Ready Player One that I will post later in the month and I have seen it twice and I keep giving it a high score even though it has some rather significant flaws. I have the feeling that Mechagodzilla and Olivia Cooke are doing a lot of the heavy lifting for my goodwill towards that film.

Well, Cassandra Scerbo and a runaway Ferris Wheel are doing a lot of heavy lifting here. I also like the chainsaws, the sharks, the tornados, and Tara Reid, but the Ferris Wheel doing a one man (wheel) show from Prometheus is some of the best fun I have had in a while. And Cassandra Scerbo is hypnotic even though she is often across from some terrible acting. (Much like poor Whitney Moore in Birdemic.)

I will discuss some of Cassandra’s costars below, but she holds her own against John Heard, who may or may not have realised he was in a movie and Ian Ziering, who is surprisingly solid. The plot is delightfully silly. I love the ending. The movie takes itself just seriously enough to be funny, and it is a pleasant time to turn your brain off and enjoy the show. There is an even better RiffTrax version I talk about below.

The Bad

The Bad: Look, I know Sharknado was a low budget Asylum affair. And even though it blew up and spawned a bunch of celebrity filled sequels, its first outing is right in Asylums wheelhouse. So there is plenty to criticize here. I mean the continuity alone would drive one mad.

So instead of picking on things that could be fixed by a better budget, let’s ask about that opening scene I describe at the top of this review. You know, the one with the smugglers and illegal shark fin fishing off the coast of Mexico? What movie is that from? Because it sure as hell is not from Sharknado.

The Ugly

The Ugly: There is some terrible acting in Sharknado. I mean a making Tara Reid look good level of bad. Thankfully, almost all the terrible actors get eaten or otherwise killed (see school bus driver). Alas, there is one exception: Chuck Hittinger as Fin and April’s son who is in flight school who I swear to god is first mentioned in the middle of the movie, and people on screen are as confused as the audience?

Actually, there are two exceptions: We also Aubrey Peeples as their daughter. Though Aubrey actually got work after Sharknado so perhaps it was not all her, while poor Chuck was unemployed for five years till The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time which is somehow not related to Amityville: It’s About Time about a clock haunted by the Amityville house.

So Chuck wins the draw. His getting out acted by Tara Reid on screen is a thing to behold.

In Conclusion

In Conclusion: Sharknado was a surprise hit. A big surprise. I am sure if the producers or director thought so many people would see it, they would have made a better film. (Or at the very least, not have Cassandra Scerbo and Chuck Hittinger be love interests at the end. Ugh.)

Anyway, Ian Ziering is surprisingly solid, Tara Reid still has it though I am now and have always been unclear what exactly it is, and Cassandra Scerbo is a delightful discovery. There are tornadoes, sharks, stock footage and its overcast with a light drizzle. What more could you want?

RiffTrax Live: Sharknado (2014) Review

RiffTrax Live: Sharknado (2014): 9 out of 10: “RiffTrax Live: Sharknado” is a comedic commentary event featuring the cast of RiffTrax providing humorous commentary on the 2013 made-for-TV movie “Sharknado.” The RiffTrax team, comprising Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett, bring their B plus game.

The short is A Case of Spring Fever (1940) which I gave a one out of ten on IMDb but I confess it is growing on me in a strange Lovecraftian or demonic possession kind of way.

Look, any time you mix the words RiffTrax and Tara Reid, you are in for a good time. “Look out gin Tara’s home” is one of the funniest, best timed riffs I have heard in a while. Perhaps the boys doing an Asylum movie is cheating or in this case shooting fish in a barrel. But the results speak for themselves.

RiffTrax makes Sharknado better and more entertaining to watch. And Sharknado is already an entertaining movie in its own right.

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