Starring Cassie Steele, Sloane Coe, Jason London, Becky Andrews, Laura Cayouette
Directed by Misty Talley
It’s become apparent to me from watching the premiere movies of Syfy’s “Sharknado Week” that I am all sharked out. Sharks in the water. Sharks on the land. Sharks in the sky. Sharks in swamps. Sharks in the snow. Sharks in the sand. Sharks that are mutants. Sharks that are prehistoric. Sharks that are gigantic. Sharks that are tiny. Sharks that are ghosts. Sharks that are aliens. Sharks that are robots. Sharks that fight robots. Hybrid sharks that fight other hybrid animals. Sharks with Twitter accounts.
The Bigfoot genre called. Even it said the shark genre has been run into the ground.
As the stakes keep getting raised to come up with increasingly outlandish new entries in the sharksploitation genre, you almost have to wonder how it took this long to get around to making Zombie Shark. That concept is a no-brainer – in more ways than one.
Of all the “Sharknado Week” movies, Zombie Shark was the one I found myself most curious about because it seemed to be a total mystery. No trailer. No poster art. One lone production still. Next to zero promotion. Almost felt like the network was trying to hide this one. I can kind of see why now. Though I feel like I should give it some credit for being so straightforward at a time when Syfy’s shark movies have become increasingly meta and think they’re being witty by being as purposefully stupid as possible. Not that the premise of shark zombies isn’t loopy enough as it is. An argument can be made that this one maybe should have tried be more willfully stupid.
The tiresomely formulaic set-up has a boyfriend inviting his girlfriend and her sister and their bikini babe BFF to join them on a weekend island getaway in the Gulf of Mexico. The island is near a supposedly closed down research facility that’s actually still operating and working on “Project Bruce,” a top secret human regeneration experiment involving shark DNA. Bruce gets loose and begins infecting other sharks that then become zombie sharks, and the zombie sharks begin infecting victims that also come back from the dead as zombies to infect even more. A private contractor mercenary-for-hire joins forces with the girls to stop the Carcharodon/homo sapien zombie plague before it spreads to the entire world. Everyone has a hard-luck backstory in a noble but failed attempt to make us care about the fate of any of these people.
Most puzzling are the pointless scenes involving the parents of the sisters sitting at home lamenting the fate of their children based on weather reports of an incoming tropical storm that either never happened or just wasn’t in the film’s budget. Did I miss something regarding this storm they kept speaking of but never materialized?
Syfy movies aren’t exactly known for their high quality special effects, but Mega Shark vs. Kolossus now looks like a Michael Bay production by comparison. A rubber severed shark head puppet proves a more special effect than anything computer-generated. The digital sharks look unfinished, mostly 2D, and lazily inserted into the film. Fins frequently cut through the water without even leaving a wake. Worst of all, the sharks rarely even look zombie-like.
Zombie sharks are paler, possess whiter eyes, sometimes display physical damage, and can only be killed by being blown up, shredded to pieces, or stabbed in the brain (just like any other shark). I suspect if The Asylum had been behind this one, the only way to kill a zombie shark would have been to shoot it through the dorsal fin. As moronic as that sounds, at least it would have been something. There’s hardly anything that makes these zombie sharks distinct from ordinary sharks, and with one mildly amusing exception, the means by which they kill their prey proves equally unimaginative. Even the notion that they can survive on land goes absolutely nowhere. When your whole movie is based on a crazy gimmick and you fail to make any creative use of that gimmick…
The zombie sharks can also infect humans, turning them into boring old lumbering Romero-esque zombies. If a human zombie bite only leaves a small wound, shouldn’t people being infected by shark bites have more devastating wounds? Would it not be more amusing if the human zombies were savagely maimed shark attack victims reanimated as dripping wet (water and blood) zombies? Why not have some fun rather than just tossing in generic zombies in an already too generic film? Even sharkified human zombies with shark teeth and fins coming out of their heads would have, as dumb as that sounds, been some welcome lunacy to break up the monotony of low budget shark b-movie #530593705.
Zombie Shark ends up feeling stale and played out on two levels.
I spent two hours at the gym on the treadmill while watching Zombie Shark. When it was over, I had burned thousands of calories and probably even more brain cells.
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