Ahhh the local video store. With the advent of DVD and the consolidation of video rental stores into a small number of big conglomerates with several locations, the rumors of the rental home video revolution’s demise have begun to circulate. This, I believe, is premature, and I will tell you why.
Aside from the fact that most of these places stock DVDs for rent, they are always loaded with people, and correspondingly out of films like “Glitter”, “The Animal”, and “Douche Bigelow, Male Gigolo”.
People are stupid, so there will always be video rental stores, but that is not the only reason video stores will be around for a long time to come. See, rental outlets, especially the larger ones, can’t simply stock their shelves with countless copies of “Black Night” and “Big Momma’s House” that much crap in one place would turn a Blockbuster into an EPA Superfund site in less time than it takes to peruse the new release section.
So video stores are left to fill their shelf space with tapes and DVDs from third string direct to video releases from such stalwart industry giants as Full Moon and Troma Films. Falling somewhere between this are the foreign importers like Trimark Films. I am not actually sure if Trimark actually makes any of their own movies or simply acts as a distribution channel for other people’s stuff, but pick virtually any box with a Trimark logo and you can almost guarantee that the film contained within will suck the life out of you like a bulimic vampire with an iron deficiency.
Shark Attack 2 is just such a movie, and has the distinction of being so stupendously goddamn awful that whomever decided that this would be a worthwhile release for Trimark should be taken away in cuffs and forced to watch “Master of Disguise” until his eyeballs explode.
What makes Shark Attack 2 so stupefyingly bad is the fact that the filmmakers assumed anyone over the age of 4 wouldn’t notice that 90% of the shark scenes were actually culled from Celebrity Shark Week on The Discovery Channel. But, once you see the actual production shark special effects the reasoning for such Precambrian plagiarism becomes evident. Adding injury to insult, the actual fake sharks used in the 8% of the remaining scenes make the canvas and wood shark in Jaws 4 look absolutely lifelike. I am not absolutely sure, but I think the inflatable tub-toy sharks used in Shark Attack 2 can be had for about $5.00 apiece at your local Spencer’s Gifts. The remaining 2% of the special effects is a single sequence of computer generated sharks that would look appear to have come directly from Sega’s “Echo the Dolphin.”
The cribbing doesn’t stop with the special effects either! Whole swaths of plot, when there is any worth mentioning, come from all four of the Jaws movies AND the big-budget load of fish offal, Deep Blue Sea.
We begin with some scuba divers off Capetown swimming down to a wreck while being stocked by some stock footage of sharks. Both divers are women, one blond, one brunette.
The brunette is eaten. Now, to accomplish this the director intercuts frantic close-ups of the brunette with stock footage of Great White Sharks hitting Tuna bait bags. It is all so very pedestrian.
The blonde comes to her aid and stabs the fish in the eye with her divers knife. Realizing, however, that her sister is not little more than chum, swims for the surface where more stock footage pursues her. She makes it to the boat.
Meanwhile, Dr. Nick Harris (Thorsten Kaye), works for an onshore aquarium/theme park (same as in Jaws 3) preparing to open for the summer season managed by oily scumbag (Danny Keogh) who wants nothing more than to have a live Great White on display in his tanks (Jaws 3 again).
Some stock footage of a 16 foot Great White is sighted in the local inlet and it is up to Dr. Nick (Hi Ev-’ry-bah-dy... Hi Dr. Nick!) to tranquilize it with the help of his uncredited drunken boob charter boat owning friends. I have no idea what their names were, so we will call them Drinky and Surfy. Drinky, Surfy, and Dr. Nick jump cut from the docks to... well... to the same dock actually, though they are supposed to be out in the inlet. I can tell that the boat is still moored because the BOAT MORRINGS TIED TO THE DOCK ARE CLEARLY VISIBLE!
We get some more stock footage of the shark and Dr. Nick preparing a tranquilizer harpoon.
The shark approaches and transmogrifies into a tail-less Spencer Gifts brand inflatable shark toy. The toy is tranquilized.
Cut back to the aquarium where Dr. Nick is congratulated by Michael Francisco. Attempting to argue that the shark they just captured is the same one that is currently digesting her sister, Samatha Peterson (Nikita Ager), forces her way into the aquarium.
Francisco has Samantha removed. Samantha, incidentally, has the poofiest hair I have seen on a woman this side of an early 1980’s porn movie. Honestly, flies must get stuck in it...
But, back to the movie. Dr. Nick has created a tank that does not have the same problems with Great White sharks that a similar actual tank did in San Francisco. This is real science stuff folks, so listen up. The one Great White Shark ever kept in captivity for any length of time, kept whacking its nose against the concrete side of the tank in a specific spot. This injured the shark so much that it was later freed. It was learned later that the metal supports inside the concrete walls were corroding and giving off a very slight electrical charge. This charge attracted the Great White’s prey-sensing organs (lateral lines for anyone doing a shark dissertation), and tricked the shark into “testing” the concrete to see if it was edible.
What Dr. Nick has done, ingeniously enough, is use this trait to his advantage. He has installed small electrical doo-dads inside the tank that switch on and off to keep attracting the shark away from the walls.
Unfortunately, he does not actually have a shark. He has stock footage of a shark projected against the wall. Samantha notices that the dorsal and pectoral fins are abnormally large for a shark of this size.
Science has not yet proven whether the electrical doo-dads will prevent stock footage of sharks from bumping into walls.
Okay, so that night Samantha, in full Ninja gear (I kid you not gentle reader) breaks into the aquarium with some tuna and a shotgun with the intent of shooting the shark to death. Dr. Nick is no idiot though, and foils her nefarious plan.
She pleads for him to kill the shark and disembowel it to locate her sister’s remains, but Nick thinks she is full of shit. I mean, come one... There are thousands of Great White Sharks off the coast of South Africa...
Anyway, Nick falls for the poofy haired ninja, and hangs around with him on opening day. Nick, being ever the PR conscious doctor, is giving a dissertation on the habits of the Great White intercut with several scenes of a festival celebrating the opening day of the park.
It is at this time that viewers will see the only black South Africans in this film. They are a band, a marching band... And they say Apartheid is dead... Not in the SA film industry I guess.
Anyway, Francisco, being the showman of showmen, decides that the people should get their money's worth, that being, shots of the shark eating something. He suggests to Nick that the shark should be fed. Nick explains in detail that the shark eats on a schedule to minimize trauma to the shark. Francisco nods his head then radio’s the guy in the tank area and tells him to feed the shark anyway.
He does, but in the fashion of all bad movies, stands directly atop the ropes connected to the shark entre, that is, a hunk of tuna. Dumb lab guy is then yanked into the tank and eaten, much to the horror and dismay of everyone watching the same looped footage of a shark taken from The Discovery Channel.
Nick races to the shark tank, but inexplicably, the shark has a means of escape. There is one open end of the tank held closed by nothing more than a weak-assed little chain link fence. As Nick struggles with a tranquilized harpoon, the shark escapes (Ripped off totally from Jaws 3)...
Francisco blames Dr. Nick for all of this (Awww, poor Doctor Nick!) and fires his ass on the spot. Nick leaves for the docks where he hopes to enlist both Surfy and Drunky for a shark hunt.
Nick is then hauled into the Mayor’s office and dressed down by both the Mayor and Francisco! As if any of this is Nick’s fault...
The Mayor, like ALL MAYORS IN SHARK RELATED MOVIES, refuses to close the beaches, especially now that there is a big-time surfing contest on the horizon. Before you can say Great White Shark feeding frenzy, Nick is back on the docks where he meets Roy Bishop (Daniel Alexander).
Roy is Francisco’s secret weapon, we learn after Francisco appears on the doc immediately after Dr. Nick’s assistant gives him a stolen GPS receiver thingy.
Roy Bishop (Daniel Alexander), who is modeled on Steve Irwin/Nigel Marks of Discover Channel “look a wicked dangerous animal... Let’s go molest it!” shows.
He has everything these guys have, AND a massive ego to boot. He talks incessantly about his show on The Discovery Channel. In fact, he mentions that channel so many goddamn times I was half surprised not to see an ad for “Walking with Prehistoric Chickens” embedded in the movie.
At some point he catches a 12 footer much to the amazement of everyone in the movie but it is not the one that ate Samantha's sister.
Dr. Nick and his merry men + Poofy Haired Samantha succeed in tagging the shark with a GPS receiver but fail to tranquilize it as the Shark rams the boat (yawn) and the engine dies (yawn again) leaving them to be rescued by Roy who tows them back to the marina.
Now it’s time for Roy, Dr. Nick, and Francisco to get a lecture from the mayor. But it lasts only a merciful few seconds...
Back on the water, Roy has a plan. He is going to film the shark before killing it. Well, he isn’t, his two cameramen, Hamburger and French Fries, are going to film it. They are summarily eaten by stock footage of sharks while Roy manages to escape.
This gives up plenty of time for a semi-obligatory-lyrical-interlude (thanks to Roger Ebert for the term) where Dr. Nick and his new love Samantha walk slowly around Cape Town while an ear destroying synth-pop ballad shrieks away in the background, they finally end up at, you guessed it, the surfing tournament. Well, it’s stock footage of a surfing tournament... Anyway.
Drunky and Surfy are out on a calm-as-glass sea waiting for that next big wave while several enormous shark fins pop up in the background. Several surfers are eaten, which is a plus, forcing Nick, the only man qualified for the job in this film, to steal a (brace yourself now...) Jet ski and blast out into the water to save everyone from the finned menace.
He fails miserably. Drunky and Surfy escape, I think, but they never appear in the film again.
I have to mention the quality of the sharks here. They don’t even use stock footage... What we get instead are fake sharks that appear to be almost as realistic as shark teeth painted by grade schoolers on the front of several canoes.
Oh, and the sharks roar (Jaws 4) which in and of itself is brain-scramblingly funny.
Roy and Dr. Nick become pals over beer, (isn’t that always the way?) and agree to work together to GET THESE SHARKS! They also compare scars, which is WAAAAAAY lamer than it sounds.
It turns out there are several more sharks than originally thought, that they are genetically modified, and the ones seen in the film, are only a year old.
Roy has a brilliant idea. He’s got:
1. A submarine
2. Plastic explosives
and determines that the best course of action would be to follow the sharks to this cave where they’ve been found via the GPS tag, lure them inside with wounded prey noises, and blow the whole cave up. Roy actually rigs a detonator that cannot be turned off if it is accidentally switched on.
Why do people do this? I mean, if he was a spy or something, and the evidence of his spying had to be destroyed if his mission failed, or if he was sure he would die and had to make sure the other spies couldn’t turn off his bomb, that’s one thing...
BUT THESE ARE SHARKS!!!!
If you accidentally flip the “on” switch, there should be a “off” switch too.
Okay, rant over.
We get some stock footage of sharks and a submarine (that is not Roy Bishops’) interspersed with terrible CGI sharks as the submarine turns on the “come eat me” noises. The stock footage of sharks attacks the sub and disables it at the mouth of the cave. Before you can say “I saw that coming a MILE AWAY) Dr. Nick accidentally trips the detonator giving the whole operation 10 minutes before everything goes kaboom.
Dr. Nick is smart enough to turn off the wounded fish tape so all the sharks leave for a few convenient minutes.
Knowing that something is wrong, Samantha dons her scuba gear and dives to the rescue. She succeeds in freeing Dr. Nick from the sub, but Roy refuses to leave. Instead he takes the sub, explosives and all, turns on the shark dinner bell, and plunges headlong into the cave. Just as the sub disappears he leaps from it and attempts to escape.
He gets bitten by a combination CGI/Muppet shark and dragged inside.
Dr. Nick and Samantha swim for the surface and KABOOM, one Playstation quality explosion later, all the sharks are dead.
But hey, look who it is! Roy surfaces, his arm torn and bleeding, and explains that the shark let him go and he swam out the back way... Or something to that effect.
End movie, coat self in fish offal and beef blood, walk into surf, pray for hungry sharks.
I rented this, and I think someone at my local rental store realized I would. It was buried in the horror section, yet, someone had affixed a little pink “comedy” label to the box.
It was a match made in heaven.
This was VHS, I am pretty sure it is probably out on DVD, but I won’t look for it. Like all direct to video specials, this film is preceded by no less than 20 fast-forward-able minutes of trailers for films that no one in their right mind will ever want to watch.
Usually, while I wander around the store looking for something to rent I am inevitably asked if I have any recommendations. Apparently the fame of Big McLargehuge has not reached my town and I just look like someone who knows a good movie. Usually I am asked to validate that “The Musketeer” is a rollicking good time as it says on the box, or that “K-Pax” is a wonderful heartwarming story of an alien who may not be so alien, by people who have already chosen the most maudlin, saccharine, garbage available on the new release wall.
I usually steer them to Raptor or Battlefield Earth instead, and explain that the reasons there is only one copy on display is because the films are so popular that everyone would riot if they carried more than that. Sometimes they even nod in approval, take the DVD to the counter completely unaware that they’ve had a run in with Biggy...
It’s the little things, like that, that keep me coming back.