Along with all the traditional ingredients (cobwebs; things that go bump in the night; increasingly poor-quality Simpsons specials), I hear you screaming for low-rent shark-related tomfoolery. No? Well, too bad, because two of this year’s most ridiculous titles are ready to square off.
From the notoriously (and deliberately) shoddy production studio The Asylum – responsible for a million cheap copies of Hollywood blockbusters and outrageously silly monster movies, including Titanic II, Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus and Transmorphers: Fall of Man – comes Roger Corman’s Sharknado.
Now, let’s be clear. This is not by any means a good movie. Poor acting (Tara Reid, hang your head in shame), direction, dialogue and even soundtrack are the order of the day as a freak storm off the Californian coast literally hurls hundreds of killer sharks through the air and into our heroes’ lives. But that’s not why we’re here, right?
With a preposterous premise and even more ludicrous action, Sharknado isn’t quite as fun as its title, though offers most of what you could want from a film of this ilk: a Z-list cast getting chewed up by badly-CGI’d beasties, all in the best possible taste. With a sequel (cleverly titled The Second One) in the works, this trend shows no sign of letting up.
Speaking of sequels, our other shark movie, Ghost Shark, is also due a follow-up. Excitingly titled Urban Jaws and with none other than The Room’s Juliette Danielle lurking in the cast list, it just might out-stupid the original
As expected, the concept with director Griff Furst’s film is that the ghost of a killer shark goes on the rampage in another unfortunate seaside community. The twist (if you need one with a set-up that silly) is that our titular spook, being a ghost, is able to magically materialize in any small space of water.
Ignoring the fact humans are mostly made up of water (this would kind of ruin the fun, don’t you think?), we get grisly comeuppances everywhere, from a carwash staffed by bikini babes through to a gloriously OTT scene in a children’s paddling pool.
Decidedly less famous than Tara Reid’s finest hour (ahem), Ghost Shark is possibly even more bizarre, with its Scooby gang-meets Jaws theme complete with numerous heavy-handed references to Spielberg’s classic. Sadly, though a few stand-out moments make this great fun, Ghost Shark remains in the fishy shadow of the powerhouse of pulp that is Sharknado. Still, both pale in comparison with Sharktopus and probably its upcoming sequel, Sharktopus Versus Mermantula. Watch this space.
I suppose we have to cover something other than hastily-cobbled together shark films, so we’ll now move swiftly on to zombies. K. King’s Zombie Hunter sees Martin Copping’s hilariously (though not enjoyably) gruff, tough, loner lead a rag-tag group of zombie apocalypse survivors as they fight for their lives against humans mutated by a new recreational drug.
With Machete star Danny Trejo’s face plastered all over the publicity, you’d expect him to really be the star, rather than an expanded cameo, right? Wrong. As a hardcase preacher adept at blowing the heads off of the undead, Trejo exudes his usual unchallenging grim charisma. Still, he’s barely in it, and this is the least of this unendurably bad movie’s crimes.
Bizarrely talky (though not in a Tarantino-style entertaining way) for what feels like 90% of the film, this wannabe Grindhouse picture offers infuriating characters, dull, poorly-put-together action and the irritating habit of covering the screen in CGI blood for every single death. Truly painful to sit through, don’t fall for the seductive promise of Danny Trejo and zombies. Just don’t.
Finally, we finish with some genuine class in the form of one of the absolute classics of the Hammer Horror back catalogue, Cyril Frankel’s pastoral horror, The Witches. Starring the great Joan Fontaine as an English schoolteacher returned from the horrors of African tribal brutality only to uncover similar terror back home, this 1966 release predated The Wicker Man by seven years. Its influence on Robin Hardy’s film is obvious.
Making the most of the inherent darkness of some English countryside traditions, we follow Fontaine’s character as she moves to a small village, only to find things aren’t quite what they seem, with occult forces slowly becoming apparent and her very sanity challenged.
Fontaine’s slow mental collapse works wonderfully alongside Frankel’s subtle direction, drip-feeding tension and eventually succumbing to full-on weirdness. Who says all the best films are about sharks?
What’s the best horror movie you’ve seen recently? Let us know below…