Let’s Talk About Frenzy (dir by Jose Montesinos)


Right now, we’re in the middle of SyFy’s Sharknado week.  On Sunday night, SyFy will premiering what they say is going to be The Last Sharknado.  In the days leading up to that moment, they’ve been reshowing all of their classic shark films and premiering a new shark film each night!

Wednesday night’s premiere was Frenzy.

Frenzy‘s a bit different from some of the other shark films that SyFy’s been showing this week.  Make no mistake, the film did feature sharks.  In fact, there were three very big sharks who swam through the ocean and ate just about anyone or anything that they could sink their teeth into.  Not only did they eat people who were unfortunate enough to be floating out in the water but they also bumped up against boats, the better to knock poachers overboard.  These were some mean sharks!

That said, they weren’t ghost sharks.  They weren’t zombie sharks.  None of them wore a little Santa cap on their fin, like Santa Jaws did.  They weren’t mutated by radiation or a Big Evil Corporation.  And certainly, they weren’t dropped into the ocean by a tornado.  No, these were just normal, very big sharks.

And while the sharks were undoubtedly important to the story that Frenzy was telling, the film really wasn’t about them.  Instead, at its heart, Frenzy is the story of two sisters, Paige (Gina Vitori) and Lindsey (Aubrey Reynolds).  Paige has always been the adventurous one while Lindsey has always been the one who rarely takes risks and who tries to play it safe.  Paige has found fame as a travel vlogger.  Along with Evan (Michael S. New), Kahia (Lanett Tachel) and Seb (Taylor Jorgensen), she travels around the world and she films herself doing dangerous things and having new experiences.  When Lindsey joins Paige for her latest adventure, it seems like a chance for Lindsey to not only break out for her shell but to also find romance with Seb as well…

Of course, things never go quite as smoothly as they’re supposed to.  In this case, things go downhill as soon as Paige, Lindsey, and everyone else gets aboard a less-than-reliable seaplane so that they can go scuba diving.  When the plane crashes into the middle of the ocean, Lindsey and a few survivors are left floating in the water.  There’s an island in the distance but can they reach it before the sharks reach them?

Frenzy was definitely a change-of-pace, as far as SyFy shark movies are concerned.  While I wouldn’t say that you necessarily have to have a sister to truly appreciate Frenzy‘s story, it undoubtedly helps.  The relationship between Paige and Lindsey — made up of equal parts love and rivalry — is at the heart of Frenzy and fortunately, both Aubrey Reynolds and Gina Vitori were totally believable as sisters.  Their relationship, with all of its complications, felt real and, on a personal level, there were many lines of dialogue and little actions to which I related.  For me, as I watched, this film could have just as easily been called “Lisa And Erin Go On Vacation And Try Not To Die.”

I also liked the way that the film used its flashback structure.  With Lindsey continually flashing back between the past and the present, we were kept off-balance as far as Lindsey’s current mental state was concerned.  It’s a structure that required us to consider what was real, what was dreamed, and what was just a hallucination.

Frenzy was a nice change-of-pace for Sharknado week.

Rest In Peace and Respect, Aretha Franklin


Rest in peace and respect to Aretha Franklin.  The Queen of Soul passed away today at the age of 76, after a career that included 18 Grammy Awards and 75 million albums sold worldwide.  She may be gone but her music will live forever.

Here’s Aretha performing Think with The Blue Brothers:

Music Video of the Day: I Said Hi by Amy Shark (2018, dir by Nick Waterman and Amy Billings)


To quote Amy Shark, this song is “an anthem for anyone who is waking up everyday fighting for what they believe in and challenging the universe!”

(For the record, Amy Billings and Amy Shark are one in the same.)

Enjoy!

How To Read “How To Be Alive”


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Toward the tail end of 2017 — yeah, I know, I’m still playing a little bit of “catch-up” here and there, sue me — the always-interesting Retrofit Comics/Big Planet Comics publishing co-venture released one of the more thoroughly engrossing books of the year, cartoonist/painter Tara Booth’s How To Be Alive, but no matter how many times I’ve perused its contents, either casually or with serious intent (it lends itself quite nicely to either approach, although the latter will always be more rewarding, of course), I haven’t been able to wrap my head around the best way to review it. Finally, after one complex, slowly-developing emotional reaction to it after another, I seemed to arrive back at where I started with it, and that’s when it sunk in : this was Booth’s point all along.

If there’s beauty to be found in the mundane, this comic offers the surest evidence…

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Let’s Talk About Santa Jaws (dir by Misty Talley)


Last night, about twenty minutes into the latest SyFy shark movie, I declared the following on twitter:

51 favs and 15 retweets later, I stand by my declaration.  Sorry, Jaws.  Step aside, Deep Blue Sea.  It’s been fun, Sharknado 5.  Santa Jaws is officially the greatest shark movie ever made.

The scene in question took place on Christmas Eve.  Lovable Poppa (Ritchie Montgomery) is fishing out on the bayou and drinking from his thermos of eggnog when, suddenly, a shark jumps out of the water and eats him.  It happens rather suddenly, so suddenly in fact that you only barely notice the fact that the shark has red eyes.  It’s only as the shark is swimming away that we see that Santa’s hat is sitting on its fin.  And, if we listen really carefully, we can hear the sound of jingling bells.

From the minute that people learned that SyFy was going to be broadcasting a movie called Santa Jaws, the question became just how literally we should take the title.  Would Santa actually be a shark?  Or would it just be a shark movie that happened during the Christmas season?  And there was one question in particular that we were all wondering:

Well, the answer is yes.  Santa Jaws does take place during the Christmas season.  While Santa Jaws may not literally be Santa-turned-into-a-shark, he still brings a family together, just like any visit from Santa should.  And yes … the shark wears a Santa hat on his fin.

The film deals with Cody (Reid Miller), a teenage outcast and comic book artist.  Cody is not having a great holiday season.  Not only is there no snow on the ground (the film does take place in Louisiana, after all) but his family seems to be more proud of his athletic older brother, Josh (Arthur Marroquin), than of him.  On top of everything else, he’s been grounded because of a less-than flattering picture that he drew of his school’s principal.  Cody’s mood would probably improve if he knew that his next door neighbor, Jena (Courtney Lauren Collins), is also into comics but Cody can’t even work up the courage to speak to her.

Cody, however, has received one early Christmas present.  Poppa gives him a magic pen, which a frustrated Cody uses to draw a picture of Santa Jaws while complaining about how he wishes his family would just go away.  Cody, of course, doesn’t mean what he says.  Anyone who has ever been a teenager and who has ever had a bad day will immediately understand that.  However, the magic pen doesn’t understand that and soon, Santa Jaws has not only come to life but it’s after Cody’s family!

Now, you may be getting the feeling that Santa Jaws is not meant to be taken too seriously and, in that case, you would be correct.  As far as Misty Talley shark movies are concerned, Santa Jaws has more in common with the cheerful meta comedy of Mississippi River Sharks than the dark horror of Zombie Shark.  With the exception of one unfortunate elf who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, there’s not a lot of blood in Santa Jaws.  However, there are plenty of puns, courtesy of Cody’s best friend, Steve (Hawn Tran).  (My favorite was when Steve said that the shark was “gill-ty.”)  This is the type of film where, when the comic book store owner (Scott Allen Perry), gets his hands on the pen, he promptly draws a Russian girlfriend, a nice car, and several million dollars.  Though a lot of people are eaten over the course of Santa Jaws, neither the film nor the characters lose their sense of humor.

It’s a fun movie and on that delivers exactly what it promises and a whole lot more.  It’s a film that gives you a shark with a Santa hat on its fin but it also delivers clever dialogue and committed performances.  Reid Miller and Courtney Lauren Cummings are likable protagonists and Hawn Tran and Scott Allen Perry provide effective comedic relief.  Arthur Marroquin turns big brother Josh into a nicely rounded character while Jim Klock, Carrie Lazar, Miles Doleac, Haviland Stillwell, and Ritchie Montgomery all have a good moments as the members of Cody’s family.  In the end, you really do hope that the family will still manage to have a merry Christmas.

And, of course, there’s the shark.  The shark loves Christmas, as we all do.  The shark has glowing red eyes, the better to guide your sleigh at night.  And yes, the shark wears a Santa cap on its fin.

Santa Jaws was a lot of fun and I’m hoping SyFy will be smart enough to show it every Christmas.  At the very least, we need a sequel.  Santa Jaws Conquers The Martians, anyone?