SyFy Film Review: Zombie Tidal Wave (dir by Anthony C. Ferrante)


“Fire up the wood chipper!  It’s feeding time!”

So announces Hunter Shaw (Ian Ziering) towards the end of Zombie Tidal Wave, proving once again that any film, regardless of genre or tone, is automatically made a hundred times better by stuffing someone in a wood chipper.  Or, in this case, several zombies.  Needless to say, there’s soon blood and chunks of blue skin flying everywhere.  It’s messy but, when you’re being attacked by zombies, you do what you have to do.

SyFy advertised Zombie Tidal Wave as being from “some of the people behind Sharknado” and this film definitely shares the same sensibility as the first Sharknado film.  What’s often forgotten is that the first Sharknado film was not quite the all-out parody that the later films in the series eventually became.  It was definitely a comedy but, at the same time, there weren’t any celebrity cameos and David Hasselhoff didn’t end up in space.  Instead, it took a ludicrous idea — sharks in a tornado — and then presented it with just a hint of self-awareness.

Zombie Tidal Wave does the same thing.  As a result, you do get Ian Ziering delivering one-liners, like the one at the start of this review.  And the entire film is full of references to other zombie films.  For instance, there’s a band called The Fulcis and the first zombie to appears bears a distinct resemblance to the boat zombie from Zombi 2.  The many scenes of zombies rising from the ocean will remind veteran zombie fans of Shock Waves.  When the zombies invade a hospital, I was reminded of the infamous Hell of the Living Dead.  But, at the same time, Zombie Tidal Wave plays things relatively straight.  Zombies invade.  People get bitten.  Some people sacrifice themselves for the good of the other survivors.  Zombie Tidal Wave has its moments of humor but it never becomes an out-and-out parody.

Why are zombies washing up on the shores of an island community?  Well, it’s because of an earthquake, one that’s unleashed a horde of the undead.  Hunter Shaw is a fisherman and perhaps the most respected citizen of the besieged community.  Naturally, it falls upon him to not only bring everyone together but also to figure out how to defeat the zombies.  To be honest, it really is a typical SyFy movie, which a handful of characters spending most of the film looking for each other while trying to stay alive and then eventually banding together to battle the threat.  Some people, like Hunter and his wife (Cheree Cassidy) rise to the challenge.  Others, like the rich white guy in the pink shirt, don’t.  Personally, my favorite character was Taani (Angie Teodora Dick) because she grabbed a pointed stick as soon as the invasion began and spent the entire movie kicking zombie ass.  GO TAANI!

Anyway, as a lifelong fan of zombie movies, I enjoyed Zombie Tidal Wave.  It didn’t waste any time getting to the zombie action and really, that’s the important thing isn’t it?  The pace was quick and, as he did in Sharknado, Ian Ziering played the grim hero with the right mix of sincerity and horror.  I don’t know if Zombie Tidal Wave is going to launch a Sharknado-style franchise or not but it was still an entertaining SyFy film.

2018 In Review: The Best of SyFy


Continuing my look back at the best of 2018, it is now time to reveal my picks for the best SyFy movies and performances of the previous year!

But before I do that, a plea to the SyFy Network.  If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because I make this plea every year and it never does any good.  It probably won’t do any good this year.  But still, I’m going to make it.  SyFy, give us more original films!  From a business point of view, I can understand why SyFy shifted their focus from movies to episodic television.  But I’m not a business person!  I’m a movie lover, one who has wonderful memories of when every weekend would bring another gloriously over-the-top SyFy movie.  Those were wonderful days and it’s sad that the only time that I get to relive them is either during Shark Week or during October.

(Of course, with the Sharknado franchise ending last year, is there even going to be a Shark Week in 2019?)

Seriously, SyFy — give us more original movies!

With that in mind, allow me to say that SyFy’s 2018 films were some of the best that they’ve ever aired.  It’s unfortunate that there weren’t more of them but the ones that they did show were excellent.  It was not easy to narrow down my picks this year but I’ve done it.  And here they are:

(All credits are based on what’s listed at the imdb.  If anyone has been incorrectly credited or left out, please leave a comment and I will correct the mistake.)

Best Picture — The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (produced by Paul Bales, Jarrett Furst , David L. Garber, Andrew Golov, David Michael Latt, Bogdan Moncea, Tara Reid, David Rimawi, Justin Smith, Josh Van Houdt, Ian Ziering)

The Sharknado franchise ended with everything you could possibly want: flying sharks, bad puns, meta humor, and finally a heart-warming speech from Finn that not only saluted those who worked on the films but those of us who watched as well.  After years of defining SyFy for many people, the Sharknado franchise concluded on the perfect note.

Best Director — Anthony C. Ferrante for The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time

Anthony C. Ferrante has been with the franchise since the beginning and he brought it to an end with style.

Best Actor — Reid Miller in Santa Jaws

Playing an aspiring comic book artist who brings to life a shark that’s full of Christmas spirit, Reid Miller gave a likable performance that achieved just the right balance between comedy and terror.

Best Actress — Jearnest Corchado in Cucuy: The Boogeyman

Jeanest Corchado did a great job grounding this Halloween in film in reality (or as close to reality as you’re going to get in a SyFy film).

Best Supporting Actor — Varun Saranga in Killer High

If you’re high school reunion is ever attacked by hellish monsters, you’re going to want a friend like Varun Saranga’s Ronnie at your side.  Or maybe not….

Best Supporting Actress — Alyson Hannigan in You Might Be The Killer

If you ever find yourself surrounded by a bunch of dead bodies at a summer camp, Alyson Hannigan is exactly the friend that you want giving you advice.  Or maybe not….

Best Screenplay — Jesse Mittelstadt for No Escape Room

With its clever script and ominous feeling of impending doom, No Escape Room was my favorite of SyFy’s Halloween films.  Seriously, it was creepy as Hell.

Best Cinematography — 6-Headed Shark Attack (Mark Atkins)

Paradise is a paradise, even with a multi-headed shark eating everyone in sight.

Best Costumes — The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (costumes by Oana Draghici)

The best thing about time travel is getting to see what everyone’s wearing.

Best Editing — Santa Jaws (Eva K. Morgan and Misty Talley)

If the Sharkando films really are finished with, I certainly wouldn’t mind another five or so films about Santa Jaws.

Best Makeup — The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (Petcu Alina, Alexandra Barladeanu, Devin Bianchini, Jeremy Bramer, Roxana Cardas, Denise M. Chavez, Bee Cruz, George Doroftei, Brianna Farfel , Adelina Handuri, Caitlin Krenz, Andreescu Maria, Tracy Rosen, Victoria Rowe)

Again, the best thing about time travel is getting to see what everyone looked like.

Best Score — You Might Be The Killer (Andrew Morgan Smith)

Smith’s score created the perfect mood and atmosphere for this homage to the horror films of the past.

Best Production Design — No Escape Room (Shane Boucher and Garrett Dunbar)

Seriously, this film was creepy as Hell.

Best Sound — No Escape Room (Bryson Cassidy, Joseph Facciuolo, Danielle McBride, Lucas Roveda, Laszlo Szijarto, Julie Zhu)

Again, creepy as hell.

Best Visual Effects — Nightmare Shark (Adam Clark and Gretchen McNelis)

When you give your film a title like Nightmare Shark, you’re obviously making a bold statement.  Fortunately, the visual effects were able to live up to the title.

And that’s it for the best in SyFy!  I really hope that SyFy will continue to air original movies so I’ll be able to do another one of these lists next year.

(For my previous picks, click on the links: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017)

Up next: dinner!  And then, after that, I’ll post my favorite novels of 2018.

Lisa Looks Back at 2018:

  1. The 10 Worst Films of 2018
  2. The Best of Lifetime

 

 

Let’s Talk About The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (dir by Anthony C. Ferrante)


Yesterday was Sharknado Day.

What is Sharknado Day?  If you have to ask, you’ll never understand.  Sharknado Day is the day that the latest chapter in The Asylum’s Sharknado franchise premieres on SyFy.  That’s the day when people like me cause twitter to go over capacity tweeting about the film.  That’s the day good people all across America try to count the number of celebrity cameos while also trying to keep track of all of the homages and references to past movies that are always waiting to be found in every Sharknado Film.  Yesterday was the sixth Sharknado Day since 2013 and, if we’re to believe our friends at The Asylum, it was also the last Sharknado Day.

Is it true?  Was The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time truly the final Sharknado?  Perhaps.  But somehow, I have a feeling that the flying sharks will return someday.  Critics have always underestimated the production savvy of The Asylum and I wouldn’t be shocked if, after a year or two of nostalgia, we saw Sharknado 7: A New Beginning.

But if The Last Sharknado was truly the final Sharknado, then it can be said that the franchise truly went out on a high note.

The plot — well, usually, the conventional wisdom is that the plot of a Sharknado movie really doesn’t matter.  Usually, it’s assumed that all a Sharknado film needs is a lot of shark mayhem and snarky humor.  And that’s true, to an extent.  And yet, I still found myself getting caught up in The Last Sharknado‘s storyline.  It all deals with Fin (Ian Ziering), April (Tara Reid), the head of a robot version of April (again, Tara Reid), Nova (Cassandra Scerbo), and Skye (Vivica A. Fox) traveling through time, hopping from period to period.  Fin and April’s goal is to stop the first Sharknado and to save the life of their son, Gil.  Nova wants to save the life of her grandfather, even though that might change history to the extent that she would never become a great shark hunter.  As for the robot head … well, she develops an agenda of her own, one that really has to be seen to be believed.

The film has a lot of time travel and, of course, the journey from period to period allows for several celebrity cameos.  When Fin ends up in Arthurian Britain, Neil deGrasse Tyson pops up as Merlin.  During the Revolutionary War, a somewhat sarcastic General Washington is played by Darrell Hammond.  Dee Snider plays a sheriff in the old west.  Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott show on the beach in the 60s.  Touchingly, the film even finds a way to include the late John Heard in the action.  (Heard played a key supporting role in the first Sharknado.)  I’m a history nerd, so I enjoyed all of the time travel.  I especially enjoyed the film’s portrayal of Benjamin Franklin as a rather bitchy eccentric, largely because it’s often forgotten that Franklin was, in real life, a bit of a bitchy eccentric.

(Add to that, how can you resist a film the features both dinosaurs and flying sharks?)

The film takes a surprisingly dark turn during the second hour, as Fin and Skye spend some time in a dystopian future and Nova tries to change history by saving her grandfather’s life.  When Fin points out that doing so will change history and that, for Nova to become a great shark hunter, her grandfather has to die, Nova calls him out for being self-centered.  To their credit, both Cassie Scerbo and Ian Ziering play the argument totally straight and both give heartfelt performances.  Amid all of the comedy and the shark-related mayhem, the film develops a real heart.

That heart is at the center of The Last Sharknado.  To a large extent, the sharks are superfluous.  They’re carnivorous MacGuffins.  Instead, the film is about celebrating not only the bonds between Fin, April, Nova, and all of their friends but also the bond that’s been developed between the characters and those of us who have watched them over the course of six films.  Towards the end of the film, when Fin talks about what his friends and family mean to him, it’s clear that he’s also speaking for the filmmakers.  Just as Fin thanks his friends for sticking with him, the filmmakers take the time to thank the audience for sticking with them.  It was a heartfelt scene and it was the perfect way to end The Last Sharknado.

To those who do not celebrate Sharknado Day, it may seem strange to say that I got emotional while watching the final scene of The Last Sharknado on Sunday night.  Then again, is it any stranger than the idea of a franchise about a bunch of sharks flying through the air, spinning around in a funnel, becoming a major pop cultural milestone?

It’s a strange world and we’re all the better for it.

Let’s Talk About Sharknado 5 (dir by Anthony C. Ferrante)


I just watched the latest installment in the Sharknado franchise on SyFy and what can I say?  I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t seen the film yet so I’ll just say this:

Sharknado 5 is the best Sharknado yet!

Seriously, it’s amazing when you think about it.  The annual premiere of the latest Sharknado film has literally become a national holiday.  If you were to judge solely by what was happening on twitter tonight, you would be totally justified in thinking that literally everyone in the world was watching Sharknado 5.  Who would have thought that a franchise about sharks in a tornado would become a pop cultural milestone?  At this time, when the country seems so divided, Sharknado 5 brought us all together.  That, in itself, is no small accomplishment.

But beyond that, these film are consistently and surprisingly entertaining.  Considering that it was the fifth film in this particular franchise, Sharknado 5 felt remarkably fresh and creative.  Have no doubt,  Sharknado 5 had everything that you would expect from a Sharknado film.  You had Ian Ziering grimacing as he manfully beat up sharks.  You had Tara Reid acting like a super hero.  To the delight of many on twitter, Cassie Scerbo returned as Nova, who is now the leader of the Sharknado Sisterhood.

(My friend Ian Rice tweeted me, during the movie: “What is that (the Sharknado Sisterhood)?”

“The Sharknado sisterhood follows and monitors sharknados across the world,” I tweeted back.

After a minute or two, Ian replied: “I’m sorry I asked, LMB.”)

Of course, the script was full of one liners and deliberately bad puns, all of which were delivered with a straight face by the dedicated members of the cast.  There were plenty of homages and references to other films, including Raiders of the Lost Ark and Back to the Future.  The special effects were cheap in the most likable way imaginable.  And yes, there were celebrity cameos but — as opposed to what happened with Sharknado 4, Sharknado 5 did not allow those camoes to distract from the story being told.  Yes, Abby Lee Miller got eaten by a shark.  Yes, Geraldo Rivera got sucked out of a blimp.  But Sharknado 5 never lost its focus.

And what was that focus?  Well, basically, Finn accidentally created another sharknado.  No big deal, right?  I mean, Finn specializes in destroying those right?  Unfortunately, this time, Finn and April’s son, Gil, got sucked into the sharknado.  So, for most of the film, Finn and April were chasing the Sharknado across the world while Gil spun around inside of it.

Of course, while Finn chased the latest sharknado, the world was being destroyed by flying sharks.  A lot of famous landmarks ended up getting destroyed.  Actually, at the rate that these movies go, I’m shocked that there are any monuments or memorials left.  It was not an easy life for Finn but, fortunately, the Pope showed up and gave him a blessed chainsaw and…

Okay, never mind!  Are you expecting a movie about a tornado full of sharks to make any sense!?  What’s important is that the film is a lot of fun and Ian Ziering and Tara Reid, to their credit, are still going out of their way to make their characters vaguely credible.

What sets Sharknado 5 apart from the other Sharknado films is that, about an hour into the film (80 minutes if you’re watching with commercials), Sharknado 5 takes a very, very dark turn.  People who you don’t expect to die, die.  Places that you don’t expect to see destroyed end up getting destroyed.  It all ends with an homage to one final film and a cliffhanger.  You don’t want to miss it!

And I’m certainly not going to want to miss Sharknado 6.

Lisa Cleans Out Her DVR: Forgotten Evil (dir by Anthony C. Ferrante)


Earlier tonight, as part of my continuing effort to clean out my DVR, I watched Forgotten Evil!  I recorded Forgotten Evil off of the Lifetime Movie Network on March 12th.

As soon as the words, “The Asylum Presents” appeared on the screen, I knew that I was going to love Forgotten Evil.  Though the Asylum may be best known for the Sharknado franchise and several subversively entertaining mockbusters, they’ve also produced several films for Lifetime.  An Asylum Lifetime film is always delightfully melodramatic and a lot of fun.  My optimism only increased when I discovered that Forgotten Evil was directed and written by the man behind Sharknado, Anthony C. Ferrante.

“This is going to be fun!” I thought and it turns out that I was right.

Forgotten Evil opens with a woman in a bag being dumped over the side of a boat.  The opening scenes have a surreal, almost dream-like feel to them.  Ferrante does a good job of creating a properly ominous atmosphere.  As I watched that bag crash into the water, I was reminded of my own rather morbid fear of drowning.  Fortunately, the woman in the bag survives.  Unfortunately, when she’s found floating by the shore, she has absolutely no idea who she is.

That’s right!  Jane Doe (played by Masiela Lusha) has amnesia!  Even though she does occasionally have flashes of memory, she can’t put together what they all mean.  She has no idea who she was or why she was dumped in the water.  Eventually, she starts using the name Renee but that’s just because she saw a boat named Renee before she nearly drowned.

Amnesia, needless to say, is always a good way to start an intriguing story.  I mean, let’s be honest.  The idea that people can suddenly forget everything is really quite fascinating.  It’s impossible not to wonder what you would do if you were in the same situation.

Despite having no idea who she is, Renee tries to start a new life for herself.  A nurse and a police officer become her new BFFs.  Her therapist becomes her new parental figure.  She even gets a job and a new boyfriend (played by Kyle McKeever), one who is surprisingly good at karaoke!  That’s really not too bad for someone who, just a few weeks previously, was being dumped over the side of the boat.

Except, strange things keep happening.  She loses her job when semi-explicit Polaroids mysteriously appear on her desk.  She continues to have flashes of disturbing images and she’s convinced that someone tried to drown her while she was taking a bath.  She thinks that she sees a mysterious man following her around.  And that perfect new boyfriend of hers?  Well, he appears to be just a little bit too perfect.  It’s hard not to suspect that he’s hiding something.  Especially when he takes her to an isolated cabin which, in a Lifetime movie, is never a good sign…

I enjoyed Forgotten Evil.  This is pure and enjoyable melodrama, well-directed by Anthony C. Ferrante and featuring all sorts of twists and turns.  Masiela Lusha is likable and sympathetic in the main role.  All in all, this is a fun Lifetime movie.  Keep an eye out for it.

Let’s Talk About Sharknado 4!


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Last Sunday night saw the premiere of Sharknado: The Fourth Awakens!

For the fourth year in a row, SyFy and the Asylum allowed us to take a peak into the shark-filled life of Finn Shepherd (Ian Ziering) and his family.  Also for the fourth year in a row, the premiere of the latest Sharknado film was practically a national holiday.  Long before the film even started, #Sharknado4 was the number one trending topic on twitter.  I actually live tweeted the film twice, once for the east coast and then a second time for my friends on the west coast.  That’s right — I sent out over 300 tweets about Sharknado 4 on Sunday and I’ve never been more proud of myself.  Live tweeting the latest Sharknado is a lot like wishing someone you barely know a happy birthday on Facebook. It’s a part of the ritual of social media.  It’s like the Internet’s version of a Thanksgiving parade or a 4th of July fireworks show.

After four films, it’s easy to forget that Sharknado started out like almost any other SyFy film.  The first Sharknado film featured no celebrity cameos and very little of the self-referential comedy that has come to define the series.  In fact, I didn’t even see Sharknado when it first aired because it premiered, opposite a Big Brother eviction show, on a Thursday.  It was only on Friday morning that I discovered that Sharknado had become a phenomena, largely due to the fact that celebrities like Mia Farrow had decided to live tweet it.

After all this time, it’s easy to forget just how much we veteran live tweeters resented that attention that was paid to celebrities like Farrow, the majority of whom were virgins as far as live tweeting SyFy was concerned.  (The fact that the majority of Farrow’s Sharknado tweets weren’t that good only added insult to injury.)  The media acted as if those celebs had invented live tweeting.  They also acted as if Sharknado was the first entertaining and over-the-top film to ever premiere on SyFy.  Among those of us who had been live tweeting SyFy film long before the premiere of Sharknado and who had loved pre-Sharknado movies like Jersey Shore Shark Attack and Shark Week, there was more than a little resentment.

But you know what?  I watched Sharknado the following Saturday and I had a great time live tweeting it.  The next year, I made sure to watch and live tweet Sharknado 2 the night that it premiered.  The same was true of Sharknado 3 and I even ended up casting a vote on the question of whether or not April should survive that film’s cliffhanger.  With its cheerful absurdity and determination to continually top the glorious absurdity of each previous entry, the Sharknado franchise won me over.  In fact, the franchise won over not only me but hundreds of thousands of other viewers.  Sharknado has become very much a part of our culture.

As I mentioned above, Sharknado 3 ended with a cliffhanger and that alone indicates just how big a deal Sharknado has become.  Sharknado 2 was made because the first Sharknado was an unexpected success.  Sharknado 3 followed because Sharknado 2 had proven that the first one was not a fluke and that there was an audience for these films.  However, by the time 3 was in production, there was never any doubt that there would be a Sharknado 4.  Sharknado 4 also ends with a rather abrupt cliffhanger, leaving little doubt that there will be a Sharknado 5.  At this point, not doing another Sharknado film would be the same as canceling summer all together.

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As for what Sharknado 4 was about … well, does it really matter?  At this point, we know that there’s going to be another sharknado and that Finn is just going to happen to be nearby when it strikes.  We know that landmarks will be destroyed (in this case, Las Vegas is thoroughly ravaged during the film’s first 30 minutes).  We know that Al Roker will show up and say stuff like, “There are reports of a Lightningnado near Kansas…”  (Both Roker and Natalie Morales apparently survived being attacked by sharks during Sharknado 3, though Morales does have an eyepatch in 4.  Matt Lauer is nowhere to be seen so I assume he wasn’t as lucky.)  We know that celebrities will appear in a cameos and that the majority of them will be promptly eaten by a flying shark.  We know that Finn and his family will eventually have to use a chainsaw to battle the sharks and we know that at least one person will be rescued from the inside of a shark’s stomach.

We don’t really watch a movie a like Sharknado 4 for the plot.  We watch it for the communal experience.  Last Sunday was Sharknado Day and it seems like the entire world was on twitter, talking about Sharknado 4.  The majority of us weren’t tweeting about the plot.  Instead, we were acknowledging that we had picked up on the in-jokes and the references to other films.  When April (Tara Reid) showed up alive and was revealed to now by a cyborg, many references were made to the Terminator — both in the film and on twitter.  When we learned that David Hasselhoff has been rescued from the moon, it was time to make jokes about The Martian.  When it was announced that a sharknado was headed towards Kansas, I made a Wizard of Oz joke on twitter.  Three minutes later, in the movie, a house fell on a character who could charitably be called a witch.  We briefly got a shot of her feet sticking out from under the house.

(I should also mention that Gary Busey shows up, playing a mad scientist.  The fact that Sharknado 4 could find prominent roles for both the Hoff and the Busey says a lot about what makes this franchise so endearingly entertaining.  Considering that Penn Jillette was in Sharknado 3, you have to wonder if the franchise will eventually feature every single person who appeared on The Celebrity Apprentice.  Who doesn’t want to see a flying shark bite off Piers Morgan’s head?)

(Actually, as long as I’m mentioning stuff — here’s my favorite inside joke.  Finn and his family are driving through North Texas.  Just judging by the hills and the mountains in the background, this scene was not actually filmed in Texas.  Anyway, they stop off at a general store where Dog Chapman — the bounty hunter — sells them a chainsaw.  When the sharks attack Texas, a chainsaw-wielding army is waiting for them.  Among that army is Caroline Williams, who starred in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.  On the one hand, everyone viewing will immediately get the chainsaw joke.  But only the dedicated horror fans will truly understand why it’s so brilliant that Caroline Williams was credited as playing a character named Stretch.)

At this point, the Sharknado franchise is no longer just a series of films.  Instead, it’s a deliriously over-the-top experience.  In these times of partisan rancor, it briefly did not matter if you were a liberal or a conservative, a Democrat or a Republican.  For two hours on Sunday night, if you were watching and live tweeting Sharkando 4, you were a part of a gigantic family, a community of people with an appreciation for over the top silliness.  Sharknado 4 brought this country together.

That’s not bad for a film about a bunch of flying sharks.

If you missed Sharknado 4 the first time, catch it when it’s shown again.  Just make sure that you watch it with a friend, someone who you can trust to make you laugh.

And, for God’s sake, enjoy yourself!

Life’s too short not to enjoy a Sharknado film!

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Let’s Talk About Sharknado 3!


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(This review contains spoilers because it’s impossible for me to imagine that you somehow have not already seen Sharknado 3.)

Last night, I watched and live tweeted Sharknado 3 and I’m still recovering.  After the first hundred, I lost track of how many tweets I devoted to Sharknado 3.  Of course, I wasn’t alone in that.  Last night, it seemed like the entire nation was tweeting about Sharknado 3 and it was a wonderful thing.  At its best, twitter can be the great equalizer, giving everyone an equal voice and last night was one of those moments.

In fact, I was tempted to just devote this review to posting the best Sharknado 3 tweets from last night.  However, if I did that, 90% of those tweets would be from me.  Out of the millions of Sharknado 3 related tweets last night, mine were definitely the best.

Over the past three years, the premiere of the latest Sharknado film has almost become an unofficial national holiday, a summer version of the Super Bowl.  On twitter, Sharknado 3 was trending for days before the film even premiered.  And, once Sharknado 3 did start, it seemed as if everyone in the country was watching and taking bets on which celebrity guest star would be the next to die.  (I’m very proud to say that I correctly predicted the bloody and prolonged death of Frankie Muniz.) Even the majority of the commercials were specifically meant to tie in with the Sharknado franchise.

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Fans of the first Sharknado will be happy to know that Nova returns!

But what’s amazing and admirable is that, even though the franchise has now become an international phenomena, Sharknado 3 stayed true to its SyFy roots.  Ignore all the hype and you’ll see that Sharknado 3 tells  a story that will be familiar to anyone who has ever watched any SyFy original movie.  The world is threatened by a flamboyant threat, in this case a bunch of tornadoes that happens to be full of sharks.  Only one man (Ian Ziering as Finn) can save the world but first, he has to deal with skeptical military jackasses.  As always seems to happen in these films, he’s separated from his wife (Tara Reid playing the role of April and sporting a truly badass robotic hand).  Meanwhile, their teenage daughter (Ryan Newman as Claudia) has gone off on her own and finds herself right in the center of the disaster.  It’s a plot that has been used in thousands of SyFy and Asylum films but director Anthony C. Ferrante directs with a lot of energy and writer Thunder Levin provides so many clever one liners that it doesn’t matter if the storyline is familiar.  Ignore all the hype and you’ll discover that Sharknado 3 is still a wonderfully fun film that features everything that we love about SyFy movies.

Of course, one thing that distinguishes Sharknado 3 from other Asylum film is that it is full of celebrity cameos.  Usually, I am weary of excessive celebrity cameos because they’re distracting and the celebs often turn out to be terrible actors.  But the celebs in Sharknado 3 all do a wonderful job.  (Add to that, the majority of them get eaten, as well.)  Then again, the same could be said for the entire cast.  Regardless of what they’re asked to do or say, Ian Ziering and Tara Reid both full commit to their performances.  Casting director Gerald Webb is indeed one of the unsung heroes of the entire Sharknado phenomena.

The film opens with a shark attack on Washington D.C. and it’s during this time that we meet President Mark Cuban and Vice President Ann Coulter.  And, oh my God, how certain heads on twitter exploded when Ann Coulter showed up.  But you know what?  After seeing Sharknado 3, I would totally vote for a Cuban/Coulter ticket.  I don’t care what their platform is, they know how to fight sharks and they seemed far more believable than anyone who is currently running for President.  At first, I assumed that Mark Cuban was supposed to be playing himself and I thought that Sharknado 3 had somehow managed to predict the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.  However, I then checked with the imdb and I discovered that Cuban was playing President Marcus Robbins.

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The same people on twitter who were bitching about Ann Coulter weren’t much happier when Michele Bachman showed up, playing herself.  (For a few minutes, I was hoping that the movie would be full of cameos from former Presidential candidates.)  However, the political cameos in Sharknado 3 are bipartisan.  When the action moves down to Orlando, noted Democrat Jerry Springer shows up as a tourist and promptly gets eaten.  And then Carlos Danger himself, Anthony Weiner, shows up as a heroic NASA guy.  Eventually, for those of us who lean towards the libertarian side of the political spectrum, Penn Jilette and Teller eventually show up.  Personally, I suspect that Teller knew how to stop the sharks but, of course, he wasn’t going to say anything.

As for the cameos from various media personalities, Sharknado 3 never manages to top the moment from Sharknado 2 where Kelly Ripa stomped a shark with her high heels.  But no matter — it’s still fun to watch Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda get drunk while sharks fall around them.  And then Matt Lauer gets eaten by a shark so yay for that!

(Incidentally, whether intentional or not, the film was full of former contestants from The Celebrity Apprentice, with Ian, Penn, and Lou Ferrigno all showing up.  Personally, I would have enjoyed seeing Piers Morgan get eaten by a shark.)

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However, of all the celebrity cameos in Sharknado 3, nobody could top the Hoff.  When David Hasselhoff first showed up as Finn’s father, it felt like a funny but obvious joke.  Of course, Finn’s father would be David Hasselhoff.  But you know what?  Give credit where credit is due.  The Hoff actually gave a pretty good performance and, during the film’s interstellar climax, he managed to do a pretty good impersonation of George Clooney as he looked out into space and said, “It’s a beautiful view.”

And yes, Sharknado 3 does go into space.  How could it not?  The film may have started out as an homage to the classic weather disaster films but, by the end of the movie, it turned into a delirious combination of JawsGravity and Interstellar.  By the time Finn was exploring the stomach of a shark while it floated through the starry sky, Sharknado 3 had achieved a definite state of grace.

Incidentally, the film ended with a cliffhanger and we were asked to vote whether or not April would live.  At first, I voted to kill April because, quite frankly, I thought it would be fun to see a vengeance-obsessed Finn.  But then Tara Reid tweeted the following and made me feel totally guilty:

So, I’m changing my vote!  APRIL LIVES!

Of course, all this means that there will be Sharknado 4 and I can hardly wait!

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