Let’s Talk About Nightmare Shark (dir by Griff and Nathan Furst)


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!

Thursday night’s premiere was Nightmare Shark!

Nightmare Shark kind of swam out of nowhere on Thursday and it ended up impressing the Hell out of not only me but almost everyone that I was watching it with.  There’s a neat little twist to Nightmare Shark, one that will be appreciated and loved by anyone who watches SyFy shark films.  In fact, it’s such a wonderful twist that I don’t want to ruin it for those of you who haven’t seen the film yet.  At the same time, I really can’t review the movie without revealing the details of the twist.

So, consider this to be your SPOILER WARNING!  If you haven’t seen Nightmare Shark, just take my word for it that it’s a scary and effective SyFy shark film and stop reading.  Because what follows is going to spoil a huge part of the film for you.  Here, I’ll give you a few minutes to navigate away from the page before I continue.

Here’s a picture of a cute kitty that the rest of us can look at while you leave:

Okay, let’s continue.

Shared cinematic universes are all the rage right now.  In fact, SyFy already has one of its own.  Ian Ziering making a cameo appearance in Lavalantula established that both that film and its sequel took place in the same chaotic universe as Sharknado.  Well, Nightmare Shark established a second cinematic universe.

The film itself deals with a group of shark attack survivors who, having been plagued by shark-related nightmares, agree to take part in an experimental drug trial.  What they don’t suspect is that the outwardly benevolent Dr. Novak (Tony Amendola) actually worships a Hawaiian shark god and his plan is to use them and their nightmares as a way to bring the shark out of their dreams and into the real world.  Among the survivors are Jolene (Lulu Jovovich) and Rob (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and Gina (Rachele Brooke Smith) and Kaplan (Bobby Campo).  Fans of SyFy shark movies will immediately recognize them as the protagonists of, respectively, Trailer Park Shark and Atomic Shark.

So, there you go.  All three of these films take place in the same universe and personally, I would toss Ghost Shark in there as well.  (The Hawaiian shark god definitely seemed to have a bit in common with the Ghost Shark.)  Just as there’s a Sharknado Cinematic Universe, there’s also a Griff Furst Cinematic Shark Universe.

That was a wonderful Easter egg for all of us longtime fans of SyFy shark week.  Since, with the Sharknado franchise wrapping up, this could be the final shark week, Nightmare Shark also gave us a final chance to spend some time with some of our favorite shark movie protagonists.  Unfortunately, not all of them survive their nightmares.

Compared to the whimsical tone that’s present in most SyFy shark movies, Nightmare Shark was a seriously dark film.  Make no mistake about it, this was definitely a horror film.  In fact, it featured some of the most effective jump scenes that I’ve seen in a SyFy film.  The nightmares were all nicely realized and properly surreal.  The film did a good job of keeping viewers off-balance.  You were never quite sure who was awake or asleep and you spent most of the film looking for little clues at to whether we were seeing the real world or the dream world.  Though the film’s influences were clear — A Nightmare on Elm Street was a big one — Nightmare Shark still did a great job of establishing its own wonderfully twisted identity.  Among the cast, the clear stand-out was Tony Amendola, who was enjoyably sinister as Dr. Novak.

Nightmare Shark was an effective horror film, one that proved that there’s still new twists and scares to found in shark week.

Let’s Talk About Trailer Park Shark (dir by Griff Furst)


Oh hell yeah!

Listen, if you ever find yourself being unexpectedly menaced by a shark, you’re going to want a redneck around.  Trust me on this.  I may not be one myself but I’ve grown up around rednecks and I feel a lot safer around them than I do with sensitive types from up north.  Seriously, if you’re under shark attack, who do you want protecting you?  A guy with a gun and a cooler full of beer or someone who drives a Prius?  Elon Musk may be smarter but, when it comes to sharks, Trace Adkins is going to be more helpful.

The other great thing about rednecks is that there’s nothing that they can’t do with duct tape.  Give a redneck enough duct tape and a weather satellite and I guarantee that he’ll find a way to stop climate change.  There’s a name for that: redneck ingenuity.

When I was watching Trailer Park Shark on Wednesday night, I was impressed with the amount of duct tape on display.  As the main character, a redneck played by Thomas Ian Nicholas, was using duct tape to solve yet another problem, I tweeted that I was enjoying the music playing in the background.  To me, it sounded like something that Ennio Morricone would have come up with for a spaghetti western.  It fit the scene perfectly because Trailer Park Shark is a film that make duct tape feel just as epic as the final cemetery confrontation in The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.  Andrew Morgan Smith, who did excellent work on the film’s score, informed me that the musical cue was called “Redneck Ingenuity.”

That’s a perfect name because, while Trailer Park Shark is about a lot of things, it is ultimately a celebration of redneck ingenuity and the never-give-up attitude of  life in the Southern bayou.  The characters in Trailer Park Shark have a lot to deal with.  Because of a freak rains storm and some evil plotting by mean old Mr. Deconnard (Dennis Haskins), their trailer park has been flooded.  And with the flood has come a shark!  It would be easy to give up, especially when people and horses start getting eaten.  But no one surrenders to fate!  No one gives up!

It’s a lot of fun, as any movie about a shark attacking a trailer park should be.  All of the characters in the park are memorable in their redneck way.  Even with the majority of the park underwater and neighbors getting eaten left and right, they’re still just as likely to be fighting each other as they are the shark.  While I personally have never lived in a trailer park, I’ve lived close to a few and I’ve spent a few nights visiting and this film gets the atmosphere just right.  Griff Furst, who is something of a specialist when it comes to bayou chaos, brings this location to life.  From the very first tracking shot to the film’s action-packed finale, the bayou feels alive.  You can easily imagine this location and these people existing long before the cameras started rolling.  The relationships feel real.

Speaking of feeling real, I always suspected that Dennis Haskins had the ability to play a really evil character.  Seriously, go watch the earliest episodes of Saved By The Bell and you’ll see some hints of darkness underneath Mr. Belding’s goofy exterior.  That said, Haskins does such a good job playing this film’s villain that you eventually forget that you’re watching Mr. Belding threatening to kill people.  Instead, he’s just a very bad man with an interesting preference in weapons.

(Speaking of weapons, Tara Reid also shows up, playing a trailer park resident who has a wide variety of weapons at her disposal.  Though her role is small, her appearance allows for some playful poking at the Sharknado franchise.)

I liked Trailer Park Shark.  It’s a blast of pure entertainment and my favorite of the recent SyFy shark movies.  Since SyFy reruns everything a hundred times, keep an eye out for it!

Watch it in honor of the rednecks who keep us safe from sharks, often at the cost of life, limb, and satellite dish.