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.

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.

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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Is April Alive? Find out In This Teaser for Sharknado 4!


Last year, at the end of Sharknado 3, viewers were given the opportunity to decide the fate of one of its stars.  When we last saw Tara Reid’s April, a huge chunk of the space shuttle appeared to be crashing down on top of her and viewers were being asked to vote whether April would live or die.

Personally, I voted to kill her.  I thought that killing off April would make Sharknado 4 a far more edgier film.  I imagined that her ghost could frequently appear to taunt Ian Ziering, chanting: “You let me die….you let me die….”

Did the rest of the viewing public agree with me?

The answer can be found in the latest teaser for Sharknado 4!

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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2014 in Review: The Best of Lifetime and SyFy


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Hello there and welcome to January!

This is the time of year that the Shattered Lens usually takes one final look back at the best and worst of the previous year’s offerings in cinema, television, literature, and music!  Last year, I kicked things off by taking a look at the best that the SyFy network had to offer.

Unfortunately, SyFy didn’t produce as many original films in 2014 as they did in 2013.

However, my beloved Lifetime network remained a consistent showcase for some of the best and worst melodrama that one could hope for.

With that in mind, here are my nominees for the best films and performances that were featured on either the SyFy or the Lifetime network last year!  As always, winners are listed in bold.

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Best Film

Battle of the Damned

Flowers in the Attic

Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever

*Lizzie Borden Took An Axe*

Sharknado 2

Starving in Suburbia

Best Actress

Kate Beckinsale in The Trials of Cate McCall

Maria Bello in Big Driver

Annie Heise in The Good Mistress

Tara Reid in Sharknado 2

*Christina Ricci in Lizzie Borden Took An Axe*

Kierna Shipka in Flowers in the Attic

Best Supporting Actress

Kendra Anderson in The Good Mistress

*Ellen Burstyn in Flowers in the Attic*

Clea DuVall in Lizzie Borden Took An Axe

Heather Graham in Petals on the Wind

Tina Ivlev in Death Clique

Izabella Miko in Starving in Suburbia

Best Actor

Trevor Donavon in Bermuda Tentacles

Mason Dye in Flowers in the Attic

Michael Keaton in Blindsided

Dolph Lundgren in Battle of the Damned

Patrick Muldoon in Finders Keepers

*Ian Ziering in Sharknado 2*

Best Supporting Actor

James Cromwell in The Trials of Cate McCall

David Field in Battle of the Damned

*Griff Furst in Status Unknown*

Judd Hirsch in Sharknado 2

Mark McGrath in Sharknado 2

John Savage in Bermuda Tentacles

Best Director

Doug Campbell for Death Clique

Deborah Chow for Flowers in the Attic

Anthony C. Ferrante for Sharknado 2

*Nick Gomez for Lizzie Borden Got An Axe*

Christopher Hutton for Battle of the Damned

Tara Miele for Starving in Suburbia

Best Screenplay

Kayla Alpert for Flowers in the Attic

Tim Hill and Jeff Morris for Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever

Stephen Kay for Lizzie Borden Took An Axe

Thunder Levin for Sharknado 2

*Tara Miele for Starving in Suburbia*

Griff Furst and Marcy Holland for Status Unknown

Flowers in the Attic

Tomorrow, I’ll continue my look back at 2014 by revealing my picks for the 16 worst films of 2014!

Previous Entries in Our Look Back At 2014:

Things That I Dug In 2014 Off The Top Of My Head

 

 

10 Reasons Why Sharknado 2 Was Sharktastic!


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Unless you’ve been living in total and complete isolation, you know that Sharknado 2 premiered on SyFy last night.  And of course, I watched and live tweeted it.  Now, when it comes Sharknado 2, it seems like everyone has one question: Was it better than Sharknado?

The answer?

Yes.  Yes, it was.

Here are 10 reasons why Sharknado 2 was sharktastic!

1) Action!  Action!  Action!

Sharknado 2 didn’t waste any time getting to the point.  From the minute the film started with Ian Ziering and Tara Reid sitting in an airplane that’s hit some sharknado-related turbulence, Sharknado 2 was all about sharks falling from the sky.  The film didn’t waste any time revisiting the events of the previous film or trying to explain, for a second time, how a bunch of sharks ended up in a tornado.  And you know what?  If you were worry about the logic of the situation then you really weren’t the right audience for this film.  Sharknado 2 was a movie for those of us seeking nonstop shark mayhem and it delivered!

2) Plenty of New York Attitude

When the first sharknado hit Los Angeles, we were presented with a portrait of a town that deserved to be destroyed.  I mean — really, Los Angeles?  A little bad weather and a few sharks and your entire population is screaming and fleeing?  New York, however, knows how to handle a sharknado.  It didn’t matter how many sharks fell from the sky — the citizens of New York refused to allow it to stop them from enjoying baseball games, visiting the Statue of Liberty, and seeking out a good slice of pizza.  New York, you’re the tops!

3) Tara Reid Showed Us How To Handle Losing A Hand

I don’t know about you but if a shark fell out of the sky and bit off my hand, I would probably freak out.  Having watched Sharknado 2, I can say that I am definitely not as strong as Tara Reid.  Though she may have lost her hand early on in this movie, she never let it slow her down.  Not only did she defiantly walk out of the hospital but she also managed to drive a fire truck with only one hand!  I’ve got two hands and I don’t think I could do that.  Finally, as a perfect example of how to make lemonade out of lemons, she even replaced her missing hand with a radial saw that, as it turns out, was perfect for fighting sharks.  You go, girl!

4) Ian Ziering Gave It All He Could

In the first Sharknado, Ian seemed almost annoyed to be there.  You got the feeling that he felt that somehow, by appearing in a movie about flying sharks, he was somehow damaging his career.  In Sharknado 2, however, Ian brought a lot of conviction to his role.  Though it may be hard to understand if you haven’t seen the actual film, I’ll just say that you looked at and listened to Ian and you believed that this man had indeed been inside of a shark.

IZ in Sharknado 2

 

5) The Statue Of Liberty Lost Her Head

And you better believe that head went rolling down the streets of New York.  I am a little bit disappointed that Ian never found a moment to stare up at headless Lady Liberty and shout, “You blew it up!  Damn you to Hell!” but oh well.

6) Cameos Galore!

Seeing as how the first Sharknado became a bit of a pop cultural phenomena, we should probably not be surprised that a lot of celebrities agreed to do cameos in the sequel.  What should surprise, however, is just how well the cameos were integrated into the film.  Whether it was Kelly Osbourne getting eaten by a shark or Matt Lauer and Al Roker arguing over the proper name for the storm (eventually, Matt did call it a sharknado and you can see just how happy Al was; it was a touching moment), all of the cameos worked brilliantly and, even more importantly, they didn’t distract from all of the shark mayhem.

7) The Live Tweeters Were On Fire Last Night!

Especially me!  Seriously, Sharknado 2 brought out the best in me.

8) Ian Wasn’t The Only Actor Giving It His All

To be honest, the entire cast brought their A game to Sharknado 2.  Everyone from Vivica A. Fox to Mark McGrath to Kari Wuhrer to Tara Reid to Judd Hirsch to well, everyone seemed to understand that for this material to work, they had to be willing to say some of the most ludicrous lines imaginable with a straight face.  If a single member of the cast had tried to wink at the audience or play up the film’s inherent campiness, the entire film would have fallen apart.  Instead, everyone brought a lot of conviction to their roles.  Instead of mocking the film and their dialogue, you could tell that they were instead having fun with it and, as a result, the audience had a lot of fun as well.

9) Kelly Ripa Stamped On The Head Of A Hammerhead Shark

Proof positive that high heels can be a girl’s best friend.

10) Everyone Watched it!

And you know what that means:  SHARKNADO 3!

Sharknado 2

Embracing the Melodrama #47: Cruel Intentions (dir by Roger Kumble)


For the past 10 days, I’ve been reviewing some of the most and least memorable melodramas ever filmed.  Starting with 1916’s Where Are My Children?, we’ve been moving chronologically through film history.  We’re now coming to the end of the 90s and what better way to end that decade than by taking a look at 1999’s Cruel Intentions?

Cruel Intentions takes place in the upscale world of a New York private school.  Rich and popular Kathryn Merteuil (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is also a manipulative hypocrite who destroys reputations on a whim and carries cocaine in her ever-present cross necklace.  Kathryn is upset because her boyfriend has recently dumped her and is now dating the sweet and innocent Cecile (Selma Blair).  Kathryn asks her decadent cousin Sebastian Valmont (Ryan Phillippe) to seduce Cecile.  However, Sebastian refuses, saying that the challenge would be too easy.  Instead, he plans to seduce Annette Hargrove (Reese Whitherspoon), who has recently written an acclaimed essay about the importance of chastity and who also happens to be the daughter of the school’s headmaster.  Kathryn is intrigued by Sebastian’s plan and makes a bet with him.  If Sebastian manages to take Annette’s virginity than Kathryn will have sex with him…

Now, if you’ve already read my previous review of Dangerous Liaisons, the plot of Cruel Intentions probably sounds a bit familiar.  That’s because both of these films are based on the same source material —  Les Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.  The main difference between the two films — beyond the fact that Dangerous Liaisons is set in pre-Revolutionary France and Cruel Intentions is set in 1990s New York — is that Dangerous Liaisons uses the material to comment on the excesses of the rich while Cruel Intentions is all about style.

And, to be honest, while Dangerous Liaisons is undoubtedly the better film, Cruel Intentions is a lot more fun.  I first saw Cruel Intentions shortly before I started my sophomore year of high school and I excitedly thought to myself, “So this is what high school is going to be like!”  Well, unfortunately, it turned out that I was wrong but oh well!  (Though, in all fairness to the film, I went to a public high school in the suburbs of Dallas as opposed to a rich private school in New York.)  The movie still a lot of fun, even if it didn’t quite match up with reality.  Everything from the costumes (I absolutely LOVED every single outfit that Sarah Michelle Gellar wore and, even before it was revealed to be full of cocaine, that cross necklace was to die for) to the ornate sets to the wonderfully melodramatic and self-aware performances — it all works towards creating a vivid and engrossing alternative universe.

So no, don’t take Cruel Intentions seriously.

Just enjoy the dance while it lasts.

cruel-intentions

Tomorrow, embracing the melodrama enters the 21st Century!

Film Review: Body Shots (dir. by Michael Cristofer)


(Spoilers)

Recently, I saw a 1999 film called Body Shots on the Fox Movie Channel.  If you look at the poster at the top of this review, you’ll see that Body Shots was apparently advertised with the boast: “There are movies that define every decade…”  That’s true.  It’s also true that, every decade, there are movies that define self-importance and pretension.  Can you guess what Body Shots defines?

Since Body Shots claims to be a film that exposes what secretly goes on in American society, I figured I would start this review by sharing a secret of my own.

Ready?

I love over-the-top morality tales.  I love movies that attempt to expose 20something for being the shallow, terrible people that older people believe us to be.  Every decade sees at least a handful of these films.  Typically, they are made by male filmmakers in their 50s and they attempt to paint an accusing portrait of the foibles of youth.  These films assure the older generation that their children have all grown up to be a bunch of drug-abusing, heavy-drinking, over-sexed degenerates.  It’s a proud of tradition of American cinema and television, one that includes everything from the crazed pot smokers of Reefer Madness to The Newsroom’s Jeff Daniels announcing that my generation is the “WORST.  GENERATION.  EVER.”

Typically, dreadfully earnest filmmakers who think that they are making an important statement about the future of human society are responsible for these films.  That the filmmakers often turn out to be so totally out-of-touch and histrionic just adds to the campy charm.

Body Shots is a part of this tradition.  According to the imdb, director Michael Cristofer (who is currently appearing on Smash) was 54 years-old when he made this film about 8 decadent 20-somethings who spend a decadent night at a Los Angeles nightclub and then have to deal with the consequences in the morning.

For the first part of Body Shots, we’re introduced to the 8 main characters (4 men and 4 women, which works out nicely as far as pairing off is concerned).  While they’re all generically attractive (and, at times, interchangeable), they are also each meant to represent a different take on sexuality and relationships.

body-shots-645-75

The men:

Rick (played by Sean Patrick Flannery) is a lawyer.  He doesn’t have much of a personality but he’s in the most scenes so I guess he’s supposed to be the protagonist.  Flannery is required to awkwardly deliver the line, “Hey, Penorisi, have another cocktail, why don’t you?” not once but three time.

Mike Penorisi (played by Jerry O’Connell) is a professional football player who drives a Mercedes and who spends almost the entire movie struggling to keep his hair out of his eyes.  We know he’s a jerk because Jerry O’Connell plays him and he does things like shout, “If pussy’s on the menu, I’m there!”  (Seriously, Body Shots?)

Shawn (played by Brad Rowe) is a friend of Rick’s.  He’s a nice guy and he says things like, “Sex without love equals violence.”  (And, again, seriously?  Agck!  If a guy ever said that to me, I would be out the door so quick…)

Trent (played by Ron Livingston) is Shawn’s roommate.  We’re continually told that Trent is a loser but, since he’s played by Ron Livingston, he’s also one of the only likable people in the entire film.  Trent is crude and obsessed with sex but, as opposed to everyone else in the film, he’s at least honest about it.  Unlike the rest of the cast, Livingston is intentionally funny.

The women:

Jane (played by Amanda Peet) is kind of Rick’s girlfriend.  Like Rick, she really doesn’t have much of a personality and she’s mostly distinguished by being an absolutely terrible dancer.  (Unfortunately, the filmmakers don’t seem to realize just how awkward Peet looks out on the dance floor.)

Sara (played by Tara Reid) is Jane’s best friend.  She’s blonde, drinks to excess, and is open about her sex life.  So, naturally, the filmmakers go out of their way to punish her during the film’s second half.

Whitney (played by Emily Proctor, from CSI: Miami) is another blonde who drinks to excess and is open about her sex life.  In order to keep us from confusing her with Sara, the filmmakers have Whitney sodomize one of the men with a dildo.

Emma (played by Sybil Temchen) is depressed and worries that people can tell that she “hasn’t gotten laid in months” just by looking at her.

Anyway, these eight characters spend the first part of the movie getting ready to go out, going out, meeting up, hooking up, and occasionally telling us their thoughts on sex and relationships.  And by telling us, I mean that, in a technique beloved by first-time playwrights who have yet to learn anything about being subtle or allowing characters to reveal themselves organically, they literally look straight at the camera and deliver monologues about what they’re looking for in life.  I suppose this is all supposed to make us feel as if we’re getting an intimate look into the inner angst and secret loneliness of these characters but the monologues are all so awkwardly written that they just make the characters seem even more shallow than before.  Trust me, I could have happily lived my entire life without having Jerry O’Connell staring straight at me while discussing oral sex.  (“No teeth!” Jerry grins.  BLEH!)

And yet, I still enjoyed the first part of Body Shots, precisely because the characters were so shallow and the movie was so unintentionally over-the-top in its efforts to paint the Los Angeles nightlife as the equivalent of Sodom and Gomorrah.  The scenes where the women were getting ready to go out for the night all had a ring of truth of them and Ron Livingston (who appeared to be the only member of the cast to understand just how silly a film Body Shots would ultimately turn out to be) was a lot of fun.

Even better, once everyone gets to the club, Michael Cristofer decides to earn his auteur credentials by tossing in every trick he can think of.  Scenes where the action is needlessly sped up follow scenes that play out in slow motion.  The camera glides through the club, focusing on all the neon while a generic beat blasts in the background.  The walls are covered with graffiti that reads, “Swim At Your Own Risk” and “No Diving” and you better believe that the camera lingers over every letter.  Meanwhile, Amanda Peet dances awkwardly while trying to give Sean Patrick Flannery a come hither look while Emily Proctor passes out shots and Jerry O’Connell keeps tossing back his hair.  And then Ron Livingston shows up, straight from a golf course and – you’ve got it! – still dressed for his game.

Seriously, it’s all so stupid and silly and over-the-top unbelievable.  And, of course, while all this going on, the characters still find the time to stare straight at the camera and tell us their feelings about bondage and whether or not true love actually exists.  Cristofer is trying so hard to say something profound and he fails so completely that it’s actually a lot of fun to watch.

Unfortunately, during the second part of the film, Body Shots falls apart.  The next morning, Sara shows up at Jane’s apartment and says that Penorisi raped her.  Penorisi is arrested and claims that the sex was consensual and that Sara was just upset because he accidentally called her “Whitney.”  We get flashbacks to both Mike and Sara’s version of the events.  While they each tell a different story, Cristofer seems to be implying that, regardless of who is telling the truth, it wouldn’t have happened if Sara had not been out drinking and flirting.

To be honest, it’s pretty fucking offensive.

If the first part of Body Shots appeared to have been made by an out-of-touch guy with good intentions, the second part is the work of a moralistic hypocrite.  What makes it even worse is that the film ends without resolving the case.  I’m sure that Cristofer would argue that the open ending was meant to make the audience think about what they had just seen but, ultimately, it feels like a cop out.  It’s almost as if Cristofer reached a point where he said, “Okay, I’m tired of making this movie.  Let’s just quit.”

And considering how the second half of the movie plays out, you can’t really blame him.  Still, the first part of Body Shots is unintentionally hilarious and a lot of fun.  Just don’t watch past the 45-minute mark.