SWD2: Who Needs a Budget?

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

SWD2: Who Needs a Budget?

Any documentary of Jaws discusses how when Bruce the Shark was being tested in a movie studio tank it worked perfectly but when exposed to the salt water of Martha’s Vineyard it all went to hell.  Spielberg almost had a $6,000,000 paperweight had he not been inspired to simply just not show the shark until it was necessary.  Tonight we will discuss movies that worked with what they had to put story before special effects and make cinematic history.


Marina Monster (2008)

  • Genre: Comedy – Horror
  • Directed: Christine Whitlock
  • Produced: Christine Whitlock
  • Written: Christine Whitlock
  • Starring: Trevor Crane, Michelle LaHaise, Ray Kohler, Sandee Jonasson-Kohler, Andre Ciere, Barbara Owen, Ilene Elkaim, Tracy Mewhort-Buist, Scott Broe, Derrek Peels, Bev Mattson, Sondra Learn, Josh Green, Alan Harrington, Lisa Hiemstra, Andrew Huisman, Melanie Staley, Allen Swerling
  • Music: Byron Wade
  • Cinematography: Al Opalchuk
  • Editing: Unknown
  • Studio: CJ Creative Productions
  • Distributed: CJ Creative Productions
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date: 27 May 2008
  • Running Time: 72 minutes
  • Country: Canada
  • Language: English

Yep, inflatable pool toy is the villian.Commodore Drip Molar and Commodore Skip Anchor are planning to compete in the “Around the Bay” sailboat race.  Unfortunately, a teenage male bull shark appears and begins eating people.  Earl Molar of the Center for Inland Waters begins to notice signs of the shark, but is more concerned that he’s dating Oceana Anchor, the daughter of his father’s racing rival.  Drip, Skip and Earl all juggle multiple affairs with the seemingly sex-starved women of the community.  Meanwhile, people continue to push each other into the shark’s path.  Will the shark ever be stopped?  Will Commodore Molar’s drug deals ever be discovered?  Who will win the race?

Before you judge “Marina Monster” too harshly, you should know that I can’t represent it fairly because it’s the third movie in a series I have not seen the rest of.  Christine Whitlock’s first film, “Sharp Teeth,” deals with mutated carp (not quite sharky enough to qualify for a review).  Her second film, “Vampire Dentist,” deals with… well, you can guess.  I’m not sure exactly how much these other films inform “Marina Monster,” but they certainly help to explain the oddly dental nature of the characters’ names.  If there are any carpsploitation or dentistsploitation reviewers out there, please let me know how the other two films are.

Though not as cinematically jarring as “Psycho Shark” or as utterly scarring as “Tintorerra,” “Marina Monster” nonetheless takes true fortitude to survive.  The never-ending stream of uncalled-for innuendo makes the film’s paltry 72 minutes feel like several hours.  The characters spend most of their screen time “subtly hinting” at their sexual drive, or propositioning other characters.  In fact, if we didn’t know the marina monster was a shark, I’d assume the villain was whoever slipped the aphrodisiacs in the town’s water supply.

Things are actually more complicated than that, because the killer shark and rampant libidos don’t measure up to the film’s greatest threat.  By far, the leading cause of death among background characters is other background characters.  The number two cause is unnecessarily jumping in after a friend has just been eaten.  Seriously, there are 40 people credited as “Victims,” nearly all of whom were either jokingly pushed into the water or “accidentally fell” (jumped) in after their friends.  What makes these people so cruel towards each other, and so unconcerned with their own lives?  The town obviously has far more serious problems than a mere shark.

If “Marina Monster” has a redeeming quality, it’s its inane narrator, Professor Squid.  I can only assume that Professor Squid’s scenes were filmed completely out of context before the actual script was written, then randomly spliced into the film at seemingly appropriate times.  I rather suspect that Professor Squid improvised the whole thing, as well.  I doubt you could script something as good as, “Bull sharks ah eating machines, hungry creatures that love to eat and eat and eat.”  Squid does a magnificent job of introducing the movie in classic horror film style, but he’s quickly overshadowed by the general sexual unpleasantness.  I can only hope that he has a starring role in Whitlock’s next film.

Thanks to The Creature Feature Bleachers, they wrote it far better than I could.

Maybe if you search on YouTube you might find the whole movie.


Sand Sharks (2011)

  • Genre: Comedy – Horror – Sci-Fi
  • Directed: Mark Atkins
  • Produced:
    • Courtney Brin 
    • Dana Dubovsky 
    • Anthony Fankhauser 
    • Gina Holden 
    • Cameron Larson 
    • Mark L. Lester 
    • Corin Nemec 
    • Stan Spry 
    • Scott Wheeler 
    • Eric Scott Woods
  • Written:
    • Joe Benkis 
    • Cameron Larson
  • Starring: Corin Nemec, Brooke Hogan, Vanessa Evigan, Eric Scott Woods, Gina Holden, Edgar Allan Poe IV, Robert Pike Daniel, Hilary Cruz, Delpaneaux Wills, Julie Marie Berman, Jack Kennedy, Andrea Pineda
  • Music: Mario Salvucci
  • Cinematography: Mark Atkins
  • Editing: Sean Cain
  • Studio:
    • Little Dragon Productions 
    • Remember Dreaming Productions 
    • Rogue State 
    • The Cartel
  • Distributed:
    • American World Pictures  
    • 21st Century Pictures  
    • Cinemax  
    • Eagle Films  
    • Phase 4 Films  
    • Shochiku Company  
    • Splendid Film  
    • VVS Films
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 31 July 2012
  • Running Time: 86 minutes
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English

Sand Sharks is a 2011 American direct-to-video horror film directed by Mark Atkins about a horde of monstrous sharks that swim through sand and hunt people. 

Jimmy Green, a prodigal party boy, is throwing the spring break festival of a lifetime on the island of White Sands. Little do the hundreds of teenage party-goers know, an underwater earthquake has cracked open a crater beneath the ocean's surface, unleashing menacing predator sharks that have the ability to swim through sand.  The beasts mercilessly feed on anything that crosses their path.  Sheriff John Stone, his sister Brenda and scientist Dr. Sandy Powers team up to investigate and stop the monsters.

Not much information is given about the first party Jimmy threw that resulted in the deaths of 15 people. It's intimated that they were also attacked by sharks, regular sharks not sand sharks.  It's also mentioned that a shark expert named Dr. Powers came to help them.  When Powers is summoned again to help with the current sand shark infestation, he has either retired, gone on vacation, or died.  It is his daughter, Doctor Sandy Powers, who shows up in his stead. 

Reviewing the film, Vicky Renee Johnson of HorrorNews.net felt the ending, acting and CGI effects were poor, but despite this enjoyed the film, giving it 3 out of 5 overall.  Becky Bartlett of the London FrightFest Film Festival was more negative, describing the acting as "wooden to histrionic" and noting that "While it fails on almost every level regarding directing, budget, screen-writing, plot, acting, cinematography and effects, it manages to be surprisingly entertaining".  S. Cockwell of eatmybrains.com found the overuse of puns and one-liners irritating but noted that the "willfully, cheerfully dumb" film was enjoyable in places.  Sand Sharks was rated one of the ten most ridiculous shark films by Virgin Media.

Brooke Hogan as a Doctor of Ocean Sciences?


Ghost Shark (2013)

  • Genre: Horror – Sci-Fi
  • Directed: Griff Furst
  • Produced:
    • Kenneth M. Badish 
    • James T. Bruce IV 
    • Griff Furst 
    • Daniel Lewis 
    • Brad Southwick 
    • R. Bryan Wright
  • Written:
    • Eric Forsberg 
    • Griff Furst 
    • Paul A. Birkett
  • Starring: Robert Aberdeen, Jayme Bohn, Eliot Brasseaux, Amy Brassette, Chelsea Bruland, Sloane Coe, Kim Collins, Dave Randolph-Mayhem Davis, Mark Haya, Brooke Hurring, Lucky Johnson, Ben Lemoine, Angela Meredith Furst, Jaren Mitchell, Richard Moll
  • Music: Andrew Morgan Smith
  • Cinematography: Andrew Strahorn
  • Editing: Misty Talley
  • Studio: Active Entertainment
  • Distributed:
    • Syfy  
    • At Entertainment  
    • EuroVideo  
    • Sci-Fi Channel  
    • Signature Entertainment  
    • TV4
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date: 22 August 2013
  • Running Time: 84 minutes
  • Country: USA
  • Language: English

Ghost Shark is a 2013 Syfy television horror sci-fi film that premiered on the Syfy channel on August 22, 2013.

When a great white eats the potential catch of a fisherman, the fisherman and his daughter violently retaliate by sadistically torturing and killing the shark, whose corpse then sinks to the bottom of an underwater cave and is subsequently resurrected as a ghost shark due to the cave's unique properties.  Now hungry for revenge, the ghost shark eats his killers along with the captain of their boat, eventually setting its sights on the rest of the local community in the seaside town of Harmony.  Due to the great white's new spectral form, it can attack and kill anyone as long as there is even the smallest amount of water nearby, including swimming pools, baths and showers, puddles, rain, and even a cup of water, killing dozens of people in countless locations.  With the mayor and local authorities unwilling to believe in such a state of events, Ava Conte, who is motivated to put an end to the specter after it devours her father and several friends, teams up with a local drunken sea captain named Finch, who claims to know the secrets to the shark's newfound form, to lay the creature to rest once and for all.

Critical reception for Ghost Shark was predominantly negative and the film holds a rating of 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 7 reviews.  And my searches have uncovered the possibility of a sequel, Ghost Shark 2: Urban Jaws!

Ghost Shark coming to a storm sewer near you.

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