As we’re trying to survive this strange timeline, we often found ourselves attracted to certain things, sometimes for obvious reasons and sometimes for more obscure ones. The reality is so complex that once you start analyzing or over-analyzing it, infinite layers and nodes appear, making the initial question almost abstract and meaningless. I am sure that you wondered, same as me, why are there so many bad shark movies, is it because people really like them or there might be another explanation? There are also two questions that we must answer in order to fully understand why shark movies are so popular: why do people watch them and why do people keep making them? You will find the answers to these questions in this article, so if you’re ready, let’s dive into the subject of shark movies!
As it is customary, here are a couple of fun facts about sharks: Did you know that sharks are older than dinosaurs? This ancient predator has been around for more than 400 million years and is one hell of a killing machine with only a couple of predators like Orca and Saltwater Crocodile being able to take them on. Oh boy, oh boy, I already feel more knowledgeable and hipstery, I must remember these facts to mention them at an appropriate time and win the hearts of everyone around me…
Shark movies are part of Natural Horror movies also known as creature features. Here, humans are faced with a natural threat, whether it be from plants or animals. The whole thing started back in 1925 with the release of The Lost World, adapted from Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 novel of the same name. Exactly one year later, The Sea Beast made its way to the theaters. This was the first adaptation of the novel Moby-Dick by Herman Melville and a Warner Brothers’ highest-grossing film. For the first time, we find ourselves in open water and since whaling was a thing back then, of course, there’s no mention of the sharks. This proves that the whole genre came into existence much later and used people’s fears to gain popularity.
Some eight years after we fought dinosaurs and whales, King Kong entered the stage and brought with it even more commercial and critical success. These movies look outdated and ancient now, over a century after their initial release, but you can clearly see that these subjects were attractive to audiences even back then. We usually consider people who lived back then a bit simple, strict and almost without a sense of fun, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Before movies took over, we had books and our imagination to entertain ourselves and you can clearly draw a line between fairy tales and these types of movies. There’s something in us, something primal that wants to see what would happen if there was a giant ape loose in the city.
Next up were the Alfred Hitchcock’s Birds released in 1963, along with a lot of movies in between that copied the same approach trying to ride the wave of big blockbusters with various other monsters attacking humans. And in case you’re wondering about the plant part of the Natural Horror movies, the most notable mentions are The Day of the Triffids (1962) and, of course, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978). Remember this picture of the doctor examining a killer tomato while the military guys are guarding him when you get to those crazy shark movies later on in the post.
It’s funny to look back at those great monster movies from the fifties and sixties. Without computers to generate these huge monsters, filmmakers opted for rubber and clay, not knowing that decades later people will develop a fetish for these rubbery creatures. A couple of years after the horrors of World War II, audiences were ready for some imaginary and more unbelievable threats along with obligatory aliens. It Came from Beneath the Sea from 1955 features a mutated octopus, Tarantula! from the same year features, well, a Tarantula and this marks the beginning of the animals attack movies. Any animal will do, as we clearly see with movies such as The Deadly Mantis (1957), Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959), The Deadly Bees (1966), Frogs (1972) and of course, one of my favorites: Night of the Lepus also known as Night of the Rabbit.
Just imagine a clash between the killer tomatoes and giant rabbits… And if these movies were made in the last few years, I have no doubt that the studios would try to make such a movie. And I know that these two movies are somewhat extreme examples of storytelling in the past, but I just wanted to make a point that the crazy, cheap and schlocky movies have been with us since the beginning. Along with various exploitation, gore, grindhouse and other sub-genres that I am certain will totally confuse younger generations when they discover them in this age of infinite content without much regulation. The exploitation genre alone is filled with so many sub-categories that you could spend months exploring them.
Most of these movies feature a similar storyline that combines experiments, especially those with nuclear energy, with giant or ferocious animals accidentally getting loose and causing devastation. We will find almost the same themes in most of the shark movies, whether this be some military experiments to create a perfect weapon or just some scientists working on a cure for cancer. It’s important to note that this sort of movie with a catchy title, strange special effects and a story that’s pretty out there did not appear after television movies, VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray, streaming services or a huge drop in production cost. They were simply always here and it seems that if the civilization survives long enough in this timeline, we will see even more of them.
One of the things that stayed the same over the years when it comes to these movies was the quality of the posters. And although the newer ones look a bit generic and drab, their style can sometimes be truly amazing like in the Sharktopus trilogy. With the popularity of the DVDs and Blu-Rays, usually, the only thing that the movie had to offer was a cool poster, so this tradition continued although our technology is infinitely better now than in let’s say the sixties. If you’re interested in this subject I highly recommend you check out a 2016 documentary 24×36: A Movie About Movie Posters. The deadpan of the sixties and seventies was soon replaced with those beautiful hand-drawn posters from the eighties that I am sure you remember. When it comes to shark movies, Italian Sharksploitation movies used them almost exclusively, but more about that later. For now, let’s get back to our strange movies that preceded the king of kings, jaws of jaws…
They are very appealing to the general population for a number of reasons and it would be really interesting to do some kind of deeper research into this. You have to remember that after the cold war between Russia and the USA began, people started treating nuclear annihilation as an everyday reality. After all, A Boy and his Dog was released in 1975. Most of the people who dug a little deeper into this connection between the nuclear threat and these types of movies concluded that the monstrous animals are representations of that threat and a very real possibility of the end of not just their people but the entire human race. And since it is much easier to fight giant tarantulas then the invisible threat of human stupidity, well, we ended up with these movies. However, there is also analysis that points the finger to a much more realistic reason: insecticides and their inability to deal with huge swarms of insects. You can read about this in a book: “Looking Straight at “Them!” Understanding the Big Bug Movies of the 1950s” by William M. Tsutsui and published by Oxford University Press.
Jaws and its influence on the genre
As you probably guessed, the most influential shark movie was released in 1975 and it changed this genre forever. However, to fully understand its impact we have to go a couple of years in the past, to be more precise to the year 1971 when the documentary Blue Water, White Death was released. It featured a very terrifying and highly effective underwater shark footage and people found it mesmerizing. Remember, this was before all the modern documentaries that would enter the stage several decades later. This niche of jaw-dropping documentaries is now a pretty overpopulated one. I mean, you have surely seen at least one of the newer David Attenborough documentaries with crystal clear image and focus, bringing us ever closer to the animal world. Well, this was the Planet Shark of the seventies and with a catchy title like Blue Water, White Death, it was destined to influence a lot of people. One of those people was the writer Peter Benchley who wrote Jaws in 1974. The book immediately became a bestseller, although Peter thought that it will be just another mediocre title without much potential.
Jaws was Steven Spielberg’s second movie and it had huge technical problems. The mechanical shark, also known as Bruce, kept breaking down, leaving young Spielberg in quite the trouble with its main “actor” out of the commission. He accepted this challenge and worked around the problem, making the shark a silent and unseen menace. By generating suspense and then sheer terror upon the shark’s arrival, Spielberg created a very effective thriller/horror hybrid with a lot of moving parts. He focused his attention on a rather smaller part of the book that talked about the hunt, disregarding a lot of the subplots.
Jaws was influential not just because it had a giant great white shark but also because it was the first summer blockbuster and Steven Spielberg’s breakout movie, among other things. This is the first time that the monetization coincided with the content and along with a few other factors generated a new genre that since then has only grown in popularity. Very visceral and frightening at times, Jaws scared whole generations out of the water, continuing its mission even today. Innovative camera-work and tweaks to the script caused by now famously malfunctioning prop shark, brought attention to young Spielberg, giving him a chance to succeed. If you would like to learn more about Jaws, I recommend you check out our Rabbit-Reviews article about it here: Jaws – A philosophical analysis.
Italian Sharksploitation Movies
Once filmmakers find a successful formula, they will try to use it over and over again. And as Italy was trying to expand its movie industry, they first stumbled upon the western genre. This gave birth to now already cult sub-genre Spaghetti Western in the mid-sixties after the huge success of Sergio Leone’s movies. Sharks were only a part of the huge Italian production that focused on both popular genres as well as exploitation and extreme gore movies. Now, many of them have achieved cult status and are often screened as movies so bad that they are good. They combined action along with copious amounts of nudity and zany storytelling, anything to get the viewer excited or giggling. A simple google search will usually yield some pretty good results if you want to check out some of these movies because most of them are uploaded to YouTube.
The first official Italian sharksploitation movie was Bermuda: Cave of the Sharks from 1978. Featuring a lot less nudity and shark footage it opened a path for more famous movies that followed. Movies like The Shark Hunter AKA Il Cacciatore di Squali starring Franco Nero of his Django fame. This interesting entry coined the phrase ‘Mooney Maiming’, a shark hunting practice that is now widely used. A disgusting practice, I must add. Competently shot and with a lot of real shark footage, this is one of the three movies in this section that are actually worth a watch. If you’re intrigued by the whole premise I mean. Next up we have the most blatant copy of Jaws, Great White AKA L’ultimo Squalo, a movie that made over $18 million in its first month of screening in the United States until Universal Pictures sued the distributors for plagiarism (and won). With horrible special effects and unintentionally hilarious copies of characters from Jaws, you can only watch this movie to laugh.
The most popular movie in this section is without a doubt Monster Shark AKA Devil Fish AKA Shark: Rosso nell’oceano directed by Lamberto Bava whose next movie was now a cult classic Demons. Released in 1984, it marked the end of Jaws copies era and was leaning heavily towards the horror genre with lots of gore. There’s a hilarious Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring this very movie that I recommend you check out if you want to find out more about it. Night of the Sharks AKA La Notte Degli Squali, premiered in 1988 and received overwhelmingly negative reviews. Starring Treat “Pieces” Williams of his Hair fame, the movie is just plain bad and not even funny. Deep Blood AKA Sangue Negli Abissi was a clear sign that the feeding frenzy was over, especially since it was shot in 1990. Directed by the Italian king of exploitation and erotica, Joe D’Amato, it’s a rather boring affair with bad shark footage and story that we already heard several times before.
The final nail in the coffin was the movie Cruel Jaws AKA The Beast from 1995. It was marketed as the fifth part of the Jaws franchise although it had nothing to do with it. It used footage from both the Jaws and other Italian sharksploitation movies like Deep Blood and Great White. Combining documentary shark footage intercut with awful acting resulted in one hell of a movie. It’s entertaining enough to be considered a movie so bad that it’s good.
Shark movies from around world
The first movie that copied the Jaws formula was not Italian but Mexican and it’s one of the strangest shark movies that you will ever see. Tintorera AKA Killer Shark was released in 1977, just two years after Jaws and it featured two cuts, one intended for a domestic, more timid, Mexican market with almost all of the nudity cut out and an international version that was almost a porno movie with sharks. We are following exploits of two fuckbois as they are hooking up with hot tourists and hunting sharks, with strong homoerotic vibes. A perfect seventies sleaze and one of Quentin Tarantino’s favorite movies. However, shark footage in this movie feels raw and scary, which is not surprising since it was done by oceanographer Ramón Bravo who served as Jacques Cousteau’s dive guide. He also wrote the book that served as a basis for this strange movie and was the first to document so-called “sleeping sharks”.
Jaws in Japan AKA Psycho Shark is a shark movie that tells you everything about itself in the two titles it sports. We all know that Japanese like weird stuff and this movie is no exception. Released in 2009 which is pretty late for a Jaws ripoff, this low-budget flick has almost nothing to do with sharks, just using the title to coax you into buying this awful movie. Most of it are shots of girls in swimming suits running around aimlessly with only one or two scenes featuring sharks.
Hai-Alarm auf Mallorca AKA Shark Attack in the Mediterranean from 2004 is a German movie about a helicopter pilot Sven Hanson who, after the death of his wife, settles on an island of Mallorca. As you probably guessed, that settling did not last as a giant shark appears and start killing tourists. To make things even sweeter, it turns out that this is the same shark that killed Sven’s wife so he teams up with a female marine biologist to hunt the creature. Ticking off pretty much every shark cliche, this is one funny movie. The lead role was entrusted with Ralf Moeller, also known as the German The Rock, an actor best known as Conan from Conan the Adventurer, a 1997 kids television show. I remember watching this show when I was younger and to see Conan now fighting sharks in this German flick was funny as hell. In the end, there’s nothing funny about shark attacks that appear to haunt this popular tourist destination and if you want to learn more about them check out this article: As a THIRD shark attack rocks Majorca, Europe’s most dangerous spots to swim are revealed.
And finally, we have Aatank, an Indian shark movie from 1996 complete with long-ass dance numbers, crazy story and very little shark footage. One of the rare redeeming qualities of this movie was the size of the shark. It is comparable to our modern day Megalodon or Mega Shark rivals coming to us from Hollywood studios. Aatank was actually shot back in the mid-eighties and unfortunately, two of its cast members, Vinod Mehra and Amjad Khan, had died before it was released. Other cast members have aged and additional footage that was added to the movie in the nineties messed up the timeline completely. So, another crazy story about another shark movie, nothing new.
Calm waters of the eighties and nineties
After the feeding frenzy of the seventies and eighties, it seemed that the shark movies were about to go extinct. With the increasing popularity of the VHS tapes, Jaws quickly became the one movie you must have in your collection but there were no other shark movies. I guess everybody was too busy snorting cocaine and living the high life. The first movie to break the tension was Mission of the Shark: The Saga of the U.S.S. Indianapolis from 1991. This television movie based on true events and starring Stacy Keach was very competently done and focused more on the human drama than the shark threat. It was a very serious entry into the genre, focusing on events that were mentioned in the Jaws movie where Robert Shaw recounts his experience on the U.S.S. Indianapolis.
Seven years later and sharks are still pretty much confined to documentaries and television shows like Shark Week. Enter Creature, another television release, this time in a form of miniseries. Starring Craig T. Nelson and Kim Cattrall, it was based on a book by Jaws author Peter Benchley. This movie marked the beginning of the second wave of shark movies that started happening just one year later with the release of the now cult classic Deep Blue Sea. Strangely enough, this was the first movie after the original Jaws that had a big budget and wasn’t some milking effort from the studios. With a very likable cast, original story and entertaining atmosphere, Deep Blue Sea quickly became hugely popular and again with the release of the DVD format, it became one of those movies that you simply had to have.
1999 also saw the release of the harbinger of doom, a low-key and low-budget movie called simply Shark Attack.
Shark Attack – Modern Sharksploitation begins
One of the things that seem to be happening a lot in the shark movie sub-genre were sequels. Jaws had four official and one Italian sharksploitation sequel and why shouldn’t everyone be able to join the financial fun with their own sequels. Shark Attack spawned three sequels and oddly enough, the most popular and influential one is the third part. I vividly remember watching it a couple of years after its release and laughing my ass off. It was one of the first movies that I found when I googled movies so bad that they are good. It has everything a bad movie needs and it’s just the right amount legit not to be considered too bad or just lame. However, let’s go back to the first installment in the franchise because all three movies are very entertaining. Starring the uncrowned king of low-budget and movies so bad that they are good, Casper Van Dien of his Starship Troopers and Skeleton Man fame, the movie is more about corruption than it is about sharks. It also features a classical sub-plot of genetically enhanced sharks which is always hilarious.
It was pretty clear that Shark Attack was cobbled together to be released in order to generate money and it had nothing to do with so-called “classic” film-making. The goal was to make the movie entertaining and believable enough for already low bars set by decades of cheap and commercial movies. Most of the people involved in these movies look at them as products that are no different from shoes or other items you might buy in a local supermarket. Did you ever buy a product that looked okay at first look but after a closer inspection looked like a complete waste of money? Well, here, the waste of money is only dependent on the emotions it generates, so if it kills an hour of your time and you chuckle a bit or even better trash the movie with your friends, well then, it’s definitely fucking worth it. When you check reviews for this one and other bad shark movies, you will find that they have inspired a lot of people to unleash their creative forces.
Here’s what Bezenby5 wrote on the IMDb page of this movie:
A list of things more fun than Shark Attack:
1. Not watching Shark Attack 2. Looking through a book of carpet samples. 3. Finding your first grey pubic hair. 4. Toilet training a two year old, and finding a brown present in their room. 5. Talking to someone about how they like their eggs. 6. Wondering whether or not to buy a melon, then deciding against it. 7. Waiting in a post office queue, then being informed by the pensioner in front of you that there is nothing worse than waiting in a post office queue. 8. Being beaten around the head by an angry mob in a market in Sarayevo 9. Using the IMDb message board to waffle on about some subject no one cares about. 10. Being sent into battle during the Somme.
The second part of this amazing trilogy follows the mutated sharks from the first part all the way to Cape Town. Unfortunately, our homeboy Casper declined the role so we have a fresh and new marine biologist that needs to deal with killer sharks. In case you were wondering who would produce and distribute this crap, it was a pretty big production and distribution companies like Lionsgate Home Entertainment and Nu Image Films. This means that although the movies are low-budget they are still not ultra-low-budget we’re-using-home-props movies that swarmed the marked in the following years. One of the strangest things about this movie is the fact that it was filmed back-to-back with the first part. What sort of deal this was I don’t know but it sure is strange. Here’s also one more strange thing about it as reported by an extra: And just for interest’s sake, the building used for the “WATER WORLD” aquarium was recently torn down as it had become derelict and was a home for crack-heads.
We finally arrive at the third and best movie of the bunch. If you want to know more about it, I recommend you go back and read this review: Shark Attack 3: Megalodon . With that being said, let’s just go over a few details from the movie that were not mentioned in the original review. The third and final part of the Shark Attack trilogy actually has nothing to do with the two first parts. While we were afraid of genetically enhanced sharks a Mega Shark was waiting its turn. As you probably figured out from the title, the movie is about a Megalodon, a huge, ancient and extinct shark species that’s terrorizing a coastal town. The lead actor John Barrowman, who got famous later in his career by starring in Doctor Who and Torchwood, said that he did the movie just for money. And while we’re here, it has to be mentioned that Jenny McShane from the original Shark Attack is also present in this movie. Only as a different character. No biggie.
Shot in beautiful Bulgaria, from the start to finish, this movie will have you laughing your ass off. The CGI is hilarious, acting horrible and this is just the beginning. This cult classic is actually the first movie that went viral in the whole shark movie sub-genre long before Sharknado. Clips with hilariously bad special effects soon started getting famous and spread around even though YouTube wasn’t a thing back then. You can imagine what happened when it became a thing. The dialogue was also very entertaining, to say the least as creators of this movie were clearly aware that they are making a campy and fun movie and not a “real shark movie”.
After all this, you might hastily place Shark Attack 3 in the same basket with SyFy’s horrible collection of cheap shark movies but I urge you not to do so. While yes, the filmmakers were somewhat aware of what they were doing, this movie has a soul and it’s pretty old school, especially when it comes to the production values. In my opinion, it doesn’t compare to all the movies that followed because it’s just so damn funny without trying to be funny. A formula that was obviously picked up on and recreated in the endless stream of shark movies that followed.
Sharksploitation in full swing – SyFy epic
The first shakes of the impending sharksplosion (there you go SyFy, another bombastic shark title for you, for free) began in 2003, just one year after the release of Shark Attack 3. Most of the shark movies up until this point were produced by major production houses or their home divisions like Lions Gate Home Entertainment or TriMark Home Video. However, Dej Productions Dark Waters, which has nothing to do with the 2019 movie of the same title, continued to perfect the formula used in Shark Attack. To help them with that, they hired the right man for the job, the king of kings, lord of lords and conquering lion of the tribe of the b-movies of the nineties Lorenzo Lamas! Paired with a couple of hotties, this was a rip-off of the Deep Blue Sea with decent production values. Again, scientists are playing with sharks and genetically enhancing them until they turn on them. Wow, what a twist!
Two years later and the first SyFy shark movie was released. Hammerhead AKA SharkMan was a creature feature that did not feature sharks per se but was more of a Frankenstein-style movie. This time father injects hammerhead DNA into his dying son in order to save him only to turn him into a creature that’s something between man and shark. Starring Jeffrey Combs of his Re-Animator fame, this movie is one of those I recommend you check out because it’s delightfully retro science-fiction fun! The sets look cool but the dialogue and characters are really funny.
In order to fully comprehend what was driving this explosion of shark movies that followed, we need to get a closer look at the company that was responsible for them: SyFy. I have to admit that the only thing that I knew about them before this was the fact that they have re-branded sometime in the past from the Sci-Fi Channel to SyFy. This seemed like a douchy move intended to make the “brand” more relatable to younger audiences. When you consider the fact that venerable Gene Roddenberry and almighty Isaac Asimov were among those on the initial advisory board, you see just how fucked up and twisted the story got. The channel was launched in 1992, after the death of both Gene and Isaac, but it saw Leonard Nimoy as the master of ceremonies, with both widows in attendance.
The concept was pretty clear: use the old science fiction movies and series that seemed to be eternally interesting and then try to build on that. As the channel grew, so did their ambitions. During 2006 they started airing shows that had nothing to do with science fiction (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, ECW, and WCG Ultimate Gamer). In 2009 they decided that they could produce their own movies that would be perfect for Saturday and Sunday primetime slots. These movies would cost around $1 or $2 million and you can already see where this is leading.
After a couple of “normal” movies, they released Scarecrow during 2002, a really bad slasher movie that was, of course, so bad that it’s good. Shot in just eight days, it featured awful acting, no nudity or gore and marked the beginning of the cooperation between SyFy and Asylum. Don’t get me wrong, SyFy has some relatively good movies like 100 Feet (not what you think) and Splinter, however, those are the only two good movies out of a 100 plus titles.
They had a couple of revenue streams for each movie they produced and this enabled them to churn out movies like they were YouTube videos. Just imagine where you could catch their movies:
SyFy channel (premiere and reruns)
Other channels all over the world that would buy these movies in bulk to fill their slots
The first couple of movies were produced by FirstLook, a company that actually bought the above mentioned Dej Productions. However, the company that everybody knows and that’s now like worldwide famous is The Asylum. Up until this point, SyFy shark movies were somewhat acceptable and without ludicrous titles and stories with titles like Shark in Venice, Shark Swarm or Malibu Shark Attack. However, the first Asylum produced movie changed all that. Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus was released in 2009 and it is the first movie in a long line of SyFy sharksploitation productions.
Starring our favorite hero Lorenzo Lamas, you can probably guess that this was another so bad that it’s good movie. And as all cult shark movies, it got a tone of sequels. Our poor Mega Shark had to battle Crocosaurus, Mecha Shark and finally Kolossus, a giant robot from the Russian mines. Just by reading the titles you get a feeling that these movies are intentionally bad and crazy, so you’re not disappointed upon discovering that they are actually like this. I mean when you see Mega Shark jumping out of the water and taking a bite from an airplane, what can you expect from the rest of the movie? Also, you will notice that all the scenes with Lorenzo take place in a studio, which probably means that they had him for a couple of hours just to slap his name on the cover, while the main roles were trusted to some other actors. With plots that beg further discussion, these movies and scenes were perfect for social media, but more about that later.
Soon after they proved the concept, SyFy began producing several shark movies per year, usually with titles that were so outrageous that you could not help but wonder what were they like. I mean Sharktopus and Dinoshark are pretty much straight forward but what about Swamp Shark? This was also the first movie that combined the word shark and its habitat, so the following year we were treated to Sand Sharks. And while you’re trying to wrap your head around that one, SyFy already released Jersey Shore Shark Attack and 2-Headed Shark Attack. Campy, fun and with atrocious CGI, these movies also featured funny characters played by actors with skills that never rose above average. And just when you thought that this craziness must end, the biggest one of them all premiered.
Every Asylum shark movie made money and this is something that should not surprise us now that we know all the facts. This means that all the people who worked on these movies were paid and there was enough money left over to start filming the next movie. This also means that everyone involved could count on a steady income, a thing that’s proving to be more and more elusive for most of the population. They are usually given a concept to work with, something in a line of a giant shark battles a mutated rhino and then left to their own devices to figure out the rest. And by the rest, I mean the entire fucking movie.
Sharknado – Peak sharksploitation period for SyFy
In the slowest year for shark movies since 2009, the most popular sharksploitation movie was released: Sharknado. I highly recommend that you check out the documentary Sharknado: Feeding Frenzy that will shed more light on this cult classic. It is filled with important insights and it celebrates the b movie culture along with the movies so bad that they are good culture that you must watch it if you’re a fan. While searching for more information about this, I accidentally found the entire documentary uploaded to a service similar to YouTube called TubiTV, here’s the link so you can check it out: Sharknado: Feeding Frenzy.
To cut the story short, the reason why Sharknado became such a huge hit was social media presence. Once the celebrities started tweeting about it and hashtags starting building up, there was no way to stop this hype train. Watching this over-the-top movie that had nothing to do with real life and was more like a horror fairy tale, was something that provided a much-needed break from the complexities of ordinary life. It was also a great way to connect and trash the movie online, especially for people who were not used to voicing their opinions in such a fashion.
There were 500.000 tweets in the first 24 hours after the premiere and this was something that nobody expected. When you consider the fact that the star of the movie Ian Ziering, better known as Steve Sanders on the television series Beverly Hills, 90210, took this role because his wife was pregnant and they desperately needed money, you see how zany the whole thing is. Most of the cast did not want to be in a movie with a title like this because things like this are so-called career killers. Once you go down that road, it’s hard to climb back up. The same goes for his co-star Tara Reid that was tricked into acting with a title change.
In a world that was increasingly getting weirder and with a media situation that preferred outrageous things, Sharknado was in the middle of this perfect storm of events. It was safe and funny, almost childlike, something reminiscent of a time when you could enjoy these movies because your life was relatively stable. Of course, I am talking about the general population that was the main driver behind the popularity of the movie.
The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time concluded the franchise in 2018 after six movies. It featured everything that made the franchise so popular in the first place: bad acting, funny characters, outrageous action, bad CGI and a lot of cameos. This was a sad moment for the whole industry because most of them have felt that the hype train has reached its destination, or at least this Sharknado train. However, mockbusters are pretty live and well and with a little help from the internets, they became a thing. People are organizing viewing parties that usually involve drugs and alcohol, or this was just me…
Post-Sharknado world – Shark movie hyperproduction
By the end of 2013, SyFy knew they had found their golden goose and that goose were bad creature features. In the following two years, nine shark movies produced by The Asylum and distributed by SyFy were released. Some of them were sequels to already established franchises like Sharknado 2: The Second One, 3-Headed Shark Attack and Mega Shark vs. Kolossus. And some of them were brand new concepts that were very much in-line with the rest of the shark movies we have already seen.
Avalanche Sharks explored another environment that sharks could thrive in while Sharktopus tried to replicate Mega Shark success battling Pteracuda in 2014 and Whalewolf in 2015. I have to admit that of all the zany titles, Sharktopus vs Whalewolf is my favorite one. I mean, it’s just so goddamn juicy and reminiscent of those old vs movies from the thirties that you cannot resist checking it out. However, as it is the case with most of the SyFy movies, they are not much fun if you’re watching them alone and with high expectations.
This is the reason why I loved the bad shark movies that were released before SyFy started this hyperproduction. They had a soul and sometimes even a coherent story along with decent sets. Moreover, they were somewhat serious, meaning that people who made them didn’t expect them to be ridiculed or trashed or made them for that purpose. Although a huge light was now pointed towards the shark movie sub-genre, the movies that were being released were pretty lame and formulaic.
Of course, we are talking about The Asylum releases. However, there was a new player in town: Wild Eye Releasing, a production company responsible for a couple of really funny ones. These movies did not look and feel like SyFy releases although they had the same crazy titles, so if you’re looking for a break from formulaic movies, they are a perfect choice. Shark Exorcist, I mean come on, you knew that he was coming. And while we’re on the subject of famous movies from the past how about Raiders of the Lost Shark or their crown jewel: Sharkenstein?
2016 saw the release of the first major shark movie after four years. The Shallows featured sexy Blake Lively and one hell of a shark and it fueled even further the insatiable appetites of shark movie connoisseurs. SyFy was also busy, releasing six shark movies, same as the year before. However, you could feel that this year would be one of the last for their exploits concerning sharks. The titles were a bit bland and generic, not to mention repetitive. How are Ice Sharks different from Avalanche Sharks?
One year later and the production of shark movies slowed down significantly. With only four SyFy releases and a couple of independent productions, 2017 saw the rise of the 47 Meters Down franchise. Similar to The Shallows the movie had a decent budget and was mildly entertaining but to shark movie enthusiasts it was a breath of fresh air. By this time, everybody saw the potential of the shark niche so it’s no wonder that we were treated to a couple of indie gems. First of them is simply titled Land Shark, featuring a concept that you might call a fish out of water. And the second one was even better: House Shark. I mean come on!
Finally, the year 2018 saw the end of many franchises that followed us throughout the shark years. 6-Headed Shark Attack concluded the adventures of a shark with many heads and the Sharknado franchise also ended. However, we were also treated to the biggest shark movie ever released. The Meg starring Jason Statham and with a budget of whopping $130 million destroyed the box offices around the world. The movie made over half a billion dollars and this meant only one thing: there will be many sequels. Sadly, Deep Blue Sea 2 was also released during 2018 along with the last SyFy shark movie called Megalodon.
It was just a question of time when this wave would lose its momentum and I do feel a bit sad because there won’t be so many shark movies next year. However, this is a natural cycle and if we manage not to fuck the world entirely in the following years we can expect some new trends to emerge. SyFy had a good run along with a couple of other production companies.
The Future of Shark Movies
There are several shark movies that will be released in the next few years and some of them sound fucking phenomenal. The first upcoming shark movie I must mention is the Great White, slated for 2020 release and produced by the same crew that brought you the best shark movie since Jaws, The Reef. This Australian horror follows a couple of pilots who spot an upturned boat in the middle of the ocean and decide to investigate. You can guess what will follow. The script was written by Michael Boughen (Tomorrow, When The War Began, Killer Elite, The Loved Ones) and the director will be Martin Wilson.
Next up we have The Meg 2, a sequel to the 2018 blockbuster that’s still in the early stages of development. I have a feeling that this movie will be out in 2021 or 2022, mostly because they are still working on a script. And while we’re on the subject of sequels and feelings, I also have a feeling that the 47 Meters Down franchise will soon be getting an addition. The first two movies were hugely successful, especially when you consider how much they cost and much they subsequently made. And this number will just keep on rising. Finally, we have Sam Raimi’s Bermuda Triangle, a fun action movie starring Ryan Reynolds that’s coming along nicely. I expect that it will be premiering sometime during 2023 because there’s no way they finish a project as big as this one earlier.
Of course, these are all big movies that have some chatter about them and we haven’t talked about medium and small productions at all. As of January 2020, there are no other shark movies announced, so you will have to be on a lookout for them, same as every year. And in case you’re wondering will we see more cheap SyFy shark movies, don’t worry, Amityville Island is slated for a 2020 release. Produced by Wild Eye Releasing, it looks cheap and without any connections to sharks but it also has a shark on a poster, so there’s that. I hope that this article has brought this subject closer to you.