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Why does it feel like this review should be written in capital letters? Perhaps this is just the influence of the DVD tagline, which screams at high volume: FROZEN FOR 150 MILLION YEARS… NOW HE’S HUNGRY!
Following closely on the heels/fins/tentacles of recent schlock cult hit “Sharktopus” is “Dinoshark”, which basically sees legendary B-movie mogul Roger Corman serving up more of the same, with yet another beach resort being terrorised by an unlikely though hungry aquatic fiend. The film certainly has a suitable helmer in Kevin O’Neill, a man who previously swam similar waters with “Dinocroc”, as well as working on visual effects for the likes of the “Piranha” remake and the “Feast” series. Somewhat unusually for this kind of direct to DVD, made for cable foolishness, the film actually has a pretty decent cast, with a handful of semi-recognisable faces, including headline stars Eric Balfour (“Skyline”) and Iva Hasperger (“Exorcism”). The film hits region 2 DVD shortly via Anchor Bay in an extras-free, bones edition, not that it particularly matters.
Unsurprisingly, the film doesn’t have a plot so much as a concept, with the titular beast being some variation of pliosaur which hatches after being frozen in glacial ice for over 150 MILLION YEARS, and after snacking on a handy scientist decides to head for the warmer climes of the Mexican resort of Puerto Vallarta. Upon arrival, the monster gets up to the usual antics, while a local boat captain (Balfour) and a scientist (Hasperger) team up to defy disbelieving local authority figures by trying to prove its existence and blow it out of the water.
Obviously, “Dinoshark” is a film which should not be judged by conventional standards, but by those of its peers, primarily “Sharktopus”, with whom it shares most of its themes (such as they are), not to mention the presence and shadow of Roger Corman. Sadly, the film never quite lives up to the sheer lunacy of its bigger, badder and far crazier cousin, being content to simply tick the boxes and follow the monster on the rampage script to the very letter. Although this in itself isn’t too much of a criticism, and while the film certainly gets a great deal right, it does pale by comparison, with “Sharktopus” having shown that it was quite possible to rise above the usual low budget limitations through an extra injection of energy and devil may care stupidity. Sadly, “Dinoshark” isn’t really headline-grabbingly ludicrous enough, lacking the same kind of dynamic random oddness, and being weighed down somewhat by a creature which at the end of the day is simply a vaguely armoured shark with a penchant for jumping out of the water in unconvincing fashion.
Still, there’s a lot to be enjoyed here for fans, and Kevin O’Neill does a creditable job in the director’s chair, keeping things moving at a brisk pace and never letting logic or delusions of substance get in the way of trashy entertainment. The beast racks up a pretty impressive number and variety of victims, including, but not limited to scientists, swimmers, sex-crazed tourists, parasailing thrill seekers, and even police helicopters. The gore comes thick and fast, with a great many unfortunates being bitten in half or mashed to pieces in its jaws. There are some very fun set pieces along the way to the imminently predictable conclusion, the highlight being a last act assault on the resort’s annual festival, which just happens to include an all-girl water polo tournament. Although like the monster itself most of the gore consists of shoddy computer effects, this is very much par for the course, and O’Neill just about manages to gloss over the film’s budgetary limitations through the tried and tested technique of keeping the blood flowing in a definite stab at quantity over quality.
This works reasonably well, and “Dinoshark” makes for an hour and a half of above average genre entertainment. Whilst never scaling the dizzy heights of current champ “Sharktopus”, it certainly boasts more action and energy than most other recent creature features, not to mention a respectably high quotient of toothy kill scenes and cheap nudity, which after all, are really the only things that matter.
Kevin O’Neill (director) / Frances Doel, Guy Prevost (screenplay)
CAST: Eric Balfour … Trace McGraw
Iva Hasperger … Carol Brubaker
Aarón Díaz … Luis
Humberto Busto … C