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BEWARE SHARKTOPUS! Whilst a monster that is ‘half shark, half octopus, all killer’, as the advertising blurb (quite accurately) describes it, might not be top of the list of obvious aquatic menaces, the wacky premise certainly promises a great deal of fun. This is even more so given the presence of B-movie legend Roger Corman, and a half decent helmer in the form of Declan O’Brien, whose “Wrong Turn 3: Left For Dead” made a respectable attempt at bucking the law of decreasing returns. As is usually the case with this type of film, the cast includes a sprinkling of semi-famous faces, namely the always fun Eric Roberts (who recently returned to the big screen with “The Expendables”), Sara Malakul Lane (“Belly Of The Beast”) and US TV host and former Miss USA Shandi Finnessey. With its ridiculous creature having whipped up a fair amount of interest, the film now lands on region 2 DVD via Anchor Bay Entertainment, its wacky “Jaws” rip-off cover just daring genre fans to try their luck.
The plot is identical to pretty much every other film of its type – an obviously unhinged bio-geneticist (Roberts) attempts to create the ultimate weapon for the US navy in the form of a shark/octopus hybrid, kept in check and directed via a control unit. Surprising no-one, the beast escapes and wrecks havoc in the tourist-filled waters of the Puerto Vallarta resort in Mexico. Charged with bringing the abomination to heel are Sands’ own daughter and a devil may care shark hunter, hindered by a news reporter and her sleazy guide, who try to track it for their own ends.
Fair’s fair, and “Sharktopus” is clearly not a film which deserves to be judged by conventional cinematic standards, with a threadbare plot that exists solely to bide the time between creature attacks. For those who care, yes, the script is shoddy, the characters are caricatures, and the special effects are less than special. Very little about the film makes any sense, and it fails to muster up any kind of tension or real excitement as it builds to a conclusion seen countless times before. To put things bluntly, anyone looking for quality film making should steer well clear.
With the obvious out of the way, the good news is that “Sharktopus” is a huge amount of fun, milking its nonsensical gambit to the limit and beyond. The creature itself, though sadly brought to life through substandard, cheap looking CGI, successfully walks a fine line between being hilariously inept and oddly kind of cool. O’Brien wisely gives the fans what they want by keeping it on screen for most of the running time, with no foolish attempts to build up suspense as to its appearance. The action certainly comes thick and fast, and the film is dizzyingly random, with the sharktopus grabbing anyone it can get its tentacles on, leading to an impressive bodycount that stretches way into the double figures. It also helps that there’s a good amount of gore thrown around, and though this too suffers from some unconvincing computer work, in its own way this only adds to the overall sense of high camp entertainment.
On this score at least it’s very difficult to find fault with “Sharktopus”, as it certainly delivers exactly as promised, and in no way lets down anyone looking for an hour and a half of jaw dropping stupidity and schlock. The film is definitely a few notches above the rest of the never ending stream of low budget creature features, and as well as setting a new standard for outstanding idiocy, it also manages to avoid most of the more grating pitfalls of the form, making for a fine slice of brain dead enjoyment, especially with a beer or six.
Declan O’Brien (director) / Mike MacLean (screenplay)
CAST: Eric Roberts … Nathan Sands
Héctor Jiménez … Bones
Ralph Garman … Captain Jack
Sara Malakul Lane … Nicole Sands
Shandi Finnessey … Stephanie