July is an awesome month for sharks. I’m not talking about the horrific, real-life shark attacks that have been in the news lately. I’m talking about Hollywood sharks. Jaws’ descendents. Mother-f*cking sharks in a mother-f*cking tornado.
There is an art to making a good bad shark movie. The basic premise must be something so outrageous that your suspension of disbelief is thoroughly activated. In the case of Sharknado, don’t tell that it actually could happen and quote me documented incidents of fish and frogs being picked up in storms. First of all, you’re ruining my suspension of disbelief buzz. Second, you can’t compare a half-pound frog that lives on land to a half-ton shark that lives in water. And third, it’s not supposed to make sense. It’s a Sharknado.
Obviously, the most important thing is the shark-monster. If it was a hybrid designed by humans, the creator must be completely mad and have horrible operational security so it can easily escape into the ocean (no tanks for shark-monsters.) Also, it should be designed to be either completely indestructible; a small soft spot about a couple of square inches big so the hero can destroy it is acceptable.
Hybrid or not, the shark should be bigger, badder and have more teeth than a normal shark. It must also be able to survive for long periods out of water. (I know sharks don’t live long out of water but this is for a movie shark.)
The next trick has to do with the characters. If you are thinking over the top, you aren’t thinking big enough by half. Nothing is too insane for bad shark movie hero or heroine. The situation is already beyond what normal people can handle. Only the wackiest solutions will do at this point. And they will work too, because the good guys thought of them. Crazy plans suggested by evil people or those in authority who aren’t the hero and heroine will fail badly, causing massive property damage and loss of life. For instance:
SPOILER ALERT – in the first Sharknado, our hero, Fin (get it? Fin vs shark) dives into a falling shark’s mouth with a running chainsaw. Then he carves his way from the inside out to make his escape. AND, at the same time, he pulls out the girl the shark swallowed. THAT is a real hero, folks.
Not to mention, a proper bad shark movie should be set someplace warm, so all the characters are required to wear bikinis and swim trunks. Equal opportunity ogling is important.
Next is the body count. Your movie had better have one that reaches double digits or your audience will be very disappointed. They must include: the person in authority who denies there is a shark-monster, a randy couple doing the nasty in the water (or on the shore or on the dock), and a surfer, waterskier, or swimmer. Of course, you can do multiples of these victims. Bonus points for non-traditional shark attack victims. Do not attack kids. You can attack a pet (usually a dog) but that is iffy and may piss people off.
Finally, there is the technical aspect of such special-effects masterpiece. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Or that piddly little matter of continuity. Make the action scenes as exciting as possible, and then do what you have to in order to get to the next one. For example:
SPOILER ALERT In the first one, the sharknado drops a deluge of water (and sharks) which sweeps down the side of a hill until it gets to the house. The water fills the living room and main floor, including a shark or two. The hero and his family battle the sharks as they swim for the front door. In the next shoot, they open the door and step out onto the front steps. They aren’t pushed out in a gush of water, they just walk. That is perfectly fine storytelling, people. Realism is highly overrated. (Also, again, you are watching a movie called Sharknado. How real do you expect it to be with your suspension of disbelief working overtime?)
Anyway, with this primer, I invite you to spend the next three Wednesdays with me as I live-tweet Sharknado (tonight, July 8th), Sharknado 2 (July 15) and the world debut of Sharknado 3 (July 22). I’ll be watching on SPACE Channel, but I believe Americans can get it on Sy-Fy.
Did I miss any bad shark movie rules?