Tag Archives: Sharknado

Glinda and Mike – an ACTION HERO sneak peek

ACTION HERO is coming in three weeks. Are you ready?


“What’s the movie?” Mike asked their agent.
“A veterinarian studying endangered pandas discovers they’ve been infected with an incurable virus and creates a cure to save them from extinction,” Fiona said.
Glinda closed her eyes for a moment. She pictured herself as a blonde Sigourney Weaver a la “Gorillas in the Mist”, only with a Chinese setting rather than an African one. Lush green scenery, a heroic doctor battling to save an adorable yet doomed species. She could imagine exactly how it could play out. Then, remembering her luck, she reconsidered how it likely would play out. She opened one eye and stared at Fiona. “Mike would be the vet, wouldn’t he?”
“Yes, Glinda, Mike is the panda doctor. But I promise, you are nothing like a damsel in distress.”
“Rival scientist?” Glinda guessed.
“Black market panda procurer?” Mike offered.
“Traveller from the future sent back to save the species?”
“Panda shapeshifter?”
“Oh, good one,” Glinda said.
“You’re the bodyguard,” Fiona interrupted before they could get really imaginative.
“Whose bodyguard?” they both asked.
“The panda doctor’s.”
Not being the damsel in distress? That was something Glinda could work with. “Still in.”
Fiona’s smile returned. “Mike’s right. You should read it before you commit. I promise you, it’s a feature film, but it doesn’t have a blockbuster’s budget. Obviously, I think you should do it or I wouldn’t have brought it to you. But as I said, it’s the two of you or nothing, so you both need to agree.”
Glinda shared a look with Mike. “Give us the scripts.”

Non-repeatable Phenomenon

fortune-favors-the-bold-virgilI recently wrote a post about the Sharknado trilogy and what it takes to make a fun monster movie. But what elevated Sharknado above its contemporaries – such classics as Two-Headed Shark Attack and Mega-Piranha? The answer is a Hollywood term called a “non-repeatable phenomenon”.

How it translates to non-industry people is “we have no freaking clue why this one took off and we haven’t managed to duplicate the success of it yet”.

Everybody knows what a movie formula is. Most blockbusters follow it with a checklist. Series like Fast and Furious and James Bond have refined it to a “T”. Audiences liked what they saw the first time, and the movies producers reproduced it with only enough chances to keep it from being identical. Series are vital for movie studios, which is why if a movie does even slightly well, you can be the next year you are going to see the same title with a number after it.

But then you have the weird ones, the movies nobody expected to make a splash. The quiet ones like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which left producers scratching their heads, counting the box office take, and asking “how can we do that again?”

The truth is, most of the time they can’t. The movie hit with audiences because of a combination of actor chemistry, an entertaining story, the phase of the moon and whether or not anything else was in the news cycle. MBFGW owes its success to the word of mouth of people who wandered into a quiet theatre instead of one filled with explosions and fell in love with a Greek girl and her overbearing family. TBEMH came out with a star-studded line-up that appealed to the often-ignored 50+ demographic. (They did make a sequel to TBEMH; lightning did not strike twice.)

Then there was Sharknado. Nobody still has any clue why Sharknado hit like it did. Social media had a lot to do with it. It got picked up on Twitter and took off. Not because, unlike my previous examples, it was a beautiful, brilliant story but because it was So. Freaking. Bad. But bad in an entertaining way. It was exactly what people needed on that particular Thursday night.

It was not the first shark-monster movie, nor has it been the last but something about it has fans loving it. There is just something that the imitators don’t have. And the producers didn’t stray too far for the sequels. They not only hit all the checkboxes, they hit them with nuclear weapons and had no shame doing it. People watched to be entertained but also so they could mock it relentlessly. That is part of the movie’s appeal. In this case it work.

Sharknado 3: Oh, hell no! aired two weeks ago. The producers littered the commercial breaks with ads for Lavalantula. Instead of sharks and tornados, they are trying to replicate Sharknado’s success with volcanoes and tarantulas. It was entertaining enough for what it was, but there was no spark of originality. They tried to plug different monsters and heroes into the same script and while we were dumb enough to watch and enjoy the original, we weren’t fooled again. Sharknado is the definition of a non-repeatable phenomenon.

Unless you’re talking about other sharknados.

Why Sharknado is awesome

Sharknado 1

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.)

Sharknado 2The 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.

Sharknado 3Finally, 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?

Why Ian Ziering would be a better friend to have than Jason Priestley

Spooky hands © Scott Patterson | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Spooky hands © Scott Patterson | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Last night I was in [city not identified but it looked a lot like Fargo, ND] and I was coming out of the [possibly West Acres] mall when the “Zombies!” cries started. Those and the “Flicker!” warnings were the only notice we had.

Then the dead showed up.

These zombies weren’t your lurch-to-the-beat Sean of the Dead zombies. They weren’t your hive-mind, superfast World War Z zombies either. These guys were slower than the ones Brad Pitt fought but they were  sneakier. These zombies came at you… from under the ground.

You know the scene in the movies where the zombies crawl out of their graves? Apparently, digging through dirt is a skill that they all have. Forget shambling along streets and congregating in alleys before packs of the undead start roving for fresh meat sources. That is so last year. Now, zombies sense their prey on the surface and tunnel through the ground so they can come at you from below. Those monsters can dig and chew through asphalt and pull you under almost as fast as you can blink.

The “Flicker!” warnings I mentioned? They aren’t foolproof but they help. You see, when zombies travel underground, the vibrations set off car alarms. Smart people have wired their alarms so the headlights flash, or “flicker”, when zombies set the alarms off. Of course, they’ve disabled the sound because there’s no use in drawing the zombies to you.

Anyway, there I was, minding my own business coming out of the mall when the latest zombie attack occurred. And Jason Priestley was in the parking lot too. We had to escape. Because the zombies could pop out of the earth at any time, there was a lot of jumping from bumper to bumper and pausing in truck beds to see if we could spot any newly forming cracks in the concrete.

For some reason, we decided to share a ride out of the parking lot and, can I say, Mr. Priestley was definitely not the stereotypical “here, let me hold the door for you” polite Canadian. He’s more of a “get your ass in the car so we can get out of here” kind of guy. No heroics, just fleeing the scene as quickly as humanly possible. At least we got away.

I guess the “Mr. Charisma I can convince people to do what I want with my mind” character Mr. Priestley played on Haven was not much use when it came to defeating the zombie apocalypse. Mr. Ziering’s chainsaw-wielding, Macgyver-bomb-making Sharknado hero would have provided a much better practical background for surviving the situation.

The moral of this story is two-fold.

1. When attacked by zombies, join forces with an actor who has been in a movie where he or she was victorious over a monster attack and survived. (Heroically sacrificing himself/herself so others may live is not going to get you through the second wave.) The movie’s writer was paid so there are at least a few people who thought the screenwriter might have been on the right track. Obviously, ideally you want to be on Bruce Campbell’s team.

2. Don’t fall asleep in bed after watching Jason Priestley appear in the commercials for the Canadian Walk of Fame awards while emailing your friend about Sharknado, especially if you set you electric blanket to “high” and accidentally fall asleep, cooking your brain so you get the worst dreams ever, causing you to wake up in a sweat at 2 am going “what the hell was that, and what do you mean I have to put my foot on the floor to get to the kitchen to have a drink of water – the zombies can come through the floor!”