There are some movies so tragically stupid, I firmly believe watching them will make you dumber. There aren’t many of them, but SyFy Original Pictures’ Saturday night time-killer, SHARKTOPUS, certainly qualifies. My plan had been to write and post this review immediately following the film’s 9PM premiere on September 25, but it took me three days to recuperate from that one screening.
As with most of these SyFy monster mash-ups (MEGA SHARK VS. GIANT OCTOPUS, DINOCROC VS. SUPER GATOR, etc), the plot is nominal and only serves to loosely tie together scenes of creature carnage. In this case, Blue Water Corporation head Dr. Nathan Sands (Eric Roberts) and his daughter, Nicole (Sara Malakul Lane), have bio-engineered a shark-squid hybrid (yes, even though they repeatedly say it’s half-octopus, the features are clearly those of a squid) for the US Navy to use in its ongoing fight against drug runners and pirates. After a brief test in Santa Monica for Navy liaison Commander Cox (Brent Huff) ends with the creature’s control harness damaged, the monster escapes and heads south to Mexico. Sands puts together a team to capture the beast, known as S-11, headed by former Blue Water diver Andy Flynn (Kerem Bursin).
Once S-11 hits the waters off Puerto Vallarta, it starts snacking on locals and tourists at random. Also on the creature’s trail are opportunistic TV reporter Stacy Everheart (Liv Boughn) and her cameraman, Bones (Héctor Jiménez). Even after Everheart broadcasts footage of the creature she dubs Sharktopus chowing down on chowder heads and beach blanket bimbos, most people think the whole thing’s a prank. After S-11 makes mincemeat of Flynn’s commandos, he and Nicole team up with Stacy and Bones to try to regain control over the monster, or somehow kill it.
I’m sure executive producers Roger and Julie Corman made a nice chunk of change off this and previous SyFy sludge like DINOSHARK, and the ratings must surely be high enough to keep them pumping these things out; in fact, with 2.5 million viewers, it was SyFy’s highest-rated September original movie ever. But, seriously, it’s getting insulting! Scripter Mike MacLean and director Declan O’Brien come up with some of the cheesiest dialogue and horrifically poor performances from the cast (Eric Roberts looks like he just wants to take a long, hot shower to wash off the dirt throughout the film). It’s so bad you don’t even care who lives, dies, or just walks off-screen and is never seen again.
As usual with these direct-to-SyFy flicks, the special effects range from bad to why-didn’t-the-digital-effects-company-ask-to-have-their-name-removed-from-the-credits (just for the record, the company is called Dilated Pixels). Given that the draw for these flicks are the monsters, this one is probably the dumbest thing to come down the pike in decades. In the water, you can sort of accept this dumpy, tentacled, shark-mouthed oddball. Once it crawls out on land, it just looks like Humpty-Dumpty with a serious overbite, wearing a hulu skirt. Nobody expects these films to be on the level of METROPOLIS or 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, but this one’s not even up to the standards of THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE WORLD or Corman’s own HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP. Tragically, SyFy’s own slogan, “Imagine Greater,” seems to be turning into “Imagine Greater, Then Do the Opposite.”
Undoubtedly, a DVD/Blu-Ray release is in the offing, and I can’t imagine the audio commentary or other special features that will accompany it. Actually, a music video for the SHARKTOPUS Theme Song, a mindless-but-harmless little toe-tapper by the director’s nieces (the band’s called The Cheetah Whores), could be good for a giggle or two. Otherwise, they might as well just hire Michael J. Nelson and the Rifftrax crew and be done with it! Even then, watch at the risk of millions of your own brain cells going “Pfft!”
SHARKTOPUS (U.S. SyFy premiere: Sept. 25, 2010). Directed by: Declan O’Brien. Screenplay by: Mike MacLean. Starring: Eric Roberts – Dr. Nathan Sands, Kerem Bursin – Andy Flynn, Sara Malakul Lane – Nicole Sands, Brent Huff – Commander Cox, Liv Boughn – Stacy Everheart, Ralph Garman – Captain Jack, Héctor Jiménez – Bones.