Saturday, 1 August 2015



Yes, I know. Of course it's my own fault and I really can't blame anyone else. A SyFy Channel film made by The Asylum: what the hell was I thinking? There's no excuse for adding this kind of junk to the rental queue: it's not like I didn't know what I was getting into. SyFy and The Asylum make movies no-one else would dare: not because everyone else is too scared to try, but because SyFy and The Asylum are the only ones with low enough standards. It's like sticking pins under your thumbnail to see if it hurts as much as it did the last time. At least watching terrible films doesn't involve the loss of blood or mopping up afterwards.

But there's a particular difference with Sharknado as, unlike most terrible movies, has somehow broken through the mere mediocrity barrier and approached the level of Cultural Phenomenon thanks, apparently, to social media. Suddenly it's good to be so-bad-it's-good: it's a point of pride that the acting, writing, directing and special effects are as sub-par as they can be. If audiences are prepared to hand over their hard-earned banknotes for movies aiming as low as Megafault and Legion Of The Dead and Snakes On A Train, why bother aiming any higher? Take the money and don't do anything silly like make a competent film by accident.

No idea is stupid enough for these people, and Sharknado's breathtakingly stupid high concept is that a freak hurricane sucks a load of Pacific coastal sharks into a series of huge waterspouts and dumps them inland where they thrash about in the flash floods and torrential downpour, and eat people. Following the storm's initial attack on the Santa Monica pier and the destruction of his waterfront bar, the knowingly-named Fin and his friends head inland to make sure his estranged family are safe as it literally rains sharks even in hill-top mansions: sharks that leap through windows, fly out of storm drains and launch themselves out of the water at people climbing ropes. Can our band of bickering heroes kill the sharks and, perhaps more importantly, deactivate the giant twisters ripping through city blocks and residential areas (and arguably creating far more carnage and destruction than the sharks)?

Obviously it's absolute barrel-bottom rubbish: dazzlingly stupid and atrociously put together, with terrible CG effects that would shame the latter years of classic Doctor Who and the lowest daytime soap level of writing and directing and acting and whatever. But you pretty much knew that going in - that's why you went in in the first place. Nobody with all their pegs in the right holes rents something called Sharknado actually expecting a halfway decent movie, and SyFy and The Asylum are not about to knowingly confound expectations. Granted, some bad movies may be hugely enjoyable (I love Tobe Hooper's Lifeforce, for example), but that doesn't actually make them good films. They aren't enjoyable because of their badness, but in spite of it. You can't deliberately manufacture so-bad-it's-good (assuming such a thing exists, which I personally don't accept: good and bad exist on a spectrum and not a loop, and there's clearly no such thing as so-good-it's-awful) any more than you can deliberately manufacture a cult movie, as Troma have spent several decades demonstrating.

Comparisons with the likes of old Roger Corman and Ed Wood movies miss the point: those people believed in and cared about what they were doing whereas SyFy and The Asylum clearly don't. They're too in on their own joke and don't care whether it's laughing with or laughing at them, so long as they're laughing because obviously they can't be taken seriously. The joke isn't on Sharknado or its rotten script, laboriously shoehorning in blatant references to Jaws and Twister: we may think we're mocking the film's abysmal standards but really the joke is on us. The Asylum's genius lies in the idea that we mere humans believe we're having fun with the dumb shark movies, but they're laughing at us: poking the viewer with a poo-covered stick and watching them dance. See how they cheerfully devour whatever slop we put in front of them. Go on, poke them with another Sharknado! And another! Depressing garbage.


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