"Half-shark. Half-octopus. All killer."
I've seen more than my share of Syfy original movies, which means I've sat through a lot of crap. So it was wild very low expectations that I popped in their latest mutant monster flick, Sharktopus, into my player to give it a look-see. To my astonishment the movie wasn't wretched. As a matter of fact, it was really enjoyable. The movie is a throw back to producer Roger Corman's early films: cheap, quick, and fun. It's a movie that gives viewers some cheap thrills and then quickly ends before it overstays its welcome.
Nathan Sands (Eric Roberts) and his brilliant (you can tell she's smart because she wears glasses and keeps her long hair tied up in a bun) and attractive daughter Nicole (Sara Malakul Lane) are the driving force behind the Blue Water Corporation. They have a big Navy research grant to develop the next generation of aquatic weaponry and the result of their work is S-11, a gigantic shark/octopus hybrid that can be controlled remotely via an electronic collar strapped to the creature.
On its first outing S-11 saves a swimmer from being eaten by a shark off the coast of
Once in Puerto Vallarta, S-11 starts munching on swimmers, and when there are none of those around it uses its tentacles (which have sharp harpoon-like tips perfect for impaling bikini-clad starlets) to drag its prey into the water. Eventually it even leaves the ocean and crawls up on land, as all shark and octopi usually do, to attack sun bathers, comic relief characters, and anyone with a bitchy attitude.
Soon a plucky (though bitchy) reporter from CNE gets pictures of S-11, which she dubs Sharktopus, and the chase is on to see who can get to the killing machine first Sands or the reporter.
There's not a lot of plot in this movie, and that's a good thing. Roger Corman is a long-time creator of low-budget cinema, and he knows what people want and gives it to them. He does that with this movie in spades. The movie doesn't fill itself with fleeting glimpses of Sharktopus to tease the viewer until the final reveal at the end like a lot of creature features. Just the opposite: This movie is filled with full-on shots of the monster kicking ass and taking names, each time more outrageous than the next. It also seems to target people with attitudes, so by the end of the picture viewers are cheering when Sharktopus makes each kill.
The film doesn't even come close to taking itself seriously. (With a title like that, how can they??) The creators tongues were planted firmly in their cheeks when they were making this which gives the film a great sense of fun, and several comedic moments. In one a beachcomber (a hot babe in a bikini, naturally) finds a gold coin with her metal detector. Her excitement turns to horror as Sharktopus' tentacles snake out of the water and slowly drags her into the sea. She clutches at the sand and calls to an old man (Roger Corman himself in an unbilled cameo) who just watches as she gets devoured. The man then goes over and picks up the coin, smiles to himself, and walks off the beach.
A film not to be taken seriously, Sharktopus is a lot of fun.
The Blu-ray Disc:
The quality of the 1.78:1 image varies a bit over the course of the film. A lot of the scenes are bright, sharp and filled with detail, and look better than your average Syfy offering. Unfortunately there are other, less frequent, shots that have their problems. There's a fair amount of banding in the underwater scenes, and even some of the land sequences are soft and not as crisp as one would like. There are a couple of scenes where the white levels are off just a tad, making bright highlights bloom just a bit. This mainly happens when the sun hits the white sea foam on the shore. Aside from that, this is a solid looking film, but not anything that you'll use to show off your HD setup.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack was fine, and a little better than I expected it to be. During the mass hysteria scenes the sound was enveloping and quite good, and even in the most sedate sequences there was a good amount of information thrown to the rears. The underwater shots worked well too, largely due to the aquatic sounds coming from all corners of the room. The dialog was adequate, but the screaming in some of the scenes came across as a bit shrill and it was obvious that some lines had been redubbed in post. There wasn't a lot of bass, but that's not too surprising. While this track doesn't have the punch of a high-budget
Unfortunately, the only video extra is a trailer for the movie, but this is accompanied by a commentary track featuring producers Roger and Julie Corman. It's fairly entertaining and Roger fills the time relating anecdotes about the filming and the creation of the monster. Not the best track ever, but Corman fans should appreciate it.
Though Sharktopus will never be mistaken for art, it is a really fun film that delivers just what it promises: a giant shark-octopus creation wreaking havoc on an unsuspecting beach resort. It's great fun to cheer for the monster, especially when he jumps out of the water and chomps a bungie jumper like a dolphin eating a fish at a Sea World show. As long as you go in without expecting anything more that, you'll have a great time. A strongly recommended disc.