I don’t like modern shark films. They’re full of awful CGI. There’s no rubber shark. They never live up to their title and gimmick. They’re often 99% scenes of army generals discussing stuff in boardrooms or submarines, 1% sharks eating people. But worst of all, they are deliberately bad films — because being bad has become their only appeal. Fuck that shit. I don’t want to see smarmy, winking bullshit. I want to see a film made by passionate people who want to thrill their audience with their own low budget tribute to Jaws, no matter how little money or talent they have. So why review Super Shark? Well, Super Shark deserves a chance, because it’s directed by schlock cinema royalty.
USA, 2011, Fred Olen Ray
Super Shark follows the shark movie formula to a tee. A giant shark — a Super Shark with abilities to move around on land and fly (or at least jump out of the water at quite a height) — is accidentally unleashed by destructive chemicals used in an offshore oil rig. The shark destroys the rig, killing most of the workers. A slimy oil baron, Wade, is played by John Schneider. He likes lobster cocktails. Rouge marine biologist, Kat Carmichael (Sarah Lieving), doesn’t.
Dr. Kat gets up in Wade’s face about his dodgy drilling activities. In a rather bewildering leap of logic, Wade thinks it’s hilarious that a “fish doctor” is named Kat — “Kat? Really? Cat? Fish? Catfish.” Kat enlists the help of Skipper Chuck (Tim Abell) to investigate the scene of the oil rig’s destruction. To their surprise — but not ours — they find a GIANT FUCKING SHARK.
I really enjoyed how Olen Ray takes a James Herbert approach in the shark’s dispatching of victims. The late James Herbert, for those who haven’t read his work, was a British horror novelist, famous for lurid works like The Rats and The Fog. Herbert loved giving lengthy introductions to victims. A chapter would open, he would spend pages upon pages setting a new character up, then they would be violently killed before the next chapter began. Olen Ray does the same in Super Shark.
Early on, we are introduced to three lifeguards — two attractive girls (Rya Meyers and Carolyn Martin) and a hunky guy (Shane Van Dyke). Olen Ray takes the time to develop their personalities and creates a love triangle between them. They seem to have been established as main characters who will surely see the film to its final moments. Nope. They are unceremoniously eaten at the halfway point.
Super Shark has the vast majority of crappy modern shark films beat purely thanks to its earnestness. I never got the feeling that Olen Ray was trying to make a bad film. Sure, there are silly scenes where he’s having fun, but it never descends into the parody territory of a typical modern shark flick. The actors, whether their performances are good or bad, put a genuine effort in. The film looks shitty, but Olen Ray is clearly trying.
Obviously, Super Shark can’t get too high a shark rating — the shark is entirely CGI. But I must give Olen Ray and his co-writers credit. “Super” skills aside, Super Shark is a refreshingly normal shark. This is no Sharktopus or Swamp Shark. Super Shark doesn’t do battle with a Mecha Shark. At no point do sharks rain down in a Sharknado. Super Shark is just a big shark… that can walk around on the beach and fly.
Don’t get me wrong. Super Shark stinks. But at least there’s hardly any boring bits. And, for some bewildering reason, the titular Super Shark gets his own blaxploitation inspired theme song. Is that alone is worth the price of admission? Yes. Well, no. But there are some bikinis and lobster cocktails thrown in to sweeten the deal.
Super Shark is available on DVD. It features a bunch of extras. I’m sure you’d be able to find it for a few bucks in a bargain bin.