21st century shark films are generally a waste of time, comprised mostly of army base chatter and only a handful of ridiculous moments with sharks rendered in lifeless CGI. But in the years before Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus set the standard for shitty shark films, there’s a dim glimmer of hope you might get something special. US/Bulgarian co-production Raging Sharks, from the sharkmaster director of Shark Zone (2003) and Shark in Venice (2008) no less, piqued my interest with its Nights of the Creeps-esque inclusion of aliens and Corbin “The Dentist” Bernsen’s name in the credits. (I’m aware Bernsen has made films more famous than The Dentist, but he’ll always be Corbin “The Dentist” Bernsen to me.) And, to my surprise, Raging Sharks is certainly something special.
USA/Bulgaria, 2005, Danny Lerner
Raging Sharks begins in outer space. Outer fucking space. And in outer fucking space, there’s a bunch of aliens fooling around on their spaceship. What are they doing on that ship? I have no clue. But something from their ship crashes into the ocean, conveniently landing on a ship in the Bermuda Triangle.
Five years later, Dr. Mike Olsen (Corin Nemec) is hanging out in his underwater oceanic observation station, the Oshona, and bitching to his ever-suffering wife (Vanessa Angel) about how little funds they have. I’m not entirely sure what the role of this observation station is, but Mike fucking hates it. Things only get worse for the crew of the Oshona when a horde of sharks pay them a visit.
The sharks are attracted to something in the water, and they’re tearing the place to shreds, as well as anyone stupid enough to get in their way. They also decide to chow down on a few tourists for the hell of it.
Joining Mike and his easily irritable crew in the middle of their disaster is the mysterious Ben Stiles (Patrick Warburton lookalike and soundalike, Todd Jensen), a government worker who wants to see the Oshona shut down. Stiles is a paper pushing dickhole geek. OR IS HE? As this slow motion jump will prove, Ben Stiles is a dangerous man.
Also along for the ride — well, along for the ride of an easy paycheck — is Corbin Bernsen as Captain Riley, a submarine captain with a heart of gold. Bernsen, though no stranger to shitty films, looks pretty mortified to be in this film. He never leaves the submarine set. But at least he gets to fire a torpedo into a bunch of sharks, right?
While there’s the occasional void of nothingness, there’s enough bad acting and absurd dialogue to keep the laughs going. One of the actors (the oddly named Binky van Bilderbeek) does the worst British accent I’ve ever heard. He says “bloody hell, mate” and “lads” multiple times — this is how we know he’s British. He also occasionally rambles whimsically written lines and sings songs. He had me in tears of laughter. I looked him up on IMDB and turns out he’s actually British. What?!
The rest of the cast are utterly dead to the world. Except for Corin Nemec. At first I thought Nemec was overacting horribly, but I think it may have just been in comparison to everyone else. One of the actors practically rolls his eyes whenever he’s on screen. The cast can’t really be blamed though when you’ve dialogue like “Careful! That’s my wife!” to contend with. Or this gem…
Sometimes I couldn’t tell if it was poor scripting or poor editing…
The big surprise of Raging Sharks are the sharks themselves. Sharksploitation newbies will likely scoff their way through this, but at least the sharks are not entirely comprised of bad CGI. While most of the attacks are filled with fast-cutting, mismatched stock footage (at one point a killer whale shows up), it appears they actually made at least one fake shark head to chow down on actors and extras alike. A rare treat indeed for a film from this millennium. No matter how shit a shark film is, I always have to bow down with respect for one that goes the whole way and throws in a shitty rubber shark.
The sharks are vicious as fuck too. For the film’s first half, Raging Sharks delivers a huge amount of shark attacks. Ocean water is stained red and several limbs float pathetically down to the bottom of the ocean. As if realising their superfluousness to the main plot, the sharks sadly take a backseat in the film’s final act. But did I mention a torpedo is fired into a bunch of sharks? I did? Good.
A bizarre and terribly uneven mix of outer space sci-fi, underwater horror, and naval drama, Raging Sharks is a shark film like no other. While I’m not much of a fan of the Shark New Wave, I must admit that the garbage pumped out by Nu Image Films is generally pretty entertaining. Raging Sharks is not quite as hysterical as their seminal masterwork, Shark Attack 3: Megalodon (2002), but it’s definitely a must for bad movie fans and lovers of sharksploitation. Everyone else: please avoid at all costs. Seriously. You’ll hate this.
As you might expect, being that this is a straight to video release, Raging Sharks is available on DVD. For fellow Aussies, it even has a local release.