MARCH 7, 2012
Proving once again that The Asylum fares better when not copying any movie in particular, 2-Headed Shark Attack delivers pretty much what you’d expect given the title and its hilariously C-level cast (Brooke Hogan! Carmen Electra! Jerry O’Connell’s brother Charlie!); nothing more, nothing less. While Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus put all its best moments in the trailer and spent too much of its runtime on its idiotic plot and scenes of people in a “control room” looking at monitors, this one delivers on what you came to see.
And that would be a 2-Headed shark, attacking people. Unusual for this sort of thing, it doesn’t just show up and attack some anonymous asshole every 10-15 minutes in between scenes of the stars doing their thing; we actually meet the entire cast at the same time (after a glorious prologue which actually delivers on the promise of the box art, another rarity) and they alone serve as 2-Headed Shark’s victims for the duration of the film. It’s a yacht full of teens (20 or so) plus the captain, a medic (Electra), their teacher (O’Connell) and some other crew guys – in other words, a decent smorgasbord. The teens are pretty much all awful actors and I couldn’t tell most of them apart, but whatever – I’d rather stick with an ever-dwindling core group in one location than be subjected to jarring “meanwhile” scenes of no consequence to the main story.
They also have practical shark heads for close-ups, which makes the death scenes even funnier because you get shots of the actors thrashing about as this rubber head (which you can see being inflated/deflated unnaturally in the chaos) “chomps” on them. The head also provides consistency for the thing’s size, which changes in every shot for the digital model. Sometimes it appears to be no bigger than a dolphin or whatever; other times it looks as if it can swallow one of their speedboats whole. It’s a common problem in these junky movies, but rarely is it THIS sloppy (the two heads also seem to swim in opposite directions during the film’s opening kill, but whatever). That said, the VFX are slightly better than usual; they actually try to toss in details like the water breaking, and only combine actors with the all CG shark when it’s a money shot that will presumably be funny/awesome enough in theory to get too mad at the execution. I particularly liked when two characters pull a Deep Impact and resign themselves to die in a tidal wave, only for the shark to pop out two seconds before and eat them before the wave can. Heh. 2-Headed Shark, you’re a dick.
My only real concern (we’re grading on a curve here, folks) is that they spend too much time on land, which of course is safe from 2-Headed Shark attacks. Some other giant fish disables their boat early on, and they seek shelter on an atoll, so there’s a lot of just wandering around the man-made island while they wait for another excuse to go into the water. Later in the movie the thing starts to sink, which helps, but it does so too slowly and doesn’t really add much action to the proceedings. I know they probably couldn’t afford it (though it DOES have higher production value than many other Asylum movies in this vein), but a Deep Blue Sea type scenario with a flooded “land mass” of some sort would have been helpful. The damn shark keeps changing size anyway; no reason it couldn’t find its way inside a flooded lab or something. In fact, near the climax it DOES attack inside a half flooded church of some sort, but by then the movie’s almost over and all it does is whip its heads around while a guy tries to beat it to death with a cross.
One thing I appreciated: they don’t explain much about its appearance. The resident brainy teen of the group explains that sometimes animals are born with genetic deformities (cats or turtles with two heads), so this is just the shark version of that. And that’s it. No evil humans (though one guy is an asshole), no science experiments, no government coverups… it’s basically just Jaws 2, with a bigger cast, a goofier shark, and Jerry O’Connell’s brother instead of Roy Scheider.
It also has this moment, which is the funniest thing I’ve seen all year. One guy ends up in the water on accident, and the shark makes a terrific kill, batting him into the air with his fin, and then jumping from the water to eat him. The following takes place after the character witnesses this:
Hahahaha! Why would you do that? Even if he just jumped out it’d be pretty funny, but his extended “See yaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” elevates it into pure awesome. SPOILER: he gets eaten too.
Actually pretty much everyone does. I figured the giant cast was just a way to ensure lots of options (and cleavage), and that a half dozen or so would survive, but only 2 people make it out. And again, there’s no evil villain plot, so the shark is responsible for every death, which again makes this one a cut above some of the others. No one tunes into these things for any reason except seeing the title monster kill folks, but when they go about it like Sharktopus (which suffered from every problem noted above and probably a few others), it gets repetitive. To paraphrase Mitch Hedberg, those other movies “pancake”, in that at first it’s all exciting but by the end you’re sick of them. 2-Headed Shark Attack keeps the momentum going and delivers plenty of silly carnage, which is all anyone can ask from these things.
The disc has some extras; a gag reel that’s like 60 seconds long and laugh-free, as well as a thin making-of that’s half film clips and just as pointless; the part on the VFX amounts to a guy explaining that they first sketch the creature and then turn it over to the modeling guys to render it out in a computer. That’s it. Then Brooke Hogan thanks everyone for making/watching the movie and it’s over. There are also some trailers for other Asylum joints, including a spot touting their 100th film in 15 years. It’s a fun spot, and I congratulate them, but it’s impossible to skip or even fast forward the thing, so I hope they don’t plan on doing this for all of their releases this year. Especially if this and Zombie Apocalypse are a sign of what’s to come – maybe it took 100 movies to finally figure out the formula for decent junk entertainment.
What say you?