SHARKNADO: FEEDING FRENZY *** USA 2015 Dir: Jeremy Wagener. 78 mins
At the peak of its original airing, SHARKNADO was yielding 5000 tweets a minute and, at the time of this documentary’s emergence, the series was already up to its third outing in three years. Even without the hindsight of three further, increasingly desperate sequels, this enjoyable romp through the series’ conception and development can’t help overestimate the true sustainability of the one-joke premise and some of the enthusiastic on-screen talking heads are prone to massive overstatement (“The Superbowl of B films”). The breezy guide to the series’ origins include some background on The Asylum’s mission to make “better bad movies”, director Anthony C Ferrante laying the groundwork by incorporating a SHARKNADO reference into LEPRECHAUN’S REVENGE and screenwriter Thunder Levin mishearing the initial pitch as SHARKNATO. Tireless franchise stalwart Ian Ziering balances questionable talk of Ferrante’s brilliance with a more convincing account of the need to get work and “take one for the team” as a jobbing actor / new father. We learn that the gimmicky title was changed to DARK SKIES just to get the actors cast and that Ziering was sold on what would become a signature image for the series: his character chainsawing himself out of a shark.
Some of the rapid-fire soundbites drag, including an unfunny spoof interview with a “lead shark” and appearances from some of the minor U.S. celebrities who appeared in cameos throughout the series but are unknown to the rest of the world. Many overstate SHARKNADO’s popularity: “cultural phenomenon” is a stretch, though it’s hilarious to see Tara Reid keeping a straight face while suggesting some might think the sharks are legit and David Hasselhoff discussing the need to keep the characters “real”. There is a fun insight into the madness of the ambitious New York shoot for SHARKNADO 2 and The Asylum guys are amusingly self-deprecating (“We’ve never lost money and we don’t do porn!”). The glimpses of the behind the scenes stuff from the then-in-production SHARKNADO 3, however, show how the “unexpected cameos” had already become a driving force in an ideas-starved franchise – and the affection displayed by interviewees here crucially precedes the rapid decline of audience goodwill as the subsequent films flogged a dead shark with noticeably less flair.
Review by Steven West
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