Sharknado took Twitter by storm last year. Social Guide, which measures social media trends, counted 318,232 tweets about #sharknado during its broadcast — 17 percent of tweets about TV that night. Some said the amount of buzz it generated online far exceeded the numbers of people who actually watched the movie when it aired (illegal streaming doesn’t count towards ratings and figures. And come on, real talk: A lot of people were watching Sharknado on their laptops in dorm rooms with racks of beer or big, fat bongs under their beds, according to social media). So-bad-it’s-good-and-probably-on-steroids, Sharknado became an overnight cult hit. (It even infiltrated the iPhone’s weather app.) So what will Sharknado 2 sequel do to draw the same attention?
Awesome and awful, the first movie–”film” just feels too high-brow for a debacle of aerial fish with gnashing jaws, raining down from the apocalyptic sky–was a surprise smash. Atrocious CGI and acting so wooden it makes driftwood look like Daniel Day-Lewis actually add to the gleefully perverse schlock fun. Like waking up on a Sunday morning and nursing a pulsating headache with chicken tenders and Vitamin Water, Sharknado is pure, unfiltered, unadulterated junk that begs to be consumed in the company of friends and contraband.
Tara Reid plays the kind of character Tara Reid usually plays–blond, stupid, wide-eyed, and loud–and John Heard, who turned in a brazenly sorrowful performance as a suicidal, alcoholic corrupt detective early on in The Sopranos, shows up as a bar fly. The guy’s having such a good time, you almost wonder if he just wandered on set one day and decided to hang out and shoot a film about flying sharks. (The $250,000 budget doesn’t promise too many lucrative deals for would-be actors.)
It’s a brilliant, brackish movie, D-minus material with D-plus execution and a big beaming grin on its airbrushed face; terrible-looking CG sharks swirling around a terrible-looking CG tornado, people who audibly say “ow” when sharks chomp down on their torso, a Joe Dante-esque sob story about a young girl who hates sharks because, quote, “They took [her] grandfather,” myriad editing flaws–inconsistencies in water height, perspective, parallax, placement of people and things–and unflinching insolence to logical and good taste all combine for a hella good time.
So how does a sequel manage to top that? Sharknado 2: The Second One gets off on the right (wrong) foot, with a shamelessly blatant title that wouldn’t be out of place on a smirking freshmen writing major’s ersatz Dave Eggers short story. The trailer channels Army of Darkness with its hero standing atop a car and wielding a chainsaw above his head–”It’s happening again,” he says.
The cast of second- and third-tier actors includes Vivica A. Fox, Kelly Osbourne, Mark McGrath (singer of Sugar Ray), Billy Ray Cyrus, Judah Friedlander, Andy Dick, and Judd Hirsch. Fox caught Quentin Tarantino’s eye, and he cast her for the opening fight scene in Kill Bill; Cyrus, aside from fathering Hannah Montana, was enjoyably bland in David Lynch’s masterpiece Mulholland Dr.; and Judd Hirsch–actually, he’s genuinely really good, so that’s kind of weird.
Anthony C. Ferrante, who helmed the original Sharknado, returns for the sequel. Ferrante started his career doing serious, low-budget indie horror flicks, but didn’t get any recognition until he started shooting originals for Scy-Fy in 2007. (His first Scy-Fy film, Headless Horseman, has a modest 3.8 on IMDb.) His 2013 mockbluster, Hansel and Gretel (produced by those masters of dreck The Asylum), was deemed “perfectly okay” by Dread Central. Here’s hoping that the sequel is just as perfectly okay.