Why the Rest of the ‘Sharknado’ Cast Is Not In ‘Zombie Tidal Wave’

Ian Ziering fought Sharknados for six movies. Now he’s back in Zombie Tidal Wave, from Sharknado director Anthony C. Ferrante and screenwriter Thunder Levin. Ziering doesn’t have Tara Reid by his side this time, or Sharknado regulars Cassandra Scerbo, Masiela Lusha, Cody Linley or any celebrity cameos. 

Ian Ziering in Zombie Tidal Wave

Ferrante spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet about starting over with Zombie Tidal Wave. Ziering plays fishing boat captain Hunter Shaw who has to save the day when a tidal wave pours zombies into his quiet island town. Zombie Tidal Wave premieres Saturday, August 17 at 9 p.m. on Syfy. 

There’s already enough ‘Sharknado’ in ‘Zombie Tidal Wave’

Between Ian Ziering, Anthony C. Ferrante and Thunder Levin, Team Sharknado is already well-represented in Zombie Tidal Wave. Ferrante felt casting Reid, Scerbo or others would be too much. He also removed some Sharknado references from early drafts.

“There were iterations of the script when I came aboard where there in-jokes for Sharknado, stuff like a chainsaw,” Ferrante said. “It just needs to be its own thing. You’ve already got three elements from the Sharknado movies. If you put anything in there beyond that, it’s too much for an audience. It’ll take them out of the movie.”

The cast of Sharknado grew as they made sequels, so Ferrante is open to reuniting with some Sharknado actors if there is a Zombie Tidal Wave 2.

Zombie Tidal Wave

“Certainly, if the movie continues as a franchise, if there were more I’m sure at some point there would be some nods,” Ziering said. “This is Ian’s baby so he just wanted it to be its own animal.”

Sharks like tornados, not tidal waves

Even with all the tsunamis washing zombies onto the shore, not one shark gets caught up in those tidal waves.

“No, unfortunately Emrys Bay does not have sharks,” Ferrante said. 

Ferrante admits he was tempted to have one shark, but not as a Sharknado reference, rather as a reference to Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2. That film had a zombie defeat a shark.

Zombie Tidal Wave

“There’s a part of me that’s like that would be kind of an awesome homage, but you’ll never be able to recreate what he did,” Ferrante said. “He had a real actor in zombie makeup fighting a real shark. I don’t think you can make anything look as good as that. I think the sharks are done.”

‘Zombie Tidal Wave’ is in a different genre than ‘Sharknado’

Sharknado was a disaster movie, if anything a spoof of Twister, Volcano, Earthquake and the like. Each sequel incorporated other genres like superhero and sci-fi, but they never had zombies. 

“My background was more horror,” Ferrante said. “My early films were definitely horror. I wanted to see if we could subvert the zombie film with this. You’re not going to change the world with them. You’re not going to suddenly go, ‘We just came up with an idea that no one has done’ but you’ve got to be aware of what’s come before you and how they’ve done it well or not well.”

Traditional zombie lore states that you can only kill a zombie by destroying its brain. Ferrante embraced those movies in which even headshots won’t kill a zombie.

Zombie Tidal Wave
ZOMBIE TIDAL WAVE — (l-r) Ian Ziering as Hunter Shaw, Erich Chikashi Linzbichler as Sheriff Kameo Akoni | BROBOND ENTERTAINMENT/SYFY

“The number one thing was we didn’t want to do zombies getting shot in the head,” Ferrante said. “That’s been done to death. What else can we do? In Return of the Living Dead, you had zombies you couldn’t kill by shooting them. You could incinerate them but that would infect more people. That, I think, was the interesting challenge where we could go with the direction that you can’t really kill them.”

‘Zombie Tidal Wave’ has a different tone than ‘Sharknado’

The Sharknado movies embraced their B-movie concept and had fun with the absurd situations it created. There is a history of zombie movies that are consistent, even in the comedies like Shaun of the Dead. Ferrante could adapt to Zombie Tidal Wave.

“Every movie is its own animal,” Ferrante said. “I definitely have a certain sensibility and there’s a bit of quirkiness in certain things I do, but I think the material always becomes what it needs to be. Between Sharknado 4 and 5, I did a thriller called Forgotten Evil. I don’t think there’s really much humor in that movie. It’s very much a drama as a thriller and that’s what the intent of that was.”

Zombies are fictional, but they’re still dramatic to the people facing them. Plus, there’s a throwback to all the zombie classics.

zombie tidal wave
ZOMBIE TIDAL WAVE | (l-r) Chikashi Linzbichler as Sheriff Kameo Akoni, Ian Ziering as Hunter Shaw | BROBOND ENTERTAINMENT/SYFY

“We’re making a zombie movie,” Ferrante said. “There’s a little bit of John Carpenter, a little Lucio Fulci in there. When we knew we were filming in Thailand, I knew that we would be doing a lot of stuff in the daytime. We’re on a tropical island. I kind of go, we should just embrace the Lucio Fulciness of this. I’m Italian, he’s Italian, why not go for more the 1980s kind of vibe. We really tried to get that kind of feel even though it’s present day.”

‘Zombie Tidal Wave’ has a lot less CGI than ‘Sharknado’

A tornado swarming with sharks can only be created in a computer. The tidal wave in Zombie Tidal Wave may be a visual effect, bust the zombies are mostly real actors attacking the heroes.

“That actually makes it harder to shoot too,” Ferrante said. “On Sharknado, we had a luxury if I could come up with something in my head, visual effects will have to worry about it three months later. In this movie, I wanted it to be actual zombies.”

Sometimes the visual effects would duplicate the zombie actors to make bigger hordes, but they were always based on real actors.

Zombie Tidal Wave

“Also I wanted it to be primarily practical gore,” Ferrante said. “I think probably 85-90% of the gore in the movie is practical. The 10% that isn’t is stuff that we couldn’t accomplish, like squib hits. It made it difficult for the effects guys because the practical gore was so good, they would do a blood splatter and we’d go back and go, ‘Sorry, you’ve got to make it a little better because the shot before it, the blood looks really, really good.’”