“You’ve just unleashed an eight-legged, man-eating shark on this world!” shouted a Navy official in Sharktopus, a new high in the SyFy channel’s low-budget arguments for the impending implosion of 21st-century culture.
Sharktopus did everything a Saturday-night junk TV-movie should: Within the first three minutes, we
got a good look at the half-shark, half-octopus slither-biting its way through the ocean. Pretty soon, bikini-clad women and idiot males in phallic powerboats were being ensnared by tentacles and than chomped into bloody bits.
The creature was created by Dr. Sands, a research scientist played by Eric Roberts, the only actor alive who can list The Dark Knight, Star 80 and Sharktopus on his resume. Roberts’ Dr. Sands referred to his damp creation by its science-experiment name, S-11 (I’d hate to see how sad S’s 1 through 10 were), and noted that it would be his meal-ticket: “the Navy’s next super-weapon… a hunter [turned] killer.”
Somewhere around that time, my favorite scene of the night occurred: an attractive couple decide to bungee-jump over the water, and, timing his attack on a downward bounce, Sharktopus rose up and swallowed the girl as though she was a potato chip with breast implants.
The movie was co-produced by legendary schlock-master Roger Corman, who had a silent cameo as a grizzled old man witnessing Sharktopus slide a tentacle ashore to snag the ankle of a pretty girl strolling along the beach. Corman stared with suitable blankness as the young woman dragged her fingers across the sand before disappearing into the red-rimmed tide. Sure, the special-effects were cheap, but the monster moved with a nice swiftness and there was a lot of variety in his killing methods. Sharktopus even managed to slit Roberts’ throat with one delicate flick of a tentacle.
The film, directed by Declan O’Brien (his credits include Wrong Turn 3), solved the basic problem in making your ordinary octopus a scary creature: in real life, an octopus has the creepy tentacles, but it doesn’t have much of a face on which to focus your fright. But add a razor-toothed shark’s head to this octo-mom, and you’ve got one mean mother.
Roberts knew what he’d signed on for, and to his credit, maintained that fine line between playing it straight and hamming it up. He said things like, “Greatness comes at a price – it always has!” with both hubristic emotion and a poker face.
That was shortly after he said, “Wait – first bring me a great big enormous Scotch.”
Make that two…
Did you watch Sharktopus?