Clark Collis
July 18, 2014 AT 04:00 AM EDT

When you’re an entertainment writer, there are days when you are sent to glamorous foreign locales to watch the crafting of great films. And then there are days when you are sent five blocks up from EW’s New York office to watch Ian Ziering make a movie about airborne sharks. Yes, on a freezing-cold February morning your scribe is visiting the Broadway sidewalk-based set of Sharknado 2: The Second One, the sequel to 2013’s self-explanatory comedy-horror movie and social-media sensation. Of the night last July when the cheesily enjoyable Sharknado debuted on the Syfy network, Ziering recalls, ”My phone literally alerted itself into oblivion. I was working at the Chippendales in Las Vegas at the time, so it wasn’t like I could check my phone every two seconds — but it went dead in an hour. It was all texts, tweets, phone calls from friends, family, and fans letting me know that they were loving Sharknado.”

The Anthony C. Ferrante-directed sequel, which premieres on Syfy July 30, finds Sharknado vets Ziering and Tara Reid joined by Judah Friedlander, Mark McGrath, Kari Wuhrer, and Vivica A. Fox, who plays a former flame of Ziering’s heroic Fin. ”It’s good to see Fin getting some chocolate,” says the Kill Bill actress. Producer David Latt, meanwhile, boasts that the budget for S2:TSO is much bigger than that of the first. And the budget for the first was…? ”$75 and a couple of Starbucks coupons.”

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