Third instalment of B-movie franchise Sharknado to screen in UAE
As one reviewer so aptly put it, Sharknado was the film that “redefined so-bad-it’s-good for a new generation”.
The made-for-TV disaster flick, based on the ludicrous concept that a freak cyclone scooped hundreds of man-eating sharks from the sea and rained them down on the good city of Los Angeles, was a runaway surprise hit and Twitter sensation.
Now that paper-thin premise is being milked for a third time in the lazily titled Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, which debuted on US TV yesterday and opens at select cinemas across the UAE today.
The original Sharknado was broadcast on the American cable channel Syfy in July 2013. Despite a US$2 million (Dh7.3m) budget, the film initially failed to meet the 1.5-million target audience.
But those who did tune in embraced the wantonly B-movie treat, which features a comical collage of sharks falling from the skies, hanging from buildings and copiously munching on human limbs. And cringe-inducing dialogue, such as this: “We can’t just wait here for live sharks to rain down on us.”
That line comes courtesy of the leader of a group of misfits, bar owner/surfer dude Fin (played by Ian Ziering, star of Beverly Hills 90210, a 1990s drama about a group of teenagers). They stand up to the threat by flying into the cyclone and dropping bombs. Right.
Things end with Ziering jumping inside a live shark’s mouth with a chainsaw and cutting himself out, blood-soaked, to embrace ex-wife April (Tara Reid).
Such peerless scriptwriting picked up immediate and influential fans, including Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof and Star Trek actor Wesley Crusher, who raved enthusiastically on social media. Glee’s Cory Monteith famously posted his final tweet about the film before he died.
Amid a sudden social-media storm, a week after its premiere, Syfy screened Sharknado again, before a third outing less than 10 days later. The film eventually reached a combined record-breaking audience of five million.
Next followed a sudden one-night limited cinema release, with the bemused cast reunited to give interviews about a sudden surprise cult hit. As Reid later noted, “everything was so reversed”.
A pop-culture phenomenon was born, but critics were divided. Ziering later confessed he only took the role because he needed the extra earnings to qualify for Screen Actors Guild health insurance for his family.
Barely a year later, a sequel arrived, Sharknado 2: The Second One, which shifted things to New York City. Another four million Americans tuned in. It “broke the internet, before breaking the internet was even a thing”, producers boasted.
A third instalment was written in the stars, and again sees Ziering and Reid reprise their roles. UAE favourite David Hasselhoff has been brought in to play Fin’s father, Gil, with Bo Derek as April’s mother, May. And all knocked out in a year.
“While those other movies waited years, even decades to produce sequels, we give the people what they want as soon as it’s – sort-of – ready,” the trailer announces proudly.
As you might hope, the ante has been considerably upped. This time it’s not just one city, but the entire East Coast – or “Beast Coast”, the film jokes – under threat. The trailer cheekily promises both “three times the shark” and “three times the nado”.
The franchise has clearly been embraced beyond the target market, with the UAE one of 86 countries to enjoy a global release, opening in many territories within 24 hours of the US premiere. A fourth instalment is apparently already in the works, as is a documentary and a spin-off, Lavalantula (it’s all in the title).
Other nuggets of information about the third Sharknado outing we can glean from the trailer? There will be fighter jets and bikinis.
Also appearing are the American businessman Mark Cuban, with a cameo as the US president, former US congresswoman and Republican pundit Michele Bachmann, as herself, and former talk-show host Jerry Springer as an over-enthused tourist.
One scene even sees the White House attacked by hungry flesh-eating fish.
Speaking ahead of the film’s premiere, Reid confessed: “All the time, I’m thinking: ‘How am I going to pull this off? How am I going to say this dialogue? You’ve got to be kidding me.’
“It’s ridiculous, and I have to say it seriously. But somehow it works.”
We’ll be the judge of that.
• Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! opens in UAE cinemas on Thursday, July 23
Updated: July 22, 2015 04:00 AM