COMPANY: The Asylum
RUNTIME: 90 mins
PLOT: Survivors escape to a deserted atoll after their Semester at Sea ship is sunk by a deformed two-headed shark. But when the atoll starts flooding, no one is safe from the double jaws of the monster.
REVIEW: Asylum can be all over the board. Their movies range from downright dreadful to excellent fun, and it's pretty much impossible to tell which ones will be which beforehand because if there is one thing they're good at 100% of the time, it's advertising. They sure know how to advertise their movies and put together excellent trailers. 2-Headed Shark Attack got the full treatment – excellent trailers, top-tier advertising, and lots of word-of-mouth, and it all looked and sounded excellent so I was really hoping that it would be able to live up to the hype and not be one of their let-down movies (Such as the first Mega Shark flick). Adding to my caution are some of the names behind the movie; We have Christopher Olen Ray directing, who I'm 50/50 on (Loved Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus but hated Almighty Thor), and fellow-B-Movie blogger turned scriptwriter H. Perry Horton who did the screenplay (He also did the script for A Haunting in Salem which I only 'liked' but did not love, and I had a few issues with), so I wasn't quite sure what to expect from these two on this one. On top of all of that, I'm getting REALLY sick of shark movies. We've been bombarded with cheesy shark movie after cheesy shark movie for the last several years and I'm just sick of it all now; there's plenty of other animals that they could pretty much build the exact same movies around, so why not switch it up and keep things fresh? I think it's time that the shark moves over and they start giving another animal the spotlight.
Well, against all of my worry and low expectations, as it turns out this movie isn't just one of Asylum's better movies – it is their BEST movie, period. Words cannot describe how much fun there is to be had with this flick, but I'll try my best: I had a god damn blast with this movie. My point still stands however – movie-makers need to lay off the sharks for a bit and employ some other species' to do the killing – but I'm really glad that if they do decide to finally go that route, that this one will remain one of the last of the onslaught of shark movies. I'd rather this trend goes out with an amazing bang like this movie, as opposed to some crappy whimper.
If the title alone wasn't enough to pique you're interest, then perhaps the cast list can help: We have Brooke Hogan (daughter of Hulk Hogan) as our main JWoww-esque tom-boyish tough girl heroine of the movie, Charlie O'Connell (look-alike brother of Jerry O'Connell) as the Professor that seems to be almost as young as his students, and Carmen Electra as his smoking hot wife and the trained medical personnel for the trip (though despite her name getting top-billing, all she does during the entire movie is sunbath on the deck of the boat while everyone else is exploring the island, and when she does join them she mostly just stands around in the background with little or no dialog). The only way the casting could be any better for such a movie is if Asylum brought back Tiffany and Debbie Gibson from their previous outing with Mega Python vs Gatoroid – perhaps one as the teacher and the other as the medical personnel? Hmmm...
The movie isn't a complicated one to follow. A group of school students are doing a semester at sea (though there's next to no studying going on and plenty of skin-tight bikini-clad beauties bouncing around and getting on as if there are auditions happening for Girls Gone Wild: Spring Break XXV), when their ship gets stranded by an atoll (a very tiny land mass in the middle of the ocean) which as it turns out is slowly sinking due to increasing tremors, while a mutated two-headed shark stalks them from the ocean. That's about as extensive as the plot gets, but don't be fooled; the less there is for plot means the more room for the abundance of campy cheese! And if you're a cheese-lover like me, then this is certainly the one movie you will not want to skip! On top of enough eye candy to last a year (for both men and women), we get such great lines of dialog like “Which one of you wants to get nude first?”, “The kids are in danger! To the dingy!”, “Mayday, mayday, there's a 2-headed shark attacking me! Send help!” to list just a few of my favorites. And if that wasn't enough for you, there's great visual treats like a trio of teens skinny dipping and making out right before they all get munched down on at the same time, the shark bitch-slapping someone out of the water with it's tail and then while he's in the air, it turns back around and jumps out of the water to chomp down on him mid-air in an explosive geyser of blood, and my own personal favorite: Seeing the shark riding inside of a giant tidal wave to take out two characters standing on a bridge that was previously out of the creature's reach – Yes, it's quite the resourceful shark when it wants its meal! Like I said, there's such an abundance of cheese here, that any true B-Movie fan can't help but fall in love with this movie.
On the downside, what this movie has in cheese it lacks in anything even resembling characterization. There is no effort at all put in for making us give a damn about any of the characters, resulting in the biggest cast of cardboard cut-outs I've ever seen. The closest we get to characterization is with Brooke Hogan's character, and she seemed to mostly draw her inspiration from JWoww of Jersey Shore, from just her basic body shape, to her overall outward attitude, to just the way she composes herself and struts her stuff around - it all reminded me very much of Jwoww, but with blond hair. Also, she slaps a girl in one scene and punches a guy in the face in another, followed by shouting in his face directly after. So like I said – very Jwoww-ish. Her acting however, along with every single other person's acting in this movie, is really quite brutal. Pretty much cringe-worthy, actually. But in all honesty, it doesn't really matter much because nobody really pays attention to the acting in a low budget movie about a 2-headed mutant shark eating hot girls in bikinis (or not in bikinis if it's a lucky scene).
Which brings me back to more of the movie's strong suits – nudity and gore. Asylum movies from years ago used to always be pretty R-Rated with plenty of nudity and gore shots, but it seems these last couple of years they've shied away from that a lot. Largely I guess, because of their movie deals with the SyFy Channel, they probably felt it was easier to just shoot with a PG/PG-13 rating as opposed to spending the time to edit and cut stuff afterward, so most of their recent movies (if not all) have been pretty tame compared to their older stuff. Well this one sure is a great return to form, TV deals be damned! There's only one scene with any actual nudity in it, but we see quite a bit of it during that scene, and the gore is where this one really shines. Every single kill (and there is quite a lot of them) is filled with enough buckets of the red stuff to make any gore-hound happy.
The shark itself looks surprisingly good as well, considering the company that made this movie. Definitely a huge step up from any of their previous monster movies. They do still do a few repeat shots where they just reuse the same CGI shot of the shark swimming in the water over and over (something they do quite often in the Mega Shark movies, especially the second one), and it is a bit jarring at times when they switch from the CGI model of the shark directly to a practical puppetry shot, but even then the switch back and forth is still integrated more smoothly then it was in 100 Million B.C., another Asylum movie that would switch back and forth from CGI shots and practical shots but not done as well. Oh, and if you're one of the few fans of the scene in Jaws 4: The Revenge where the shark roars, then you'll be as happy as a fat kid on Halloween with this movie, as every single scene that the shark is in it lets out at least two (sometimes plenty of more) deep thundering roars. Even when it's submerged under the water. Like I've said, this movie so excellent with the cheese!
Thanks to the talents of scriptwriter H. Perry Horton, another really strong suit to the movie is the fact that you can rarely guess how things will turn out. I can honestly say that I had no idea at all how they would defeat the shark. For a few minutes there it actually seemed like maybe they wouldn't and for once the evil creature would actually win and every single human would die. There were even a few things that were purposefully set up during the movie to make you think that that was how they would eventually end up defeating the shark, but none of them end up panning out or working in the characters' favor, so kudus to H. Perry Horton for actually making what could have been a very by-the-books predictable B-Movie quite suspenseful and fresh, making the viewing experience all the more enjoyable. Any reserves I had after A Haunting in Salem are completely washed away here and I now 100% look forward to any future projects that come out of him.
This movie was just the perfect mix of everything I look for in my B-Movies – lots of eye-candy, cheesy dialog, and campy scenes – mixed with better-then-expected special effects and a script that goes above and beyond what you would expect from such a movie. I have no hesitation in stating that, in my opinion, this is Asylum's all-time best effort yet, and if this is a taste of things to come from them going into 2012, then consider my seat reserved, because this year is going to be one hell of a fun ride.
10/10 rooms in the Psych Ward
UPDATE: You can now hear me discuss this movie as a Guest Host on the Saturday B-Movie Reel podcast.