Month: September 2014

2-HEADED SHARK ATTACK – 9/27/14

2012 – Terror takes a ghastly form when a gigantic two-headed shark sinks a ship full of students, and the survivors wash up on a tiny atoll.
2 Headed Shark Attack poster
If zombies became the new vampires (i.e. the horror movie monster that got vastly over-played and lost any of its initial appeal or menace), is it safe to say that sharks have become the new zombies? I chose this one out of a field of four equally awful-looking shark movies, primarily because the beast on the poster above is actually frowning in carnivorous fury.
Yes, certain aspects of this film were slightly unrealistic (the shark-related science, the shark itself, most of the breasts), but beyond the bone-crunching mayhem there’s a lot to be learned from 2-Headed Shark Attack.
  1. A shark is never not hungry. The two-headed menace devours 25 people over the course of a single morning and afternoon.
  2. College classes routinely go on cruises to learn how a sextant works. I guess when your professor also owns his own ship and employs a three-person crew, that’s just one of the perks.
  3. Carmen Electra can convincingly portray a doctor. You just have to be careful not to give her any doctor-like things to say or do.
  4. The big, dumb, jerky weight-lifting character will probably not survive. Complete surprise, right? I was sure he’d make it, especially after he abandoned his friends to die not once but twice.
  5. The characters that go skinny-dipping aren’t going to make it either. In a shocking twist, the trio of students who go for a naked swim are only devoured AFTER the requisite lesbian make-out scene.
  6. The Indian character is probably the smartest. In addition to knowing everything about science, sharks, and engines, I bet he’s really good at spelling, too.
  7. The most statuesque blonde will probably live. It helps when your character is portrayed by Brooke Hogan, who does just as good a job in this as her dad did in Suburban Commando.
  8. When your boat is being chased by a shark, the best escape strategy is to jump into the water. You wouldn’t think this is true, but it totally is. The shark will just ignore you and go after the noisy, non-meat-and-blood-filled boat engine instead. That’s because…
  9. Sharks are more attracted to electrical disturbances than edible prey. Again, this is pretty much iron-clad science, people. Boat motors, electrified nets, ringing cell phones – a shark will ALWAYS choose an electronic device over a thrashing, screaming human.
  10. A lighter, applied to the top of a steel oil drum, generates sufficient heat to cause an explosion. Never mind the fact that it was also in the water at the time.
  11. Sharks can detect victims out of the water. Just because you’re standing on a dock doesn’t mean the shark can’t jump out and get you (or surf in on a tidal wave).
  12. Islands sink. Randomly. It happens all the time! Thankfully, you can count on: a) any wooden structures floating; and b) a convenient heap of rocks being left behind for you to shelter on.

Yes, this is a “bad” movie, but it’s not trying to be great. Some of the performers (especially Geoff Ward as the cowardly jock) really give it their all – nobody is obviously winking at the camera and trying to pass this off as a parody. The CGI shark effects are decent, and they even invested in two big foam heads for close up kill shots.

You could probably spend a day breaking down all the continuity errors in the climactic sequence alone. Just to name one: the shark gets its right head blown off, but in some shots it’s missing the left and in some it’s just a regular one-headed shark. Still, it’s enjoyable watching the ever-diminishing cast get picked off one by one (“Yes, it finally killed the bitchy blonde girl! Oh no, it killed the jive-talking black girl!”).

One last thing I thought was interesting – the “Chekhov’s Gun” principle doesn’t apply to this movie. The sextant is introduced in the first few minutes, and some of the students scoff at such an elementary navigation device (“Don’t we have GPS?”). You’d think someone would have to use it later on, maybe to navigate back home… but no, it’s never mentioned again. In another scene, one student finds a revolver in an abandoned shack. You’d assume this would be used to dramatic effect in the third act… but nope, the character fires the gun at the shark (uselessly) and gets eaten anyway.

Alright, I didn’t say it was that interesting. Just… kinda interesting.

SHARK WEEK – 9/24/14

Shark Week Poster2012 – Strangers find themselves isolated by a wealthy madman on his island compound, where they’re forced into a horrifying gauntlet of deadly sharks.

Say what you will about Shark Week (and let’s face it, not a whole lot of people are saying much of anything about it), but it wastes no time getting to the action. The first scene is a guy all chained up by a pool, yelling things that nobody would actually say, like: “Show yourself!” Our villain, Tiburon, looks like the Most Interesting Man in the World after a week-long bender. The guy declares that he will “die like a man” and then jumps into the pool, where he is devoured by a truly horrendous CGI shark. “Not very manly,” Tiburon mocks. It’s not that good of a zinger.

I never appear in movies. But when I do, I appear in the worst ones possible.

I never appear in movies. But when I do, I appear in the worst ones possible.

Turns out that Tiburon is a major drug kingpin whose son was killed in a bust gone wrong. He kidnaps eight people who were somehow involved in his son’s death, has them brought to his island, and tells them that they will be participating in “a game of life and death” (“Do you always drug and shackle your guests?” one demands). Tiburon quickly proves himself to be a villain of the most amazing variety, going on long quasi-philosophical rants about sharks while twisting his face around like he’s so high he can barely see. Here are his eight victims, introduced on-screen via little freeze-frame computer profiles. See if you can guess who survives!

Bart Harris* – federal prosecutor and designated asshole

Layla Valesques – junkie and overall unattractive female

Peter Arnarson – paramedic and campy gay character

Frankie de Vicchi – drug dealer described as “Ethnicity: Sicilian”

Francine Elliot – judge and middle-aged blonde

Roger Marshall – killed immediately, not important

Cal Wilson – cop and Vin Diesel look-alike

Reagan Wakefield – reporter and young brunette

*The character is listed in the credits as “Holt,” played by actor Bart Baggett, so I’ll refer to him that way

Roger protests his innocence and gets shoved into the pool, where at least a dozen sharks of wildly varying size completely devour him. Completely, as in they even seem to consume his bones and blood. Tiburon lauds the advanced nature of sharks; one character retorts, “They’re just garbage cans of the sea!” I admire that kind of pointless gumption. Some madman declares I’m going to have to face a different shark each day? “Yeah, well sharks suck!”

Tiburon intends to force his victims through the aforementioned shark gauntlet – as Francine puts it, “We’re pawns in this psycho’s game!” The dialog is a true joy to experience – like when Vin Diesel finds a key around one shark’s neck and yells, “I got the key!” Another character observes, “I think he’s got the key!”

The plot sort of drones on from there. One thing you’ll never get tired of are the endless cave scenes – apparently this island is filled with underground lakes, and in each of those lakes dwells a certain kind of shark. Observing the characters via camera and mocking them via microphone, Tiburon notes that most shark attacks occur in three feet of water because “that’s where the food is.” He then tells them that they are, at this very moment, standing in exactly three feet of water! BWAH HA HA HAAAA! As though the water level acts as a magical lure to sharks.

The shark effects are pathetic, and the shark attacks are filmed so horrendously that it’s impossible to tell what’s going on. Never mind the fact that the sharks roar audibly, jump out of the water to attack their victims, and change size constantly.

In case you were wondering, this is what a hammerhead attacking a man looks like.

In case you were wondering, this is what a hammerhead attacking a man looks like.

One of the characters declares that “the hammerhead isn’t even the toughest of the sharks,” as though the encounters are set up like the escalating boss battles in a video game. Tiburon warns them that the tiger shark has a taste for human flesh like no other beast in the sea (is this scientifically accurate?) and introduces the great white by saying he saved “the best for last.” Unfortunately, the fights themselves are just disconnected shots of sharks swimming, people screaming, and a few truly laughable moments like this:

The hyper-realistic special effects surpass your wildest imagination!

The hyper-realistic special effects surpass your wildest imagination!

Tiburon isn’t the most active or intimidating villain. He just sits around squinting and shooting the bull with his henchwoman Elena. In one scene he’s randomly wearing a leather jacket and sunglasses. Then, a minute later, he’s shown wearing a goofy cowboy hat.

The very portrait of evil.

The very portrait of evil.

They both get their share of awe-inspiring lines. At one point, Elena observes, “They’ll kill themselves before the sharks get the chance!” Tiburon chuckles like a stoned douche and says, “Maybe.” To get the real feel of that line, imagine him saying, “Duh-huh, duh-huh, maybe.”

I really question whether the screenwriter has ever heard people talking – the conversations ring more hollowly than two skeletons making love in a tin coffin. At one point, Francine and Frankie  have the following exchange: “What do you think it’ll be this time?” “The trap, or the shark?” “Oh God. I meant the trap, but now I mean both.” Huh? In another scene, Layla starts to freak out and Frankie has some inspirational advice: “Stay calm!” “How am I supposed to do that?!?” “TRY!” A few more examples:

The group randomly wanders into a mine field. “Holt” doesn’t want to go first, and Frankie busts his cowardly balls.

Holt: Well you go first then!

Frankie: Fine, maybe I WILL go first!

The gang finds a wrecked boat on the beach

Reagan: Do you really think Tiburon is going to leave us a boat?

Vin Diesel: Only if there’s a shark in it! (everybody laughs, despite having seen one of their friends slaughtered by a shark mere moments before)

Frankie and Vin Diesel wade into the ocean to battle a shark.

Frankie: Where are you, you son of a bitch! (The shark appears right in front of him) Woah, there he is! Get him!

Shark Week isn’t on the level of, say, Snow Beast, but it’s worth a watch. You will be surprised by exactly zero of the “twists” in the plot, like Vin Diesel and Reagan falling for each other, “Holt” shoving someone else toward a shark only to be devoured himself, one of the group making a heroic sacrifice so the others can escape, etc etc. Fortunately, just when things start to get mind-numbingly uninteresting, Tiburon will pop up and slur something smug and nonsensical.

Special attention must be paid to the fate of the villain. When the last surviving hero confronts him (he’s standing on a jetty holding an umbrella, a scarf, and a string of pearls), Tiburon gives a little speech about how the survivor can leave aboard a yacht, having survived the shark gauntlet. Instead of departing in peace, the vengeful survivor spears him through the balls with a harpoon. It’s not explicitly shown, but tell me where you think he got it:

Shark Week groin shotYeah, he’s not doubled over clutching his spleen. Then he tumbles into the water, where one of his own sharks devours him. Hoist by his own petard, etc etc.

Buying Boxer Briefs – One Man’s Journey

Not to seem too familiar with you, my twos and threes of readers, but I’ve been in a bit of a quandary about my underwear lately. I always believed, with a faith bordering on religious conviction, that boxer shorts were the underwear that men wore. Briefs were only to be worn by little kids and that guy who kills himself in Bruce Willis’ bathroom in The Sixth Sense.

Even when I heard about so-called “boxer briefs,” my faith remained unshaken. A combination of boxers and briefs? To me, it seemed like an evolutionary development as useless as the “spork.” Who would wear such a thing? Perhaps boxer briefs could be worn during middle school, and you could graduate to full, manly boxers when you got your driver’s license?

But, amazingly, all my friends seemed to be converting. Right and left, people were lauding the boxer brief as the superior choice. They’re “more comfortable” and “more secure” and “make your package look great” and other important concerns. Doubts began to sneak in. I started to suspect I was missing out on a great cultural trend, like not watching Game of Thrones.

So I went underwear shopping, which is one of my least favorite things, and I did it at Walmart, which is my absolute least favorite thing. On this particular excursion, I arrived at two very important conclusions.

Conclusion #1: English is the best language. Period. The back of the boxer brief bag was emblazoned with several bullet points in English and Spanish. I was informed that these boxer briefs came equipped with a “Non binding waistband.” Or, in Spanish, “Elastico en la cintura que no restringe el movimiento.” Sheesh, Spanish, just get to the point already! I don’t need to know that it doesn’t restrict our movements. I just need to know that it’s non binding. Don’t waste my time. Although we don’t have a hundred and fifty words for “snow” like the Eskimos do, our language has the flexibility to be elegant and the economy to get right to the point. English: appreciate it.

Conclusion #2: The primary demographic that underwear marketers wish to reach must be “gay men.”

Boxer Briefs guyEvery single package of underwear ever made features images of muscular, hunky, racially-ambiguous guys thrusting their genitals at you. WHY? That doesn’t persuade me to buy their underwear. My thought process was: I need underwear. Fruit of the Loom is two bucks cheaper than Hanes. I’m not fooled into thinking that I’ll suddenly have a chiseled jaw and rippling pectorals and a gleaming smile if I buy these five eight boxer briefs.

Boxer Briefs packageSTOP IT! Look at this! This is the image above the SIZE CHART! No guy I know enjoys trying to select a product full of close-up crotch shots. I made my choice as quickly as possible, since staring at the package bag product (you can’t even describe what the underwear is IN without conjuring up groin associations) longer than five seconds would start to attract dubious looks from passers-by.

I bought them anyway.