2015 – Do-gooder environmentalists team up with partying teens, former wrestlers, and Danny Trejo to defeat one of cinema’s most impractical monsters.
If you’ve seen 2-Headed Shark Attack, this movie is even worse. Light on the gore but heavy on the (maybe artificial) boobs, 3-Headed Shark Attack is a directionless, at times tedious affair. It’s as though the film’s titular menace devoured three movies, and this one is the half-digested dump it took afterward.
We open with a bunch of teens partying on an island-type landmass. A couple of them make out very unenthusiastically in a tent. Time Until Boobs: 1 minute 41 seconds
A nerdy hipster suggests, “I’ve got an idea: how about some day-time skinny-dipping?” A busty, possibly transsexual blonde agrees to do so if the hipster can swim “out to that buoy and back.” He only swims out to it but (s)he strips down anyway, giving us TWO pairs of breasts in the first three minutes of the movie. The shark (Time Until Monster: 2 minutes 34 seconds) then appears in approximately 2 feet of water and devours her/him. In total, it dispatches 8 people in the first 5 minutes!
Next we meet Professor Laura Thomas (Jena Sims), who works at the island research station “Persephone” studying the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. One can only assume the station was named after the Greek Princess of the Underworld, which is an odd choice. Shouldn’t it be “Poseidon”? Prof. Thomas quickly strips down, giving us THREE pairs of breasts in the first seven minutes. Tragically, the movie just can’t maintain this breakneck pace, and we’re in a boob-less wasteland from here on out. Dr. Ted Nelson (Jaason Simmons, whose name I assumed was a typo) informs her that their new intern Maggie (Karrueche Tran, whose name I assumed was a sneeze) has arrived. Here’s the above-ground entrance to the underwater research station:
And here’s the station itself:
HOW is one structure possibly connected to the other? The hallways of the Persephone look suspiciously like the inside of any generic office building… and would an underwater facility really have drop-tile ceilings and cinder block walls? Maggie gets snubbed by the ill-mannered Dr. Leonard – and I don’t want to give anything away, but if you suspect that this minor social faux pas will result in a hilariously humiliating death for Leonard… you may just be right. New characters arrive in the form of four do-gooders from “Earth Pact,” who are all dressed like filthy bums. Look, I know they’re humble eco-warriors, but wouldn’t they have at least changed their shirts before the tour?Meet Ryan (Scott Reynolds), Alison (Dawn Hamil), Omar (Rico Ball), and Greg (Brad Mills), who used to date Maggie in college before he dropped out. Prof. Thomas informs them that the station is located “half a mile under the ocean” (!!!), features a staff of 45 top scientists, and is full of all sorts of high-tech gadgetry. Like this:
Note how this gentleman is staring at his photocopies in confusion, as though he doesn’t quite trust the magic box that somehow conjured them out of thin air. The sign on the wall behind him says “DO NOT SHUT THIS DOOR,” and it’s either posted on a 1.) a wall or 2.) a closed door, so these can’t be the absolute brightest minds out there. In quick succession, we learn that 1.) pollution levels in the patch are elevated, 2.) the mutated research critters are acting up, and 3.) something big and fast-moving is approaching. Surely all these things can’t be connected, though. Right? That would just be silly.
Meanwhile Brad, the last member of the Earth Pact group (who is wearing THE most stained thermal shirt I’ve ever seen) spots a shadow in the water and blunders in. The shark, which is many times too large to hide in knee-deep water, launches itself into the air and devours him, presumably burrowing into the sand to escape afterward.
Remember that grumpy Dr. Leonard from earlier? Well, he’s on the shitter! HA! Here it comes, folks, he’s gonna get it! For some reason he can’t flush, so he stands up WITHOUT WIPING and surprise, the shark busts up through the floor and consumes him. Time Until Black Guy Death: 21:59. This prompts the following exchange between Prof. Thomas and her henchman Steve:
Steve: “We’ve initiated Stage 1 Security protocol.”
Prof. Thomas: “We need to move on to Stage 2, someone’s just died.”
So this station has two alert levels: one for when no one has died, and one for when someone has died. Good to know. The shark proceeds to attack the structure. Cut to a guy working at his desk. He stands up and is suddenly blasted through a cardboard wall by an explosion. What exploded?!? His laptop? Note the random nonsense writing on the yellow paper tacked to the wall.
A moment later the entire station explodes, killing the rest of the vaunted 45 research staff. Since they’re “cut off” from their normal escape craft (why?) and the island is sinking (WHY?), the group needs to reach the Earth Pact boat. Greg declares he’ll swim out to it and bring it closer. Omar objects, but Greg tells him to shut up and dives into the water. He makes it, but whoops! He doesn’t know how to start the boat. “That’s what I was talking about,” Omar opines. “I should have said something,” Ryan agrees. YA THINK? Maybe they should have sketched this thing out a little more in-depth. So Ryan runs into the water. Then Alison panics and dives in. Omar yells, “You’re not going out there alone,” and pursues her. These characters seem compelled to hurl themselves directly into the most dangerous environment possible.
The shark catches on to their clever “everyone get into the water” ploy and pursues them. “Pick it up!” Dr. Nelson yells, like they’re kids and he’s a middle school gym teacher. Omar gets eaten. THEN they realize that they can’t get the boat close enough to pick up the rest of the group. This was not the world’s best-conceived plan. So then Maggie states that SHE’LL run into the water to “distract” the shark, but Prof. Thomas one-ups her and sacrifices herself to the beast.
At this point, the movie could have been over. The body count is over 50, the research station that seemed so central to the plot is gone, and the cast has been whittled down to a few survivors. Unfortunately, we’re only a half hour in! That’s my real problem with 3-Headed Shark Attack – it’s constantly changing rails. Who are the heroes? Was it Prof. Thomas? Is it the tragically uninteresting duo of Greg and Maggie? Is it Max Burns (Danny Trejo) who hasn’t even appeared yet and spends most of the movie tooling around aimlessly in his boat? Is it Stanley (Rob Van Dam), who we encounter on the nearby “booze cruise” that looks suspiciously like an old-fashioned Mississippi River steam boat?
Yep, that’s right – after the whole movie being about scientists at a research station, it abruptly shifts focus to a bunch of unidentified teens on a party ship! It’s like starting a completely different movie: we meet the amply-racked Rosemarie (Brianna Ferris) and her fiancee, but it’s impossible to tell who she is or why we should care about her. There are 20 or 30 other people on the boat, but most of them seem to vanish into thin air. Did the shark eat them? Did they drown? Does the ship sink? There’s no way to tell.
The only memorable moment in this whole booze cruise sub-plot is when the shark attacks and the captain announces they don’t have any life rafts. “Sorry guys,” he mumbles, and, I mean, life rafts would have been nice, but at least he offered a sincere apology. You can’t be angry at the poor schlub. In the end, the script executes the most efficient clean-up I’ve encountered: the characters board two new boats. Boat 2 contains all the random characters we don’t care about, and Boat 1’s passengers are Maggie, Greg, and Stanley. Guess which one is destroyed by the shark moments later?
Luckily, it appears to regenerate moments later:
It’s a mess. Despite featuring 70 – 80 deaths (conservative estimate), 3-Headed Shark Attack never gives us time to get comfortable with the story or grow attached to the characters. There are too many people, too much mayhem, and way too many “camera halfway in the water while someone swims” shots. It’s short enough to be worth a watch, but it lacks the meat to become a true classic.