We kick off our week of John Barrowman with a movie that I’m sure he hopes doesn’t show up on his Oscar clip, and that would be the epically goofy Shark Attack 3: Megalodon. Straight to video shark movies have almost become a cottage industry, with the Syfy channel almost making it their bread and butter for a while, but the Shark Attack movies were really the start of that new trend.
The first Shark Attack starred straight to video monster fighter Casper Van Dien, and while Shark Attack 2 was tangentially connected to the first one, Shark Attack 3: Megalodon has nothing whatsoever to do with either of its predecessors. A wise decision on everyone’s part, but an even wiser decision was in the casting of goofily charismatic John Barrowman in the lead.
The plot of Shark Attack 3: Megalodon isn’t anything original, as it’s your standard villainous corporation (are their other kinds?) whose evil plans endanger the populace and must be stopped by the hero. But what makes this film entertaining are the incredibly terrible visual effects and John Barrowman. The first two Shark Attack movies didn’t have much in the way of actual attacks, and mostly used stock footage of real sharks. Not so with Shark Attack 3 which has a plethora of attacks, only they use stock footage with hilariously bad photo shopping.
Apex Communications is laying a cable along the ocean floor but are having a bit of a bother as something keeps eating their divers. Lifeguard Ben Carpenter (John Barrowman) discovers a shark tooth sticking out of one of Apex’s underwater cables and posts a picture of it online in the hopes of discovering what kind of shark is swimming in these waters. A natural history researcher named Cataline Stone (Jenny McShane) arrives to examine the tooth, but keeps her theory that it is a tooth from a presumed extinct species of giant shark to herself. Her reticent to reveal all she knows as well as her interfering in the killing of the shark put her in the same guilty boat as the villainous Apex head Mr. Tolley (Harry Anichkin), but because she is our heroes “love interest” we are supposed to let that slide.
There is more screen charisma between Barrowman and the shark than there is between him and McShane.
And because you can’t have a Jaws rip-off without that “We can’t close the beaches, it’s the Fourth of July” scene we have Luis Ruiz (Bashar Rahal) Ben’s boss who, despite being shown the tooth of the Megalodon, refuses to close the beaches.
As I said the film does not stint on kills; a couple get eaten going down a waterslide, a man playing Frisbee with his dog is eaten in what I’m guessing was intended as a reverse homage to the dog being eaten in Jaws, and there is a brilliant bit where the shark grabs the tow cable of a parasailer and takes her for a ride. It’s the death of this poor parasailer that shocks Cataline out of “research mode” and into “let’s kill the shark” mode.
Remember how in Jaws the shark tracked down the Mayor who refused to close the beaches? Right, that actually didn’t happen, but the writers of Shark Attack 3 seem to think you can’t have a jerk in your movie and him not get a good comeuppance. The film’s conclusion has Ben and diver friend Chuck (Ryan Cutrona) deciding the best course of action is to torpedo the shark from Chuck’s mini-sub and they manage to track the beast down just as it is turning a boat full of Apex Communication employees into a smorgasbord. Apparently not closing the beach wasn’t a big enough dick move for Luis as he actually steals a lifejacket from a woman as the boat is attacked.
Ben and Chuck will of course be successful in the endeavour to blow up the shark and without fail we get a tease that there is another shark out there just before the credit rolls, nothing shocking there. What is surprising is that we never got Shark Attack 4. *snicker* This is not a good movie, but it is a vastly entertaining movie if you are in the proper frame of mine (tequila shots could help with that) and is mostly known for two great internet memes; the first being the hysterical death of Apex chief Tolley as he tries to escape via Jet ski and rides right into the mouth of the Megalodon.
The other scene that was destined to be an internet sensation was intended to be a quiet character building scene between Ben and Cataline, but because Barrowman is Barrowman he improvised a line just to get a laugh out of McShane, “I’m a little wired… what do you say I take you home and eat your pussy?”
What makes that line doubly funny is that Jenny McShane has no reaction whatsoever to Barrowman’s outrageous statement. That director David Worth kept the line in the movie earns him a special place in my heart. Shark Attack 3: Megalodon is certainly far from the best shark movie out there, but among good/bad movies it can stand tall and proud as at least a very amusing one. And thank you John Barrowman, wherever you are.
Remove John Barrowman from this movie and all you’d be left with is your standard Jaws rip-off, with some of the worst visual effects on record, but with him you’ve got a charmingly goofy movie that is better than it has any right to be.