"Ghost Shark" Review (SyFy Original Movie, 2013)
Shark Mania Redux
In July of 2013 the SyFy Channel struck an unexpected P.R. gold mine with the premiere of Sharknado, the latest in their seemingly never-ending parade of tongue-in-cheek, schlocky-on-purpose shark horror flicks (see: 2 Headed Shark Attack, Sharks In Venice, Jersey Shore Shark Attack, Swamp Shark, Malibu Shark Attack...need I go on?). The ridiculous but irresistible Sharknado premise - a freak hurricane hits Los Angeles, flooding its streets with hungry sharks which are then picked up by swirling tornado winds - created an immediate "buzz" on Twitter and Facebook and ignited a fanatical cult following that as of this writing still shows no signs of slowing down. SyFy capitalized on the hype by hosting midnight screenings of Sharknado at more than 200 theaters across the U.S. in early August 2013. When Sharknado 2 aired at the end of July, 2014 it didn't quite repeat the social-media phenomenon of its predecessor, but it was another ratings smash - reportedly, nearly 4 million people tuned into SyFy for its premiere.
After all the publicity that Sharknado received, no one could blame SyFy for hoping to capture lightning in a bottle a second time. Thus, on August 22nd, 2013, the network whose slogan is "Imagine Greater" asked viewers to swallow what may be their most improbable shark-movie premise yet (yes, even more improbable than Sand Sharks!): in GHOST SHARK, a ghost hunter battles a spectral Great White that's munching on the residents of a seaside community. This supernatural shark sets itself apart from others in the SyFy canon due to its ghostly nature, which means that its attacks are not limited to the ocean. SyFy heavily promoted the Ghost Shark premiere during its numerous re-airings of Sharknado, obviously hoping to hook (pun not intended) the same audience.
"If You're Wet...You're Dead!"
Judging by the trailer for Ghost Shark (seen above), the film certainly looks like a stone cold low budget hoot.
When a pair of liquored up rednecks on a fishing trip illegally kill a Great White in the waters around the seaside community of Harmony, it results in the restless spirit of the wrongly-murdered shark (!) returning to haunt the townspeople with vengeance on its mind. In most shark movies, the smart thing to do is simply stay away from the ocean, but since the Ghost Shark can manifest itself anywhere there's even a small quantity of water, you're not safe in your bathtub, your swimming pool, or even standing over a puddle.
Soooo.... in other words, what we've got here is a variation on Jaws: The Revenge with a supernatural twist.
Cast and Director Info
Below are just some of the fine people who are bringing the supernatural shark saga to life. As is the norm in SyFy movie land, the bulk of Ghost Shark's cast is made up mainly of unknowns, but there are a couple of familiar names in evidence....
Heading up the cast of Ghost Shark is Mackenzie Rosman as the heroic ghost hunter "Ava." Mackenzie is best known for her ten-year run as little Ruthie, the youngest daughter of the Camden clan, on the beloved family drama series 7th Heaven from 1996 to 2007. Now 24 years old, Mackenzie followed up her 7th Heaven success with a recurring role on The Secret Life of the American Teenager and the indie horror films The Tomb (2009) and Beneath (2013). Most intriguingly, Mackenzie recently posed for a 2013 Maxim magazine pictorial in an effort to show the world that she isn't little Ruthie Camden anymore!
Richard Moll's acting resume stretches all the way back to the early 1970s but he's best known today for his lengthy run as the intimidating-but-sweet courthouse bailiff Bull Shannon on the classic sitcom Night Court (1984-1992). Prior to and following his Night Court success, Moll's hulking, 6-foot-plus frame and deep voice kept him regularly employed as villains and "heavies" in television and movies such as Caveman, the A-Team, The Dukes of Hazzard and Smallville. Longtime horror and sci-fi fans know that Ghost Shark is not uncharted territory for Moll. He is no stranger to the genre, having appeared in such cult favorites as Evilspeak, House and Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn.
Griff Furst (director)!
Here's your useless trivia for the day: Ghost Shark director Griffith "Griff" Furst is the son of actor Stephen Furst, who's best known to frat boys the world over as Kent "Flounder" Dorfman in Animal House! "Griff" already has his share of SyFy fare on his directing resume, as he's previously worked on such schlock faves as Swamp Shark (2011), Lake Placid 3 (2010) and I Am Omega, the Asylum's 2007 knock-off of Will Smith's I Am Legend. Griff is also an actor, with an extensive list of credits that includes bit parts in big budget fare like Battleship and Green Lantern, and numerous guest apperances on such TV series as CSI: NY and Treme.
Griff followed up Ghost Shark with the intriguingly-titled creature feature Ragin' Cajun Redneck Gators, which was actually better than it had any right to be given its absolutely ridiculous title and premise.
In Case You're Keeping Score...
SyFy's Ghost Shark has no connection to another "Ghost Shark" movie that's been in production on and off since 2010. The similarly-titled Ghost Shark 2: Urban Jaws is a low budget flick from New Zealand that started out as a "fake trailer" on YouTube, and has been slowly progressing into an actual feature-length film ever since. The fact that its title includes a "2" was intended to be a gag (i.e. when this film began production, there was no "first" Ghost Shark movie) and there is no relation whatsoever between the New Zealand flick and SyFy's Ghost Shark. Confused yet? We sure are. The New Zealand production is supposed to finally see the light of day by end of 2013, for whatever that's worth.
How awesome will "Ghost Shark" be?
Will B-Movie fans embrace the far-out concept of Ghost Shark, or reject it as just another generic piece of SyFy Schlock? It remains to be seen whether viewers will embrace the film's utter silliness in the same way that they did for Sharknado. My ten year old son, after viewing the film's trailer, says that Ghost Shark looks like it'll be "awesome, but not as awesome as Sharknado." Make of that what you will.
More than a year after its initial airing, there doesn't seem to be a DVD release for Ghost Shark yet, sadly. However, the flick has been re-run on SyFy numerous times, most recently during the network's "Sharknado Week" marathon leading up to the premiere of Sharknado 2: The Second One. I've seen it twice now, and in the immortal words of Homer Simpson, it's "goooooood watchin'."
Till next time, stay out of the water!!!