2013 was a watershed moment for disaster films. While many folks were updating their anti-Zombie kits some of us were shopping for chain saws in case the absolute worst-case came to be – a Sharknado. This terrifying premise is exactly what it sounds like – a huge Oz-level tornado sucks up sharks (and only sharks) from the sea and throws them at large municipalities and at a few people specifically. The movies aren’t comedies per se, but play it straight with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
In the opening installment, the main character, Fin, appropriately, is on a mission to save his estranged wife and daughter during the height of this cloudburst of cartilaginous killers using the best tool at hand – a chain saw. By the end, Fin has saved his family and sawed a swath through Los Angeles’ aquatic infestation.
But wait! There’s more! Five more monsoons of man-eaters!
Sharknado 2: The Second One takes us to New York where Fin’s now-safe wife April (Tara Reed) is promoting her new book about surviving a deluge of toothy torpedoes. Little do our heroes know that weather systems WILL follow you across the country when thwarted to taunt you a second time.
In Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! our plucky hero Fin has travelled to Washington DC to accept an award from the President for his glorious exploits. Why yes, it IS a golden chainsaw, how did you know? The best part about this movie, besides seeing congress critters get eaten, is the casting.
Already in the series we’ve seen Al Roker (as himself) warning us about Sharknados, but in this one Mark Cuban is the President with Ann Coulter as his Veep. Read that last sentence again. True casting magic, I say. With a supporting cast that includes Bill Engvall (Chief of Staff), Jerry Springer, Kathy Lee and Hoda, George RR Martin, and of course, The Hoff (you knew he’d show up eventually), just to name a few, this installment a must see.
Then there was Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens. At the end of 3 Fin’s wife is presumed dead, though not at a shark’s han—uh, flip—, er, teeth, but from falling wreckage. Sharknados are awfully hard on infrastructure, you know.
Fortunately, April IS alive, but is now a low-key cyborg because that’s how you save people crushed by infrastructure. And boy do we need a cyborg (with a chainsaw arm attachment!) in this installment because remember what I said about annoyed weather systems? Yep. A PO’d tornado will even follow you to Kansas if it’s been foiled repeatedly.
What sets this one apart is not just April’s hand-chain-saw, but the sheer acting range of the tornado. Not only does it follow Fin and company across the central US, but along the way becomes a Bouldernado, an Oilnado (in Texas), a Firenado, a Cownado (which has already been done, but not with the vehemence of this performance), and finally, a Lightningnado. All the while two new-to-the-screen tornados transform themselves into a Hailnado and the rarely seen Lavanado!
I won’t spoil the tornado’s crowning form, but I will note that Fin and the now-not-estranged April find out that Sharknados may have become a world-wide problem.
Ergo, Sharknado 5: Global Swarming. Now in London where Fin and April’s son, Gil (I bet he has a kid named “Swim Bladder” too) is attending a conference on the Sharknado issue. Nova, one of our auxiliary heroes, finds a temple underneath Stonehenge dedicated to a shark god. Now, even I know that disturbing temples is never a Good Thing, and here again we find out why. Removing the artifact released the bond holding back a whole new type of Sharknado – a Dimensional-Vortex Sharknado, and we all know how dangerous those can be! This time, not content to just follow Fin around, the Sharknado proactively transports him to Australia where, obviously, if the Sharknado doesn’t kill Fin, something else will.
Somehow divining how to ride a Sharknado-vortex, April and Fin galivant around the world in search of Gil, who was sucked up by said vortex, and eventually end up in Egypt where they find hieroglyphs alluding to the shark god and, once again, April saves the day and comes out a head (no, that’s not a typo).
Wrapping the film series up in style was The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time. Earth is devastated by Sharknados. Extrapolating that the Dimensional-Vortex Sharknados can push them through time as well as space, Fin and Gil travel through the ages in an attempt to fix history and stop the Sharknados before they happen. Normally things like this Never End Well, but apparently when you mix in Merlin, Benjamin Franklin, and bootstrap paradoxes, things tend to work out. This flick really puts the definition to “Jumping the Shark.”
This bunch of flicks is just plain fun and you’ll find yourself being surprised by the incredible range of people they get to cameo throughout the movies. If you’re looking for a way to supercharge your next Shark Week, the Seattle Public Library has your back with this fine series of films.
~posted by Jay F.