United Film Organization. Director: Matt Codd.
Creature Feature Bleachers Award: Most Theological (Not Really).
Sometimes you like a sharksploitation film and you just can’t say why. Such is the case for “Shark Hunter,” a no-name direct-to-video Bulgarian movie that brings together the underwater facility from “Raging Sharks” with the main characterization point from “Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies” (i.e., the main character has unique knowledge about the titular monsters because they killed his parents). By all rights, watching this film should be a chore, and yet there is something about it— possibly the incomprehensible accents, the screwy science, or the utter lack of background stories for anyone other than the main character— that leaves you happy.
Dr. Spencer Northcut (Antonio Sabato, Jr.) is a professor of underwater archaeology and the designer of a massive research submarine, the Argus. When Northcut was a child, a prehistoric megalodon ate his parents. Fellow scientist Dr. William Atkins (Christian Toulali) convinces Northcut to join the Argus‘s next expedition, an investigation into the destruction of another underwater research facility. Upon reaching the site, Northcut and the crew come to the realization that a massive ancient megalodon is prowling the waters. Northcut naturally wants revenge, but shouldn’t such a specimen be preserved for science? More importantly, will the scientists and crew be able to escape with their lives?
“Shark Hunter” contains one of the most interesting ways of filming underwater on a budget that I’ve ever seen. Namely, not filming underwater. The diving sequences were accomplished through the clever but unconvincing use of confetti and acting. Little white specks stand in for ocean debris, while the actors attempt to create the illusion of water with their movements. Having seen my fair share of dark, murky underwater shots, I applaud “Shark Hunter” for its ingenuity in this area, despite the fact that the illusion is not particularly believable.
I rarely try to make sense of the science in these films, but one of the features of the Argus bothers me especially. A retooled Navy submarine, it has a mini-sub which deploys through a hole in its bottom. Not a hatch, mind you, and not an air lock— an actual hole in the bottom of the Argus. Throughout the film, this hole remains open and things enter and leave through it. Now I’m well aware that an upturned glass can hold air underwater, but I tend to think that a submarine shouldn’t have any gaping holes in it, especially considering the intense pressure at the bottom of the ocean. But hey, what do I know? I’m not a movie scientist or anything.
While we’re on the topic, let’s discuss this movie’s scientists. Dr. Northcut is without a doubt a terrible professor. We first see him staring vacantly into space as his students wait patiently for class to begin. Once roused from his stupor, he teaches for a few minutes before Dr. Atkins enters the lecture hall. Northcut stops class abruptly and begins talking to Atkins IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE CLASS. He then ends class “early” (a.k.a. after about 5 minutes of actual teaching) and disappears for the rest of the semester. At least Indiana Jones taught the kids something before going on adventures!
Dr. Atkins speaks with an accent that remains as unexplained as his somewhat adversarial relationship with Northcut. A simple “You may be the greatest marine biologist from France, Atkins, but I’ll never forgive you for dating my sister” would have sufficed, but we are left to our own devices. The same goes for the Bulgarian crew members of the Argus, whose nationality is never discussed. I’m not saying it’s unusual for people with accents to work on scientific missions, but it’s natural for the audience to wonder where they came from and how they ended up on the Argus.
Finally, there is Cheryl (Heather Marie Marsden), the major defender of the plan to capture the megalodon for science. Cheryl tells Northcut that she was sent over from the (and I quote) “theology staff,” and is in charge of the lab. Theology? Theology? But how does… that bears absolutely no… I just can’t………
Is she doing scientific research to back up a paper on the shark god of the ancient Olmec religion? What possible use could a theologian be to a scientific mission… studying giant sharks… AT THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN?!?!?!
On a final note, “Shark Hunter” is yet another Bulgarian sharksploitation film that sadly does not take place in Bulgaria. Someday someone will set this right.
The “evolutionary struggle” alluded to in the trailer has nothing to do with the film:
“Shark Hunter” is available on Amazon.