Cinema Epoch. Director: John Hijiri.
Creature Feature Bleachers Awards: Least Sharkiness, Least Exciting, Least… Anything.
Although “Psycho Shark” undoubtedly qualifies as a sharksploitation film, it can hardly be called a shark film. The distinction is between what’s promised and what’s delivered. The film’s posters and title— both “Psycho Shark” and the original title, “Jaws in Japan” (changed for U.S. copyright reasons)— clearly use sharks to market the film, yet the titular animal has one measly scene. Hardly the sharkfest suggested by the promotional materials. Sharksploitation fans should therefore be warned that this is really more of a Japanese horror film, or, to be honest, a boring, poorly shot movie in which nothing happens. This review contains spoilers because no one else should have to suffer through “Psycho Shark.”
Some Japanese girls are playing on the beach. It feels nice. They pose for each other. The water feels nice. After an excruciating five minutes of this, the film’s scariest and bloodiest montage takes place. Then some other girls, Miki (Nonami Takizawa) and Mai (Airi Nakajima), hitchhike to a deserted coastal hotel. They put on their swimsuits. It feels nice. The hotel lends them a movie camera so they can film several barf-inducingly shaky scenes of themselves commenting on how nice things feel. Mai falls for Kenji, apparently the only guy within 500,000 miles. Miki finds a tape which shows that three other annoying girls stayed at the hotel and were killed by Kenji. Mai doesn’t believe her. Kenji stabs Mai. A big shark eats everyone.
After viewing “Psycho Shark,” I had a strong urge to write to my U.N. representative and demand a resolution banning Japan from ever making another shark movie. Mexico, too, while we’re at it— I still haven’t recovered from “Tintorerra.” Okay, sure, Australia can continue making fine sharksploitation films like “Bait,” but Japan and Mexico must stop.
To say that “Psycho Shark” is a bad movie and a complete waste of time is like saying that Nonami Takizawa barely fits in her swimsuit. The film is only an hour and 10 minutes long, but seems to drag on forever. Forrrreevvvvvveerrrrrrrrr. A lot of the movie consists of Miki watching shaky videos of stupid girls on the beach, or of her and Mai making their own shaky beach videos. As if this weren’t bad enough, Miki constantly rewinds the videos to watch them again! Some scenes are repeated three times, and they aren’t interesting to begin with. The camerawork makes you feel like you’ve been turned into an aardvark, hit on the head several times, and strapped into a roller coaster. I mean, when the French New Wave pioneered shaky cam and choppy editing 50 years ago, it was somewhat artistically innovative. Now it’s just annoying. Could we possibly get some shots of faces?
Regarding that last image, be advised that this film contains no nudity, further puzzling me as to why anyone would ever watch it. What I mean is, if you’re looking for a killer shark movie, “Psycho Shark” is highly disappointing. And if you’re looking for footage of cute (or should I say KAWAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!) Japanese girls, there must be… I don’t know… a BILLION faster, easier, and less vomit-inducing ways to find what you want. As far as I can see, “Psycho Shark” doesn’t please either of its two obvious target audiences. For whom was this film made? For WHOM?!?!?!?!
It’s not like the dialog helps, either. I’d be quite surprised to find out that this film had a script. The only way to achieve such banality would be to have a bunch of swimsuit models improvise their own dialog.
I would, however, be lying if I said that “Psycho Shark” didn’t have any redeeming qualities. Despite all of its other shortcomings, “Psycho Shark” has at least one thing going for it. The end credits progress smoothly from bottom to top, and have pretty cool Japanese rock music. Other than that, the film stinks.
There don’t seem to be any English-language trailers, so I’ll leave you with the only scene which sharksploitation fans will care about:
“Psycho Shark” is available on Amazon.