Nu Image Films. Director: Danny Lerner.
Creature Feature Bleachers Award: Most Recycled Footage.
“Shark Zone” is something of an unofficial addition to the Nu Image “Shark Attack” series. While it has a different title and bears no plot connections whatsoever to the previous films, I’d say that it fits in rather perfectly. In fact, a lot of the scenes come directly from the other movies, leading me to suspect that Nu Image probably changed the title so that you wouldn’t notice. On its own, the film doesn’t set any records for quality sharksploitation entertainment. But watched in close succession with “Shark Attack 2” and “Shark Attack 3” (its main sources of– shall we say– “inspiration”), it may lead to a couple of laughs. Or cerebral hemorrhaging.
A decade ago, Jimmy Wagner (Dean Cochran) lost his father to a shark attack while diving near an old treasure ship. In the intervening years, Jimmy has started a family of his own and taken on the task of keeping San Francisco’s beaches shark-free. As the annual festival approaches, a mysterious Russian man named Volkoff (Velizar Binev) steps in to help meet the city’s budget shortfalls. The only catch is, he wants to know where to find the sunken pearls. Jimmy’s scarring memories of the site cause him to refuse Volkoff’s offer. As sharks begin to attack swimmers more frequently, though, Volkoff proves that he is the true shark in these waters. He kidnaps Jimmy’s son Danny (Luke Leavitt), forcing Jimmy to lead him to the treasure. Can Jimmy stop both menaces in time?
Before delving into the heart of what makes “Shark Zone” so memorable,
let me spend a moment on Jimmy’s wife Carrie, played by Brandi Sherwood. Ms. Sherwood, who was Miss USA 1997 and has appeared on 565 episodes of “The Price Is Right,” is by far one of the worst actors to appear in a sharksploitation film. We’re talking as bad as The Bachelor, Season 7, from “2-Headed Shark Attack.” Even Miss USA 2004 did a better job in “Sharktopus.” Brandi’s words have less conviction than a bribed judge. Her dialogue has less spirit than a ghost-proof house. She’s less believable than the fact that it is indeed not butter. She’s bad.
Yet, her awful acting comes nowhere near close to being the worst part of “Shark Zone.” Nu Image cut so many corners on this film that they made a circle look square. First off, there’s the fact that Jimmy’s dad and Mayor Cortell are played by the same actor, Alan Austin. But don’t worry, he wears a really fake scar and beard when he plays the dad.
But it gets worse. Entire sequences are lifted from earlier “Shark Attack” films. Nu Image approached this like the American producers of Power Rangers approached the Japanese show. Re-do all the talking scenes, but keep most of the expensive special effect scenes intact. This gets pretty ludicrous as it builds up. Remember that couple having sex in “Shark Attack 3“? This time they’re in the water during a massive shark attack.
Or how about that inflatable shark?
Or that jumbled mass of panicked legs?
But at least all of the above scenes still make sense! Consider the fact that San Francisco’s annual festival has a “grand opening” and appears to take place in a building. This shot was lifted from the Water World Grand Opening in “Shark Attack 2.”
Or consider that for some reason, Jimmy drives a boat called the “Down Under.” This made a lot more sense when the Australian guy was driving it in “Shark Attack 2.”
The worst part of it is that “Shark Zone” recycles the scene from “Shark Attack 2” where the Crocodile Hunter’s cameramen get eaten. This time around, they’re meant to be guys who are helping Jimmy kill sharks. Specifically, one white guy and one black guy wearing yellow goggles and carrying a large camera and a spear gun.
Yet once they get in the shark cage, well…you can see for yourself.
Two white guys wearing different suits, different goggles, and carrying different equipment? Come on, Nu Image!
The trailer has yet another piece of recycled footage—the shark busting through the hull in “Shark Attack 3“:
“Shark Zone” is available on Amazon.