“Sharknado 3” announced – Fin-al Destination?

A terrifying tale, ripped from the headlines!
A terrifying tale, ripped from the headlines!

Over at Shock Til’ You Drop, Ryan Turek has the not-entirely-unexpected news that SyFy are shopping around the third in their series of cheap-as-chips monster mash-ups, “Sharknado”.

At this point viewers will be only too aware of what they’re letting themselves in for and, if nothing else, the franchise keeps Tara Reid in gainful employment and allows a steady stream of cameoing celebs to poke fun at themselves before being chomped on by badly rendered CG fish the best special effects known to film kind.

It’s due out in 2015 – form an orderly queue on your sofa now.

Horror Hysteria: “Piranha 3D”

"I'm sorry,  IMDB are still listing this on your filmography..."
“I’m sorry, IMDB are still listing this on your filmography…”

Alexandre Aja’s 2010 remake of the Joe Dante fishspoitation classic, “Piranha” is a wretched piece of crap.

“Piranha 3D” has but one concern –  the dismemberment of young, topless girls.  To say that this is crass and sickening  is almost too obvious, but the sheer, weapons-grade misogyny on display in Aja’s movie beggars belief.  I don’t know if I was more surprised by the film’s craven delight in finding ways to kill the female supporting cast or by the presence in it of actors like Elizabeth Shue and Christopher Lloyd.   I know times are tough, but you would like to think that Academy Award nominees could find a better use of their time than this rancid horror flick.

The film’s underlying ideas are as ugly as the technical side of it.  There’s scarcely a female role in the film which doesn’t call for the actress to go topless or to be bloodily devoured whilst topless – If you’re not a mother or pre-teen girl in the film, then you’re a drunk, bikini-clad spring break slut or potential slut who deserves to be killed because that’s just so edgy.  As a recruitment advert for feminist activism, “Piranha 3D” has few equals.

The previously alluded-to technical issues with the movie make it mostly unwatchable – as a 2D presentation, the film looks shoddy and absurdly cheap, with the 3D effects having no impact and the computer generated images looking like late 90s video game cut scenes.  The killer fish themselves are dreadful, utterly unconvincing things and the major shoreline massacre sequence only works  because the practical make-up work is  half-decent.

There’s no point in belabouring the point – this is an appalling, witless, pointless film.  Avoid it as you would do with a particularly virulent infection.

 

Horror Hysteria: “Rec 3: Genesis”

With a poster this awesome, do you actually need a movie?
With a poster this awesome, do you actually need a movie?

The Spanish “REC” series of zombie movies is one which I clutch dearly to my (mostly) undead heart.  The first two entries in the franchise related the frantically-paced tale of a mysterious viral outbreak in a Barcelona apartment building.  Shot in an immediate, first-person style which plunges the viewer directly into the nightmarishly unfolding action, the films tapped into the storytelling techniques familiar to a generation raised on reality TV and “Call of Duty“-style shooters whilst weaving a background tapestry of governmental collusion, demonic possession and societal mistrust.

The third movie doesn’t quite follow this template, which some fans may count as an unforgivable betrayal.  In “REC 3: Genesis”, we find ourselves watching highlights of Koldo and Clara’s wedding day as it unfolds, meeting the bride (who has a secret…), the groom and their respective families and friends as they gather at the church and the reception afterwards.   The first heads-up that things are going “REC” comes when a guest appears to have suffered a dog bite…

 

Ruh Roh

 

Before you can say “Colega, ¿dónde está mi motosierra?”, the recently undead are running amok, chowing down on second cousins and forcing apart Clare and Koldo on the happiest day of their lives.  It’s at this point that the film jettisons any pretence at found footage with a meta-joke about people who keep recording in the midst of a disaster instead of just running for their lives.  The film swaps to a traditional 2:35:1 aspect ratio at this point, giving long-suffering Horror aesthetes like your humble blogger the chance to enjoy the zombie-riffic carnage in a more cinematic style than hand-held video permits.

And this may be the problem for a lot of fans of the series.  In acknowledging the tenets of traditional narrative cinema, the immediacy is lost and you’re watching just a.n. other horror movie, rather than going into the grisly heart of the action as in previous franchise entries. That would be fine if the film was a nerve-shredding exercise in suspense and white-knuckle terror, but this third entry in the series is closer to “Zombieland” than “Zombie Flesh Eaters”.  Personally, I don’t have a problem with that, but your mileage may vary if you fear the dread spectre of mainstream norms gatecrashing our undead party.

The focus is on situational chuckles rather than survival horror, save for the last ten minutes of the film which take a sojourn into more serious territory.  The performances scale upwards accordingly and if you went into the third movie expecting the vivid terrors of the first two entries, this film’s exaggerated caricatures and more sentimental overtures might well stick in the craw like so much undigested flesh.

 

The Spanish Chainsaw Massacre

 

I really enjoyed this film and was punching the air by the time that Clara (Leticia Dolera) was slashing her wedding dress up with a chainsaw to make easier work of dispatching ghouls.   That it doesn’t have the relentless drive and manic shocks of the first film proved to me that “REC 3” was happy to take a different path and not just repeat the riffs of its predecessors.  Isn’t that a good thing?  Finding some narrative hook to justify a team of survivors documenting their path through an undead uprising rather suggests that the established filming conventions are more important than the story – surely not the right message to send when, as audiences, we complain about studios and film-makers being content to fall back on the same old tropes?

At a scant 80 minutes, it doesn’t wear out it’s welcome and is at least trying to do something different – I’ve can’t recall the last time I saw a ravenous horde of flesh-munchers stopped in their shuffling tracks by a priest reciting Bible verse over the hotel P.A. system…

 

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