There comes a point in any continuing franchise when goodwill leaches away in the sand. For Syfy Channel’s Sharknado series of spoof disaster flicks about electric storms with a fishy twist, that point came about halfway through the first movie. Sharknado was never a smart idea - ‘deliberately bad’ never is; witness Birdemic 2, the sequel to the film that inspired all this, floundering about in the harsh glare of self-awareness - but the gravy train keeps on rolling. So here we are again with number 5, and number 6 already on the way. So much for safe sex.
Nothing has changed in the concept department, it’s the same old mix of awful acting, viciously poor comedy and Poundland SFX. The 20-minute pre-title sequence is just about bearable if you can get past the groaningly unoriginal Raiders of the Lost Ark intro in a Toys R Us plastic cave. In this, we get the set-up: the Sharknados were originally fought and conquered by ancient man using a stone artefact shaped like a shark tooth. We then re-encounter the Shepherd family in London just in time for a Carry On-style shark attack on the city (a moderate-sized country house badly doubling for Buckingham Palace) before young son Gil is swept away in the twister. The ensuing rescue chase ticks off a few more japes from the bucket list (shark snow chase, shark time-travel, shark scorched earth apocalypse etc.) before Dolph Lundgren shows up for some reason at the end looking a bit confused. As usual, the constant stream of forced jokes desperately wave at you like rubberneckers behind Clare Balding on Grand National Day. It’s all slathered in that trademark Die Another Die-level CGI which is presumably designed to engender this turd with a sense of giddy ridiculousness but just adds to the blunt trauma these 90 moronic minutes will inflict on you.
There are enough low-rent ‘celebrity’ cameos to leave you wondering if the estate of the late Max Clifford off-loaded his client list to the Sharknado producers on the cheap. This gratuitous application of crap celebs makes the later works of Michael Winner feel like Merchant Ivory, with the likes of Katie Price, Tom Daley, Sam Fox and Kate Garraway breaking out like hives every few seconds. Short of an orgy at ITV2 Towers, it really doesn’t get more z-list than this. Things pick up briefly when a frail-looking Nichelle Nichols has a scene as a high-ranking dignitary, although you suspect she may have been kidnapped for the day, so we’re not counting it. Just to throw in an unexpected curveball, chat show king Geraldo Rivera can actually act and puts everyone else to shame as the moustache-twirling villain. He won’t make that mistake again.
“Same shark, different day”, growls Ian Ziering’s Fin Shepherd wearily at one point with uncanny prescience. Ziering is this generation’s Steve Guttenberg, forever shackled to this hollow, never-ending payday. He may be wise-cracking his way through this stuff with a self-aware smirk, but look deep into his eyes and you’ll see something else staring back this movie can only dream about: blind terror.
SHARKNADO 5: GLOBAL SWARMING / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: ANTHONY C. FERRANTE / SCREENPLAY: THUNDER LEVIN / STARRING: IAN ZIERING, TARA REID, BILLY BARRATT, GERALDO RIVERA / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW