powered by FreeFind

Apple iTunes


Syfy strikes again, this time with ghastly Ghost Shark


Richard Moll cries out in mock horror, gets paid. Syfy photo

Ghost Shark, eh? OK, I’ll take the bait.

Syfy’s latest Mystery Science Theater 3000 fodder follows the “global sensation” (as the network puts it) of July’s Sharknado. It’s also from the director of Swamp Shark, Arachnoquake and the upcoming Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators. So a certain amount of viewing pleasure is virtually guaranteed, because films of this sort are seldom utterly unwatchable. They’re just laughably terrible -- as intended.

Ghost Shark, premiering Thursday, August 22nd at 8 p.m. (central), will be preceded by yet another encore showing of Sharknado. It doesn’t have the “star power” of its predecessor (the cast included Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, John Heard) and nowhere near as many sharks. But former Night Court co-star Richard Moll, who played hulking bailiff Bull Shannon, can be seen emoting like crazy as a cranky, drunken widower who lives in a lighthouse. He goes by the name of Darnell Finch and says things like, “You think ghosts are logical, sheriff? Ghosts are real. As real as the lies this town was built on.”

The town is Smallport, whose sheriff is ridiculously disheveled and whose mayor is very protective. Things start going bad when a super-coarse, porcine hillbilly taunts, tortures and murders a shark that has eaten part of what would have been a prize catch in some sort of fishing contest. He warms up by insulting a small boat’s captain with a line that possibly won’t clear a last hurdle with Syfy censors before air time. But in the DVD sent for review, the poor captain is told, “If I wanted any lip from you, I’d pull down your panties.”

Well, anyway, the shark somehow morphs into a cheap-looking, glowing ghost intent on wiping out the entire town. One of its early victims is a nubile, stuck-up blonde in a bikini who’s lovingly captured from toe to head in extreme closeup before becoming chum. Now that’s artistry.

Ghost Shark finds other ways to include ill-fated teen beach babes, including a nicely gratuitous car wash scene. Death also interrupts a kid’s ride on a Slip ’N Slide. And a pair of punks likewise get early retirement, with director Griff Furst striving to find increasingly novel ways to inflict sudden, blood-spurting death. The producers of Starz’s Spartacus series faced the same challenges, although on a bigger budget.

Meanwhile, Moll’s character is pretty much in a constant falling-down drunk state, still feeling guilty about his wife’s death nine years earlier. At one point he gets to exclaim, “Judas Priest!” Yelling in pain -- or just plain yelling -- also occupy Moll’s time. He of course has little patience for three teens determined to find a way to bring the ghost shark down for good. For the record, one of them, plucky Ava Brubaker, is played by former 7th Heaven regular Mackenzie Rosman.

Syfy already has a Sharknado sequel set for next summer, but Ghost Shark probably won’t have that kind of staying power. It succeeds in being more or less stupidly watchable, but unlikely to prompt anywhere near the same Twitter eruption. Stranger things have happened, though, including last spring’s under-appreciated Syfy classic, Chupacabra vs. The Alamo, starring Erik Estrada.

Now how in the hell did that not become an instant B-movie behemoth?

GRADE: C-minus

Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net