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If there’s one thing that’s constant in this world it’s that in our multi-channel TV environment, there will always be something for the casual channel flicker to watch about sharks, whether it’s a documentary in the vein of When Great Whites Attack or a cheap and cheerful made-for-TV movie on the same subject. God bless the laziness of TV execs. Without them we would never have the joyous travesty that is Shark Attack 3: Megalodon.

Shark Attack 3: Megalodon

Feature


A lifeguard and a marine researcher find a huge shark’s tooth and discover that a prehistoric twenty ton shark is rampaging through local waters, just when an evil local businessman is opening a new underwater power line. All this matters not a jot of course, we’re in Z-movie territory here with all the gratuitous death and nudity it brings. Shark Attack 3 definitely falls into the ‘so bad it’s good’ category. It has it all: no-budget effects, plot holes galore, terrible acting and dialogue that will have you chewing your sofa. Not to mention the line.

The first of the many incredible things about Shark Attack 3 is that the star is John Barrowman, who has gone from making drivel like this to having his own Doctor Who spin-off series Torchwood in just three years. I can only assume that he left this off his resume when the BBC came calling. His performance, along with those of his Bulgarian co-stars, is completely bottom-drawer and from an acting perspective, the whole film feels like a dress rehearsal of a better movie where the director would only allow one take per scene. If rumour is to be believed (and there is considerable buzz about this movie on message boards across the interweb), Barrowman was disappointed with the performance of one of his few American co-stars, Jenny McShane, and he ad-libbed a line of such toe-curling genius that it deserves to go down in history as the best line in a bad movie.

”I’m feeling really wired, how about I take you home and eat your p***y?”

Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
There are points in any film where the director must achieve a level of realism. The inability to do so will result in taking the viewer out of the film and remind them that the film making process is a fabrication and what you’re watching is not really happening. Shark Attack 3 fails to keep the viewer in the movie at almost every possible opportunity. A perfect example of this is when our heroes decide to jump in a mini-sub to track down the shark. From the outside, the sub sitting in the water looks just big enough to cram one person into (check out the screenshots), then the interior shot reveals a huge Winnebago-sized attack sub with a games console control pad as a steering wheel (I’m not kidding here).

The sub isn’t the only thing that changes size throughout the movie. The shark itself varies from a huge CG beast to a regular sized shark that suspiciously looks like it was taken from some Discovery Channel stock footage. When the shark attacks its prey, it seems to do so in a way that becomes very familiar as the movie progresses. It would seem to me that the film makers had managed to get their hands on some footage of a shark popping its head out of the water and decided they would get their money’s worth out of it by substituting different blue screen overlays and show us the same death many times over. Don’t they realise that one of the main selling points of cheesy horror flicks is that we want to see people killed in as many different ways as possible?

Looks like it'll be a tight squeeze in there...
Shark Attack 3 is one of the guiltiest of all guilty pleasures, a dreadful example of a director being handed several reels of shark footage and a budget that wouldn’t cover your groceries for a week and being told to make a movie out of it. It works on many levels, none of them anything to do with how to make a decent movie. I used to think Radioactive Dreams was the worst film I had ever seen but this opus is fighting hard for that title. In addition to Citizen Kane, Seven Samurai and Metropolis, it should be required viewing for any film student only with the instruction “this is how not to make a classic film.”

Video


The footage that was actually shot for the film isn't too bad. The outdoor scenes probably look the best due to the natural sunlight but the internal scenes have the soft-focus sheen of Sunset Beach and a million other low budget TV shows. The underwater scenes feature large sections of blue and black and suffer the most from compression, with some scenes getting fairly blocky.

One of the charms of Shark Attack 3 would have been to pick out the stock footage from the genuine shots but any potential fun in that sense is lost because the difference is so obvious. In some scenes it's like switching from digital TV to video via twenty-years-old reels of film. The colour depth between shots differs dramatically and a lot of the stock footage suffers from heavy noise and scratches.

Hop in, there's room for everyone!

Audio


A generally low quality audio track is expected for this type of release but there is one thing that makes the viewing experience that much more excruciating. The dubbing of the characters' voices is appalling, even those actors lucky enough to have their own voices looped (of which there aren't very many). This has as much to do with the standard of voice acting in the post-production process as with the standard of the soundtrack but the volume is barely altered through the whole movie so characters in the distance sound just the same as they would in a close-up.

Extras


Other than ‘Scene Selection’, the DVD case said there was a trailer but it was nowhere to be found on the disc. To be honest, you can't really expect much from the distributor ‘Hollywood DVD’ but I would love to see a making of, in particular revealing how they manage pass off so many Bulgarian actors as Mexicans and a feature commentary with John Barrowman and director David Worth taking it in turns to say "We're sorry" for ninety-four minutes.

Shark Attack 3: Megalodon

Overall


Don't let the low rating fool you: this is essential viewing. Shark Attack 3: Megalodon is a joy to watch from beginning to end for the exact opposite reasons to those which would make you enjoy a film about a killer shark. I recommend a double bill of this and Jaws and you’ll have a great time. Just make sure you get this one out of the way first...

...and when you’re done, make sure you get on to iMDb and help get it into the bottom 100 movies of all time.


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