A B-movie about a giant shark and octopus starring eighties teen
queen Debbie Gibson? How can this not be a must-see??
The cute blonde Debbie--sorry, Deborah--Gibson
was one of two teen singing sensations from the late eighties (the other
being the red haired Tiffany) who found herself washed up with the onset
of the 1990s. Proof of Ms. Gibsonís less-than-exalted status can be
found in the fact that she headlined the straight-to-video MEGA SHARK
VERSUS GIANT OCTOPUS from 2009.
The film was distributed by the appropriately monikered
outfit The Asylum, whose other productions include Stuart Gordonís KING
OF THE ANTS, SNAKES ON A TRAIN, SUPERCRCOC and the upcoming MEGA
PIRANHA. The director of this film was Jack Perez (credited as Ace
Hannah), whose other credits include the 1993 camcorder classic
AMERICAíS DEADLIEST HOME VIDEO and the impressive 1997 neo noir THE BIG
EMPTY--and so is capable of far better than what he provides here.
During an underwater whale watch in Antarctica a
massive prehistoric shark emerges from the ground, just as a giant
octopus attacks a Japanese oil drilling platform. The hot blonde
oceanographer Emma, who was there for the initial shark sighting and now
finds herself investigating the mega sharkís handiwork (specifically a
large chunk bitten out of a beached whale), is fired from her current
jobÖjust as the mega shark leaps out of the ocean and snatches a
commercial plane out of the air.
Emma focuses her attention on the giant octopus,
concluding that the two creatures were loosed by global warming. And the
mega shark is still on the loose, devouring a battleship while the
octopus destroys a fighter plane with a swipe of a tentacle.
Emma and her equally studious colleagues are drafted by
the US government into figuring out a way to track down the shark and
octopus. After some brainstorming Emma and co. decide to bait the shark
and octopus by planting respective pheromones in the ocean to lure the
shark to San Francisco and the octopus to Tokyo Bay.
Yet the dropping off of the pheromone in San Francisco
Bay is a disaster, with the shark biting off a chunk of the Golden Gate
Bridge and then swimming away. The attempt at luring the octopus isnít
much more successful, leading Emma to propose a new idea: let the two
creatures kill each other! This takes the gang to the bottom of the
ocean, back where the whole thing began; there the shark and the octopus
have their final mano-a-mano.
Iíll say this for director Jack Perez/Ace Nannan: he
doesnít waste any time getting to the good stuff. The mega shark turns
up in the very first scene and has its best moment--the airborne plane
snatch--in the first twenty minutes. Unfortunately the special effects
in this and other scenes are far from special--the shark is nearly
always viewed from the front in a frequently recycled shot with its
mouth opening and closing, while Perez is constantly lingering on the
puppet-like octopusí open right eye--but conceptually, at least, the
film is fun.
Ultimately, however, the film is too self-aware for its
own good, with pithy jokes, histrionic performances (including that of
Ms. Gibson, whoís pretty but not much of an actress) and perfunctorily
edited scares. Thereís little-to-no urgency in sequences like the one
where the shark races toward the doomed battleship, or the final
shark-octopus struggle. Slick and assured when a rougher, more handmade
approach would have better fitted the material, itís ultimately much
closer in tone to
SNAKES ON A PLANE than THE GIANT CLAW. What makes most
classic B-movies fun is that they took their goofiness seriously, as
most monster movies donít need intentional comedy to generate laughs,
this one included.
MEGA SHARK VS. GIANT OCTOPUS
Director: Ace Nannan
Producer: David Michael Latt
Screenplay: Ace Nannan
Cinematography: Alexander Yellen
Editing: Marq Morrison
Cast: Deborah Gibson, Lorenzo Lamas, Vic Chao, Jonathan Nation, Mark
Hengst, Michael The, Chris Haley, Sean Lawlor, Dustin Harnish, Dean
Kreyling, Stephen Blackehart, Dana Dinatteo