Aug. 04--On rare occasions, fish rain from the sky. Grasp this freaky fact and you may come to grips with "Sharknado," a crazy cult movie that played Stockton on Friday night.
"Sharknado" is a disaster film about a waterspout that lifts sharks out of the ocean and flings them onto Los Angeles. Thanks to social media, its popularity as "the best worst movie ever" has improbably gone international.
"It's so bad I have to watch it," said Kendra Nelson, who turned up for a midnight showing of "Sharknado" at Regal Cinemas.
"Sharknado" -- the very name conjures some hybrid of Ed Wood and David Letterman -- started earlier this year as a made-for-TV movie on the Syfy channel.
This channel has enriched the golden treasury of cinema with classics such as "Mongolian Death Worm," "Mansquito," "Piranhaconda" and "Sharktopus."
It may seem impossible to surpass "Mansquito" as an awesomely awful idea. But Syfy did it. And did it in spades.
The concept involves a rare natural phenomenon in which waterspouts (tornadoes over water) pick up fish and drop them on land. There are documented cases.
OK, but sharks? On top of the preposterous premise, the movie boasts a cast of nobodies, except for TV actress/deer-in-the-headlights Tara Reid, a script that could win the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for bad writing, and 402 "visual effects."
Given the movie's mediocrity, its TV debut garnered a skimpy 1.4 million viewers a few weeks ago.
But then Twitter kicked in. Up to 5,000 tweets a minute (!) whipped up a perverse enthusiasm for the movie. Samples:
-- "I may need therapy. I'm watching #Sharknado. What is wrong with me?"
-- "The #AcademyAwards should create a new category for best picture with flying sharks."
-- "This chick was in a shark bro."
A rebroadcast attracted 1.9 million viewers. A second encore boasted 2.1 (some accounts say 2.4) million -- a rare instance of a rerun outperforming the debut, and a Syfy record.
This weekend, against all odds, and all conventions of taste, it came to the big screen.
"I'm here because of the hype," Leanne Hollingsworth said at Regal Cinemas. "To see what it's all about."
"We watch terrible movies every Saturday night," said Kristina Herrera.
"It was on the news," said Thea Bun. "They said it's supposed to be the best movie of all year."
I don't think that's what they said.
I followed the moviegoers into the theater. The film began with a nauseating rock music video, "The Ballad of Sharknado," and a few comments from critics.
" 'Sharknado' is completely unrealistic," wrote one. "It doesn't rain in Los Angeles."
The film began. A hurricane rolling up the coast from Mexico drives sharks to the waters off Southern California. The storm surge swamps L.A.
Sample dialogue: "What the hell?! There's sharks in the streets!"
Sharks burst through windows, spurt out of flooding culverts, land atop cars and chomp off screaming people's legs. Later, three waterspouts hit the city, dropping a swirling hail of sharks. All hell breaks loose.
More dialogue: "That's what you get for tryin' to eat me!"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold up with the guns! We don't need more blood in the water."
"Oh, crap! Ow!! Get off!!"
"Are you kidding? Sharks, swimming in the pool is impossib-AAAAA!!!"
"We can't just sit here and wait for sharks to rain down on us again."
The whole off-kilter thing was so bad that I found myself busting out in laughter. After the show, I asked others what they thought.
"It was very odd," said Andrea Stockton.
"Almost as terrible as you can get," enthused Richard Woodruff, who liked bad movies. "The only thing that could have made it better is if it had somebody in it like Roddy Piper or Wilfred Brimley."
The Twitterati agree.
-- "#Sharknado on the big screen was everything I could ever have asked for," one wrote. "I humbly thank the gods."
Now, the actors, who probably loathed themselves, are basking in success. There are Sharknado T-shirts, bags, posters and other accessories.
Naturally, a sequel is planned.
-- "Sharknado 2: Bite Back," one tweeter suggested.
Bubbled bad movie fan Woodruff: "Sharks raining from alien spaceships. And we have to battle them with machine guns and lasers. That way it would match its predecessor. Otherwise, it would just be plain horrible."
Contact columnist Michael Fitzgerald at (209) 546-8270 or email@example.com. Visit his blog at www.recordnet.com/fitzgeraldblog.
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