Sharktopus -- TV Review

Unless you're Roger Corman, it's not nice to fool with Mother Nature.

Part of the Roger Corman legend has it that the budget-minded director once bet he could film an entire feature in three days.

That might, in fact, be a day longer than was necessary for the Syfy telepic "Sharktopus."

Incredibly cheesy, amazingly low-tech and thoroughly simplistic, this is Corman at his best -- or worst, depending on your affection for movies with no artistic pretension. None. Zero.

In this Corman production, director Declan O'Brien fills the screen again and again with nubile women in bikinis, virile men and an ugly marine antagonist that is less technologically sophisticated than the mechanical shark in "Jaws," released 35 years ago. Meanwhile, the actors go through their paces like logs through a buzz saw.

Remarkably, though, this does no injustice to Mike MacLean's dialogue.

The story is a maritime variation on "Frankenstein," only this monster has sharp teeth and tentacles, and all the people in the village play on the beach in revealing swimwear. The sharktopus -- yes, half shark and half octopus -- was genetically engineered as a hush-hush Navy project. It was designed as a sort of drone for use against drug smugglers. A computer program would control its every move.

Then, of course, the monster breaks free of its shackles and becomes a calamari killer, unstoppable as it makes its way south from the Santa Monica Pier to sunny Puerto Vallarta.

Eric Roberts is Nathan Sands, the mad scientist who has overall responsibility for the project. Sara Malakul Lane plays his daughter, Nicole, the computer programmer, who finds out too late that Dad tampered with her work to make the beast a killer, not just a hunter. ("I had the tech boys make some adjustments," he explains.)

Kerem Bursin plays Andy Flynn, the only man in the world capable of possibly stopping the sharktopus. Nicole doesn't like him at first, but you know where that's going.

There are others, of course, like Stacy Everheart (Liv Boughn), the fearless and shameless TV reporter who will do anything and sacrifice anyone for a scoop. And then there's Captain Jack (Ralph Garman), the pirate radio DJ who scoffs at the silly reports of a deadly sea creature. Of course, no one should be surprised that they -- and many more -- become sharktopus chum, their final scenes marked by close-ups of sharp teeth, red dye in the water and drops of water inadvertently splashed on the lens.

"Jaws" once made people scared about going into the water. "Sharktopus" might have the same effect about tuning into Syfy.

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