"It's 'Jaws,' in a House": How Director Ron Bonk Made a Splash at AFM With 'House Shark'

Courtesy of Cinema Epoch
'House Shark'

Every year the market is awash with titles about man-eaters from the deep. This year, one low-budget auteur found a way to make a statement with a concept that could only work at the American Film Market.

It's every property owner's worst nightmare: You move into a new home only to find yourself under attack from a giant shark lurking from within the walls and the plumbing.

With House Shark — an insane, low-budget comedy and classic AFM fodder — director Ron Bonk has thoughtfully helped bring this growing domestic predicament to light.

Despite swimming amid a rather healthy selection of shark titles terrorizing the halls of the Loews in Santa Monica (Sharkskin, Piranha Sharks and Cage Dive are just a few of the others on offer), House Shark — being shopped by schlock-centered sales and distribution banner Cinema Epoch — has managed to rise to the surface. And it's largely thanks to its poster (basically a giant shark about to swallow a house whole) and the blunt tagline: "It's Jaws, in a house."

Much like every shark film made since the Spielberg classic, the Jaws references are plentiful. "You're gonna need a bigger house!" screams the poster, while the synopsis kicks off with "Just when you thought it was safe to go home."

"It's hard to do a shark movie without paying homage to Jaws," says Bonk, known for his equally ridiculous hat tip to the Grindhouse/exploitation genre, She Lives (whose tagline was "She gets revenge the only way she knows how … with her STD satan-infected vagina"). "But I'm actually a big fan of the movies that came out on Jaws' coattails trying to ride that wave: Grizzly, Alligator, Piranha, even Jaws 2!"

House Shark — in which a misfit team is enlisted to destroy the titular beast, modeled on a Great White but seemingly a unique home-dwelling breed — lands firmly in the Sharknado camp of aquatic lunacy. But Bonk, whose array of B-movie producer credits includes Close Encounters of the Inbred Redneck Kind and Sexsquatch (about a horny Big Foot, of course), actually says it's more like the "Blazing Saddles of shark movies," where the absurdity crescendos with each scene (though, some may argue, the title already packs an already impressive absurd punch).

However, House Shark sees Mel Brooks' farting cowboys and raises it a scene in which a shark fin pokes out of a blood-soaked toilet after the film's first deadly attack.

With Bonk preferring practical effects over CGI — generally deployed in shark titles to cut down costs — a 14-foot monster was fashioned out of foam and Latex. Much of this impressive creation has since been hacked into chunks. The director admits it would have been nice to hang up on a wall but was simply "too big to go in an average house."

While another shark would no doubt have to be built should a sequel to House Shark ever take shape, Bonk says he's already had one idea for where the insanity could occur thanks to a line in his original script, one that could introduce an entirely new variety of monster.

"At one point, the shark hunter says, 'You're not going to find a house shark in a mall; you're going to find a mall shark."

This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Nov. 1 daily issue at the American Film Market.