Shark Attack 3: Megalodon (2002)

Author: Brett Gallman
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2010-08-04 07:53

Written by: Scott Devine and William Hooke
Directed by: David Worth
Starring: John Barrowman, Jenny McShane, and Ryan Cutrona

Reviewed by: Brett G.

“I’m exhausted.”
“Yeah, me too. But you know I’m really wired. What do you say I…take you home and eat your pussy?”

I’m not sure exactly what happened on the set of Jaws, but I’m pretty sure Steven Spielberg made a deal with the devil that ensured that 90% of shark movies to be released after 1975 would suck to high heaven. Indeed, it seems like this particular sub-genre has been fated to churn out ridiculously bad films on a consistent basis (even the Jaws series itself couldn’t escape it). It goes without saying that Jaws is the three ton fish in a really shallow pond; in fact, there’s only one other series that had the audacity to stretch the killer shark premise into a franchise: the Shark Attack films. Notoriously bad, the Israeli/South African-produced series’ efforts in cheesy futility culminated in 2002 with the release of Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, which has since become one of the most notoriously poor shark films of all time (which is really saying something).

The Apex company is installing some sort of data cable that runs the length of the Pacific Ocean floors. Everything’s going pretty routinely one night until something attacks and kills some of the crew. Six months later, no one is too wise to the events, and our main story picks up on a beach in Mexico. There, Ben Carpenter (who is apparently in charge of “beach security”) goes diving for lobsters but finds a large, mysterious shark tooth instead. It doesn’t match up with any known teeth, so naturally he seeks help on the internet. A paleontologist in San Diego, Cat Stone, sees his message and immediately sets off for Mexico. It turns out that it’s the tooth of a megalodon, the supposedly-extinct ancestor to the Great White. Luckily, it’s only a baby on the prowl, which means it’s “only” about 15 feet long and can be easily handled…or can it? At any rate, Ben and his crew (which also includes an ex-Naval officer) must handle the problem alone, as Apex is more than content to sweep it all under the rug because nothing can interfere with the unveiling of their new technology.

For about an hour of its running time, Shark Attack 3 is woefully misnamed. While there’s plenty of shark attacks, there’s nary a megalodon to be found. The “baby” idea is just an obvious cop-out to skimp on any sort of attempt to really follow through on delivering what the title promises. Instead, we have plenty of documentary footage of real sharks mixed in with some “special effects” (I use that term really loosely) to create some harrowing shark attacks. Luckily, the film takes the Jaws III route by actually introducing a really pissed off mother shark for the final half hour, and that’s where business really picks up.

However, you still shouldn’t expect anything remotely good from this one even at that point. It’s a pretty inept film that’s just pure cheese in the highest order. The infamously terrible dialogue is just as bad as you’d expect, and the piss-poor dub jobs are among the worst I’ve ever heard. The acting is so ridiculously over-the-top across the board that one wonders if this mess was intentional. John Barrowman is overly exuberant about the whole thing, and I can’t tell if Jenny McShane is about to burst out into laughter during every scene or not, but it sure looks that way. Between the not-so-witty one liners, bad puns, and the bombastic score, the whole thing exudes this weird 80s action movie vibe. This really isn’t too surprising considering producer Avi Lerner’s background in that particular genre. In fact, some of the sets look like they came right off of a Cannon Films soundstage. The other producer is Boaz Davidson, an old Golan and Globus associate, and some of the teen-comedy inspired dialogue (including the above quote) surely would fit right into one of his Lemon Popsicle films.

The way that the megalodon is finally brought to life really doesn’t help things. It’s still mostly done by mixing documentary footage with what looks to be a cardboard fin to simulate the attacks. By far the most laughably bad effect, however, is the one that takes said documentary footage, blows it up, and then super-imposes the shark’s victims falling into the creature’s maw. It really has to be seen to be believed; I mean, even Jaws: The Revenge had good sense enough to limit its bad effects to a split-second frame. It’s pretty bad when the crappy CGI shark (also known as “most of the film’s budget”) shows up at the end and it’s an improvement on everything that’s come before it.

If you couldn’t tell by now, Shark Attack 3 definitely ventures into “so bad, it’s good” territory. It’s a movie that’s just so absurd that you have to wonder what its intentions are. If everyone involved set out to make one of the all-time great shark-comedies, they certainly succeeded. You know you’re in good shape when you have trouble singling out one line of absurd dialogue to highlight. Shark Attack 3 can definitely be entertaining, though it certainly has no right to be. As a horror film, you might as well forget about it: even the gore really isn’t all that impressive. People are no doubt maimed and killed by the beasts, but it’s kind of hard to see it all because the camera is zoomed in so tightly and shaking all over the place. This is no doubt in an effort to conceal the fact that they only created the head of an animatronic shark, and not a very good one at that.

The film ends with a tease that it’s not quite all over; unfortunately, Shark Attack 4 hasn’t surfaced yet, and I can’t imagine it will. Probably the most absurd thing about the film is that it received a release in the first place, courtesy of Lions Gate, who released the DVD about 8 years ago. The anamorphic widescreen transfer is good enough considering the film isn’t exactly a stellar looking production in the first place. The Dolby stereo track is very crisp and clear, and the only “special features” are interactive menus, scene access, and a trailer (in other words, there are none!). Believe it or not, this little gem is out of print, but it’s not exactly hard to find or very expensive on the secondary market yet. Unless you’re a huge shark nut like me, you’re not going to want to shell out too much for it anyway. Most sane people will only want to take a short swim with this one, just to see how awful it is. Rent it!

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