Saturday night. 10 p.m. If you have a half-decent cable subscription, your 12-year-old is crouched in the basement watching the most recent contribution to the pantheon of SyFy Channel original movie cheese. Maybe he’s got a few friends with him. Maybe they’re tippling the peach schnapps he swiped from the cupboard above the fridge. It’s a storied SyFy tradition rich in artistic irrelevance, the sort of ingenious weekend programming that has birthed exquisite nonsense like Mansquito and Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid. Frankly, it’s the stuff of adolescent legend.
Sharktopus is yet another addition to the SyFy junior high sleepover panoply. Neither good nor bad, it’s a film that simply delivers what it promises: Eric Roberts, bikinis, and a sharktopus. Engineered by Dr. Eric Roberts and his bookish daughter, the sharktopus is exactly what you’d expect from a SyFy Original: a shitty CGI depiction of an 8-legged, man-eating shark. As Dr. Eric performs a demonstration for the military that funds the project, a relatively dickish Commander Cox bullies Roberts into pushing the sharktopus over its limits. After a collision, the strap from the electrical harness breaks and the sharktopus is suddenly set free. (Sadly, nobody ever bothers to explain how they got that fucking electrical harness on the sharktopus in the first place.)
Rendered in the silliest digital effects imaginable, the sharktopus bears a suspicious resemblance to a toy you’d dig out of a box of cereal. But hey, this is a SyFy original, and that comes with the territory. At least the kill group is primarily restricted to the bikini-clad, which somehow makes the sloppy digital gore more tolerable. The sharktopus munches a cliff-side bungee jumper, scrapes random chicks off the beach with its razor-tipped tentacles, and is just an all-around pain in the scrotum to the marine-loving community. Eric Roberts dispatches his nerdy daughter and a beefcake named Flynn to capture the beast, presumably so Roberts can kick it off-screen on a yacht for most of the film’s running time.
It’s a movie that could have gone the Piranha route, jacking up the blood and gore with every kill, but Sharktopus is a particularly lazy entry in the SyFy repertoire, settling on repetition and an all around sense of general foolishness instead of homegrown creativity. Not that my expectations were especially high. As a SyFy enthusiast, I knew what I was in for. But Sharktopus had the potential to be something truly memorable, a meditative exercise in cinematic cheese, but sadly, it neglected to take full advantage of its supremely ludicrous premise.