"Jaws" made us afraid to go into the watter; now the "Sharknado" films make us afraid to go near the sky. The third one debuts Wednesday (July 22), lookig a lot like the second one, only bigger and messier. Here's the story I sent to papers:
By Mike Hughes
always been diligent about sending our culture overseas.
Broadway and the blues, poets and Perlman and jazz and more. And now
comes the next step: In a one-week stretch, at least 87 nations will
see “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No.”
Yes, it will be
different from the first two “Sharknado” films. They had an
ordinary chap (Ian Ziering) fighting flying sharks with an ordinary
chainsaw; in the third one, he has a golden chainsaw.
This is strange
stuff ... something director Anthony Ferrante says he realized in the
editing room of the first one. “I turned and said, 'This is
probably the wierdest movie that will ever air on Syfy.'”
What he didn't
predict was the pop-culture stir. “I had made so many movies,”
Ferrante said. “You don't think: 'Oh, this is going to break
through.'” But it did; consider:
-- The “Sharknado”
debut drew 1.4 million viewers, a hugh number for the Syfy cable
channel ... then somehow went to 1.9 and 2.1 million for the next two
airings. It soon dominated Twitter messages.
-- “Sharknado 2:
The Second One” topped that easily – 3.9 million viewers for the
first airing, 1.8 million for the second that same night, then more
... plus, Syfy says, the most Tweets in TV history.
-- And now the third
film debuts Wednesday, with more of everything – more gore, more
cities in danger (from Washington, D.C., to Orlando), more sharks
descending, more odd guest stars.
At one point,
Ferrante was trying to get Bill Murray to play the shark-fighting
president. “I knew it wasn't going to happen,” he said. But he
did get Mark Cuban and Ann Coulter to play the president and
vice-president; and a larger role, as Ziering's father, went to David
“He was really
excited about the idea of playing a curmudgeonly dad,” Ferrante
Others took smaller
roles, including es-Playboy stars, ex-Congresspeople and an ex-Hulk
(Lou Ferrigno), plus Jerry Springer, Ne-Yo and many more.
They knew this could
be big. Originally, no one knew that; Ziering once said he only did
the first film to be eligible for insurance. “I thought, 'Well, no
one's ever going to see the movie.' Boy, was I wrong.”
That first one
brought a familiar challenge, Ferrante said: “You take a
$200-million script. “Then you have to do it for a million bucks.”
He had written
and/or directed many movies for Syfy or video, none of which you hear
about at Academy Award time. They bear such titles as “Boo,”
“Scream of the Banshees,” “Headless Horseman,” “Haunted
High School” and, of course, “Leprechaun's Revenge.”
But he also tried
other scripts, including ones with a random reference to a
“sharknado.” Syfy rejected the script, but liked the word. Soon,
“Sharknado” films were being written by Thunder Levin.
These don't try to
explain why sharks can fly. “It's not National Geographic or
anything,” Tara Reid, who co-stars with Ziering, said before the
Instead, the films
simply go for fun. “I was a kid in a candy store,” Ferrante said.
This required lots
of special-effects, he said, done on the cheap. “A lot of the
actors had never been on a visual-effects movie .... Ian didn't know
me from Adam.”
was agreeing to come back after the filming was finished, to add a
scene in which he leaps into the mouth of a shark, then chainsaws his
way out. That became a classic, the strangest scene in “Sharknado”
history ... until a scene late in “Sharknado 3” makes it seem
kind of normal.
-- “Sharknado 3:
Oh Hell No,” debuts 9 p.m. Wednesday, Syfy, repeating at 11:05
-- Also, at 7 p.m.
Saturday (leading into the 9 p.m. debut of “Lavalantula,” about
lava-spewing tarantulas) and 9 p.m. Sunday, following a shark-movie
marathon at 9 a.m. and “Lavalantula” at 7 p.m.