Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy
SciFi Channel is a breeding ground for ridiculous creature features like the swamp spawns mosquitoes. Some mosquitoes just eat nectar, some make you itch, and a few give you malaria. We are in nectar territory here. It is not perfect, it has many plot points that are ludicrous, but the entire production is saved by Jeffrey Combs. He is allowed to overact to his heart’s content, and turns a semi-boring picture about a shark man into something you can mention as among SciFi Channel’s better offerings for the year 2005. Produced by the illustrious Nu Image Films, who have given us Gryphon, Raging Sharks, and Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, Nu Image originally sold a block of films at the same time involving animal/man hybrids, except the block of films eventually dissolved and went their separate ways. The others include Mansquito (later released as Mosquitoman on DVD), Morphman which became the surprisingly not terrible Larva, and Snakeman (aka The Snake King) which I haven’t seen. Nu Image has done blocks of related films before, notably their Nature Unleashed and American Heroes series. It allows them to bulk sell films, which equals cash. Usually few of the films are memorable, but in this case we grabbed on to something to tell the grandkids about.
As stated above, the winning formula in this movie is ridiculous monster+Jeffrey Combs. Jeffrey Combs is familiar to every B movie fan because odds are they have seen several dozen movies he has been in. He was also a regular on Star Trek Deep Space Nine and Star Trek Enterprise in addition to guest shots on many other genre shows. In every performance, Combs consistently delivers. He can range from excellent to eccentric to over the top wacky, and his name on a movie automatically bumps it up a few ratings points. The SharkMan is a guy running around in a shark suit. Seriously. And we get perilously close to shark/human sex. I am not making that up. Sadly, things don’t go as planned. But we do find out you can cure cancer by being turned into a shark. It’s one of those natural cures “they” don’t want you to know about. None of the good parts of the film can be blamed on the director Michael Oblowitz, the only winning efforts were the special effects guys and Jeffrey Combs. The rest of the film flops around like a fish on a boat, but SharkMan or Jeffrey keep popping up to throw the fish back in the ocean.
On with the show! We start out on an uncharted island in the western Pacific, as these movies often do. This movie is so uncharted that a couple in a yacht are right offshore, diving in to the drink to swim to the shore as fun. These are rich, anonymous people, so it isn’t any wonder that something is looking at them ominously in the water. That something is SharkMan, who soon gobbles them up like they are chicken mcnuggets. In the secret lab on the uncharted island, Dr. King is hard at work on his patient…SharkMan! Hard at work failing, as his assistant Dr. Krause tells him that “It’s a dead end. Now he’s more shark than human!” SharkMan bites off one of Krause’s fingers, and Dr. King says they are ready as SharkMan responded. Ready to what, I don’t know. Anyway, time to send out the invitations. Yes, the movie doesn’t waste time explaining itself to us.
At the pharmaceutical company, researcher Amelia Lockhart and security expert Tom Reed are getting their flirt on, but she has to work late. Her boss Whitney is on the phone with some investors saying the company is underperforming, but is onto something big. A secret. And not one of those bad secrets like what the bus driver did to you one dark day, a secret that could save his company. Whitney tells Amelia that it is a new drug, but as she is head of research and development, she wonders why she never heard of it and gets instantly suspicious. An email from Dr. King is then opened, and it contains DNA models and animated movies. (That is a very sophisticated email program….)
Amelia gives a presentation to her coworkers on what is going on, and it has to do with stem cells. Amelia even explains stem cells to her biologist pharmaceutical researcher coworkers, who should know better. We know this is for the audience’s benefit, the few people who haven’t turned on the news and heard lots of stem cell hype the past 10 years. They could have at least had the janitor be the one who didn’t understand. It is almost as bad, as the guy who didn’t know was Bernie Amos, who is supposed to be in charge of finance. Thanks for telling us he’s only in finance later, but then making us wonder why finance people were at meetings explaining technical information. Another employee present is Jane, who is a lawyer. We know from Jurassic Park that you need lawyers in these movies. She won’t be eaten on a toilet, though. Our loss. We also find out there was some sort of past between Amelia and Dr. King. She was supposed to marry his son Paul, but Paul died of cancer. She sold the ring on eBay, and then went on a Hawaiian cruise. Okay, not that last part.
Crazy Scientist Log – Labdate: 060305 – The injections are working, this is the future of the human race and my SharkMan totally won’t degenerate into a mindless eating machine like from a bad movie! Dr. King’s plan is to get SharkMan laid, so the baby will have the “superior strength of a hammerhead shark coupled with the intellect of a man!” As a biologist, I must point out that “WTF????” Dr. King tests his theory by injecting a random woman with drugs and dumping her in an arboretum. SharkMan is released and he promptly eats her. I guess the injections didn’t work that well, now did they, Dr. King? The whole board meeting is going to the uncharted island to meet Dr. King, including Whitney’s upgrade girlfriend Julie.
Crazy Scientist Log – Supplemental. The injections aren’t working that good and SharkMan is eating women in the non-sexual way. Obviously this is because the women aren’t pretty enough and is not a failure of my drugs. His shark babies will live in the ocean and found New Atlantis. Dr. King rants about the Hammerhead shark being the “pinnacle of shark evolution” and we notice the laboratory has several copies of the same girl from earlier in tubes with tubes going into them. That’s a lot of tubes. And a lot of clones, which is never addressed. One of these women must have had actual shark sex, because she gives birth to a freakish ET-sque shark baby! But the baby and the mom are both dead, so it is still a failure. Maybe she was impregnated with artificial fertilization, but that means someone had to collect the sperm from SharkMan. I don’t even want to think about that.
Tom gives us some background information on Dr. King to Amelia (and the audience) telling us that he got kicked out of the US and shut down. This coincides with a shot of Dr. King feeding a mouse to a genetically engineered Venus Flytrap (one that wouldn’t look out of place in Revenge of Dr. X.) The meeting starts and it doesn’t go well, as Whitney says Dr. King almost put the company out of business when he had Amelia’s job. Dr. King gives them a tour of the island. There is no reception on the satellite phones despite the fact they should work anywhere, this is because the island is uncharted. Or just jammed. Now it is time for a feast, and they have a roast pig. A roast three-eyed pig. There are also natives, leis, fire dances, hulas, island music songs, and fireworks. Remember, uncharted island. Two random people go off for a midnight swim, only to become midnight snacks of SharkMan! Yum yum.
The next morning, the actual meeting starts, before was just the pre-meeting meeting. Dr. King gives his presentation, where we are told that sharks never have disease, and they never have cancerous cells. This is sort of true, sharks get diseases, but they rarely get cancer, it is in fact so rare that it is notable if you find a shark with a tumor. (Though instances have been increasing due to increased ocean pollution.) The rareness is why shark cartilage is used as alternative medicine for cancer therapy. But back to the film, Dr. King built a big microscope then did some tests on kidney cancer (the cancer his son Paul had) and figured out that if he used cells that are already immune in the therapy he can counter the cancer. Thus, shark cells were used and Paul’s cancer went in remission. Amelia is notably shocked that her dead fiancée isn’t quite so dead. Dr. King says Paul is right behind him, and then opens a screen to a water tank where we see CGI SharkMan swimming around, but in lime green water! Dr. King goes on another “sharks are the future of man” rant, but before Whitney can walk out of the meeting armed guards come in. Dr. King accuses them of stealing his work and forcing him to exile. He also apologized to Amelia as he didn’t know she’d be there, but then he sentences them all to death. Dr. King and the guards leave (but one guard forgets his AK-47…WHAT?!?! What idiot thought that was a realistic plot contrivance?) The SharkMan tank is opened, and soon the room is filling up with water. The only escape from the room is up a ladder through where a fan is running, so they shoot the fan and climb up. Tom also shoots SharkMan multiple times with the gun (sometimes underwater) but SharkMan is invincible. Maybe you need silver bullets or something. Or bullets coated in fish sauce. Also, for some reason SharkMan can’t leave the tank here, but later in the film will stroll around on land randomly. They escape to the roof, and then build a clothes ladder to climb off. Dr. King watches all this on video but does nothing.
Crazy Scientist Log – Labdate: 060505 – Paul’s tracking beacon is damaged, but if I use Paul to hunt down and kill the people it will stimulate his brain and he will become human again! Plus he’ll probably have sex with Amelia and make a shark baby! MuHAHAHAHAHA! I don’t get his logic either, but that’s because he’s mad, MAD I tell you! SharkMan eats two scuba henchmen instead of the escaped business people, while the business people go to higher ground to try to override the satellite phone’s jamming. They are also being pursued by a helicopter with “666” marked on the side. I’ve heard of being chased by the devil, but I can’t think of a good helicopter pun to end this joke.
There is a SharkMan after them, so the business people decide to walk by a river. Also, upgrade girlfriend is complaining like the one-dimensional character she is. They get to within visual distance of their boat, and Tom will go check to see if King’s men are on it. They are. Yep. The only solution they can think of is to try to bribe them with more money, so Tom, Whitney, and Bernie swim out to the boat. The guards aren’t accepting more bribes so they have a fight on the boat. Guards on shore then start to shoot at the boat. The boat captain is thrown in the ocean. Suddenly, the first mate pops out! He’s tossed in the ocean. Suddenly, the second mate pops out! He’s shot by the guards on the shore, who have finally hit something after firing for a minute at a giant target. No more numbered mates pop out, but some fuel tanks are hit and the boat explodes. The three men have jumped off the boat by now, but SharkMan is also swimming around. Bernie! Look out! NOOOOO!!!! He’s bit, but Tom finds a box lying around labeled “Shark Control”. Seriously. It is like Batman and his Bat-Shark Repellent. The box contains a wire loop on a pole, and Tom jumps back into the water and drives off SharkMan. Because a loop on a pole. Dangerous. Sharks are the future of man, unless man makes more loops on a pole! Bernie is still alive despite being 7/8ths a man, but Whitney says to forget him. Whitney and Upgrade Girlfriend go to higher ground while the rest try to help Bernie. (Protip: use a loop on a pole for better reception!)
Whitney and Upgrade Girlfriend get focused on now, so we know someone is shark food. Whitney impresses Upgrade by quoting Shakespeare, but Upgrade is grabbed by a CGI-vine plant (another of Dr. King’s creations.) Upgrade is not a good actress, but she is rescued by Whitney. Wait, no one died? What the Hell? Was this just some lame excuse to introduce more moving plants, something we could have done earlier or better or both? Dr. King sends out some security troops now for some reason, and one ambushes the rest of the missing people. Tom struggles with him as everyone else just stands around watching. Good work. The guard is impaled and Tom grabs his gun and other equipment. Whitney and Upgrade (thanks for re-checking in on these guys) climb to the top of a hill, but are spotted by the 666 chopper, which fires a missile at them. Whitney is caught in an explosion and falls down the hill, breaking the phone. Upgrade Girlfriend is eaten by SharkMan.
The rest of the heroes (Tom, Amelia, injured Bernie, and Jane) end up near the main compound again, but the door is locked. SharkMan is lurking around outside while they hotwire the door, and Bernie dies from blood loss. No, not Bernie! BEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRNNNNNIIIIIIEEEEE!!!!! SharkMan comes up to eat the body, and Tom shotguns him to no effect. In the morgue, Dr. King spots them and sends security there. The group finds the women in tubes with tubes, find dead shark babies in boxes, and cover the security camera while looking up information on the creature. I’m not sure why they are doing this instead of looking for another way to escape, but okay. I’m sure those dead shark babies would go for a ton on eBay. They find some information on what is really the “Ampullae of Lorenzini”, used by sharks to detect bioelectric fields of prey. They mispronounce it and wrongly suggest it is involved in nitrogen metabolism, and if they get too much nitrogen the shark will explode from an extreme case of the bends. What is bended here is their science facts, but they do note that SharkMan has elevated nitrogen levels. I bet all of you have figured out how SharkMan is going to die –> AIDS. If sharks exploded all the time than Jaws would have been directed by Michael Bay. Also, Tom built a bomb from formaldehyde, and then they leave by a window. The guards finally show up just in time to get blown up by the formaldehyde bomb.
Whitney is somehow still alive and walking on a road (what you want to do when hiding from people) and a jeep approaches so he hides but drops his broken phone. The guards spot the phone despite being around 1000 feet away and speeding, and catch Whitney. Meanwhile, Dr. King goes on another hammerhead shark rant. Krause has probably learned to tune him out by now. The jeep with Whitney is driving back when…LAND SHARK ATTACK! SharkMan leaps onto the jeep, and the guards get out to shoot it, but one gets tore up. SharkMan is shot again while Whitney takes the jeep and drives off. Dr. King is going mucho loco, tripling the security guards’ salaries if they catch the fugitives. Dr. King’s other assistant, a female scientist named Dr. Mendoveko who did little before this point, quits in disgust. Dr. King is unphased.
Whitney drives by the rest of the group, they signal him and he drives into a tree. He’s undergoing shock or something, a rare case of acting by someone not Jeffrey Combs. Whitney can also fly a chopper (someone always can in these films! SciFi Channel films have more helicopter pilots than the US Army!) Dr. Mendoveko drives by to help them escape (how can she find them in five minutes when armed security guards can’t find anything but death?) 666 CHOPPER ATTACK!!! The chopper is armed by a dude with a grenade launcher, firing at the jeeps and blowing them all up. He neglected to fire at the people, but Dr. Mendoveko manages to fall into the ocean after another blast. SharkMan also just happens to be down below to eat her. Meanwhile, Jane gets pricked by another genetically modified plant, one that makes her get boils and suddenly feels all hot, needing to get into water to cool down. She heads to the river and is eaten by SharkMan! Wasn’t he just in the ocean? I guess he’s using the Star Trek Transporter to get around the island.
Krause is using bait to try to lure SharkMan in for study, and SharkMan leaps up and tears him open. What a chum! He also starts a fire by spilling gasoline everywhere. More guards are air-dropped searching for the survivors, but Tom from IT security is a stone cold killer, he knife throws one guy dead, and takes his gun and uses it to gun down others. Amelia also knocks out a guard with a tree branch to the head, and she then starts shooting using that guard’s gun. Whitney also has a gun (from God knows where) and is shooting as well. They wipe out Alpha Team, but more guards are in the area. Eric the head guard tells Dr. King this, just annoying Dr. King more and more. Maybe Eric should actually go out and look for the fugitives himself. Three gunboats then come up firing at the survivors, but the three amateurs manage to shoot one of the gunmen off the back of his boat, distracting the captain who pilots the boat into land. Whitney takes out the second boat and Tom the third via bullets that turn into gigantic explosions. Rambo has nothing on these random characters from Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy! Let that be a lesson to not store oily rags and gasoline on your gunboats. At no time does anyone reload their guns.
The group makes it to the helipad, but it is guarded, so there is another firefight. The movie has become Hammerhead: Gunfight Frenzy! Fuel trucks explode, more reinforcements for the guards arrive, no one reloads, and Tom manages to shoot down a chopper with a minigun while also killing every guard with his AK-47 that hasn’t been reloaded ever. Tom is also unable to be hit by four guards who are less than 30 feet away hiding behind cover while Tom just stands out in the open. Tom even kills one and jumps in the chopper, but the chopper is hit in the fuel line (the guards actually hit something???) and Amelia and Whitney get captured.
Wasn’t that exciting? Not at all, we needed more SharkMan kills! Stop screwing up the film, director Michael Oblowitz! Bring on the SharkMan!
Amelia is tied up and Dr. King drugs her, preparing her for sex. Shark sex. We’re gonna need a bigger condom!
Meanwhile, Tom is still alive so he swims to the yacht the people who got eaten during the opening credits came in. Good thing all these security patrols didn’t notice it. He gets a harpoon and a gun, but he doesn’t take the cornflakes that are also available. Dr. King goes nuts again, telling that he is creating Sphyrna sapiens (Sphyrna is the genus of the hammerhead sharks.) Amelia is put in a tube so pheromones will be created. I had no idea tubes could do that, I thought they were just what the internet worked with. Whitney is fed to SharkMan, who is swimming in orange water. Maybe the orange water and the lime green water are like different cola flavors, and SharkMan is just having a tasty drink. Tom finds some fertilizer, is he making another bomb thanks to the method he learned from his good friend Tim McVeigh? No, this nitrogen is destined for liquid form.
And now, it’s Shark Sex time! Put on some Barry White, dim the lights, and dangle the woman in the tube above the shark tank. Tom harpoons head guard Eric. Instead of having sex with Amelia, SharkMan bites off his dad’s arm! Maybe SharkMan is gay? Anyway, SharkMan eats another guard in the room that was machine gunning the tank, and a second guard with a shotgun is shot in the back by Tom, who has come into the room. SharkMan has been shot like 30 times by now but is A-OK. Tom squirts the nitrogen fertilizer liquid into the mouth of SharkMan, and the excess nitrogen makes SharkMan EXPLODE!!! Tome and Amelia escape, and prepare to destroy the place. They shoot up the women in tubes, but the one-armed Dr. King tries to kill Amelia, only to get shot in the back by Tom. Tom is all about shooting in the back. It’s the safest way. “Like father, like son,” they say, except Dr. King and SharkMan died totally different ways. Also, since Dr. King’s crazy rants and SharkMan’s random attacks were the only interesting things, the rest of the film will suck. The lab ends up exploding in a CGI fireball as Tom and Amelia escape, and they end up loving each other. The End.
Epilogue – She has a shark baby! Not! I wish, that would have made the film 1000x better! Instead, no epilogue.
So the film is over, but for a Nu Image shark movie, how does it fare? Shark Attack 3 will always reign supreme, but it was far better than the first two Shark Attacks, Shark Zone, and Raging Sharks. Still, it is the last Nu Image shark movie made. Shark movies in general have hit a dry spell for now, with only Spring Break Shark Attack being notable for badness sake. Alligator/crocodile films have taken off, even many hitting theaters, but as most of them are terrible, I am confident that DTV movies everywhere will once again return to the tried and true greatest threat to mankind in the water: sharks!
Rated 6/10 (Computer readout, Devil’s Chopper, Man in suit, Upgrade girlfriend, Gunboat of Doom, Corn Flakes)
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