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July 18, 2013

Things I Learned from Sharknado
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:02 AM * 69 comments

Things I learned from Sharknado:

  • You can dissipate an EF-4 tornado by dropping a bomb made from a blowtorch tank and a highway flare into it from a helicopter.
  • In the middle of a hurricane roads will be dry and outdoor light will be strong with well-defined shadows.
  • Water flows up hill.
  • When a shark falls from a thousand feet in the air onto pavement, not only will it survive it will be hungry and rush toward the nearest humans and attempt to eat them.
  • Tough as sharks are, a single shot from a short-barreled revolver will kill any shark.
  • Nothing can knock out electric power in Southern California.
  • Having a shark bite your leg will not in any way limit your ability to run, jump, climb, drive a car, or otherwise maneuver.
  • LA drivers are so blasé that when a Ferris wheel rolls across a highway and smashes into a building in front of them they will continue to drive normally on the street below the wreckage.
Comments on Things I Learned from Sharknado:
#1 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 12:09 AM:

Just wait until PiranhaCane!

#2 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 12:20 AM:

QUAKEGATOR: A Richter-Scale 10 earthquake in Florida's Everglades sends ravenous alligators crashing into the upper floors of highrises in downtown Miami.

You will believe an alligator can fly....

#3 ::: Chaz ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 12:46 AM:

VOLECANO: As a Mt. St. Helens starts rumbling, millions of cute, furry, HIGHLY ENRAGED rodents fall from the skies of Seattle.

#4 ::: Helix ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 12:52 AM:

'Snail Hail'. That's what I want to see.

#5 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 01:31 AM:

You can have sharks carried 10 miles through the air, over a mountain range, to drop on an airport, and they'll be alive and hungry when they land.

Oh yeah: and you can have an actual hurricane hit Los Angeles without flooding half the region.

#6 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 01:31 AM:

I misread #1 as PiranhaCabaret. Just in case anyone needs a new sub-genre....

#7 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 01:35 AM:

6
They sing! They dance! They eat you alive!

#8 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 01:44 AM:

There actually is a Piranhaconda.

#9 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 01:46 AM:

#3 Sequel: BADGERCANO!

* * *
I just finished watching Sharknado ten minutes ago.

The people who created it obviously loved film making; they wanted to make movies in the worst possible way, and succeeded.

#10 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 03:41 AM:

Nancy @ #6

I read that as PiranhaCabernet - wine with a bite to it and a slightly fishy aroma.

#11 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 03:49 AM:

The triggering event in Quakegator also results in Badgernami in which a wave of badgers doing calisthenics sweeps across America and is finally halted by the Air Force carpet bombing them with snakes.

#12 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 06:51 AM:

My mom was telling me about Sharknado the other night. The only question is whether this is something on the order of Plan 9, so bad it's fun to laugh at.

#13 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 10:39 AM:

Dave Harmon... The local con's Green Slime Awards jury is of the opinion that "Sharkando" is rather lackluster, and that the Award will probably go to "Chupacabra vs Eric Estrada".

#14 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 11:19 AM:

Chupacabra vs. Erik Estrada trailer.

Is Sharknado a good movie? Dunno. It got me to write a front-door post, while the brilliant and thoughtful Pacific Rim just got a mention in an open thread.

Sharknado, a movie based on the fact that CGI has become very inexpensive, requires that you forget everything you know about tornadoes, sharks, water, storms, helicopters, driving, breathing, propane, rappelling, school buses, wind, sun, rain, and human nature. On the other hand, the sense of wonder is strong in this one; the constant reaction is "I wonder what blatant stupidity they'll do next!"

Is it Ed-Wood-Enjoyable? No, not really. It's too polished, and has less of the single-point-of-obsession-view quality that Wood's movies had. But is it fun, particularly at home (where you can talk to the screen) with friends (who are also talking to the screen) and where both beer and popcorn are available.

(NOTE: In general, talking to the screen is a mortal sin. But in this case the Pope has granted a plenary indulgence. This is because exclamations like "Nah! Tell me they didn't just ... I don't believe it!" are involuntary.)

This is a good bad movie. As opposed to something like Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters which was just plain bad. How bad was H&G?? So bad that even Pihla Viitala stripped down to bare metal couldn't save it.

#15 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 11:31 AM:

By the way, the writer of "Sharknado", whose interview on the subject was hilarious, graduated at the same school as SF writer Michael Burstein. Michael refuses to share any blame for the whole affair.

#16 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 11:52 AM:

There is a certain amount of historical evidence for rains of fish, frogs, etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raining_animals

#17 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 12:19 PM:

The fish/frogs etc. that rain from the sky tend to be a) small, and b) dead. From freezing if not from blunt-force trauma.

This movie looks like it was fun all the way around; fun to come up with the concept, fun to write, fun to make, fun to be in, and fun to watch. It makes No Sense Whatever, but neither do roller coasters.

(I am looking forward to Volecano, though. CGI is way inexpensive.)

#18 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 12:52 PM:

12
Dave, It appears to be on that level, and people have been having a great deal of fun laughing at it. (Last week, it got live-blogged at Daily Kos. The comments were ... well, something like the ones here.)

#19 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 01:00 PM:

Jim @ 14

They seem to make out that Hansel and Gretel is in some sort of alternate world. If it were set in an historical world, one of the film gimmicks cannot have happened before 1922.

It's in some of the same territory as Van Helsing (which is reportedly getting the reboot treatment, less than a decade after the original). Van Helsing is nominally around 1890.

Tell you want, lets make a Frankenstein movie set in 1916, with Herr Doctor Frankenstein a few miles from Verdun, on the German side, of course. And two agents of the Deuxieme Bureau, Madeleine Dupin and Madame L'Espanaye, are inserted behind enemy lines by the French airship Republique.

Doctor Frankenstein has a problem. All the bodies he can get are damaged. But when he can assemble enough, Germany will have an unstoppable army!

Luckily, some of the frankensteinarbeiter turn out to have French components, which are aroused by the sight of Madeleine Dupin in her underwear.

They'll never make a movie like that.

#20 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 01:08 PM:

Clockwork-and-steam WWI German corpse-constructs were a component of Sucker Punch. I'll really have to watch the director's cut of that on DVD: It's some twenty minutes longer than the theatrical version and, so I'm told, what was cut to avoid an R rating was all the exposition which would allow the movie to make sense and the mystery to have a solution.

(Nazi zombies were a component of the previous film by H&G:WH's director, BTW. Dead Snow.)

#21 ::: Stephanie Hughes ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 01:17 PM:

There is a massive fascination in the B-movie genre to combine two dangerous things to create "The Ultimate Dangerous Thing" (Shark + Octopus = "Sharktopus"; Dinosaur + Crocodile = "Dinocroc"; etc.) Sharknado IS something I'd like to see, being a shameless lover of the sheer fromage that modern cinema has to offer.

Oh, and to add in the shtick going on, what about "Komodo-Monsoon"? "Python-Light Rain"? "Dragon-Humidity"? ... "Orcas With A 90% Chance Of Cloud-Coverage"?

#22 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 01:24 PM:

@17 "The fish/frogs etc. that rain from the sky tend to be a) small, and b) dead."

The wikipeia article lists a couple of reported incidents involving cows, although, admittedly, dead and dismembered cows.

#23 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 01:30 PM:

My favorite part of "Sharkanado" was John Heard going 'ow' as a shark takes a bite out of him.

#24 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 01:57 PM:

"Owwwwwww" is the new "nooooooo."

#25 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 02:02 PM:

We did "Snailquake" over on Scalzi's blog.

#26 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 02:21 PM:

"Sharkspark"... A foolih scientist creates a hybrid from a shark and an electric eel. As the opening credits roll, we can hear Dean Martin sing "That's a Moray".

#27 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 02:35 PM:

"Sharknado" is my new favorite word.

Meanwhile, I allege:

Chollacabra: Sucking Thorns of Death!

#28 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 03:23 PM:

What I don't understand is why this movie was a theatrical release. It seems designed for the direct-to-DVD market.

#29 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 03:46 PM:

Lee (28): Not a theatrical release, the Skiffy Channel.

#30 ::: Christopher B. Wright ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 05:53 PM:

I think the observation about LA drivers is probably true.

#31 ::: JaniceG ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 06:49 PM:

This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse: There's going to be a sequel.

#32 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 07:39 PM:

Elephoobleck, fully animated in the style of Dr Seuss, of course.

#33 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 08:23 PM:

Chaz #3: I'm waiting for the sequel MOLECANO...

Either the volcano unleashes angry, tunnelling, short-sighted mammals.

Or, Seattle is drowned in avocado sauce.

#34 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 08:31 PM:

Fragano, isn't mole a cocoa sauce?

#35 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 08:54 PM:

Xopher #34: Depends what the mole is made with. Mole poblano is made with chocolate. Mole de aguacate -- guacamole -- is made with avocados.

#36 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 08:56 PM:

Actually, "mole" is any kind of sauce, at least in Mexico where the word originated. (Compare "guacamole", a sauce made with avocado.) You're thinking of mole poblano, which has cocoa as one ingredient, but also has many others.

#37 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 09:14 PM:

36
Mole colorado, red sauce.
Mole gallego: Galician-style sauce (chile, cinnamon, cloves, pine-nuts, walnuts, sesame seeds, and almonds, with white wine).
Mole del palacio: Palace-style sauce (chile, chocolate, almonds, cinnamon, tomatoes, sesame, more almonds, peanuts).

#38 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 09:59 PM:

Shark with mole pablano might work out pretty well, so long as you take sufficient measures to keep it from becoming human with mole...

#39 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 10:03 PM:

Teresa 27: How about Churrocabra: You Try to Eat It, But It Eats You First?

#40 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 10:21 PM:

Or even mole mole, using the hichiwichi method of defurring (baking in clay and peeling).

#41 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 11:30 PM:

Mary Aileen, #29: Ah, thank you. Much is explained.

As is undoubtedly obvious, this movie failed my "would I spend an hour of my time to watch it" cut so drastically that I didn't pay attention to anything about it.

#42 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2013, 11:44 PM:

Christopher B. Wright @30

You are correct. The only thing that will stop LA drivers is the Ferris wheel stopping in the middle of the road. I speak with the authority of a (soon to be former) native.

#43 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2013, 01:08 AM:

42
Moving doesn't make you a non-native. It makes you an ex-resident. Until you come back.

#44 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2013, 10:47 AM:

When that fishing boat got scooped up the tornado at the beginning of "Sharknado", I wondered if it and a few sharks landed in Oz.

Coming soon!
"Munching on Munchkins"

#45 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2013, 11:57 AM:

I'd thought that what that fishing boat was doing at the start was harvesting sharks' fins to make shark fin soup (which they served to that Chinese Guy in the cabin). So this was really Revenge of the Sharks.

There was a lot of rocking and rolling topside, which didn't fit in with the loose gear just lying around on tables down below (that stuff would be on the deck). And sometimes the fishing boat had a mast and sometimes it didn't. Oh well.

Another thing I learned from this movie: If a young lady wearing a two-piece bathing suit finds herself anywhere near a chest-high movie camera she will be unable to resist the compulsion to run directly at that camera.

Suggested titles for sequel:
Dial M for Mako
CSI*-New York

============
* (Crocodile Sharks Infest)

#46 ::: Steve C ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2013, 01:16 PM:

Serge @ #44 -

"We represent...the predator guild!"

#47 ::: heckblazer ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2013, 05:25 PM:

Someone should totally make a film about piranha crossed with flying fish. You could probably even convince a major director to make it; I'm thinking James Cameron maybe...

#48 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2013, 10:50 PM:

heckblazer, Nat'l Geo has done something close with Asian Carp.

#49 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2013, 02:36 AM:

I'm sorry, Xopher, I'm still laughing at Churrocabra. If we're going with desserts as well as predators, can we have a Cronutilus, a terrifying if overhyped mollusk? Mmmmmm.... are those delicious deep-fried pastry layers, or OH GOD, NOT THE TENTACLES!!

#50 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2013, 08:26 AM:

Serge Broom @#23,

I laughed at that, too. Talk about texting it in!

There were very many moments I had to blurt out something at the screen, despite my wife trying to concentrate on her new iPad, but one of the worst was: Oh, a couple of the sky sharks fell into a pool. I'll just dump a gallon of gasoline into the pool. Then set the pool on fire, as if I've accomplished something. And then run away as the POOL EXPLODES.

I also hated that the sharks flying around in the tornado, once shot by a handgun, died and FELL OUT OF THE SKY. As if only their fins and their determination kept them up in the air.

#51 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2013, 08:29 AM:

It's like the filmmakers and animators worked hard at getting absolutely everything wrong that they could. Basic physics, logic, human nature... Even down to the most subtle details: I noticed one of the CG helicopters hanging from its blades that were still drooped as if parked and still.

#52 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2013, 08:56 AM:

Nangleator... "Another Fin Mess", as Laurel & Hardy would say?

#53 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2013, 10:20 AM:

Heckblazer @47 - a bit of that goes on in Mega Piranha which I was disappointed to discover was not 1 000 000 times better than Piranha or Piranha.

#54 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2013, 11:34 AM:

nerdycellist @49: a Cronutilus, a terrifying if overhyped mollusk? Mmmmmm.... are those delicious deep-fried pastry layers, or OH GOD, NOT THE TENTACLES!!

That sounds like a dessert of no earthly flavour.

#55 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2013, 12:26 PM:

nerdycellist 49: Wait, you're apologizing for laughing at my joke?

#56 ::: Sara E ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2013, 02:36 PM:

LA drivers are so blasé that when a Ferris wheel rolls across a highway and smashes into a building in front of them they will continue to drive normally on the street below the wreckage.

That one is probably true. I think LA drivers wouldn't blink if that happened.

#57 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2013, 03:02 PM:

Nangleator @50: Cartoon physics: Sharknado may be a nadir of filmmaking, but the effects came from Acme.

#58 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2013, 03:05 PM:

56
Well, they'd probably blink: where did that Ferris wheel come from?

#59 ::: PHB ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2013, 04:25 PM:

The film seemed to be an attempt to remake Jaws and Twister as Plan 9 from Outer Space.

The whole opening scene on the boat had absolutely no connection to the plot at all. We are introduced to three characters who have no further role.

The bit with the bomb stopping the hurricane appeared to be a spoof on McGuiver's DIY approach. But it wasn't the silliest part of the movie. That was the bit where the hero holds a chainsaw out in front off him, dives head first into a shark and then cuts his way out of the *side* of the shark. All of which was silly enough, only he manages to (1) pick the exact shark that swallowed the female lead a few moments earlier and (2) hack his way out without chopping said female lead to pieces with said chainsaw.

#60 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2013, 05:14 PM:

hackbalzer @47: Someone should totally make a film about piranha crossed with flying fish.

The Fantasy Trip (the ’70s-vintage RPG that later evolved into GURPS) had piranhakeets — carnivorous birds that attack in swarms with their saw-toothed beaks.

#61 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2013, 08:32 PM:

...dives head first into a shark and then cuts his way out of the *side* of the shark. All of which was silly enough, only he manages to (1) pick the exact shark that swallowed the female lead a few moments earlier and (2) hack his way out without chopping said female lead to pieces with said chainsaw...

The scriptwriter obviously was read far too many Grimm fairy tales as a kid.

#62 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2013, 02:57 AM:

Linkmeister @48: Asian Carp.

Completely off-topic, but I keep waiting for some bright soul to work out that these would be a great source of carbon-neutral fertilizer...(well, okay, maybe not after the processing and transport, but you get what I mean). See also: Purina Salmon Chow on the hoof.

nerdycellist @49: ::falls over laughing::

Nangleator @50: I also hated that the sharks flying around in the tornado, once shot by a handgun, died and FELL OUT OF THE SKY.

::shrieks with laughter; terrifies the guinea pigs::

#64 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 11:51 AM:

Jim: A street cart out front of where I work sells these.

#65 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2013, 02:59 PM:

Jacque @64: That reminds me of a co-worker's Halloween costume a couple years ago. He found a shark costume originally intended for a small dog, where the dog looked out through the shark's open mouth. He dressed in flip-flops, a pair of board shorts, and a lycra rash-guard, and carried a boogie board. He inserted one foot through the shark costume's mouth (and out the open bottom). The effect was giggle-inducing.

#66 ::: Tom Womack ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2013, 07:34 AM:

Avram@60: The Croods featured flying piranha-birds - actually, quite a lot of their creature-building was good fun, and I rather liked the daft American Football opening sequence.

I saw it in Spanish, which I speak poorly, so don't know if the script was a distraction.

#67 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2013, 10:04 AM:

Jacque #62: Completely off-topic, but I keep waiting for some bright soul to work out that these would be a great source of carbon-neutral fertilizer...

That would apply to almost any unwanted and now-dead critter, aka "biomass". In fact, I'd bet that's about what's been happening to any piles of invasive carp that people have already been pulling out of lakes and streams.

The problems, as usual are: (1) the carbon they're made of is from eating stuff we really didn't want eaten in the first place, and (2) The economics of harvesting "surplus" critters are different from those of exterminating invasive vermin. That is, we don't want those carp breeding to densities we can harvest for "cheap" fertilizer, we want them gone, or at least knocked down to levels where they don't cause too much damage. (If there is any such level.)

#68 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2013, 11:15 AM:

There are flying piranha-like reptiles in one of the first season episodes of Primeval, as well. Too bad Connie Willis isn't reading here.

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