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Sharks Love Teens In Canoes! Who Knew?
on March 7, 2015
"Swamp Shark" is another aquatic romp that's been done better many times before, but from the vantage point of a lover of cinematic cheese is still a cause for celebration. The film opens with a corrupt sheriff (Robert Davi) running an illegal rare animal smuggling operation when a giant shark gets out of a tanker truck and jumps into the Louisiana swamp. What could possibly go wrong? While the acting is generally awful throughout, the individual scenes are often almost breathtakingly poetic in their beauty. I offer as an example the very special "whiskey retrieval scene" which is not to be missed. It turns out that sharks like people in canoes. Or on houseboats. Or standing within 10 miles of the shore. You get the picture. Though there is no nudity or really anything objectionable here the romance angles are sickly sweet and ultra-contrived. Be prepared to laugh at the awkwardness all the way around.
In keeping with the genre, it's time for the "Tenth Annual Gatorfest," which is pretty lame even as Gatorfests go, and there is the typical debate about shutting it down or not due to the fishy threat. The police gator patrol, meanwhile, is particularly ineffective at their job. It turns out that our heroes, restauranteur Rachael (Kristy Swanson) and her sister Krystal (Sophie Sinise, yes, Gary's daughter in her dramatic debut) along with various brothers, boyfriends, and the leader of the undercover "Fish and Wildlife SWAT Team" end up either imperiled, imperiling others or themselves, and occasionally menacing a shark in a variety of humorous ways. (Did I mention this is a very rare shark with an exoskeleton?...Oh never mind.) After the least likely escape from the law in history, Krystal turns out to be the least skanky girl in the movie, all while figuring out how to outsmart a fish with a brain the size of a walnut. After the annoying boyfriends get munched and guzzled (and not a moment too soon) there are novel choking scenes and a dune buggy tussle that are not to be missed.
The film concludes with the cast assembling a bomb made from fish and a propane tank and trying to shove it down the shark's throat while sniper Rachael shoots it. (I seem to recall something like that in a movie before...now where was that?) No matter: the resultant and wholly expected toothy smackdown of the evil sheriff is a thing of hilarious beauty. I will tell you that the fish bomb produced an unexpected result, but I won't tell you how the shark is ultimately dispatched as it's a high point of the film.
"Swamp Shark" is in the middle of the pack for contemporary outlandishly ridiculous sea creature films. The special effects are especially poor, which provides one rich layer of the tapestry that makes the film what it is. When you combine the plot, the acting, the romance, and the armored shark in a swamp, it's hard not to appreciate the film, even if only on a very primeval level.