by Aaron Riccio
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Raging Sharks is the poor man’s combination of early Spielberg films. It most resembles Jaws, book-ended by the benign aliens from ET or Close Encounters, plus an unhealthy fixation on being as overly long as AI. There’s also a vindictive over-saturation of swearing amongst the scientists of Sealab Oshana (which I’m sure the writer extensively researched). With all these dissonant elements, Raging Sharks has been prevented from taking its rightful place amongst low-budget Sci-Fi Channel original films like Tornado!
It’s obvious that Les Weldon knows nothing about sharks, scientists, surfing, submarines or anything else he decided to pack into 90 minutes of film. He can’t have been sober when deciding that sharks could mangle a mini-sub and destroy a sea-lab but leave a torpedo firing submarine undamaged. Nor could he have explained why the sharks are unable to kill Corin Nemec or his girlfriend, but gleefully go after news reporters and beach-goers far off in the distance. Nor is it clear how a wet-suit is put on in the space of ten seconds, nor why Boston is apparently next door to Bermuda. The real question, of course, is who is more foolish: the fool who write the script, or the fool who filmed it.
While Danny Lerner is blind to the “tiny details, he’s also deaf when it comes to acting. He’s assembled a crew of decent-looking actors (like Vanessa Angel, who used to play a sex-god computer program), none of whom can deliver lines with any belief. Of course, his poor selection may have just been due to higher profile actors actually reading the script or seeing the set.
There’s a reason there’s never been a film with aliens and sharks before: the flimsy logic behind their meeting is too bad to be plausible and not schlocky enough to be cult. Yeah, that’s right: alien crystals—in addition to being cold fusion power cells—can also magnetically control sharks. Furthermore, protecting their damaged fuel—in the alien language—means that they should kill everyone in the vicinity.
After forty-five minutes of gratuitous carnage (all utilizing the same montage of stock shark attack footage) interspersed with exposition down on Oshana (which even the movie calls an outdated 1980’s “sea lab”), we see nothing more of the titular raging sharks. Now Raging Sharks is about six rapidly dying crew members and a government infiltrator after alien technology and their struggle to turn ten minutes of air left in the underwater station into forty-five more minutes of film.
When you strip away the bad dialogue (“Did you try deutronium?” “No, deutronium? Ohhhhh!”), horrendous acting (lots of double and triple takes, not to mention constant utterances of incredulousness and sinister overtones), you’re left with ten minutes of film. That movie could be titled “Corin Nemec vs. Todd Jensen” and might perhaps draw a larger audience, one full of the fans that keep getting them cast in silly and insignificant films.
Make no mistake, Raging Sharks is ninety minutes of underwhelming footage. It may attempt to disguise this with a variety of genres, but a bad script and bad actors are poor costumes. But, hey, to the true shark and alien fetishists: enjoy!
Aaron Riccio is a writer and film critic in New York City.
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