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Lake Placid vs Anaconda

D: A.B. Stone / 91m

Cast: Corin Nemec, Yancy Butler, Stephen Billington, Skye Lourie, Oliver Walker, Ali Eagle, Annabel Wright, Laura Dale, Robert Englund

When the Wexel Corporation decides to create a hybrid anaconda/crocodile in order to increase their chances of procuring the rare properties of the Blood Orchid plant, their attempts to do so lead to both creatures being on the loose in and around Black Lake and Clear Lake. Fish and Wildlife ranger Will Tull (Nemec) and local sheriff Reba (Butler) team up to track and hunt them while at the same time trying to keep the news of the creatures’ escape quiet from the local residents.

Tull’s daughter, Bethany (Lourie), however, is at Clear Lake as part of her sorority pledge, and soon finds herself and her friends at the mercy of several crocodiles. While Tull and Reba try to find her, and fight off the attacks of the crocodiles, Wexel head Sarah Murdoch (Wright), along with hired muscle Beach (Billington) and two of his men, track the female anaconda who is due to lay her cross-fertilised eggs anytime soon. As the body count rises, the importance of finding the female anaconda before this happens becomes of paramount importance.

Lake Placid vs Anaconda - scene

For anyone who thought Lake Placid: The Final Chapter (2012) was really the final entry in the series, here’s yet another stab at the idea that ran out of steam in Lake Placid 2 (2007). If you’ve seen The Final Chapter, then as far as the crocodile parts of this movie go it’s very much business as usual, with Butler and England returning to provide a link with the previous instalment (and both looking as if they’ve regretted it). The inclusion of the anacondas from that particular series, along with the quest for the life-giving properties of the Blood Orchid, was probably felt to be a good enough idea to kickstart a new franchise – you can guess what happens in the final scene – but the whole teens in peril/let’s hunt predators in the woods set up is as dull and uninspired as it was before in both series.

Rookie director Stone is unable to make anything out of Berkeley Anderson’s patchwork script, and the performances range from perfunctory to embarrassing (Walker’s comedy deputy). Once again the special effects are of the sub-par CGI variety, with the requisite blood splatters looking even more fake than usual. The anacondas play second fiddle to the crocodiles, while the lacklustre Bulgarian locations give a clear indication of how far both series’ have fallen in terms of their production values. If, as seems likely, there’s to be another in the (joint) series, then it’s hard to imagine it could be any worse than this entry.

Rating: 3/10 – of only superficial interest, and one for the fans if no one else, Lake Placid vs Anaconda is an attempt at regenerating two flagging franchises that falls flat on its face within the first five minutes; that it’s terrible from start to finish is a given, but you have to see it to realise just how terrible it actually is.

 

Sharknado 3

D: Anthony C. Ferrante / 88m

Cast: Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Cassie Scerbo, Frankie Muniz, Ryan Newman, David Hasselhoff, Bo Derek, Mark Cuban

In Washington D.C. to receive a Freedom medal from the President (Cuban), unlucky hero Fin Shepard (Ziering) finds himself dealing with yet another, more intense sharknado that causes an incredible amount of destruction, hundreds of deaths, and leads to Fin saving the President’s life. Worse still, a series of storms out in the Atlantic are converging on America’s east coast, and look set to generate the worst, most devastating sharknado of them all. With his ex-wife April (Reid) close to giving birth, and spending some time with her mother May (Derek) and daughter Claudia (Newman) at the Universal Studios theme park in Florida, Fin determines to get to her as quickly as possible, and make sure she’s safe.

With mini-sharknados popping up out of the blue on his journey south, Fin finds himself rescued from one such obstacle by his friend and partner in shark killing, Nova (Scerbo). She and a friend, Lucas (Muniz) have been trying to find a way of stopping the sharknados from happening ever again, but as they help Fin get to Florida, their vehicle is destroyed and they’re forced to fly there. After a crash landing, Fin and April are reunited, and together with Nova they come up with a plan to put paid to the approaching weather system, but their plan fails, leaving Fin with only one option: to ask for help from his father, a retired NASA Colonel (Hasselhoff). By using a space shuttle, their plan is to drop the main fuel tank into the eye of the storm, but when that idea proves ineffective, there’s only one thing left to do: use the supposedly defunct Star Wars programme from the Eighties…

Sharknado 3 - scene

The first Sharknado (2013) was awful, dreadful rubbish that seemed unaware of its failings or how terrible it was. The second – aptly titled Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) – was much better as it tried to be ironic and aware of its own absurdity. With Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, the makers have upped their game considerably in terms of how insane it all is and by throwing away the rule book entirely (this is perhaps the only movie where you’ll hear the line, “There’s sharks… in space!”). The sharks literally pop up out of nowhere: inside buildings, on staircases, through windows, and memorably, in the President’s secure underground bunker. With no thought to logic or any consideration for providing some level of working coherence, the movie races through each preposterous scene in Thunder Levin’s script with all the intended mayhem of a five year old with ADHD.

It’s a movie that’s incredibly, ridiculously stupid… and yet, by going balls out in terms of how absurd it can be, the movie actually attains a degree of charm that the previous movies never managed. It’s also laugh out loud funny in a way that doesn’t alienate the viewer, or have them shaking their head and groaning in despair. Instead, the laughs come thick and fast because of all the preposterous antics going on, and it’s clear the makers have just decided to make the movie as bizarre and reckless as they possibly can. Returning cast members Ziering, Reid and Scerbo play it as straight as they can, while there’s a plethora of cameos – Jerry Springer, Chris Jericho, Jedward, Lou Ferrigno, Jackie Collins, and Ne-Yo to name but a few – that adds to the fun, and the low rent special effects show no signs of being improved upon. With the potential for yet another episode to come, it’s hard to think how much more barmy this series can get.

Rating: 4/10 – as each movie improves on the last, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! is (currently) the series’ zenith and nadir combined, and shows that its makers have a firmer grasp on what makes these movies so successful; still terrible though in many, many, many ways, by trading on its own idiocy the movie makes a virtue of being extremely silly and defiantly farcical.

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