When the first Sharknado burst onto the scene, it destroyed expectations that it would be horrible; in fact, it brought in 1.4 million viewers for its premiere. Sharknado 2: The Second One more than doubled that figure, bringing in a staggering 3.9 million viewers for its first showing.
That makes Sharknado 2 SyFy’s most watched original movie ever.
The budget was obviously tiny based on the fact that the special effects looked like a twelve-year-old was in charge of them. Why would some strange film about a ridiculous sharknado bring in record viewers?
Fans of B-horror movies already know the answer. For the rest of the world, the explanation is still simple: sometimes a movie gets so terrible that it actually cycles right back around to awesome.
In good movies, the rules of the universe are important. In Harry Potter, for instance, magic is made with a wand, potion, or magical item/creature, nothing else. In fact, many wizards are glorified muggles without a wand.
In Sharknado, their universe is just as stable. Sure, the idea of an actual sharknado is laughable, but so is a dragon guarding a bank the size of Gringotts.
In the Sharknado-verse, chainsaws are magical weapons that can cut through anything without harming the wielder. Sharks are little more than blood-filled leather balloons, and people can survive ridiculously large falls, provided they’ve been eaten by a shark first and receive CPR in time.
At least one aspect of the sharknado is realistic: how tornadoes are formed. When it comes to lifting hordes of sharks into the air for prolonged periods of time? Not so much.
Sharknado follows its own set of rules, and it doesn’t break away from that in order to shock the viewer. How bad would Harry Potter have been if sometime in the middle of the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak just randomly gave him the ability to fly? It’d be confusing and strange. Viewers would demand an explanation, and J.K. Rowling would be under pressure to provide that answer.
Sharknado may stick to its guns when it comes to its fictional world, but anyone who has watched the first or the second film can tell you that both Sharknado movies were bad — terrible, even. What makes them so bad that they actually turn out to be good?
The bad becomes good in Sharknado 2 through several factors.
The first thing that pushes the film towards being good is when you take actors and throw them into the single most ridiculous plot that’s ever been dreamed up. Sharknado is logic-defying, but still somehow makes sense thanks in part to the actors putting their hearts into their respective parts. Maybe they didn’t take their parts completely seriously, but they owned the characters in a way that brought them to life.
A good acting job can suck viewers into just about any plot.
Another thing that flipped Sharknado 2 from bad to good is the amount of commitment in the writing and directing. The people behind Sharknado know that people love it because it’s cheesy, unique, and gory. So in Sharknado 2, they owned those aspects. They doubled down on the shark puns and added in more gore than most legitimate horror movies have ever had.
Speaking of being unique (minor spoiler here), can you say flaming sharknado?
Finally, references can elevate a bad movie like Sharknado into good territory. People like to be able to relate to the movies they watch. Obviously relating to a sharknado disaster is far from being feasible, and so Sharknado makes its references in other ways.
The easiest references to see in Sharknado 2: The Second One are the celebrity cameos, and there were a lot of them. Not including the main cast, there was: Judd Hirsch, Kurt Angle, Benjy Bronk, Billy Ray Cyrus, Sandra ‘Pepa’ Denton, Andy Dick, Jared Fogle (that guy from those Subway commercials), Judah Friedlander, Perez Hilton, Matt Lauer, Biz Markie, Kelly Osbourne, Kelly Ripa, and Al Roker (among others). Sharknado 2 even features geek royalty, Wil Wheaton and his wife Anne.
A little more subtle were the references to the cult classic Evil Dead/Army of Darkness; the pose (as seen above), the chainsaws, the one-handed antics? It’s all in Sharknado 2, bringing to viewers’ minds thoughts about Bruce Campbell’s character, Ash.
In the end, movie makers can’t always predict how their films will be received. The Asylum, the production company of Sharknado 2: The Second One, specializes in terrible films. Sometimes they get the “so bad it’s good” ratio just right.
Sharknado 2 raised the bar for the genre.
For more of The Asylum’s films that fall into the terrible-awesome category, check out: Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012), Battledogs (2013), and, of course, the first Sharknado (2013).
[ Image courtesy of Syfy ]