“Welcome to the endangered species list, you bastard!”
Designed as a sequel to Dinocroc (2004), Dinoshark (2010) riffs on the same premise of an ancient creature determined to chase after more white meat (us), although in this incarnation, the creature isn’t the product of weird DNA experiments. Not unlike the premise for Piranha 3D (2010) – a film on which director Kevin O’Neill also designed the special effects – a chain of natural events releases the dormant missing links, one of which makes its way from Alaska to Mexico.
Dinoshark, in fact, is very close to producer Roger Corman’s original Piranha (1978): once the reptile-styled carnivore is loose, it migrates down the tourist coast, lunching on stray humans, including a teen water polo team. There’s a studly hero (Eric Balfour, and his ever-changing stubble) and egghead heroine (Iva Hasperger), a loyal sidekick (Aaron Diaz), and the money-minded resort owner (played by supervising producer Dan Golden) who insists on staging a ‘fiesta’ regardless of the risks. The goal is to make people believe in the creature, and chase it down until a serendipitous moment enables a sweet killshot (which must be a direct hit to the eye).
Shot prior to Sharktopus (2010), Dinoshark makes use of the same Puerto Vallarta locations and key crew (plus a small role for Liv Boughn), but it’s played generally straight, and the script devotes a fair amount of time building up the characters before a ore steady stream of deaths. The lead actors are also quite strong... but that sort of robs the film of the type of fromage necessary to make a perfect B-movie.
Sharktopus and Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009) offer the perfect balance of mediocre acting, fading stars slumming through scenes, and absurd deaths, whereas Dinoshark takes things much more seriously. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the film feels far too similar to Corman’s Piranha films (and its sequels and remakes), so there’s nothing new for B-movie fans, although the beach + bikini + boobs + buns quotient is ridiculously high.
Like Sharktopus, Corman’s production offers the same gorgeous cinematography and locations, and director O’Neill made sure to get plenty of coverage to milk montages and pad the film. The effects are less impressive than Sharktopus, and the reliance on CGI perhaps ribbed the film of some needed cheese via practical effects (be it fake fins or more shots of the creature chomping on human chum).
Eduardo Flores Torres’ cinematography is gorgeous, and on Blu-ray the image is sharp and very robust, with glowing reds and saturated blues. Newcomer composer Cynthia Brown (whom Corman states was his assistant during production) wrote a solid dramatic score, balancing orchestral and electronic cues which really support the film when the familiar dialogue and scenes start to grow a bit weary.
Bonus features include a trailer, and a running commentary with producers Roger and Julie Corman, and director O’Neill. Moderator Perry Martin keeps the facts and anecdotes flowing, and O’Neill came prepared with great production apocrypha, including the numerous Mexican, Canadian & Americans living in Puerto Vallarta.
Other Corman recent creature features in the vein of genetically preposterous creatures include Dinocroc (2004), Scorpius Gigantus (2006), Supergator (2007), Dinoshark (2010), and Sharktopus (2010).
© 2011 Mark R. Hasan