Monday, December 31, 2012

DVD Review: SNOW SHARK (2011)


Studio: Independent Entertainment
Release Date: February 19, 2013
Region Code: 0 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 980 Minutes
Video: 16:9 Widescreen 
Audio: English Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 
Director: Sam Qualiana
Cast: Sam Qualiana, Michael O’Hear, Jackey Hall , Kathy Murphy, CJ Wualiana, Andrew Elias
Tagline: Ancient Snow Beast Modern Killing Machine

Synopsis: In 1999, a team of animal biologists investigating a rash of wildlife killings disappeared in the lonely woods near a small town.  Years later, a local resident claims to have killed a prehistoric carnivorous creature living in the snow.  Now, someone – or something – is making lunch of the locals.  As curiosity-seekers and crypto zoologists descend on the small town, drawn by the legend of the Snow Shark, Mark - sole survivor of an earlier attack - leads an armed and dangerous posse into a deadly battle.  

This was some fun stuff, schlocky in just the right way, lots of bad acting and some pretty terrible effects. So right up front know that this is not a great film, but it's easy to overlook the many shortcomings of a no-budget film about a prehistoric snow shark unleashed from it's icy tomb by an earthquake, it's just too silly not too love the premise alone.  I love the setting, snow bound Upstate New York, Lockport specifically, which is just up the road a bit from where I was born in Ithaca so it's nice to see the neighbors making good. Also, for my tastes there's just not enough winter set horror films, which surprises me, blood-spattered snow looks  just so cool so it's got that going for it, too. 

At the start of the film a professor and his research students are out in the woods investigating the mysterious disappearance of wildlife from the area when they discover that the prehistoric snow shark has been unleashed up on the area after an earthquake  sounds sorta familiar,no - PIRANHA (2010) anyone?  It's all rather quite silly and the set-up is just ridiculous but if you can buy into that stupid premise which is equal part moronic and pure genius there's some fun to be had here, think JAWS meets BIRDEMIC by way of the Syfy Channel and you will have a pretty good grip on what to expect here.

There's lots of amateur z-grade acting which is really quite perfect for what we have here, a schlocky cheese-fest with quite a bit of over emoting, melodramatic anguish and cornball dialogue and that's by design, the film takes itself semi seriously and that alone ads a lot of humor to the proceedings. We have the mayor trying to cover-up the incident, the grieving sheriff driven by revenge, a trio hired by the mayor to take down the creature comprised of a trophy hunter, a crypto zoologist and an animal biologist, and the gun-toting local yokels, of course. It's well stocked with the usual caricatures typical of the genre, everything from JAWS to LAKE PLACID is well represented here. Also, it should be noted we get some gratuitous stripper nudity courtesy of a hot tub party, never underestimate the allure of gratuitous nudity in a no-budget film, that stuff's really important. 

So this is a film about a snow shark, so do we get some actual snow shark action? Oh yeah, you betcha! The star of the special effects must be the awesomely bad foam shark head, a marvel  of an eyesore,  it just killed me that this was supposed to be a prehistoric creature and it looked exactly like a great white, I realize sharks haven't evolved for millions of years but c'mon, that's just awesome, it's a we know this is silly sorta film. There's terrible CGI muzzle flashes, snow splattered fake blood, and some cool miniatures of the shark popping it's head up through the snow and the pre-requisite shark blowing-up finale, fun stuff.

It's not all schlocky fun though, even at just under eighty minutes the film started to drag a bit, it's about twenty minutes too long, a lot of the kills happen off screen and while what we see is indeed blood-soaked it's not exactly grisly, though I did love Santa getting eaten by the snow shark - that was pretty cool kill. 

For a no-budget feature there's tons of special features on this disc including a commentary, three short films from director Sam Qualiana, fun outtakes, twenty four minutes of behind-the-scenes footage of the miniature shark shots featuring the crew blasting the stunt shark with a 20 gauge shotgun, a trailer and an Independent Entertainment Trailer Vault, too. That's way more than we got with the recent SILENT NIGHT Blu-ray. 

 Special Features:
- Audio Commentary with writer/director/actor Sam Qualiana, Producer Greg Lamberson and actor/assistant director Michael O’Hear
- SNOW SHARK 2004 Short Film (10:18)
- A LOVE STORY Short Film (10:42)
- Outtakes (6:33)
- Behind-the-Scenes (24:39)
- SNOW SHARK Trailer (1:57)
- Trailer Vault: FACES OF SCHLOCK (0:54), PORKCHOP (1:31), PORKCHOP 2 (1:47), STIFFED (2:00), ZOMBIE ALLEGIANCE (1:37) 

Verdict: First, it's a film called SNOW SHARK (2011) so you just gotta have some inkling of an idea what you are in for, if not you're probably gonna have a bad time. It's not great cinema but it was a hoot to watch with a few beers, a trash-terpeice of crypto-schlocktology. Say what you will about the quality of the film, my hat is off to the filmmakers whom for under $7,000 braved the harsh NY winter and made a film that was pretty damn entertaining if not exactly good. 2 Outta 5