Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dino Mighty!

Dinoshark  (New Horizons, 2010)

Before the Camera:

Eric Balfour  (Skyline)
Iva Hasperger  (Cloud Seven)
Aarón Díaz  (Amor xtremo)
Humberto Busto  (Borderland)
Guillermo Iván  (Vantage Point)
Liv Boughn  (Sharktopus)
Benjamin Woodlock  (Dinoshark's production assistant)
Dan Golden  (Wizards of the Demon Sword)
Sara Kova  (Cheerleader Massacre 2)
Roger Corman (The Man Himself!)
Dr. Reeves

Behind the Camera:

Directed by Kevin O'Neill

Produced by Roger Corman and Julie Corman

Written by Frances Doel and Guy Prevost

While the movie itself is not going to win any awards, it's just comforting to know that the King of Pop Cinema is still going strong in his 80's, whipping out goofy and disposable monster movies in the 21st century just like he has since 1954's Monster from the Ocean Floor. What an incredible career! This flick gets right off to a start with some impressive crashing ice floe footage, signalling yet another "beastie released from arctic ice menaces the world" setup. I kind of like not having to spend several screen minutes figuring out where the monster is coming from and why, and I think Roger Corman shares this feeling. Digression time for two practically pertinent Corman stories: he likes to get right to the action in his movies before settling in for any plot - and there is a great story that he once told a director the script in production had too much setup in the opening pages. When the director asked how Roger wanted him to handle it, Roger said he'd take care of it, ripped the first ten pages out of the script, and handed the remaining pages to the director. "Shoot that." And Roger explained his favorite way for a movie to bring in a monster in his opening introduction to Bert I. Gordon's Earth vs the Spider on AMC's Monsterfest back in 1999 - according to Corman, the spider "just kind of showed up one day." And, bearing back to our topic, so does the Dinoshark just "show up one day" when the ice floe busts up in the opening scene, releasing several tiny pollywog critters into the sea. (And with maximum efficiency we just got this movie off to a start and set up as many sequels as they care to make, since about thirty of the little buggers are seen swimming off into the deep...)
Our titular star.

Cut to "three years later", and the requisite opening victim dutifully planting himself in the critter's mouth with a gush of CGI blood. Now it's time for a little plot as we are introduced to Trace McGraw (Balfour), a slightly ne'er do well coming back home to Puerta Vallarta Mexico with his tail a bit between his legs. He jumps right in to a job running a tourist boat for an old pal, and making a bit of time with "marine volleyball coach" Carol Brubaker (Hasperger), who also happens to be a science teacher. This double duty conveniently fulfills two cinematic needs - it gets us some young women in bikinis primed to get in the water on the one hand, and gives us someone to feed us cabbagehead dialogue explaining the Dinoshark on the other. Nice! After these developments, naturally Trace sees the prehistoric chomper eat a boat, which conveniently leaves no evidence of the attack. Of course, no one believes him. Finally, the critter runs out of people in the isolated areas around the city and it gobbles up someone right by the beach. Now it's up to the authorities - led for some reason by a tourist boat pilot and a volleyball coach - to save the day. But it's not going to be easy to kill something as tough as Dinoshark, so Carol calls on her old friend Dr. Frank Reeves, and we are delighted to see the role of the aging scientific advisor is being played by Roger Corman himself!

The Man, the Legend, the Movie Institution.
And next to him, Roger Corman.
 But even with Reeve's brilliant advice and mariachi band volume control talents, can anyone stop a beast from 150 million years ago as it chews its way through the tourist population of Mexico and at least one helicopter as fast as its computer generated fins can propel it?

Digital effect helicopter, meet digital effect prehistoric shark!

This is a decent enough monster romp, directed by visual effects guru Kevin O'Neill under the guidance of producer Corman. That's Julie Corman, by the by, as the King sets up the deals and takes the script through pre-production, but the Queen is the one standing over the director's shoulder on these Combo Corman productions. And you'll be better prepared for the movie's shortcomings as long as you know going in that due to it being produced for the Syuh Fyuh channel, there are some elements that work against the movie from the get go. Firstly, it is another of the network's patented "CGI monster with a couple of recognizable faces flick," with computer effects that range from pretty good (the beast underwater by itself looks pretty cool) to pretty bad (the moment when the Dinoshark eats a CGI crocodile peeking up out of the water looks like they combined a swipe effect with a water splash, and simply turned off the crocodile file midshot, as the croc head just disappears from one frame to the next.) The attacks are not particularly gory, mainly fast chomps with CGI blood splashes. There are a couple of prosthetic body parts floating around, but there should have been more. And lastly, and most damning - NO NUDITY! It's hard to believe after watching some old school Corman flicks like Humanoids from the Deep and Private Duty Nurses, where clothes fly off with wild abandon, that this movie never takes one opportunity to at least drop in one added scene unseen on cable with some young hottie shedding her bikini for no particular reason before the Dinoshark shows up, but no. Stupid cable TV constraints!
    But, on the plus side, the main cast is fairly earnest, with Balfour turning in a pretty good perf as the reluctant hero, and it's awesome that Corman took on the old scientist role - which makes me wonder, did he cast himself right off, or was there another recognizable face - like Eric Roberts or Corbin Bernsen - lined up who fell through at the last minute? The disc's commentary might tell me - but I haven't listened to it yet. Basically, with some snarky friends and a six-pack or two this would be a pretty good watch. So if you're into movies where massed pixels cause very low budget mayhem (lots of extras eaten, very little property destruction) then this might work for you, otherwise steer clear!

Let's Get Out of Here ?

At around the 47:00 mark, Benjamin Woodlock is raring to get in that kayak and get eaten.

Eye Candy ?

There are a couple of cute girls, but for playing along wth Syuh Fyuh's "No Nudity" clause that flies in the face of all that is Corman...


Buddha Man's Capsule Review
Buddha Man says "Dinoshark coasts a bit on the goodwill
established by Roger Corman across almost 60 (!) years of
filmmaking, but but it's certainly worth a look for monster
movie fans."

Nice one, BM! Until next post you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. Ahh. Dinoshark, a true cheestastic classic. I love to indulge in a film like this every once in a while. I don't like the CGIs, I prefer the Harryhausen method of monster-making, but those pixels are the way things are going. I'm also a fan of the monster suit ala the old Godzilla flix. I didn't mind the no-nudity because well, Corman and those guys never think of the female viewing audience. I would love a naked man every now and again instead of T & A. ;)

  2. Yup, CGI is a quick fix, but for sheer monsteristic poetry of motion, you can't beat a dude tromping through scenes in a suit.

    UltraMan, UltraMan, where art thou?

  3. Melissa - I prefer stop motion too, but that means watching almost no movies made after 1981 (!) if you only watch dimensional animation! Of course, there's lots of guys in monster suit movies - and when that's done well, it rocks too! And I know it's a double standard with the whole nudity thing - I will mention a movie called Daddy's Boys, which you might be able to track down - after the home video success of Big Bad Mama II - with bank robbing mom Angie Dickinson and her hottie daughters gallivanting about, Corman had director Jim Wynorski basically make the movie again, this time with a bank robbing dad and his two hottie sons! Not on DVD, and I can't vouch for the quality as I've not seen it - but Wynorski makes some good B movie cheese, so maybe?

    Joe! Suitmation for you; stop motion or suitmation for Mel - there is no joy in CGITechVille tonight...