Monday, April 25, 2011


I admit to having a tendency to enjoy, in a slightly guilty way, the low-budget monster movies found on the Syfy Channel. Movies like Wyvern, Fire Serpent, Supercroc, the immortal Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus…big creatures who like to eat people. Lately, having exhausting the conventional monsters of mythology and legend, Syfy has moved on to “mash-ups”, and the ultimate of these is the wonderfully named Sharktopus (I suppose the idea is a combination of a shark and an octopus is the most scary hybrid imaginable, although personally, I think the Octomom is scarier).

A creepy corporation has developed the half-shark, half octopus (it also has spines sticking out of its sides, so there may be a little porcupine in there as well) for the defense department as the “ultimate weapon” – against someone, I suppose. Maybe they want calamari that fights back. The beast is tested by Evil Navy Guy in a scene which consciously spoofs the opening of Jaws, with the deadly creature being controlled by a device belted loosely around its midriff. If you’re thinking “that belt is going to come off”, you’ve figured it out. The belt comes off, and the monster goes wild, killing anyone around the beach at PuertoVallarta. Apparently, this beach attracts stupid people, because no matter how many people meet gruesome deaths in plain view of the other beachgoers, no one thinks to go home and come back on a more sharktopus-free day. Pretty much everyone is attacked, and the viewers rooting interest briefly swings in favor of the monster when it kills a trio of jetskiers, who deserve what they get.

Corporate Guy is under pressure from Evil Navy Guy to get the sharktopus under control before the media gets the story, ignoring the presence of news crews and the frequent TV spots about the attacks. Apparently, it will mean disaster if the public learns of the sharktopus, since then everyone would know it was a Navy project. Because that’s so rational. Corporate Guy hires a sharktopus hunter, who, in a feeble attempt at a subplot, was once fired by the Corporate Guy for asking for a raise. The Fearless Sharktopus Hunter is offered $300,000 for the job (later upped to a cool million) because “only he can do the job.” His method consists of boating aimlessly around the monster’s feeding ground and shooting a machine gun at it when it shows up, a worse plan than it seems, since the sharktopus is bulletproof, due to the production company being unable to afford CGI bullet holes. It is also revealed the sharktopus (no matter how many times I type that, it is still a ridiculous word) can use it’s eight legs to leave the water and walk around on land hunting for prey, just like a real octopus. Or something.

Eventually, stuff blows up, the creature is killed, Corporate Guy bites it, and The Fearless Sharktopus Hunter falls in love with Corporate Guy’s daughter, because they are the only ones left.

I usually say to people who watch a movie like this and complain about bad acting, a dumb plot and cheap CGI “It’s called Sharktopus, what did you expect?” That’s still valid here, but this truly is an atrocious movie, even by the dubious standards of the SyFy Channel. There isn’t enough plot to sustain the length, and even at 80 minutes, it felt long. Eric Roberts was obviously brought in to add a little class and professionalism, but it made things worse, since having him in a scene just emphasized how bad his co-stars were. The romantic couple who were the more-or-less leads were grating, and should have ended up sharktopus food. A subplot about a TV newswoman only served to kill time and provide more bodies for the butcher’s bill. Also, if you are going to name a character Pez, you should have him decapitated, right. What a missed opportunity.

I’m afraid Sharktopus is a movie to miss, much like the Puerto Vallarta beaches in sharktopus season. It’s definitely no Mansquito.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Kealan Patrick Burke

The historic 10th interview in the We Interrupt This Author series is up at Horror World, and to mark the special occasion, the victim this time is one of the absolute best authors writing today, Kealan Patrick Burke (Currency of Souls, Seldom Seen In August). Don't hate him because he's handsome, like him because he's an amazing writer.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Who Goes There?

You can find out what I think of Rocket Ride Books' edition of John W. Campbell's classic sci-fi/horror novella "Who Goes There?" by clicking over to Horror World. While I'm at it, let me put in an unsolicited plug. The last two books I've reviewed for Horror World have been from Rocket Ride, and I've been very impressed with their quality and professionalism.

Shotgun Honey

Got a taste for some hard-boiled crime fiction but not a lot of time? Try Shotgun Honey, a new site featuring short, gritty crime stories. The site is operated by the proprietor of the late, lamented Chop Shop Horror Show, and will feature some of the best writers working in the crime genre. The first story is "Two-Phones" by Dan O'Shea. Check it out.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pre-Order The Five

I've read a lot of books, and I've met a lot of writers. That has left me a little jaded, a little aloof from the heat of fandom. However, there are a few writers who turn me into your basic fanboy. Stephen King, of course. The incomparable Joe Lansdale. And Alabama's own Robert R. McCammon, who has written books that can stand up to the best the genre has to offer. I've been a fan of his since the beginning of his career, and you can check out my reviews of Usher's Passing, The Night Boat, They Thirst and Mystery Walk on this site to see how I feel. It's been nearly twenty years since McCammon published a novel set in contemporary times, but the wait is almost over. His new novel The Five will be published in May or June and can be pre-ordered now at Amazon. This is a momentous occasion, and if you are a McCammon fan, you should plan on getting this one. If you are not a McCammon should be.

Friday, April 1, 2011

KINCAID: A Paranormal Casebook

My review of the aforementioned KINCAID: A Paranormal Casebook by William F. Nolan is now up at Horror World. It is published by Rocket Ride Books.