Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens – A Sharknado Too Far (Review)

 Sharknado: The 4th Awakens - Season 2016

It is hard to believe that the same production company that gives us  Z Nation can continue to  produce such irredeemable rubbish. In Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens the plot is that no sharknadoes have been spotted for five years. Sadly this is not the case in our world.

The Asylum churns these cheese-fests out like so many Babybels.  With substandard gags, acting, stunts and FX the bloom has gone off this teeth filled rose. Perhaps the only thing left  to do is play “spot the cameo” where z-list celebs can be found in their dozens.

It is amazing how many actors actually appear in these things. From David Faustino to Alexandra Paul (who literally looks no different from her “Baywatch” days) the scope was pretty amazing, more so that the actual movie. (At one point it even looked like Melissa Joan Hart was consumed by a flying shark, but her name is not in the credits. So Melissa, was that you?)

Reality “stars” made appearances also. Even Dog the Bounty Hunter, aka Duane “Dog”Chapman and his wife have a small set piece as proprietors of a chainsaw store.

Even Carrot Top made a cameo.  (Like Gottlieb he was also on the Jim Gaffigan Show “The Trial” episode.)

As these “movies” continue to punish those bored enough to watch, the search for “stars” to appear must be hitting rock bottom. Performers so far past their “use by” date popped up in number four.  Poor old Wayne Newton, a fixture in Las Vegas since time out of mind, looked like a Spitting Image puppet version of himself. (Quite sad really.)

Sharknado: The 4th Awakens - Season 2016
Wayne Newton. Is that really you?

Cheryl Tiegs, a personal favorite from back in the day, proved that despite still looking fabulous should have been left to play a silent role. To be succinct, acting is not the lady’s forte.

Others were as funny as the material allowed them to be. Stacey Dash was suitably “witchy” as was her character’s demise. Gilbert Gottfried was, perhaps, the best cameo as he bellowed out “COW-NADO” and so on. (Although not as funny as his cameo on The Jim Gaffigan Show “The Trial.” His “AFFLECK” was truly hysterical.)

Some cameos made no real sense. For instance, Jedward. Does anyone this side of the pond care or even know who these X-Factor twins are?  A minor sensation in 2009 – they came sixth in the competition – is was puzzling to see them included in the movie. The Asylum are either fans or the cameo well has dried up in the US.

One cameo was purely business related. Steve Guttenberg, another personal favorite, stopped by to plug his upcoming SyFy film “2 Lava 2 Lantula! ” Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens is not the first installment to do this, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No gave a plug to The Asylum’s “Z Nation.” The beautiful and talented Kellita Smith appeared as her character in Sgt. Warren and zombies were alluded to.

Sidenote: It looked like another sort of cameo appears  in the movie. At one point, one of the ‘nado’s whirled past the arch in St Louis, Missouri. It smashes the top of the arch and it suddenly looks like the damaged article in another SyFy series  Defiance. The show was cancelled. But, is this a hint that it will be returning withJulie Benz and co?

The main plot dealt with Las Vegas, where a real-life party was held to aid animal charities so at least some good came from this movie, and a shark themed hotel casino.  A giant sandstorm releases the sharks within and the new threat waltzes across the US.

Tara Reid‘s character did not die, she was resurrected by her father played by Gary Busey.  Ian Ziering returned to play Fin Shepard, yet again. (Surely the pay cannot be that good? Ziering must want to do something else by now.)

There really is no discernible plot for this (hopefully) last offering from the Sharknado franchise.  It consists of set pieces slapped together at random. It seems that even writer Thunder Levin is tiring of this mess he created.

The film ends with all the previously eaten Shepard friends and family are rescued by Fin’s son with his tiny chainsaw.  (An odd scene that uses the device of those matryoshka nesting dolls but with sharks…and a whale.)  As the family reunite Fin spots Nova Clark (Cassandra Scerbo) – she was in Sharknado 1 and 3 – atop the Eiffel Tower. 

Sharknado: The 4th Awakens - Season 2016
Jedward…Really??

Does this mean there will be a Sharknado 5? One with an international slant? For the love of all that represents good taste, please no.  Another TV movie with deliberately bad FX, a skeleton storyline and more bad acting than one wet paper bag could possibly hold is too much to bear.

The first one  only became “popular”  when derogatory tweets during the movies broadcast thrust it into the publics eye line. Please SyFy, stop now.

Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! SyFy Cheese with Extra Anchovies

Ian Ziering as Fin Shepard
The SyFy channel has a certain reputation. Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! manages to keep the tradition of cheap and nasty made for TV films alive and well. This third installment of cheese with an extra serving of anchovies proves that no film budget is too low or CG FX too shabby to keep the partnership of The Asylum and SyFy down. The Sharknado franchise is perhaps the first set of films, made for TV or otherwise, to be perpetuated by social media; Twitter made the first film, just plain old Sharknado, an instant hit.

Over the Internet the film, that starred Ian Ziering, Tara Reid and Cassie Scerbo , took on an epic life of its own after celebs began sharing their thoughts on the “faux” horror film that aired on SyFy back in July 2013. The whole thing caught fire with the world’s media and the movie became an honest to goodness phenomena.

Enough so that it spawned (sorry) two more trips to the world of shark-filled tornadoes. The second film took place in New York and the last, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! along the entire east coast of America. In terms of entertainment value, the films may be that bit more enjoyable if one views it intoxicated, or high, or if the viewer concentrates on trying to name all the celebs who have queued up to play cameos in the franchise.

The computer generated FX are laughably bad and the props are abysmal. Floppy bayonets aside, however, Sharknado 3 is funny. There are some perfectly good gags, Bo Derek’s line about the cell phone app is a side splitter. As May Wexler she asks daughter April (Tara Reid) just why, since phones have apps for everything, she doesn’t have one to find her granddaughter who has gone missing at Universal Studios Orlando theme park.

Produced by The Asylum folks, who also brought Z Nation to SyFy, there are a few things that annoy about the film, product placement may not be over zealous but it is there. Xfinity shows up several times (at least once on the side of a NASCAR racer) and Universal Studios Orlando in Florida must be down on visitor numbers to have resorted to this “in your face” advertisement.

Of course the placement of two products is not overly upsetting, realizing that Bo Derek has gotten old is far more disturbing. Granted, Bo looks fantastic for 58, but for those fans of a certain age, 10 never seemed so far away.

Directed by Anthony C. Ferrante the film is not meant to be taken seriously. None of the three were made with that goal in mind. Ferrante was also responsible for Boo a 2005 horror film with better intentions than actual performance, but pretty good viewing nonetheless.

Despite the stars playing their various roles almost painfully straight, the production company (The Asylum) is not above making their own little jokes and giving the audience a little treat. Case in point, Kelitta Smith, who played Sgt. Roberta Warren in Z Nation, has a cameo in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! playing Sgt. Roberta Warren. She holds up the hero and his group, Shepard (Ziering), Nova (Scerbo) and Stevens (former Malcolm in the Middle star Frankie Muniz who is dismembered later by multiple shark bites) at the gate of Charleston Air Force Base.

She doubts Shepard’s claim to know General Gottlieb (Tim Russ) and talks about the sharknado attacks. Stevens tells Warren that it could be worse, it could be zombies. For fans of Z Nation it is a priceless moment and quite possibly the last chance to see Smith as Warren considering how that series ended.

Of course none of the films are meant to be more than a passing nod and wink to those horrifically schlocky horror films of the 1950s and 60s. (Pun intended) A huge amount of ‘Z’ list celebs appear in various cameos, some literally lasting seconds, so the novelty of the films has clearly not worn off.

The plot is simple, each attack or wave of sharknadoes is worse than the last, in this film the sharks actually wind up in space. April asks how can the creatures can survive in space and Fin responds with his own question, “How can they survive in a tornado?” Suspension of disbelief is not required by the audience, the cast have done it for us and they do so quite ably.

Sharknado is not finished either. The latest plug for the franchise has fans voting on whether or not April Shepard lives or dies. With a new tagline of “We’re not finished yet,” it seems that The Asylum, Anthony C. Ferrante and the remaining cast members are not ready to leave the Sharknado verse just yet. If nothing else, Twitter will continue to appreciate the efforts of all concerned as there are still a number of bemused, and amused, tweets that address the made for TV films every time they air.

For sheer novelty value, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! is worth a look by the curious. Viewing of the prior two installments of the franchise is not a requirement and could be hazardous to one’s health; servings of triple cheese with extra anchovies may incur issues of a noxious nature. 3 out of 5 stars for TV-Movie fun and major silliness.

Defiance: The Beauty of Our Weapons (recap and review)

Sharknado comes to Defiance
Last week in Defiance, Datak was captured and told by Nolan that he would probably hang for treason, Stahma and Amanda got into an altercation and Datak’s wife left with a letter opener in her side. Heading to T’evgin’s door, she pleaded for help, much to the dismay of Kindzi and Rahm Tak murdered his wife before telling Bebe to “put on the coffee.” This week in Defiance, The Beauty of Our Weapons brings everything that bit closer to the day of the attack.

Before the end credits roll, Datak asks to die at the Shaming Wall, Berlin gives Amanda a vote of “no confidence” and bails, with former lover Conrad Van Bach, Stahma almost winds up being a very clean snack for Kindzi, Nolan and Irisa share some father/daughter time and later when she has a major meltdown while shooting at the practice range, Joshua proves that he can support his daughter and give one helluva speech.

Ian Ziering guest stars as Van Bach while taking a short break from the Sharknado verse. This week leaves Rahm Tak out of the proceedings with Bebe standing in as the face of evil and Defiance focuses inward where punishment and understanding are the order of the day. The only real fly in the ointment is Berlin’s defection and Amanda’s decree of cowardice as a result.

Datak Tar manages to shine at his sentencing. Amanda asks the convicted traitor if he has any last words. Tar looks her in the eye and says, “Did my wife do that to your face? It’s a good look for you.” The mayor of Defiance snorts and shakes her head. Datak getting the last word is bittersweet and spot on.

Conrad Von Bach rolls into town and after a little comedic touch with the arms dealer and his “muscle” Benedict, he goes to buy some sunglasses, mainly so he can look at the vendors bum. Berlin comes over and the two reunite Indiana Jones style, with Conrad getting a punch in the nose from Jess after admitting he sold weapons to the Voltanis Collective.

Von Bach has, however, brought weapons for the residents of Defiance. Nolan doesn’t trust the arms dealer and aims a rifle at Conrad’s head, who deactivates the gun and reveals that the price is nothing. The reason, he says, is to impress Berlin. Back at Rahm Tak’s camp, the collective are about to break through Defiance’s defenses via their tunnel. Bebe gets a new face in order to be ready for the invasion.

Stahma learns from T’evgin that Datak is to be hung and Kindzi learns that their guest can speak the Omec language. Kindzi is not happy about her father’s decision to shelter the “spy” and reminds him that the entire town of Defiance will be against him if they find out.

Jess and Conrad compare notes about their “breakup” and both learn that his mother orchestrated the whole thing. Telling Berlin that her son was “through with her” and telling Conrad that Jess took money to leave. After a little backstory, the two kiss and Berlin asks Von Bach if he wants to go upstairs. Conrad says yes.

Nolan starts a training session with the local militia and one lad, Raniker “but they call me Zero” can really shoot with a homemade gun his father Indur made for him. Meanwhile, Lt. Bebe, with his new face, is ready to do that last bit in the tunnel.

As the local troops are put through their paces, Indur asks where Irisa is. The farmer demands to know where the “Amazing Goddess” is and why she is not training with them. After some words of discontent, Indur states that if Nolan’s family is not willing to fight, neither is his. Indur, Zero and a few other potential soldiers all leave.

Alak comes to visit Datak, as requested, but does not bring Luke as his father asked. The younger Tar says that his half-human son will never see his grandfather. Alak reveals that he would have died trying to save his wife and child. Datak admits that he failed his family. Saying that his “time is done here,” he asks a favor of his son; tell Amanda that he wants to die at the shaming wall, a death by painful torture in order to take away the “stain of my immortal soul.”

Nolan approaches Irisa and asks her to join the soldiers. As they talk, she asks Joshua if he is ever scared and he replies yes. “Now” she asks. He says yes, “and tired” and the two hug. “I love you,” Irisa says, a touching moment between father and daughter.

Kindzi decides to pick on Stahma while her father is in the mines. She describes what happened to former “concubines” of T’evgin and begins to throttle Stahma. Her father intercedes, throwing his daughter to the wall and then puts his foot to her throat. He forces Kindzi to apologize. “Think nothing of it,” replies Stahma.

Conrad woos Berlin with a film, the old Rock Hudson/Jane Wyman weepy All That Heaven Allows, and he asks her to go away with him. She puts up a little resistance, saying that Defiance is her home and Conrad reminds her that she was posted there. He also tells her that he wants a live with the girl he never stopped loving. Uncomfortable, Jess says, “Let’s just watch the movie.”

Mayor Rosewater agrees to Datak’s request, but thinks that he has some sort of angle. Right after her meeting with the condemned prisoner, Amanda returns to her office to find Berlin there. Jess tells her that she is leaving with Conrad and after some arguing, reveals that they will leave the next day. She asks for Amanda’s support and explains that she is scared, just like she was as a youngster. Rosewater tells Jess that she is her family and Berlin says that Amanda cannot protect the town or her from what will happen. “You’re a coward,” Amanda says as Jess leaves the room.

Irisa forces herself to go and shoot. Berlin tells Nolan about leaving and he coldly tells her “Defiance, thanks you for your service,” twice. The “Goddess” joins the line and begins firing. Zero continues to be a crack shot, “you should see me when I’m hunting kanga-rats.” Nolan tells Amanda that things are looking pretty good.

As his daughter fires her weapon, she sees Tommy; all bleeding bullet holes and dying, he calls her name. She drops her weapon and rushes to cradle him. Weeping she repeats that she is sorry and that she wishes she could take it all back. Nolan comes up and takes her out of the street, it was all in her head and there is no Tommy there, and Amanda warns Joshua not to let the training fall apart.

The “Butcher of Yosemite” proves, however, after apologizing for forcing Irisa to participate when she was not ready, that he can give one great motivational speech and the training soldiers unite behind him. During his speech, Nolan singles out Berlin with certain phrases, letting her know just how he feels about her leaving when the town needs her.

Before Datak is taken for his “execution” the doctor tells him that she will miss him, despite voting for his death, “I still have to live in this town,” she tells him. “I respect your pragmatism,” Tar says. After a short preamble, Datak is strapped into the wall and he apologizes to the town. As the Castithan’s start piling on the weight that will tear him apart, Alak brings Luke to see his grandfather. Datak’s son tells the baby that his grandfather may be flawed but that he has honor.

Bebe breaches Defiance via the tunnel and shoots the old man who asks who he is. T’evgin leaves Stahma with Kindzi yet again and he promises her that his daughter will behave. Kindzi stops brushing Stahma’s hair and retrieves what appears to be a pebble and tells her to eat it. It glows blue and Stahma refuses saying that Kindzi cannot force her, “I disagree,” replies T’evgin’s daughter and forces the thing down her throat. She appears to be transported to the Omec ship immediately after.

Defiance is now on the brink of Rahm Tak’s invasion and things look pretty bleak. Berlin has deserted her family, friends and post and Datak looks to be a goner, unless of course he really does “have an angle” as suggested by Amanda. Stahma looks to be in trouble as well, Kindzi may tremble under her father’s boot, but that has not kept her from doing something to his “concubine” that looks pretty final.

Grant Bowler, as Joshua, looked different this week and it took some time to realize that the character had trimmed his beard. In terms of performances? Bowler rocked in all his scenes, despite the disconcerting change in appearance, Stephanie Leonidas and her melt down was a tear inducing moment and Terry Curran managed to be both “doomed” and tragic. Brilliant heart wrenching stuff indeed. As for Berlin’s departure? Can we really miss anyone who loves the film All That Heaven Allows so much it is her favorite film?

Kudos to Ian Ziering who, as one reviewer put it, “didn’t suck.” The Sharknado star proved that underneath all that schlocky rubbish he is still an actor. He did a superb job as the “Indy” arms dealer still in love with Anna Hopkins’ character Jess, aka Berlin.

Defiance is part of SyFy Fridays and should not be missed.