“When an ancient Megalodon begins attacking people at sea, a lifeguard and a Natural History researcher must defeat the giant beast before they fall prey to a prehistoric Shark Attack!”
- John Barrowman – Ben Carpenter
- Jenny McShane – Cataline Stone
- Ryan Cutrona – Chuck Rampart
- Harry Anichkin – Mr Tolley
- Bashar Rahal – Luis Ruiz
- Atanas Srebev – Freidman
- Nikolai Sotirov – Davis
- George Stanchev – Esai ‘Sy’
- Abominable Snowman – Atanas Srebev
- Basilisk: The Serpent King – Atanas Srebev, Bashar Rahal
- Boa vs Python – Harry Anichkin, Atanas Srebev, Nikolai Sotirov
- Copperhead – Atanas Srebev
- Cyclops – Harry Anichkin
- Dragon Dynasty – Harry Anichkin, Atanas Srebev
- Frost Giant – Atanas Srebev
- Harpies – Atanas Srebev, Nikolai Sotirov
- Infestation – Atanas Srebev
- Lake Placid 3 – Atanas Srebev
- Locusts: The 8th Plague – Harry Anichkin, Atanas Srebev
- Mansquito – Harry Anichkin
- Manticore – Atanas Srebev
- Mega Snake – Harry Anichkin
- Monster Ark – Atanas Srebev, Bashar Rahal
- Octopus – George Stanchev
- Octopus 2: River of Fear – Harry Anichkin
- Rage of the Yeti – Atanas Srebev
- Raging Sharks – Atanas Srebev
- Raptor Island – Atanas Srebev
- Rats – Atanas Srebev
- Robocroc – Atanas Srebev
- Rock Monster – Harry Anichkin
- Shark Attack – Scott Devine, William Hooke, Jenny McShane
- Shark Attack 2 – Scott Devine, William Hooke, David Worth
- Shark in Venice – Atanas Srebev, Bashar Rahal
- Sharkman – Atanas Srebev, Nikolai Sotirov
- Spiders 3D – Atanas Srebev, Nikolai Sotirov
Ugh, let’s get this over with…
I am fully aware that creature features don’t always receive the highest critical praise (except Jaws) but for a film to be universally declared the worst creature feature ever is quite an achievement for the sub-genre. I’ll admit that because of its reputation, I’ve been putting off this review since I started this site but the time has finally come. This is the review for the notoriously awful, legendarily bizarre and hilariously inept Shark Attack 3!
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon is a 2002 killer shark movie and the final entry in the Shark Attack series depending on whether or not you including Shark Zone (in which case, it becomes the penultimate entry). Scott Devine and William Hooke conclude their trilogy by returning to write whilst David Worth returns from Shark Attack 2 to direct. The cast is made up of 99% Bulgarian actors and actresses (including several creature feature regulars) with the central roles being played by Ryan Cutrona, Jenny McShane and… John Barrowman?
Yes, folks, that is John Barrowman aka Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who/ Torchwood and The Dark Archer from Arrow. And yes, that is Jenny McShane the lead actress of Shark Attack 1 playing a completely different and unrelated character. And yes, that is some of the most horribly lazy casting I’ve ever seen, I mean could they seriously not find another actress to play a Generic Blonde Female Scientist? Were Crystal Allen, Debbie Gibson and Jaime Bergman all too busy?
The first thing you’ll notice is that all of the Bulgarian actors are dubbed with horrible ADR dialogue. The American accents are weird, the lip synching doesn’t even come close to matching up and the sound mixing isn’t even close to being believable. The next big thing that you’ll notice is that the stock footage used for the shark eating people is clearly a shark eating a seal. Get used to this because the stock footage throughout is so inconsistent, there’s footage from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s containing at least 5 different sharks. Once you can learn to accept these two oddities, the first half of the film isn’t actually that bad.
Shark Attack 3 opens in the middle of the ocean when some underwater divers are trying to repair technical equipment. However, their work goes belly up when a baby Megalodon turns up and munches on the divers.
Six months later, lifeguard Ben Carpenter (played by John Barrowman) is out diving when he discovers a larger-than-normal shark tooth embedded in a fibre optic cable. Seeking more information, Ben searches for the tooth on the 100% convincing INTORNET and posts an advert. Palaeontologist Cat Stone (Jenny McShane) spots the advert and heads down to San Diego where Ben is based.
Two skinny dippers (of course, there’s nudity) almost get munched which leads to Ben and Cat finally meeting and discussing the Big Tooth situation. Following that, we get an awful sequence where two lovebirds in a water park get eaten. The next day, Ben and Cat and her cameramen head out to hunt down the Baby Megalodon which leads to one of the most embarrassing scenes in the film. The team try to rescue a paraglider from the shark infested waters but with Captain Jack too busy spinning the boat steering wheel in random directions it’s up to Cat to drop the woman back into the water 3 TIMES!!! It’s infuriating how incompetent this sequence is! Long story short, Jenny McStupid is completely unable to help the woman and she gets eaten by the shark.
However the trip wasn’t a complete loss as the team discover that the Megalodon and other sharks are being attracted by electromagnetic waves given off by expensive fibre optical cables that are powering the local hotel resorts (just roll with it). So Ben heads back to his boss Ruiz and pleads with him to close the beaches, which he agrees to on the condition that Ben kill the Megalodon as soon as possible. That night Ben reunites with his mentor Chuck (Ryan Cutrona) and updates him on the situation before heading off to grieve with McButterfingers.
The next morning Team Fatality head off to kill the Baby Megalodon once and for all whilst Chuck does some research and discovered that the resort owner Mr Tolley knew about the shark-attracting fibre optic cables (still just roll it) all along! Chuck is taken away by security whilst Team Jaws-rip-off track down the Baby Dino-shark. The Megalodon smashes its way into the hull of the boat where it’s finally killed by Ben and Cat. And everything is seemingly okay…
Until the Mama shows up…
So with the death of its baby, the Mama Megalodon shows up and munches on Friedman and Davis taking the ‘eye for an eye’ mantra extremely seriously. Still attracted by the fibre optic cables (still stupid), the Mama Megalodon starts rampaging around the waters of the resort, eating everything and everyone in its path. This eventually leads her to Tolley’s celebratory yacht party which she literally crashes into. The party-goers immediately go into self-preservation mode which leads to one of the most infamous scenes in the film where stuff like this happens…
And when Ruiz steals a lifejacket from his girlfriend, this happens…
And when Mr Tolley tries to escape via Jet Ski, this happens…
Yes, believe it or not, these are the special effects that an artist created, a producer approved and an editor edited into the film. That’s 3 different people with 3 different skill sets who were all involved in these horrible, lazy sequences and no one could think of a better idea than actors in front of a green-screen overlaid on stock footage of a shark in extreme close-up.
Long story short, Captain Jack Sharkness loads an old navy torpedo into a mini submarine and after some minor complications, blows the Mama Megalodon into Mama Mega-sushi. Everyone celebrates and it looks like the Shark Attack series has come to bloody conclusion when we get to see a quick shot of (presumably) Daddy Megalodon. But the main characters don’t know that so happy ending, right?
Credit where credit is due, the first hour of Shark Attack 3 is a perfectly adequate creature feature that’s a little rough around the edges. You can get used to the awful dubbing, repeated shots and overuse of inconsistent stock footage because the plot moves at a steady pace, on the whole the acting isn’t that bad, John Barrowman is especially convincing, his character is likeable and the film is never boring.
The final battle with the Baby Megalodon is actually really intense, so much so that I was almost convinced the film was originally intended to only be an hour long. You could re-edit the footage and roll the credits after the baby Megalodon is killed and it would make a pretty satisfactory ending: John Barrowman gets a badass heroic moment when he attacks the shark with a baseball bat, Jenny McShane would get an awesome Jaws rip-off one-liner with “You’re extinct, f**ker!”, the Megalodon gets a satisfactory death and the local beach-going community is saved from being horribly mauled every time they venture into the waters.
But it doesn’t end there, the film keeps on going and the third act is just horrible.
The complete abandonment of the practical SFX is a poor decision and it only emphasises the ridiculousness of the inconsistent stock footage, especially when the same extreme close up shot is used for all of the Mama Megalodon shark attacks regardless of whether the shark is eating just one man or an entire raft full of people.
The shark attacks on the yacht are so poorly executed that the entire tone of the film shifts from standard semi-serious creature feature to 100% campy schlock. Mr Tolley especially goes from being selfish, greedy businessman to full Dick Dastardly evil, I mean just look at this face…
With the exception of giving Mr Tolley a justified demise and his assistant Ruiz a rather undignified demise, the third act really doesn’t add anything to the story either. Jenny McShane and Torchwood are already romantically involved so their relationship doesn’t develop at all. If the film ended with Baby Megalodon being killed then all the monsters have been taken care of and the beaches are safe, the third act introduces two more sharks that are bigger and more deadly but only one is killed. Technically SA3 goes from being concluded to being un-concluded.
So apart from ruining the consistency, tone, story, creative integrity and legacy of the Shark Attack series, the final 30 minutes also means that I have to talk about the line. Which line? This one…
Okay so apart from ruining John Barrowman’s future UK TV interviews, this line is one of the reasons why the film is so infamous. The internet pounced upon this line turning it into memes and punchlines. The full story is that John Barrowman was ad-libbing and wanted to say something ridiculous to make Jenny McShane laugh but unfortunately for him, McShane gave him no reaction whatsoever, meaning that it could be interpreted as this being a serious offer. The film-makers ended up using this take for the final cut and forever condemned Barrowman to having the worst yet most successful pick-up line of all time. It also leads to shower montage of Barrowman and McShane making love which is actually rather unsettling to watch. To this day the closest SA3 ever gets to mainstream media attention nowadays is whenever this scene is drudged out to embarrass John Barrowman, which to be fair to the actor he usually takes in good humour (better than Tom Hardy with Minotaur).
But that’s it. Shark Attack 3 is one of the worst creature features of all time but that’s the only real attention that it’s given. I can’t help but feel that if the film has been released in the current decade, especially in its current state, then it would have become a much bigger ironic hit and/or social media phenomenon like Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, Sharktopus or Sharknado. It’s even about Sharks.
However Shark Attack 3 will remain an obscure treat for anyone willing to dig it out, if only to see if it really is as bad as its reputation suggests. I’ll leave that answer up to you as I will always have a soft spot for Shark Attack 3 and the nostalgia I feel for the early 00’s era of creature features.
I would like Shark Attack 3: Megalodon to be remembered, after all there is plenty of material to be mocked, jeered, insulted, ridiculed, lampooned, derided, scoffed and just plain laughed at, but I fear that in a case of life imitating art, the great John Barrowman said it best when he asked, “Megalo-who?”