This week we turn the spotlight on ENCYCLOPEDIA SHARKSPLOITANICA by Susan Snyder from Madness Heart Press.
It’s been nearly five decades since Jaws scared the swimsuits off of us and lit the fuse for a beloved little horror movie sub-genre called Sharksploitation. From the blatant rip offs of the 1970s to the CGI assault of modern movies, shark movies are going strong and still satiating our appetite for toothy carnage.
With her education as a marine biologist and her experience diving with sharks, Susan brings her distinct perspective to 85 of Sharkploitation’s most notorious, ridiculous and sometimes pointless contributions to film. Don’t let her fool you though. This is really a tongue-in-cheek love letter to shark cinema . . . the good, the bad and the “so bad it’s good.”
In this all-teeth-no-bones collection of reviews, interviews, essays, rants and even some poetry, Susan dissects the genre as a whole and explores everything she loves, and hates, about Sharksploitation movies.
Shark Encounters of the Third Kind (2020)
Directed by Mark Polonia
I’d Rather Have an Anal Probe
If you thought combining two of Spielberg’s greats into one movie was a good idea, your synapses are firing too fast.
This movie is basically a hastily strewn together hodgepodge of scenes that make little sense nor relate to each other. It’s just fucking weird. From what I could gather, aliens are mad that the Nazis captured a spacecraft in a sunken U-boat in 1945. Or it could be that we are their failed experiment? It might be both. Fuck if I know. Toward the end, the aliens keep saying “we hate you” and “the experiment was a failure” so I’m going with the latter.
The aliens look like a tortoise, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Marty Feldman were put into a blender. They do some rather heavy petting with a theremin, and they make bright, flashy lights that I assume are made to slow down our synapses for maximum viewing pleasure. They are complete dicks. Either they directly kill people or they have their roving gang of Great Whites do it for them. How do they control these sharks? They cocoon them in a bubble, shrink them to the size of action figures and hold them in their hands. Next, they use an otoscope or some shit to brainwash them into hating people.
Meanwhile, a couple side plots are working. One involves an overdressed psychologist who takes over her dead dad’s support group for alien abductees. Her mom is one of them and she eventually morphs into a homicidal maniac. An epic fight between a knife and a frying pan ensues. Also, treasure hunters think the U-boat has goodies in it and every diver they send down there gets eaten. Because sharks hate us now. Fucking aliens.
The sharks look like they’re made of Play-Doh that’s been pecked at by wild birds. That, or we are treated to some stock aquarium footage of random shit.
There are two beacons of light in this shitstorm. One is the Harbor Patrol dude. He is a moron but his off-color commentary produced the only chuckle I could muster during the blessedly short running time of this movie. The other was a brief scene in the beginning of the film where a man is sitting on the beach, about to go diving. He looks to the sky and says, “Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art.” This was in broad daylight, mind you. I have no idea what the point of this was, but I liked it nonetheless because of the sheer randomness of it all. I’ll take what I can get, folks.
The ending is an exercise in sifting through shit to find the climax. I’m still not sure if I found it. I remember a flare gun shooting some aliens, an explosion, and sharks telepathically telling humans to stay the fuck out of the ocean. Which of course, we ignore. The sharks might even have helped the humans destroy the aliens. I cannot be certain. I wouldn’t blame them with the whole otoscope bubble cocoon situation and all.
Susan lives in Austin with her black cat and VHS collection. She is a ravenous reader and writer of horror poetry and short fiction. Susan writes a weekly blog called Sharksploitation Sunday where she provides comedic commentary about shark movies. Her first degree is in Marine Biology, and her second is in Accounting. She has been nominated for two Splatterpunk awards for her work in short fiction anthologies. Susan’s debut collection of poetry, Broken Nails, is a deeply personal expression of feminism and Satanic horror. Her comprehensive shark movie book, Encyclopedia Sharksploitanica, will be released this summer. Both books are from Madness Heart Press.
You can pre-order Encyclopdia Sharksploitanica at Madness Heart Press.