Surviving the Sharknado

By Nick Grant

Show's survival skills are key, writes Nick Grant

Ian Ziering and Cassie Scerbo in 'Sharknado'. Photo / AP
Ian Ziering and Cassie Scerbo in 'Sharknado'. Photo / AP

I thought I was ready for Sharknado, I really did.

I was fully aware of the premise, which involves hundreds of sharks raining down on a waterlogged Los Angeles after being sucked out of the Pacific Ocean by a freak hurricane.

(Yeah, that's right, the official synopsis says it's a hurricane, not the tornado promised by the title, although it actually looks more like the waterspout of a typhoon, but hey, I'm no meteorologist, and clearly neither are the filmmakers, not that they seem particularly fussed about the finer points of the plot, which director Anthony C. Ferrante has succinctly summed up as, "There's a flood. And a storm. Don't worry about it.")

I knew it stars Ian Ziering, best known for playing a smug Steve in Beverly Hills 90210, and Tara Reid, whose career prospects and face have both slipped somewhat since she appeared in 1999's American Pie.

And I was cognisant of the fact Sharknado was made by production company The Asylum, which over the past 16 years has made approximately 130 other straight-to-video gems (eg, 2010's Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus).

Thus forewarned I settled down to enjoy, in an appropriately ironic way, what promised to be an utterly craptastic home cinema experience.

Oh, the naivety. Oh, the humanity! OMG!

With the benefit of hindsight, I suspect nothing can satisfactorily prepare viewers for the havoc this disaster of a disaster movie will wreak on their critical faculties. I do, however, have two tips that should help you get through.

1. Don't watch it alone. I can't emphasise this enough. It's essential to have at least one person sitting next to you with whom you can share gobsmacked looks of disbelief and wittily derisive comments. Without someone to confirm that, yes, you did just see a character get eaten by the shark that burst through the window of his landlocked suburban living room, you're likely to be convinced you're in the grip of a particularly savage acid flashback.

2. Don't concoct a drinking game that involves imbibing whenever there's an unbelievably bad special effect, appalling example of acting and/or execrable line of dialogue. If you do, you'll require urgent paramedic attention before the first commercial break. Seriously.

It's a moot point whether their elite military training would, ahem, keep them afloat in the shark-infested streets of Los Angeles, but I'm pretty sure the stars of new Maori Television series Survive Aotearoa would take to the surreal situation like, well, ducks to water. They certainly prove impressively adept at enduring various hardships in the hinterlands of New Zealand.

In each of the series' 13 episodes, ex-Special Forces members Chris Kumeroa and Barrie Rice demonstrate a set of survival skills specific to the circumstances they find themselves in. This week, the two become separated on the banks of the Whanganui River after a horse-riding mishap and, in the course finding one another and then making their way out of the bush, they show viewers techniques for tracking, making a splint, building a shelter, fashioning a flax rope, fishing with glow-worm bait, and skinning and gutting an eel.

Even if the set-up is exactly that, the show otherwise seems utterly authentic, as do the charismatically low-key presenters, making it an excellent antidote to the imperfect storm playing earlier in the week.

Sharknado screens Tuesday, 8.30pm, on Prime; Survive Aotearoa debuts Thursday, 7.30pm, on Maori Television.

- Herald on Sunday

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