Unreleased and, so far, unbroadcast in the UK, “Sharktopus vs Whalewolf” sees the return of the sharp-toothed tentacled menace, this time getting tangled up in genetic experimentation and voodoo as he does battle with the fearsome Whalewolf. Oh yeah, SPOILER ALERT: Sharktopus survives the events of “Sharktopus vs Pteracuda”.
Shark Weak veteran Casper Van Dien is back, along with his then-wife Catherin Oxenberg. Before you assume the couple simply fancied a tropical holiday in the Dominican Republic, think again. They filed for divorce the same year this movie was made and share no scenes together, so perhaps it wasn’t the happiest of shoots.
The film opens with Ray (Caspar Van Dien), a burned-out alcoholic boat captain hosting a charter for a burial at sea. We know it’s a funeral straight away because the deceased is apparently being laid to rest by simply dropping a polished mahogany coffin with all the trimmings straight into the crystal clear Caribbean waters. Take that, tourists! Thankfully it only takes a minute of this movie for Sharktopus to show up, in all his cartoony glory, swiftly turning the funeral into a ‘die one, get to flee’ bloodbath. Ray and his sidekick Pablo (Jorge Eduardo De Los Santos) survive only to find that their debt to local voodoo priest Tiny (Tiny) has fallen due and the only thing he’ll accept to settle the debt is the heart of the Sharktopus.
Meanwhile, Oxenberg is having a ball as Teutonic-accented genetic scientist Dr Reinhart whose clinical menu of genetic therapies makes the ones in Die Another Day look like the pharmacy counter in Boots. To help a would-be athlete, she whips up a DNA Daiquiri, one part killer whale, one part wolf and accidentally garnished with moonlight, creating a lunar-driven man/ monster hybrid. We’re soaring into “Gremlins 2”-level high concept science madness here and it’s glorious.
Sharktopus actually looks pretty good in the underwater scenes, it’s in the daylight setting with real people the FX shortcomings are apparent. The first fight between Whalewolf and Sharktopus has all the dramatic heft of a cynical Discovery Channel cryptozoology ‘documentary’, while our game cast does their best to keep their sight-lines reasonably consistent.
Lest we forget, for the eponymous anti-hero of the franchise, Sharktopus is still a voracious and indiscriminate killer and his body count far exceeds the guest villain. At least the hokey voodoo subplot brings a fresh way to bring the creature under some form of control after the ubiquitous control implants of the previous two movies.
The film eventually boils down to an extended rumble between the two monsters, throughout the island including what you assume is two rival dance troupes engaging in an elegantly choreographed and surprisingly acrobatic ‘gang fight’ followed by a laughably executed parkour scene which is cut short as Sharktopus and Whalewolf turn up to execute them for real.
Caspar Van Dien turns in a pretty good comedic performance and a too-short sequence of Sharktopus rampaging through a shopping mall shows real glimpses of wit in the writing and direction but it’s soon back to business as usual. Unusually for a shark monster movie, much of the action takes place on land and the finale is set in a baseball stadium where, oddly, it’s our star, Sharktopus, who’s killed first, after being flung into an electrified net and fried up like a jumbo portion of sharkalamari before Whalewolf is finished off by a barrage of missiles from some conveniently passing fighter jets.
It’s more of a stop than an ending, and beyond ‘let them fight’ the film doesn’t have too much else to offer us. Given the landlocked and flash-fried nature of the title creature’s demise, it does appear to be the end of the franchise, but a pre-credits coda provides a voodoo-inspired resurrection, should the need arise for another teeth and tentacles team-up in the future.
Breezier and slightly more cohesive than the previous instalment, it’s still high concept low brow rubbish but it’s a little more knowingly tongue-in-cheek this time and the creature design and animation is actually quite impressive, albeit grossly cartoony. Where will the combine-a-creature wheel stop next? Only Roger Corman knows for sure!