Writerly Thoughts on SHARKNADO

I bought the SHARKNADO DVD today. I couldn’t pass it up. Who can pass up rummaging through those mega-bins of DVDs and Blu-rays that haunt certain large retail stores? I certainly can’t, nor do I need a DVD with fifteen “Westerns” on it–I just don’t need it. However, this was the last copy of SHARKNADO in the bin. Or, perhaps, the only copy. Now, it’s my copy.

The premise is quite novel–a freak storm/tornado sucks up a horde of sharks and batters and floods parts of Los Angeles and it’s up to a group of risk-takers to stop this powerful force. But more than this, it’s the story of a father and his love for his family, and a young woman facing her fear of sharks–she has the lovely scar to prove it. Though, I’m assuming you’ve already seen the film, I have to comment on a the most beautiful ending–SPOILER ALERT–which is the clever use of a chainsaw to saw oneself out of a killer shark and then embrace in a pool of blood and blood-spattered lips.

While the Bizarro fiction world works a lot with strange premises (I can even imagine, as I write this, the novelization of SHARKNADO), I would not consider this a “Bizarro” film. This type of creature vs. human film has been around, in various incarnations, for years and years. Thank you, Roger Corman. The added element of the weather, coupled with the iconic metaphor of a sprawling city such as Los Angeles (a city just begging for cinematic destruction) both add to the film’s beauty.

I’ve expressed elsewhere that I’d like to write fiction that reads as fast and as fun as something like a “B-Movie.” I keep returning to this thought. I’m haunted by this thought. Perhaps, I should reword “B-movie,” though, to include other ways of thinking such as “grindhouse-arthouse,” “exploitation,” and/or simply, “the cinematic.” What is it about these over-the-top stories that draw me in? I’m not sure yet, but there is definitely a joy in these types of films and when I come across books that express that same kind of joy on the page, I’m apt to not want to put that book down. Rarely, dear reader, are these novelizations of films, though. I would like to read more novelizations of good films, adapt them, translate them, and make them one’s own (much like how Jodorowsky never read Herbert’s DUNE).

Overall, I thought SHARKNADO had a strong story that fit with its purpose. Its purpose, I’m assuming, was to entertain on a modest budget with a science-fiction story that would attract attention by virtue of its exploitative angle. I believe it worked. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have found the DVD while rummaging through the bin today. And, while I sadly won’t be filing it under my “favorite films,” I would like to return to it again, for any film that gets me writing and thinking and imagining possibilities is precious.

Thank you for reading. If you have any thoughts on SHARKNADO that you think you fit this discussion, please drop a comment below.


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