TELEVISION: Dinoshark is a Suspense-Free Horror!


Apparently, writers Frances Doel and Guy Prevost didn’t watch many Roger Corman films before they write Dinoshark [Syfy, 9/8C]. It begins, promisingly enough, with a crumbling iceberg [global warning!] and a murky shot of something vaguely baby shark-like disappearing into the distance. Then we cut to three years later and a solo sailor having a really bad day – but we see the dinoshark, in its entirety [which is why I don’t feel too terrible about featuring it above], as it attacks.

BAM! So much for suspense!

From there, we cut to Puerto Vallarta, where Trace [Eric Balfour] is arriving from who knows where to take over a charter boat for a few months. Once he’s stowed his gear and made the boat presentable for clients, he slides into a local bar to greet his old friends Luis [Aaron Diaz] and Rita [Christina Nicole].

Before long, the monstrous shark is in the neighborhood, chowing down on surfers, rescue workers [which Trace witnesses] and Rita – pissing off Trace, who gets some validation from new friend Carol [Iva Hasperger], who finds artists’ conceptions of a plesiosaur, a prehistoric giant shark that lived 150,000,000 years ago. And, naturally, the local harbor chief, Calderon [Humberto Busto] comes to the conclusion that, since he arrived shortly before the sudden rash of horrifying deaths, Trace must be the killer.

And I haven’t even mentioned the women’s water polo match that has been moved from a nice safe pool inland, to a channel that leads to the ocean – a misconceived PR stunt by a an older guy who has the hots for Carol, who, surprise, coaches one of the teams.

While Dinoshark has some terrific moments – the shark attacks and the music echo Jaws in an obvious but well-played homage, and Roger Corman [a decent actor who discovered he was a much better director and producer] has a fun cameo as Carol’s mentor in marine biology [she’s quite the Renaissance woman]. The prehistoric shark is also well designed and looks good – better in close-up than in the distance, and its physical props [fin and tail, mostly] are much better than the budget would seem to allow.

Director Kevin O’Neill does keep things moving at a brisk pace – even with a mismatched cast that doesn’t always to be in the same movie [let alone on the same page] and a script that affords him little opportunity to create genuine suspense.

The result is pretty pedestrian, for the most part, but with a few good chills and a lot of [mostly unintentional] laughs – and lots of gorgeous people in bathing suits of various configurations. It’s not the best of Syfy’s original made-for-TV movies, but it’s not boring, either.

Final Grade: C-