Ghost Shark [Guilty Pleasure Film]: Cheesy, Chomping and Not Fully Living
There was a time when me and a former housemate were absolute suckers for a ‘good’ Syfy Original film. We would seek out the best of the worst and revel in the absurdity of the plots and the shoddiness of the effects, all whilst having an absolute blast watching them. That’s the true power of a ‘so bad it’s good film’, a category a lot of these Syfy Originals fit right into, they’re batshit mental, but the enjoyment factor is too high to care. Our particular favourite flavour of crazy was the creature features, and even more specifically the ocean predators. We’d seen multiple headed sharks, mega sharks, even prehistoric sharks and then we discovered the most inescapable shark of them all, Ghost Shark.
Somehow this film stuck with me for years after viewing it and I still find myself chuckling when I remember the plethora of ridiculous death scenes and often recommend it to friends and hope they won’t delete me from their lives once they have viewed it. As with all good shark movies we begin out at sea. An angry father and daughter with minimal vocabulary skills but maximum gun power are on the hunt for a prize winning fish. Unfortunately, a larger predator than them is also out looking for a snack and steals their trophy, resulting in them torturing the creature with guns, hot sauce and a grenade.
Magically, and I do mean that literally, this isn’t the end of the shark, merely the beginning of his non corporeal form. After dying in a cave covered in ancient shining symbols the shark’s suffering is over, and now it is time for revenge as a ghost. This glowing blue translucent predator is now unleashed on it’s tormentors and it is both hilarious and satisfying. The tone is set straight away and it’s easy to know after the first ten minutes if this is the right flavour of crazy or if it is time to switch the TV off and pretend this level of bad writing doesn’t exist in the world.
The small seaside town of Smallport is now in danger from this spectral toothy menace who is hunting down the townsfolk through some unusual means. In a similar vein to Sharknado our bait, I mean main characters, are not just in danger when they are in the ocean. They are in danger near any body of water, including slip and slides and even a car wash bucket. Each character here is not intended to be liked, understood or even remembered, they are just walking shark food. Or, as one of our characters points out “We don’t need to chum, we are the chum”.
“The plot bears no weight on this film, it’s all about the individual tableaus of death, which gives the film more of a slasher vibe than a monster movie feeling.”
There’s every cliché in the book, the drunken kook who knows something nobody else does, the disbelieving sheriff who’s had enough of these darn teens, the ignorant major who just wants to neatly sweep this all under the rug and of course the aforementioned darn teens. The narrative is somehow slim and overstuffed at the same time with a parent’s death being glossed over but the legend of ‘Finch’ the drunk being drawn out. The dialogue is an absolute mess. But I didn’t approach Ghost Shark for it’s writing, I came here to see the most ridiculous kills inflicted by a phantom shark, and in that area, this film does not disappoint.
It’s impossible to spoil this film’s kills because just describing them doesn’t give them enough credit, but hopefully explaining some of them will give people the nudge to go and watch this pure guilty pleasure film (that is currently free to watch on YouTube) if they haven’t already. There’s decapitated heads landing perfectly on wine bottles, lower halves of victims still jigging around without their brain intact and jet ski based disasters, and those are the kills that are lower on my list of favourites.
In a cross-cutting scene of pure joy a bunch of kids set up a slip ‘n’ slide in their back garden, a young boy ‘borrows’ a car in order to get a sexy bikini car wash and a plumber attempts to fix a leaking pipe. What do all of these scenes have in common? The presence of water, and therefore access for the ghost shark. A poor unfortunate child slides straight into the jaws of death whilst a wedge heeled cheerleader is devoured through a bucket of sudsy water. The Sheriff of the film summarises the scene the best “A car was hot waxed with the entrails of the woman washing it”. Then there’s my favourite kill of the film, when the Mayor’s assistant heads over to the water cooler for a little thirst quencher and instead is ripped in half, from the inside, after accidentally swallowing the ghost shark. If that isn’t selling you on this ludicrous film, I don’t know what will.
From overacting to not even attempting to act, it’s safe to say this isn’t a star making vehicle. It’s madness, plain and simple, easy and peasy, fun. The plot bears no weight on this film, it’s all about the individual tableaus of death, which gives the film more of a slasher vibe than a monster movie feeling. The creative ways that this shark can hunt down its prey make this absolute dumpster fire of a film worth the 90 minute investment.
Released the same year as Sharknado, which became its own media sensation and spawned four sequels, it may not hold up to the insanity of that one but it’s definitely got its own way of putting itself on the map. Does Ghost Shark have an incredible ending that wraps everything up? Does it buggery! Does it just kind of end? That’s more accurate. Do I honestly believe you won’t regret watching this train wreck of a film? Most definitely.