Saturday, 19 December 2020

Santa Jaws

 
I'm Dreaming
Of A Bite Christmas

Santa Jaws
USA 2018 Directed by Misty Talley
Active Entertainment DVD Region 1
As part of the Shark Bait collection


Warning: Slight spoilers I guess.
 
Wow, you know I’ve seen a few shark movies this year and, it has to be said, the majority of them weren’t that great (and that’s an understatement... I’ll be putting some reviews up next year to tell you just how bad some of these things are). However, when I heard about the existence of a film called Santa Jaws, I knew this would have to be my big Christmas film here and I managed to track down this US Shark Bait DVD, which has six shark movies on there (five of which I’d not seen yet) and also a bonus alligator movie (go figure).

And I have to say that, quite surprisingly, I really enjoyed it. Out of all the bad shark movies I’ve seen, this one ties with Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre as being among the most competently made. Not to mention it's a whole load of fun and has a ridiculous premise so, you know, the audience totally knows not to take the film seriously.

The plot set up concerns high school student and comic book enthusiast Cody, played by Reid Miller, who has just drawn a comic book, the titular Santa Jaws. However, when his grandfather gives him a magical pen for Christmas (where he got it is not made clear, other than it’s an antique German relic or some such), he doesn’t realise the pen grants magical powers so that anything that is written or drawn with it comes true in real life. He naturally tries his new pen out by inking a big splash panel of the shark in question and, oh yeah, it manifests in his little town where a lot of the homes are built onto a waterfront.

And, yes, it is insanely ridiculous. The film starts off with a sequence from the comic book made real, with Christmas baubles floating on the water in a mini ‘origin’ story which shows how Santa Jaws got her hat. And then we have the set up I just explained and... yeah, fun. The shark in question has red eyes (apparently they are meant to glow like Rudolph’s nose) and wears a Santa Claus hat on its fin... and that’s what you see breaking the water when you hear composer Andrew Morgan Smith’s Jaws parody mixed in with Carol Of The Bells (I actually wouldn’t mind having a CD of this score but, alas, it doesn’t look like the music from this film has had any kind of commercial release). It has its nicely gory moments but the film is centred on fun. It has comic book people hanging out at the comic book store having to band together to fight the shark and, there are a heck of a lot of deaths in this movie from major characters which, given the initial set up, is to be expected. There’s an obvious solution to all the carnage in this movie which, I’m sure, most viewers will twig long before the central characters do.

The actors in this are all surprisingly good for a B-movie like this and, I can see from the director’s IMDB entry that she has a track record directing shark movies (at least one of them is also on this set so I’m kinda looking forward to it) and, yeah, the whole thing works really well. Special shout out to Carrie Lazar who plays Cody’s strict, misunderstanding mother before the expected character growth... she brings a lot of credibility to her role, as do all her colleagues actually. This is obviously a ridiculous movie but none of the actors are tipping their hat to the preposterous nature of the central idea and this is what helps sell the spirit of the thing and wraps it up with a nice Christmassy bow.

And, yeah, the movie does keep on getting sillier as you watch, I’m happy to say. It turns out that Christmas objects are what lures the great white shark to visit death upon its hapless victims. So when grandpa accidentally drops the eggnog into the water, he’s the first to go. Similarly, when a character is trying to work out how Christmas tree lights got snarled up around the propellor of his boat, you know the shark is going to take an interest.

Then, when the group of 'would be' shark fighters discover that they have to Christmassify their weapons to have any effect on the creature, that’s when more fun begins... as spears are augmented by sharpened candy canes and Christmas tree baubles are filled with explosives. And, actually, one of the more unexpectedly spectacular deaths in the film is when the shark uses the candy cane with which it’s been impaled to similarly ram and gut one of Cody’s family.

And, yeah, the film is actually well thought out and scripted, within the realm of its welcomely bizarre premise... there are some nice one liners and the humour even extends to a wonderful ‘Pole Dancer’ T-shirt which Cody’s friend, played by Hawn Tran wears, depicting the silhouette of a reindeer dancing provocatively around the 'North Pole'. Its a nicely humourous movie and, added to the fact that it does actually feel like a movie rather than a bunch of random scenes thrown together where the camera isn’t even pointing in the right direction half the time (yeah, I’ve got some bad shark movie reviews coming, for sure), Santa Jaws is just a refreshingly good little movie and I’m happy to recommend it to all the lovers of ‘so bad it’s good but in the best way’ films out there. You’re definitely not swimming in shallow waters with this little gem.


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