Mladen and Del review ‘Avalanche Sharks’
“Avalanche Sharks” Starring Alexander Mendeluk, Kate Nauta, Benjamin Easterday, Eric Scott Woods, and others. Directed (if you can call it that) by Scott Wheeler. Amazon Prime. 82 minutes. Not Rated
This is an embarrassing confession. Maybe the error was caused by my growing age precipitating a memory malfunction. It certainly wasn’t caused by me worrying about wasting Del’s time. He needs some sort of life that doesn’t include moping. I asked Del to watch the wrong film. I recommended that we review “Avalanche Sharks,” a movie that was far worse than I recalled – see, there goes the bad memory thing again – but I intended for us to watch “Ice Spiders,” which is a pretty good film. Why the confusion? Well, both take place at ski resorts and both involve unnatural animals. The difference is that “Ice Spiders” has a dose of decent acting lead by Patrick Muldoon. You may remember him as the pilot in “Starship Troopers” who got his brain sucked graphically by a very large, maggot-y bug through its hinged, two-piece, straw-like proboscis.
“Avalanche Sharks” is a nearly perfectly bad movie. I give it a generous D-. Paradoxically, that grade makes it worth watching. It’s the script and the acting combined that render the film so damn crappy and entertaining. The crappiness generated a giggle or two as the movie shifted from portraying one dumb-ass victim to another. In between, I was bewildered by the crappy script and the crappy acting. Am I repeating myself? Have I already said that the script and acting were crappy? Damn memory.
None of the characters in “Avalanche Sharks” were likeable, so who cared what happened to them or their dogs. The good guy was a dork. I didn’t care that he was a Marine on R&R after fighting somewhere. I assumed he had been to Afghanistan or Iraq, which was the movie’s vague attempt to add a sense of the real and create empathy for our hero. The bad guy and his Olympics skiing bronze medal were annoying. The women in the film were nicely configured, but terribly uninteresting as humans. The kook who tells the spring breakers at the ski resort that they’ll all die was among the worst actors I’ve ever seen. There was the nerd always trying to pick up babes, but, to be honest, I can’t remember why he had to be in the movie. Wait, it just came back. About halfway through “Avalanche Sharks” he explained to a gum-chewing snow bunny in tight leggings what they were and who cast the spell that created them. The shark maker was a shaman called Snookum, Skoonum, Spoonim, Spatula, something like that. His sharks existed to avenge the deaths of a native people extinguished by greedy settlers and protect their once-home, the mountain where the ski resort was built.
Snow sharks defending sacred ground is a neat idea for a movie. Had “Avalanche Sharks” been executed properly, like the movie “Big Ass Spider!” Del and I reviewed most recently, I’d be clamoring for a sequel. Instead, because I’m always searching for the slimmest glimmer of good in the very bad such as the Donald Moron Trump poser presidency and its straight-up lying about the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m forced to conclude the unearthly man-eating spirits in “Avalanche Sharks” were the movie’s only redeeming quality. Some effort and a little bit of computing power was spent to present the light blue predators. Their crystalline and armored dorsal fins looked pretty cool slicing through snow. The fins left narrow ruts. Nice touch. When the sharks lunged from the snow to snack on humans, the special effects, including whole shark bodies and blood splatter, were good. The practical physical effects were misses much more often than hits. Yes, the legs severed mid-chin with boots still on or the disembowelment looked not bad. “Avalanche Sharks” failed miserably when it tried to make snow look blood stained, however. That mattered because there was a lot of snow turning red in the movie. The color of the blood was neither deep red to suggest low oxygenation nor bright red to illustrate oxygen saturation. Rather, it was a semi-fluorescent-pinky-not-quite-chartreuse that looked like the color a kindergartner might choose to draw a tomato.
Look, the bars are closed or should be. Eating at a restaurant is absurd. The shopping mall was long ago buried by Amazon. It isn’t a good idea to visit your grandma or work out at the gym. You’ve already re-watched the Brady Bunch reunion 13 times. Like Del, see “Avalanche Sharks” because you have nothing better to do.
If I croak tomorrow I won’t finish “Away” Season 1, and it’ll be Mladen’s fault for making me watch the dreadful “Avalanche Sharks.” I hope feeling guilty about that keeps him awake an extra hour tonight.
Did I say “Avalanche Sharks” was “dreadful”? I meant “awful” – not the towering awful of a “Plan 9 From Outer Space” or the hilarious awful of its obvious progenitor, “Sharknado,” but a tired, shopworn awful, apparently from people trying to pull off a low-fi cash grab, a Monday morning Yugo of movies.
The story goes like this: A group of spring breakers descends (ascends?) on a ski lodge for some mid-semester fun. Unfortunately for them – and the local sheriff who was hoping for a quiet season – some unknown entity is devouring the tourists. There’s a crazy old coot from the deep forest who warns the sheriff, ski lodge owner and town mayor that they have returned, but the mayor is having none of this talk about theys, thems or any other sinister-sounding pronoun, to the agreement and delight of the ski lodge owner. The sheriff and brother of one of the disappeared set out to solve the riddle of the missing fratboys with their fatty liver disease, and that’s when the fake bloody snow flies.
Where to begin enumerating “Avalanche Sharks’ ” avalanche of sin?
The script appears to have been written by a study hall committee of horny teenage middle school boys. Acting was on par with the displays at Madame Tussauds. Every character in the movie is so unlikeable in some way you hope they end up being chomped in half by the “sharks.” If you took the essential parts of “Jaws” and “Animal House,” stapled them together and made them awful, you’d have the plot.
I mean, throughout the 82 minutes required to endure this crap, I felt like I was watching a version of “Alien” edited for C-Span.
The charm, if that is the right word, of these crappy D-level movies is that their makers usually know they are crappy D-level movies and play off the crappiness for laughs. “Sharknado” is a prime example. But “Avalanche Shark” neither acknowledges its crap quotient nor tries to capitalize on it. It is a long, dreary slide down the bunny run of cinematic stupidness that would not even pass muster on “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”
Mladen gave “Avalanche Sharks” a D- and that sounds about right for me. I am saving my F’s for movies that infuriate me with their incompetence and this one didn’t do that. I just didn’t care enough to hate it.
Mladen Rudman is a former journalist and technical writer. Del Stone Jr. is a former journalist and author.