‘What are you talkin’ about, little green men you’ve been watching on Sci-Fi?’
The pre-credits scene of this Nu Image quickie is guaranteed to make you assume the SciFi Channel have yet again changed their schedule without telling anyone. You’ve tuned in to see divers get chomped in a Jaws/Deep Blue Sea ripoff along the lines of previous classics Spring Break Shark Attack or Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy. Instead, you get big spaceships ramming each other while bark-faced aliens grunt urgently, as if this was going to be a space opera knockoff called something like Alien Wars or Terminal Space (ships and costumes are apparently from NuImage’s Alien Lockdown and Encrypt). Things get on track when the losing ship jettisons a glowing orange pod which falls into the seas of a nearby planet (yes, Earth) just after someone has made an ominous remark about all the ships which have sunk in these here parts. After an expository title (‘Impact Zone – Bermuda Triangle – 5 Years Later’), the film starts playing to expectations. In Oceana, an undersea base everyone pronounces as if it were some sort of Irish name (O’Shahna?), a bunch of Abyss-type marine scientists go through soap opera problems and alternate shouting at each other with heartfelt character dollops about their children or hobbies which are supposed to make us upset when they die. Oceana is attacked by several species of shark working in cahoots (we mostly see one regular shark, though – plus a few CGI schools of fish and footage recycled from other shatk films) and alien particles are found nearby.
Dr Mike Olson (Corin Nemec, of Trogolodyte and Mansquito), Oceana’s commander, is topside when the base is cut off and motivated to effect a rescue because his wife Linda (Vanessa Angel, of Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys and The Mars Shuttle Murders) is in temporary command downunder, despite grumbling from wrench-wielding British handyman-cum-shop steward Harvey (Bernard van Bilderbook, opting for a more sensible byline after being billed as Binky van Bilderbook on a few films) about the failing life support systems. Mike has to fend off nasty government inspector/lawyer Stiles (Todd Jensen, of Copperhead, BoogeyMan 3, MegaSnake and Bats: Human Harvest) who ostensibly wants to blame the whole thing on him but is obviously an impostor with his own agenda, while crusty Captain Riley (Corbin Bernsen, of Fangs, Vipers, Raptor and Atomic Twister) is gruffly good-intentioned but not very helpful. After a regulation attack on surfers and bathers in Bermuda – either tipped in from another film or matched surprisingly well by Bulgarian locations – an autopsy discloses (‘sir, lab results on the shark’) that the raging, co-operating sharks are full of weird alien orange crystals. Mike and Stiles make their way into Oceana to supervise an evacuation, but extra crises require people to go outside and get get chewed while Harvey puts in some extra complaining (‘if it wasn’t for this stupid bitch here that you call your wife, we wouldn’t be in this fucking situation’). Linda is anxious at the control panels (‘damn these magnetic spikes!’) and argues about harebrained schemes to make things better which seem highly unlikely to work (‘Captain, fire a torpedo into the sharks’).
Mike finds an alien rock underwater and realises ‘it’s the source of the particles’, prompting some fine science talk (‘have you tried saturating with deuterium yet?’ ‘no, deuterium – of course’ ‘they’re hydrogen isotopes charged with thermal neutrons – there’s nothing like it on Earth!’). The whiny Brit makes a sneak escape attempt, abandoning the others to their fate just like Miguel Ferrer did in DeepStar Six — sharks get him, rather than the bends. Stiles, a black ops guy from ‘MJ-12’ (‘we own whatever we want, especially if it has to do with national security’), backstabs the deuterium-happy lab tech and waves a gun, explaining that the orange cylinder holds the secret of cold fusion power and his bosses want a monopoly. For a reel or so, the shark/alien stuff is on hold, and the film is all about running around the base skirmishing with the cackling, maniacal Man in Black Ops spook as various leaks spring and wires spark. After the supporting Oceanans (Elise Muller, Simone Levin, Atanas Srebrev, Emil Markov) have died, there’s a poignant moment of Mike and Linda staggering about the wrecked base as tragic choral music plays – but Stiles pops up (with an axe!) for another fight and gets a proper back-spearing. Opera excerpts play again as a spaceship arrives and two aliens come to retrieve or detonate their capsule, which seemingly dispels the sharks – who have been guarding it from untrustworthy Earthers (attacking Bermuda was probably overenthusiasm). Captain Riley announces that there are no survivors and his crewmen should keep the dead in their prayers, but Mike and Linda escape — apparently because a by-product of an undersea alien encounter is the ability to breathe underwater. The persistent Stiles swims along evilly, but finally eaten by a shark which hasn’t departed like all the others. On board a rescue submarine, nobody believes Mike’s story about seeing aliens.
Writer-producer Les Weldon (who might conceivably get the joke, since much of the dialogue evokes Airplane!) and director Danny Lerner (who plays it straight, cheap and earnest) stuck with goofy shark-related melodrama in their next icthyhorror effort, the disappointingly tame Shark in Venice.