‘SharkNado,’ ‘Ghost Shark’ and great exploitation movies

screamers advertisement

I still remember my expectations when I saw “Screamers” at a drive-in theater in 1981.

They were pretty damn low.

After all, “Screamers” was sold with the catchphrase “Be Warned: You Will Actually See a Man Turned Inside Out” on the poster. When a movie is sold on that kind of pitch alone you know it’s got problems.

When that scene doesn’t even happen in the movie, you know the suckers who paid admission have problems.

Anyway, “Screamers” – which was actually an Italian movie called “Island of the Fish Men,” made two years earlier, then released with some footage added by Roger Corman’s New World Pictures – was pretty weak stuff.


It’s appropriate that the universally liked Corman has, in recent years, produced cheap sci-fi movies for the SyFy channel, home of “SharkNado,” a huge hit on SyFy a few weeks back, and inspiration for “Ghost Shark,” which aired Thursday night. Neither were Corman productions but might have been. That’s because the mix of inspiration and desperation that went into the writing, filming and marketing of these movies was vintage Corman.

“SharkNado’s” best marketing tool was one that couldn’t have been planned or bought by SyFy. The Twitter reaction to the movie the evening it aired added greatly to the movie’s impact on the pop culture landscape.

When SyFy aired “Ghost Shark” – an inferior movie to “SharkNado” but one with some funny and audacious scenes – the channel seemed to try to prime the Twitter pump by superimposing lame “Tweets” in the upper left corner of the screen.

Didn’t work.

I often wonder how modern technology and social media who have affected the plots of movies that predated their invention. In the case of “Screamers” back in 1981, I can only imagine how my friends and I would have digitallly picked the movie apart there from our drive-in vantage point.


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