In the TV movie Sharknado, thousands of sharks rocket skyward out of manholes in the street, attack airborne helicopters and fall from the sky with implausible precision to swallow their victims in one gulp.
In retaliation, alpha males wield chainsaws to slice the marine predators in half and even from inside the creatures after being swallowed.
Scenes such as these have turned the B-grade creature feature – which premiered in Singapore on August 11, 2013 on Syfy (StarHub Channel 526) at 8.20pm – into an overnight sensation in the blogosphere and Twitterverse.
Yet, according to cast member Tara Reid, the actors saw not one shark or fin during filming.
In a conference call with the press from her home in Los Angeles, she says: “Everything we shot, there were no sharks in it. So it was all like playing make-believe. We’d just scream, ‘Watch for the shark! The shark!’ We didn’t even know if it was supposed to be 20 sharks, or one shark, or a big shark, or a little shark.”
The 37-year-old actress, who rose to fame in 1999’s American Pie, plays one of the Los Angeles residents caught in a storm of sharks after a freak waterspout just off the coast of the city draws the angry creatures out of the sea and dumps them on land.
Her character in the movie, April Wexler, works with her estranged husband Fin (Ian Ziering, TV’s Beverly Hills, 90210) and a group of friends to bomb the shark-filled waterspout out of the sky.
Despite the obvious artificiality of the sharks in the film – they seem to come in only two varieties, hammerhead and non-hammerhead – Reid says that she has received some strange questions from journalists. “Probably one of the silliest things that people have asked me is, ‘Were you afraid of the sharks?'” she says.
“I mean, the sharks in the film, they look like puppets, they don’t even really look like sharks. When people actually take the movie seriously, I think it’s funny.”
The movie has generated another kind of frenzy in the social media world. During its premiere in the United States on July 12, “Sharknado” hit 5,000 mentions a minute on Twitter.
Celebrities have also been chiming in with their own Sharknado snippets. Actress Mia Farrow tweeted “Omg omg OMG #sharknado”, while actress Olivia Wilde conveyed her idea for a sequel to Elizabeth Banks: “This is our chance to play Siamese twins: two heads, one magnificent shark tail. Emmys all around. #SharknadoTwo.”
The producers of the show, Syfy, also harnessed the power of Twitter to name the sequel to the flick, which will be out in July next year. Out of more than 5,000 suggestions, they went with the rather uninspiring Sharknado 2: The Second One.
While Reid enjoyed filming the first movie, she does not know if she will be back for part two. She says: “They haven’t written it, there’s no script, we have no idea if they’re going to ask us back… or what it’s going to be about.”
The popularity of the movie has seen her make a much talked-about appearance on Discovery Channel’s talk show Shark After Dark earlier this week, in which she implied that a whale shark was the result of shark and a whale mating. In a bimbo moment, she told the host: “So I look up ‘sharks’ on the Internet and I see ‘whale sharks’, so I’m like, that must mean that a whale and a shark have sex. Then I think, ‘Well, how do a whale and a shark have sex?'”
Over the phone, she tries to explain herself: “What I meant was that a whale is a mammal and a shark is an animal, so it’s impossible for them to have… but when you hear the name whale shark, that’s what you think of. That’s what I’m saying, but everyone took it their own way.”
Now that Reid, who was once engaged to TV host Carson Daly and is presently not reported to be dating anyone, has fended off the sharks, and saved the city from chomping creatures, would she ever consider eating shark’s fin? She says: “I’ve never eaten shark, and I don’t like fish, so no.”
Sharknado premiered on August 11, 2013 in Singapore on Syfy (StarHub Channel 526) at 8.20pm. Watch Sharknado again on Syfy on August 22, at 7pm. Visit www.syfyuniversal.asia for more information.
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on August 10, 2013. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.