'Sharknado 2' could bite off more buzz than the first
By Ann Oldenburg, USA Today
- Jul. 28, 2014
Uh oh. Another crazy weather event is looming on the horizon.
The forecast: Cloudy with a major chance of sharks, as Syfy's Sharknado 2: The Second One is set to attack Wednesday (9 ET/PT)
Last July, the original Sharknado, one of many Syfy B-movies, came out of nowhere and took pop culture by storm. (You knew we had to say that.)
Ratings for the Syfy original movie were modest (1.4 million viewers for its initial airing), but social media went crazy, registering 5,000 tweets a minute. Celebs including Mia Farrow, Josh Gad, Olivia Wilde and Michael Chiklis were among those watching and cracking jokes online, turning it into one giant, hilarious viewing party.
So how do you top that?
"More sharks," says Tara Reid, who stars with Ian Ziering (Beverly Hills 90210) in the campy sequel.
The American Pie actress wasn't sure she even wanted to be in Sharknado. "I remember reading the first one and going out with friends and saying 'sharks are flying around Beverly Hills and maiming people and jumping out of pools.' And my friends are laughing so hard. They're like, 'Are you kidding me? This is amazing. It's so funny. You have to do it!'"
So she did, "never knowing it would become the phenomenon it did." She adds, "We got real lucky." And she acknowledges, "Social media is what took it to the next level."
Ziering, who is back in all his chainsaw-wielding, shark-fighting glory as surfer/bar owner Fin Shepard, says, "The brilliance of Sharknado 2 is it's more of the same — similar formula, more of the experience." (Yes, he's swinging a 45-pound chainsaw in this one, he assures.)
But that's the tricky part, says screenwriter Thunder Levin -- striking that just-right Sharknado B-movie balance.
"It's tricky because... you keep hearing the reason the first one was successful was because it was so bad it was good. I've never quite bought into that, but you worry if you make it too good, no one will like it!"
He vows The Second One is "bigger and better than the first. It's got more excitement and action — and more heart, too. The characters are more endearing."
Endearing or not, there are definitely more of them, as the action moves from Los Angeles to New York City. Sharknado 2 features Vivica A. Fox, Mark McGrath, Judah Friedlander, Kelly Osbourne, Judd Hirsch, Andy Dick and Robert Klein.
And Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan, pop in as their TV personas in cameos.
The movie was shot over two months in February — look for snowflakes along with those sharks falling from the sky, with some 700 visual effects used in filming.
So does bigger and better mean more blood and shark guts?
"We didn't necessarily go for more gore," says Levin. "That's never really been what Sharknado is about. We go for more fun and go for more action and more tension and excitement. It starts in the opening scene and doesn't let up. It's a lot faster pace than the first one."
Anything can happen during a sharknado. "They could go anywhere from inside hospitals to the Mets stadium to subways to the street to you name it, a shark could be there," Reid says. "The Empire State Building."
Director Anthony Ferrante says that people shouldn't get hung up on the idea of sharks in a tornado. It's a beast of its own kind.
"The simple explanation is it's a sharknado. It's like our Frankenstein, our Freddy Krueger, our Jason (from Friday the 13th films). You don't question Jason getting his neck chopped off half a million times and then getting shot and getting back up again — that's part of the mythology…. The sharknado is our villain and it does what we tell it to do."
The key is to play it all seriously, but not take it seriously.
"I definitely played my character serious," says Fox, who plays Ziering's girlfriend, "and I think, in the moments and what we're fighting against – and the elements – then the comedy ensued."
Ferrante says the only people who were allowed to be funny are the comic-relief characters – Judd Hirsch (fittingly, a cab driver), and Judah Friedlander (a baseball fan at the Mets game). He had to tell some they were too "over the top."
Ferrante admits the first movie was "lightning in a bottle.... So I mean there's a pressure." And, he says, "You can't go into the second one and just be OK. You have to be better than OK."