Dinoshark Kevin O'Neill

Dinoshark Kevin O'Neill
Dinocroc. Supergator. Sharktopus. Dinocroc vs. Supergator ― just as wine connoisseurs grade their favourite vintages against each other, Roger Corman's late period co-productions with the Syfy Channel should only be evaluated against their kind. Dinoshark aired in March 2010, six months before the mighty Sharktopus made its presence felt off the coast of Mexico, and now arrives on DVD one month after that other incongruous shark hybrid staked its claim on Netflix queues across the land. Filmed in similar locations and with similarly low-grade digital cinematography and CGI effects, Dinoshark and Sharktopus are very much siblings, and if the former is slightly better, that's only because it lacks Sharktopus's obnoxiously joke-y tone, achieving at least a baseline of professionalism. But let's not get crazy with praise, because the story is typical: freed from the polar ice caps after 100-million-plus years of sleep, a dinosaur with shark-like characteristics makes its way to the coast of Mexico to dine on some bikini-clad revellers, often with a theme song that sounds not a million miles away from a certain John Williams composition. The second half spins its wheels as the obligatory scientists and romantic leads navigate the waters and the Mexico police to stop the digital beast. The three lead performances by Eric Balfour (of Hell Ride and Lie With Me), Iva Hasperger and Humberto Busto are fine, but unremarkable, although as anyone who has seen all the walking, talking plywood from Sharktopus can attest, there's something to be said for fine-but-unremarkable. Alas, Dinoshark lacks Eric Roberts, who was surprisingly sharp in Sharktopus, but it does have ― swear to god ― a sustained supporting performance by Roger Corman, as "Dr. Frank Reeves," and boy oh boy, can that man not act. Always delivering his lines with the same stilted grin and measured delivery he uses for his DVD interviews, Corman can't even exit frame convincingly, and it quickly becomes clear that the only reason he's given himself a role is to save money on an extra actor. Watching Corman's scenes, I was reminded of the oft-repeated story of how Corman shot Battle of Blood Island (1960) in Puerto Rico to take advantage of the territory's lack of union regulations and then shot Creature from the Haunted Sea and Last Woman on Earth just to cash in on the location. In the latter, Corman cast Robert Towne (the screenwriter) as one of the three leads just to save a few more shekels. It's sort of touching to know that the 85-year-old schlock legend is still out there doing his thing, but as with Corman's early cheapies, the results are usually more fun to joke about than to watch. DVD extras include a commentary by director Kevin O'Neill (who also directed Dinocroc, so he knows a thing or two about a thing or two), and trailers for various Corman productions, including an ancient Greek epic called Cyclops starring ― yes! ― Eric Roberts. (Anchor Bay)