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Sharks of the Corn Has No Bite

A Failed Attempt at Comedy Horror May Delight a Niche Audience

Shark attacking a helicopter.

They don’t make movies like Sharks of the Corn. That’s partly because most filmmakers try to avoid crafting the unique sort of bad this film features. However, the odd thing is the movie might’ve worked since the ambition seems to be grabbing at awful rather than the proverbial brass ring. In a way, any watcher can almost admire the maker’s desire for glorious garbage. Unfortunately, it fails to be the kind of good-bad casual viewers could enjoy. Yet, there’s an audience for Sharks of the Corn.

The last few years have seen a rise in intentional schlock. Fabulous films about shark-filled tornadoes and grindhouse homages have made it a subgenre all its own. The problem is that good-bad is trickier to achieve than many think. One thing Sharks of the Corn gets right is absolute sincerity when it comes to material. Every performer is onboard one hundred percent. At times, their delivery borders on the kind of junk food good trash can be, but mostly, they fail to glue things together. A real shame given the premise is kind of promising.

Performers Shannon Stockin and Steve Guynn in a cornfield holding up a shark's mouth.
Things are getting weird in this cornfield.

In grand grindhouse tradition, Sharks of the Corn is about sharks in the corn. That may sound sarcastic, but the movie knows what it’s about as well as the audience it wants. So, there’s no attempt to confuse or mislead into some epic twist. The title says it all to a certain extent. Still, refreshing as that is, the full details do run deeper.

Essentially, there’s a cornfield in rural Kentucky where mysterious deaths occur. One reason is a serial killer who murders with a shark’s mouth. But wait, there’s more. Supernatural aspects abound. Apparently, there’s also a cult worshiping a humanoid shark goddess they hope to resurrect. Stonehenge factors in alongside a criminal conspiracy to collect the shark goddess’s stillborn offspring for reasons, a police chief trying to track down her lost sister, the CIA, and of course, actual literal sharks in the corn. In retrospect, the film isn’t as straightforward as the title would imply.

The various threads tangle more than weave a tapestry. Each arrives feeling like the scriptwriter decided to pad the initial notion. The plot ends up the victim of the idiom “everything but the kitchen sink.” Yet, again, there’s a strangely humorous quality when a new plot point arrives. Prepare for eye rolls aplenty as clunky dialogue delivers a fresh unnecessary revelation. About the time the optic nerve is twisted painfully, Bigfoot arrives, and another spin begins threatening a blinding snap.

The less said about the special effects the better. There’s little here someone without a stock footage account couldn’t put together. A few shining displays of amusingly mediocre CGI pop up, but the good only makes the bad look terrible in contrast.

Ford Windstar as Jonathan Gottlieb carrying signs to close the cornfield.
Ford Windstar as Jonathan Gottlieb trying to close the cornfield.

Still, any failings feel intentional. That makes it tricky to criticize because the objective seems to have been deliberate shlock. I watched this with some close friends, and we found ourselves debating the degree of intent. Although the consensus came down on the side of an orchestrated hot mess, a planned fail isn’t necessarily a win. While I’m tempted to offer a few points for effort, the joy of it didn’t come from seeing delightful dreck. It stemmed from the friendly debate it prompted.

The movie amounts to a low-budget belly flop into an empty pool. Oddly enough, I kind of admire that about Sharks of the Corn. Writer/director Tim Ritter takes a swan dive towards the concrete. While it may only please a decidedly small, niche audience, he succeeds by creating something a group of friends will find delight in demolishing. An excellent beer and a pizza movie—I can’t recommend it enough for those who enjoy train wrecks.

For instance, I said the performances don’t hold the flick together on their own. While that remains true, they do provide plenty of fodder for any audience clever enough to quip. Renting this flick and reacting in real-time is guaranteed to be a joy for any amateur Mystery Science crowd.

Unfortunately, I can’t recommend it to those outside that narrow spectrum. There’s nothing here for anyone else. Although this movie may, if lucky, end up on Joe Bob’s Drive-In (or future incarnations thereof), it isn’t going to appeal to any outside that crowd. I can enjoy an evening tossing around hot garbage with friends, but a lot of movie-goers want something more satisfying. Sharks of the Corn isn’t for people looking for a serious flick.

Shannon Stockin and Steve Guynn as humanoid sharks in Sharks of the Corn
The shark goddess rises.

When it comes to good-bad, there’re better films. Still, for sheer ambition, I respect what the filmmakers seem to have attempted. Though nowhere near successful, Sharks of the Corn is a wonderful addition to any bad movie night. That said, all other moviegoers will do their best to absolutely avoid this film. Leave it to the wonderful weirdos like me—satisfied by shlock.

Sharks of the Corn is currently available on Amazon. If you’re part of the beer and a pizza crowd, bite into it this weekend. Otherwise, don’t swim in these waters.

One Comment

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  1. The plot is awful and disjointed. The acting is flat. The dialogue is idiotic. The special effects are terrible. But the movie is damn funny and really fun! Great parody of so many classic movies. Love it!

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Written by Jay Rohr

J. Rohr is a Chicago native with a taste for history and wandering the city at odd hours. In order to deal with the more corrosive aspects of everyday life he writes the blog www.honestyisnotcontagious.com and makes music in the band Beerfinger. His Twitter babble can be found @JackBlankHSH.

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