Directed by Kevin O’Neill with a screenplay by Matt Yamashita, Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda is the sequel to 2010’s Sharktopus. It somehow manages to be more ridiculous than its predecessor, which is no small feat. Produced by Roger and Julie Corman, it also slips into the same pattern set by its toothy ancestor.
There’s something admirable about the level of junky commitment of Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda, as O’Neill never walks away from a set piece due to trifles like budgetary concerns. The slapdash CGI never puts an elaborate action sequence or monster duel out of reach, which is kind of adorable.
The plot picks up as marine biologist Lorena Christmas (Katie Savoy) comes across an egg case that just so happens to contain a living, breathing baby Sharktopus. She takes the little guy to the SeaWorld-like aquarium owned by her uncle (Hensy Pichardo) and raises it to adult size.
Meanwhile, Dr. Rico Symes (Robert Carradine) is creating a weapon that combines the DNA from a pterodactyl with the DNA from a barracuda. Unfortunately, something goes wrong during the test flight and the Pteracuda is hijacked by the Russians or the Germans or something. With Pteracuda out in the wild, Symes and his mercenary sidekick Hamm (Rib Hillis) seek the aid of Sharktopus.
The plot sails along in Sharktopus fashion, with the only difference being the doubling-up of monsters. The Pteracuda seems the superior beast for a spell, as it can both fly and swim. This leads to a few hilarious sequences, like when the Pteracuda takes down a plane and the passengers yell “I think we’re gonna make it” right before the fiery crash.
Black humour is all over Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda and that’s the ace in the hole. Conan O’Brien even has a cameo as himself and he meets his demise in amusing fashion. The movie shows how seriously it takes itself when the lens zooms in on O’Brien’s remains to reveal a dummy wearing an dreadful wig.
Carradine is plunged into the role Eric Roberts played in Sharktopus. His mad scientist is thrust into the field with aplomb and he even wields a gun and takes Christmas hostage. Speaking of Christmas, Savoy plays the principled scientist archetype brought to life by Sara Malakul Lane in 2010 and is essentially the movie’s moral core.
In case the checklist wasn’t complete with respect to Sharktopus parallels, there’s even a sexy reporter. Akari Endo is Veronica Vega and she’s looking for awards, no matter the cost. She knows that a little cleavage and some remarkable pumps can lead to the golden promised land.
O’Neill has the good sense to let the monsters fight it out and that accounts for three or four creature fights. There’s nothing so lofty as steadiness or general quality in these scenes, either, and it doesn’t seem to matter that the monsters vary wildly in size and shape throughout the course of each scuffle.
Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda is full of nods to itself. Corman and Co. have long known how to play with negligible strengths and this outing is no different. There’s nothing qualitatively brilliant about it and most neutral scrutiny would tag it as a sloppy affair, but in a sense that’s what makes it work. And if that sounds like a backhanded compliment, you might be right.