MARTY RUSSELL: Fins to the left, fins to the right…



Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the, well, anywhere – street, subway, Empire State Building – along comes the sequel to “Sharknado,” that so-bad-it-was-good (at least to laugh at) SyFy Channel movie from last summer.

The aptly and adeptly named “Sharknado 2: The Second One” airs tonight on the cable channel and while I’m not here to pitch the movie I wouldn’t say no if the producers would like to slip me a small, say, six-figure check. I can be reached at the email address below.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year you know the premise of the original “Sharknado” which had to have been worked out in a bar setting and probably involved a few illegal substances. Tornadoes spawned on the Left Coast suck up legions of deadly sharks and deposit them on Los Angeles where they manage to survive long enough to, unfortunately, devour only half the population.

We’re still waiting on the obvious spinoff (no pun intended) – “Arctustex” – where a polar vortex sucks up hundreds of polar bears in the Arctic and deposits them on Minneapolis. That one would be even more far-fetched since I doubt there are still hundreds of polar bears left.

But back to the sharks. It’s amazing how one of the most ancient creatures still around on the planet has become such a part of pop culture. The Discovery Channel’s annual “Shark Week” is now officially the longest-running cable television event in history, according to The Atlantic magazine.

Of course the fascination with all things shark can be traced back to one Mr. Spielberg and one Mr. Benchley almost 40 summers ago with the release of the movie, “Jaws,” which established both the summer blockbuster movie trend and the need to mix shark repellent with your sunscreen.

“Jaws” was itself a pop culture phenomenon injecting new phrases into our collective lexicon. Nowadays, any situation where we find ourselves in over our heads can be succinctly summed up by saying, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

And while “Jaws” scared many people out of the water on its initial release, we now seem to have developed a fascination for the beasts. When shark sightings were reported in the past week off Cape Cod, tourists flocked to the beaches to get a look and snap up souvenirs like baby booties with shark teeth for toes, according to the New York Times.

“Sharknado” itself owes its success not to great acting, a riveting story line or groundbreaking special effects but to pop culture. Originally viewed by only about 1.4 million (no clue as to how many of those were sharks) it only took off when people started using social media, specifically Twitter, to mock the movie as it played.

So we’ll have to wait and see if “Sharknado 2” lives up to the original. In other words, we’ll have to see if it bites as badly.

Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at

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