Frenzied Fans Devour ‘Sharknado 2’ at San Diego Comic-Con

[Sharknado 2 poster property of The Asylum/SyFy Channel. All photos by Carlos Duncan.]

Greetings and salutations, fellow Fridge Nukers! Bradfield here, reporting from, well, right in front of my computer, which is where I’ll be for the next week or so, compiling and processing the marvelous madness known as San Diego Comic-Con 2014. About the below, I will only say this: It’s good to be a mega-fan with a Press badge.

Destruction of “The Bar”

It’s been a little over a year since The Asylum‘s Sharknado descended on coastal Los Angeles, wreaking havoc with the citizenry, and whirling its way into the hearts of B-movie lovers worldwide. Love it or hate it, [And if it’s the latter – what’s wrong with you? Are you allergic to fun or something?]  what started off as a seemingly throwaway line in Leprechaun’s Revenge — penned by director of both Sharknado and its upcoming sequel, Anthony C. Ferrante — was turned into a feature length script by SyFy Channel staple writer/director Thunder Levin, shot in eighteen days, and after a lot of time in post-production (much of it spent adding the visual effects), became a legitimate global phehomenon with legions of fans from all walks of life.

Of course it began with the lovably ludicrous title and premise, which really is the hallmark of pretty much every movie on SyFy Channel. What set Sharknado apart from its SyFy cousins was, first, full commitment on the parts of everyone involved, even if it is more than likely because many were unaware of the real title of the film until well into shooting it. [The working title was, Dark Skies – a reference to an unproduced John Boorman script from the late 70s that influenced, among other films E.T. and Gremlins.] But after, and even during, it’s premiere, like Pandora’s Box, there was  no going back – it was out there.

sharknadoposterAlthough it was a major success, it would be in ways many of the participants didn’t imagine. In a nutshell, it went viral. Fast. It was embraced with gusto by social media (a record 5k tweets per minute), B-Movie bloggers, and the artists formerly known as Mystery Science Theater 3K, RiffTrax. Despite what the critics who didn’t get the joke said, the bar had neither been raised nor lowered – the bar simply ceased to exist.

The Second One

Anthony Ferrante on the continued and potential ongoing success of the Sharknado franchise:

Great villains don’t die. They just get stronger. Our villains are the Sharknados themselves. They’re like Freddy or Jason. They keep coming back, but we can take them anywhere in the world where there’s a great city next to the ocean.

Naturally, the rapid success of Sharknado would pretty much require a sequel. To that end, Sharknado 2: The Second One touches down in living rooms across Planet Earth this Wednesday, July 30th. This time, the city of New York is in the path of the storm, or rather two Sharknados. Hero Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) returns to his to his hometown, The Big Apple, with his still-estranged wife, April Wexler (Tara Reid) – who is promoting the book she wrote about surviving the first Sharknado.  After meeting up with old friends (Judah Friedlander and Mark McGrath) and running into an old flame (Vivica A. Fox), they skies begin to darken, and… well, you can probably guess what happens next.

The preview is online, and S2:TSO promises not only to double down on the high-octane, hilarious, Selachimorphic action, but the snowballing popularity of the first film led to dozens of celebrities native New Yorkers and not, volunteering to do what would otherwise be background roles. Some, like Kelly Ripa, Matt Lauer and Al Roker play themselves; while Andy Dick, Robert Klein and even Billy Ray Cyrus play small parts. Judd Hirsch makes an appearance as (what else?) a New York taxi driver.  The preceding list is a fraction of the famous faces and notorious names appearing in the movie.

Sharknado Panel 04
The Sharknado “Two-Crew” (left to right): Ian Ziering, Vivica A. Fox, Judah Friedlander, and Anthony C. Ferrante

Sharknado 2 Touches Down at SDCCI 2014

Last year, Sharknado was still somewhat new – although I did spy one cosplayer dressed as a Sharknado. What a difference a year makes. Not only did the Sharknado 2 panel — with Ziering, Ferrante, Fox and Friendlander — pack Hall 6BCF to capacity, but this year’s must-have freebie, a foam rubber chainsaw emblazoned with the S2:TSO logo, could be seen in the hands easily a third of Comic-Con 2014 attendees. Though noticeably absent from the panel, Thunder Levin signed Sharknado 2 posters at the Arcana booth. Spontaneous Sharknados even broke out on the streets of the San Diego Gas Lamp District, bewildering the unknowing, and bestowing gifts of t-shirts to the devout. And of course, more Sharknado cosplay.

Ian Ziering is — rather, was — primarily known for his role as the not particularly nice, mostly stereotypical rich kid, Steve Saunders, in the popcult classic Beverly Hills 90210. Not a man to rest on his laurels, nor coast on his SAG residuals, Ziering has worked consistently since his time “in the fishbowl,” including poking fun at himself with a cameo in Tony Scott’s Domino. So if anything, the Sharknado films are merely a reintroduction to the limelight. Yet, according to the heart-throb turned action hero, if it weren’t for his wife’s encouragement — even when he learned what the film’s actual title was — an essential piece of the Sharknado puzzle might have walked off the set. Further, Ziering’s agent kept the ball rolling assuring his client that the film “would never see the light of day.” Yet rather than shying away from the first film’s success, he is genuinely grateful for both fans embracing the film, and a new phase in his acting career. [WEAPON OF CHOICE: chainsaws of course, and in S2:TSO, he gets to use a 40′ “lumberjack grade” buzz-saw.]

Sharknado Panel 01
One word, Uma – REMATCH1

Vivica A. Fox is no stranger to popcult fans. Early in her career, she played a stripper turned bodyguard to the First Lady in the 1996 alien/disaster flick, Independence Day – and kicked many an alien behind. Yet if her standout performance as Copperhead in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films, and her battle with Uma Thurman’s Bride, aren’t the first images that come to mind, I’d really have to question your devotion to popcult. In S2:TSO, Ms. Fox is Skye, or as she puts it, “Fin’s chocolate blast from the past.” [Author’s note: RAD!] Aliens still present a bigger challenge than  a Sharknado, when it comes to fighting fictitious monsters. However, now that she’s had extensive sword training, Vivica has one word for Uma: REMATCH. And though that isn’t possible in the Kill Bill world, she hinted at a possible revenge film featuring Copperhead’s daughter, Nikki. [WEAPON OF CHOICE: Katana. Remember ‘dat Uma… yeah.. remember ‘DAT!]

Sharknado Panel 05
Method actor and World Champion Environmentalist, Judah Friedlander.

Judah Friedlander isn’t just doing a cameo role in which he walks out of Rockefeller Plaza wearing a “World Champion Shark Slayer” trucker hat and gets his head bitten off – he’s playing supporting lead, major Mets fan, and overall badass shark-slayer, Bryan. Perhaps the most serious and contemplative member of the Comic-Con “Two-Crew,” Friedlander posited that the Sharknados are a result of man’s tampering with nature. “Pollution. Look at what we’ve done to the ocean. Mother Nature is taking it all back.” He also spent months preparing for his role both living at the bottom of the ocean, and removing the windshield from his car and driving around as fast as the engine would allow. [WEAPON OF CHOICE: Two. Onscreen – an oversized novelty baseball bat. In real life – his fists. “Heroes don’t need weapons.”]

And leading the charge, the man who not only created the title and concept, but managed to keep the ship afloat in the face of out and out mutiny, Anthony C. Ferrante. “It’s called Sharknado. We’re not exactly doing Twelfth Night…” Yet the snowball success of the original film isn’t lost on the SyFy Channel vet. On more than one occasion, he couldn’t express enough his appreciation of the first film’s success and the excitement over the sequel: “The only reason we’re here because of you, the fans.” [WEAPON OF CHOICE: Hiding behind Ian Ziering.]

Sharknado Panel 02
“It’s called Sharknado…”

So… Brace Yourselves, NYC

What else can I say? As previously stated, Sharknado 2: The Second One drops tomorrow at 9pm, EST and PST. Just like last year, I will be live Tweeting during the event. This year, I’ll be doing it for Nuke the Fridge. Details to follow.