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Movies We're Watchin'

Movie Interlude: Sharks in Venice.

So quite a while back we watches a shark movie and just recently I realized I never posted the review. So here it is!

Before anyone gets all up in Sharks in Venice’s grill, I did a little Google-fu on sharks. There aren’t any fresh or brackish water sharks per se, but some species of shark, most notably the aggressive bull shark, have been known to cruise up fresh water estuaries into the rivers proper. It seems that they adapt fairly well to hanging out in fresh water but on the whole, sharks are salt water dwelling creatures. So, you can wipe that smirk off your face valiant reader, because in theory Venice could very well have sharks in their canals. I’m not sure what they would eat and the boat traffic would probably drive them nuts but the point is that sharks *can* hang in the brackish canals of Venice should they choose to do so.

Now the catacombs of Venice...Did anyone tell the writers that Venice is located on a lagoon? That it is built on pilings so it doesn't sink into the lagoon? And that it's completely surrounded by lagoon? Lagoons do not lend themselves to cave formations last I checked. Smirk away, valiant reader, I’m letting you have this one.

Sharks in Venice opens with a couple of divers diving in the canals of Venice looking for something. It’s apparently not the aquarium decor poked into the sandy bottom of a dive tank because they sweep that away as they muck about looking for their something. Eventually the divers discover a stone plaque which says “Here lies the treasure you were looking for. And it’s cursed.” Cursed it does seem to be since moments later a shark comes out of the murk and eats the divers.

Cut to some college lecture hall somewhere where Professor Stephen Baldwin (whose character name is David Franks but the acting is so unmemorable we might as well just refer to the character as Stephen) is giving a presentation on diving and weather and the Andrea Doria. One of the students gets lippy and Professor Stephen tell him what for, which I guess proves Stephen is a bad ass diver. We also establish that he has a fiancé and that his dad, whose last known location was Venice, is missing.


The Venice police are being super unhelpful to Stephen as he identifies a diver’s body as one that does not belong to his father. However Stephen, having seen a lot of shark attacks in his time, can tell by the tooth marks that this was not a boat accident. The police are pretty adamant about the boat accident demise of this gnawed on corpse because “there are no sharks in Venice!” They then let Stephen go mucking about in the same restricted area the dead diver was found in because - no wait that doesn’t make sense. OK, they agree to let him dive because - oh hold on, that won’t make sense either. Well they just do and the story progresses.

Stephen and Fiancé pop into Disappeared Diver Dad’s place to dig up some clues as to what he was up to. Unfortunately, someone had the exact same idea somewhat earlier and Stephen and Fiancé open the door to a trashed apartment. All is not lost, though, since Stephen knows the wily ways of his father and finds a package of CLUE at the end of a string dangling outside the window. It seems that Stephen’s father found the location of the treasure!

Stephen and a diving buddy (for safety reasons you always dive with a buddy, preferably one whose name is much further down on the credits than yours) motor out to the X on the CLUE map and in short order find the same aquarium flora and “Here Lies WOE!” sign. They also find the same shark and are munched on in much the same way as the opening divers save Stephen manages to find the CAVE OF MEDICHI TREASURES before he gets full on shark snacked.

The treasure is vast, the treasure is shiny, the treasure exists in a sewer like cave offshoot and is completely high and dry in the catacombs of Venice. Stephen picks up one bangle before he decides that he should probably seek medical attention for his curiously non-gushing shark bite. He wanders out of the cave, into the canal and a shark plows through a random underwater boat to eat everything but a leg.

It’s not Stephen’s leg. The next scene opens with Stephen waking up in a hospital bed fully appendaged, albeit bandaged at the shoulder. He quickly discovers that his treasure bangle is missing but we never discover where the rest of the body which belongs to the random leg is. The unhelpful Venice police glower at Stephen and Fiancé (There are NO sharks in Venice!) while the Venice Mafioso invites Stephen and Fiancé to dinner.

The Mafioso reveals that he has Stephen’s treasure bangle and also an offer Stephen shouldn’t refuse: How would Stephen like to continue where his diver dad left off? Stephen does not much like the terms of the bargain so he declines the offer. Instead, he and Fiancé visit Venice to see the sights. It’s like watching the Notable Places in Venice Wikipedia article in action. Incidentally, my notes for the “Visit lovely Venice” montage say “My God, it’s full of scarves!”

Just to prove that there are no sharks in Venice, the “isn’t a shark except it totally is” goes on an eating rampage. It gnaws on a boat and then, in one of the more amusing scenes in the movie, finds a drunk couple out for a fight on a boat launch. He’s yelling at her about this and she’s yelling at him about that and suddenly, like we were all expecting, the shark hurtles out of the water and gobbles up the guy feet first. This leaves his upper body to flail around like a terrified Italian Muppet as the shark jumps towards the camera. The woman is so mortified by the poor special effects that she quietly disappears in a backwash of badly rendered shark splash.

Meanwhile as shopping for scarves comes to a close and eating lunch at quaint Venetian cafe commences, Mafioso Mooks on Vespas come pouring out of the woodwork to snatch Fiancé and Stephen. Fiancé is Vespa-napped but Stephen manages to give them the slip and “runs away”. Said running being something akin to making a polar bear wade through a vat of Velveeta to get at a raft of mocking seals. Stephen (the actor) runs with much determination yet also at a ferociously slow pace. It’s not pretty. This does explain why the Mooks use Vespas; with all the weaving through tight spaces and navigating stairs, Vespas are about the only thing that is slower than Stephen (the actor) yet don’t film like a bunch of bad guys ambling after a cheese-covered polar bear.

Predictably, the Mafioso “Mua-ha-has” at Stephen and Stephen agrees to get the treasure in exchange for Fiancé. Oh, and the Mafioso is the one responsible for the sharks in Venice. He’s got a whole tank of ‘em that he lets loose to keep people away from the treasure, including his own divers. Seems to me that the details of this plan could stand a little polishing but perhaps the Mafioso has a pathological hatred of divers and is killing two birds with one stone.

Mooks. Diving. Treasure cave. Checkov’s cave traps are utilized on the bad guys and Stephen turns the tables on them. Senseless fighting ensues, including an odd scene in the basement of a furniture store where Stephen battles a chainsaw wielding mook, and everyone converges at the Mafioso’s secret lair. Which is probably also under ground in the cave systems of Venice.

The police show up and Ohhhhhhh. They are on the take. More senseless fighting erupts until the lead inspector has a change of heart and the tide swings in our hero’s favor. The inspector then gets shot and the Mafioso (wait for it...)


Yeah. Fortunately, this wraps the movie up and we were released unto our own recognizance where we sat around a little stupefied that we had watched the whole thing.



With them working for the mob and all, it's a wonder no one called them LOAN SHARKS *rimshot*