“I thought you said you’ve killed thousands of these things.”
“Sure: ghost hammerheads, ghost makos, even ghost ghost sharks… but this is a ghost great white.”
Just when you thought it was safe to stay out of the water again.
I blame ‘Jaws’ for lulling you into a false sense of security. If sharks – the living kind, anyway – terrify you to no end, just keep clear of the ocean. I’ve looked into the numbers, and statistically, you won’t have a whole lot to worry about.
How can you possibly fend off ghost sharks, though? No, not callorhinchus milii; we’re talking about the restless, ravenous spirits of dead sharks. They don’t need sprawling, salty bodies of water to swim around in. If you drop your Dasani on the kitchen floor, you’ve given a ghost shark all the killing ground he needs. Ice, steam, water-based cosmetics… if it’s got H2O, you’ve left the ghost shark door wide open. And right when Auckland is about to host the 83rd International Water Convention!
The consensus in the media is that some deranged serial killer is drowning his hapless victims. Alas, as the lone survivors of ‘Ghost Shark 1: Port Massacre’, Mayor Broody (Campbell Cooley) and disgraced Naval officer Tony Palantine (Steve Austin) know the terrible truth all too well. (If you missed out on the first movie, which you did since it doesn’t exist, ‘Urban Jaws’ does a wonderful job bringing you up to speed.) Untold thousands of lives were sacrificed the last go-round to snuff out just one of those calamitous Carcharodons. Seasoned ghost shark hunter Tom Logan (Johnny Hall) has a less destructive solution in mind, but the impact on Auckland’s infrastructure and most vulnerable citizens will still be considerable. They’ll have blood on their hands either way – blood they can’t wash off because ghost sharks can travel through faucets.
“Stop crying, little girl. Ghost Shark can swim through tears!”
Since this is a movie with Death by Popsicle and a steam iron that sinisterly swivels towards its prey, it kind of goes without saying that ‘Ghost Shark 2: Urban Jaws’ isn’t exactly an unnervingly intense descent into horror. In particular, ‘Ghost Shark 2’ revels in its sequel-dom, refusing to let itself get tripped up by the fact that there was never actually a ‘Ghost Shark 1’.
Try to rattle off a sequel trope, and chances are that it’s in here somewhere. Our (figuratively) haunted heroes from the original return, with all the tears and highly wrought emotion that implies. The nefarious force they thought was in the rear view mirror has instead been transplanted to a new location. Shades of ‘Predator 2’ and ‘Home Alone II’, this new ghost shark is now on the prowl in the big city. Despite being the brainchild of Kiwis, much of the cast originally hails from the U.S. (or even Brazil), all to evoke the sense that this was an underfunded cash-in of a sequel shot in New Zealand just because it’s cheaper. It’s also one of those sequels where the theoretically established good guys step aside so that some new blood can take the reins.
The kills are wonderfully ridiculous, and the squeamish among you won’t have anything to fret about. I guess a shark would have to be corporeal to chomp into its prey, so instead, they swim inside you, turn your eyes blood red, and drown you from within. Well, for the most part:
Despite its magnificently ridiculous premise and hyper-omega-overdramatic performances, ‘Ghost Shark 2’ is wisely played straight. I mean, it’s not camp if you aim for big, broad laughs. The humor instead stems from its warm embrace of sequel clichés and its general absurdity. Despite barely qualifying as feature-length given its 69 minute runtime, there’s a whole bunch crammed in here, including a surprisingly amiable mayoral race, grieving over love lost to ghost sharks, and a movie’s worth of lore and backstory from its non-existent predecessor. This also isn’t the sort of movie to pack it in when its titular ghost shark is no longer a threat. I desperately want to say more, but you’re better off if I leave all that for you to discover first-hand.
There’s a lot to love about ‘Ghost Shark 2: Urban Jaws’. I remember seeing a teaser trailer on YouTube years ago and feeling gutted, with someone already having beaten me to the punch with a poltershark. Syfy also produced its own ‘Ghost Shark’ with a shockingly similar conceit while ‘Urban Jaws’ was in post-production. So, this faux-sequel’s numeration checks out even if the two movies aren’t actually connected. I unsurprisingly adore the premise and its approach to camp, although the pace does lag at times, and the half-shouted exchanges between Palantine and Broody can get kind of tiresome after a while.
Still, if you think you’d be game for a no-budget, fiercely independent flick called ‘Ghost Shark 2: Urban Jaws’, you’re unlikely to walk away disappointed. If you subscribe to Amazon Prime, ‘Urban Jaws’ is right there on Prime Video waiting for you. Otherwise, it’s just a $2 rental from ghostshark2.com, and deluxe and super-deluxe special editions are available for purchase as well. I haven’t seen any of the extras yet, but the deleted scenes presumably include a bit with ‘Troll 2’ star George Hardy, Alan Bagh from ‘Birdemic: Shock and Terror’, and Juliette Danielle of ‘The Room’ infamy. That a scene like that was even shot is really all the review you need.