90210 Shark Attack (2014)
To understand what you are seeing in 90210 Shark Attack, you have to go in with some basic knowledge of director/producer David DeCoteau.
In the late '80s and early '90s, David DeCoteau's films could be counted on for two things: boobies. Lots of them. Specifically, the boobies of scream queens like Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer, Julie Strain, and Brinke Stevens (my personal fave of the bunch, and ex-wife and model of the late Rocketeer creator, Dave Stevens). I got to know his name well and count on him for quality in that department (and that department only, really). In films like Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, Creepozoids, Nightmare Sisters, and Dr. Alien, DeCoteau kept scream queen fans happy while also providing Joe Bob Briggs with plenty of material on his Drive-In Theatre show. DeCoteau also released films under the name "Ellen Cabot" as well, such as Beach Babes from Beyond, and its sequel, Cave Girl Island (which each featured Roxanne Blaze aka Sara Bellomo, a former porn actress turned scream queen). He even found time to direct Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge in that period.
DeCoteau started out as a teenager working for Roger Corman, got into editing, writing and producing, had a brief spin directing hardcore XXX features in the mid '80s (both gay and straight), and started his run of over 100 direct-to-video (and now on-demand) features with Dreamaniac in 1986. In 1997, he had a more public coming out with a personal film titled Leather Jacket Love Story, that played the festival circuit, his only film to do so. Since then, DeCoteau's films became more aggressive in their gay content, and where it used to be standard for his scream queens to take off their bikinis and get in a hot tub, he now uses those scenes to have hot young studs slowly strip off their shirts and step into softcore soapy shower scenes.
|I don't think he came to eat dinner...|
|Marcie and Bryce... the Howells |
of this Gilligan's Island.
|Alyssa has a secret, but it's probably not |
about who did her highlights...
|This is not a great white shark...|
|Just so you know what has her |
(and the director's) interest...
|Scream queen Donna Wilkes now...|
|...and Wilkes in her heyday as |
Angel in 1984.
|Tyler could never get "Blue Steel" quite right...|
There is a funny bit where Miss Pamela is running through the course for the class, and Marcie asks that since her parents live in La Jolla, can she just interview them for her term paper. Miss Hanson says she "needs to choose a slightly older indigenous culture," but Marcie counters that her folks "have been members of the yacht club for, like, twenty years." It would be nice if more of the film were clever, even in little bits, but so much of the film is simply watching DeCoteau spinning his wheels while he builds to his meager effects scenes in what is actually a quite short film (only 75 minutes, and the credits kick in at the 68 minute mark).
As a result, 90210 Shark Attack does play like any standard softcore "Skinemax" flick for most of its running time. For example, in one scene, Tyler sneaks around at night and calls out the teacher's name. She doesn't answer and so he goes into her room and explores. Because it is exactly this type of film (and mind you, we don't know about their quite illegal "relationship" as of yet), he turns on the shower and takes off his clothes, the seductive music starts again, and there are several closeups of his lower torso just above "that region". It is twink paradise. We get a shot of the ocean. Alyssa plays absentmindedly with her necklace on her bed, while Pamela checks on her from the door. Pamela then goes to her own room and sees her door is open. Curious, she hears the shower running and walks in to see Tyler taking a shower. Just as we are expecting her to be shocked, she smiles and watches him slowly massage his chest and shoulders. The camera lingers on his lower torso again and she licks her lips slightly. She is a dirty old lady. He stops the shower, turns and sees her, smiles and asks, "So teach, like what you see?" "I do, but you'll have to do some extra credit." He says she should be paying him by now, and she replies angrily that he'll get his when she gets hers, and that's always been their agreement. She storms off and he says he was only kidding. It turns out that Pamela is planning a book about Alyssa's father and that the caring teacher thing is only a ruse to get closer to the girl. She wants a bestseller and a movie based on the bestseller out of it, and Tyler wants to play himself in the movie. Just as they are about to kiss, there is a crashing noise. They both think it is Bryce, and Tyler says, "If you don't kill Bryce, I will." (Please, someone kill someone... we are 38 minutes into the film, and no one has been killed yet, by a shark or anyone else.)
|It's time to meet the Muppets...|
|...on The Muppet Show tonight!|
Not that DeCoteau really cares. He gets his slow swimming scene, he gets his soapy shower scene, he gets his scream queen appearance to wrangle a few more of the curious to his film, and he gets to put it out with a poster that in no way shows anything that even approximates what happens inside the film. The poster shows the three "teen" female leads in their bikinis (which we never fully get) standing in the ocean surrounded by sharks (the girls standing in the ocean never happens nor do we ever shark fins surrounding anyone at any time). As I just mentioned, there is also no real shark attack seen in the movie. If one could sue DeCoteau for false advertising, one might have a slim case. Hell, the class is never even seen out on their ocean field trip, or even near the goddamned ocean, in the film; they could have spent less than $500 for the lot of them on a dolphin cruise in an afternoon and used the footage to convince us they went as a class. Instead, we just get more stock footage – shot after dull shot – of sharks that are mostly not great whites.
|The "beheading" pool scene, first in color,|
and then in fake "black and white"...
If he had made a hardcore film with the same plot, the film may be equally as shitty, but I may not feel quite as ripped off overall. DeCoteau already has a solid porno set-up (groups of young adults pretending to be teens breaking off into various sexual pairings into a gorgeous house that was rented for the occasion, pool scenes, shower scenes, and a teacher-student affair), it would have been far more honest. I know its common to look down one's nose at an X-rated scene and say (in a pinched voice effect) "That's not what sex is like in real life" and in many instances, yes, depending on the scene, number of participants, orifices included, and when and how it finishes, you might be right. For most people, that's not what sex is like. But the "act" of sex onscreen is a real act. However false the emotions involved on the part of the players (if they are even necessary to the scene in question), we see it being committed to onscreen, and for the viewer, it gives you something solid (pun absolutely intended) in return for your time spent watching it and possible investment in its viewing. 90210 Shark Attack could even remain the same film the rest of the way through, with the addition of hardcore sequences – DeCoteau could keep the same stupid stock footage, blah, blah, blah – and it would immediately seem like a more honest effort than the tripe with light softcore moves he put out in real life.
|Beware anyone with a shark tooth necklace... Hey! |
Wait a minute... I have one of those!
But what we have really learned here are two things: 1) DeCoteau needs a far deeper stock footage library or at least an account with a good online resource, and 2) the next time he decides to do a stupid shark film, he needs to hire someone who can do some basic research into sharks. I believe that I may be available...
90210 Shark Attack (2014)
Dir.: David DeCoteau
TC4P Rating: 2/9
Species: great whites (in stock footage and computer-generated images), a cartoon shark on a surfboard in the opening, and a bunch of other sharks in obvious aquarium shots that are supposed to be in the ocean and other stock footage shots that are sometimes supposed to be great whites because the filmmakers either don't know the difference or don't care. And then a girl with a magical necklace whose top half transforms into a miniature great white shark... don't ask.