Thursday, August 26, 2010

Combs Away: Hammerhead

As we near the end of this month's look at the works of Jeffrey Combs, we come to a more recent film.  In 2005, he appeared as the villain in this piece of low-budget schlock.  Also starring William Forsythe, this film tells the tale of a scientist who goes mad with loss and tries to create a race of shark/human hybrids.  Of course, why didn't I think of that?!?  The whole thing feels like a modern-day B-Movie.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing though?  Can Combs' mere presence elevate this movie into something great?  Get out your nitrogen spray for my review of...
The film begins with a pointless scene where the shark creature attacks a couple as they go swimming.  It really serves no purpose.  In fact, it doesn't even really qualify as a Syfy Opening (definition pending) since it doesn't show the creature.  Hell, if you like monster footage, this movie tells you right away that you're going to see very little!  In a boardroom, a business tycoon talks about a big, bio-tech venture that he's working on.  It involves the work of a disgraced scientist (Combs), so a group of people need to go see him on his island.  Note to movie characters: scientists that live on islands in the middle of nowhere are always up to no good!  See Moreau, Doctor.  The group includes the CEO, the lady scientist/Final Girl, the tough guy (a paunchy Forsythe), the bimbo and a young couple.  Gee, I wonder which ones of you are designed to be turned into chum later.  They get to the island and all seems well.  Of course, they didn't see the part before where Combs explained his crazy, master plan in some old-school narration, nor did they see him inject a lady with some weird toxin and send her out to be shark-food.  As it turns out, he's trying to create more than one shark-person, but the process is proving difficult.  After a dinner and some cryptic words, things turn bad...
Our heroes finally learn the truth about what's going on and end up in a room slowly filling with water.  Fortunately for them, one of the guards dropped his gun in the room, so they can use it to blow out the fan on the wall.  Yes, this prison cell is placed right against the outside of the building and has a very easy escape route.  So much for planning and foresight, huh Jeffrey?!?  They try to escape, but realize that their boat is being guarded by Combs' men.  Further compounding things is the fact that the CEO's satellite phone doesn't work.  Yes, those phones that work anywhere don't work here.  As it turns out, they do- just only when you up on a hill.  Sigh.  Anyhow, the creature is sent out after them, although the thing is not exactly discriminating.  Hell, it spends half of the movie just killing Combs' own men!  Things get even worse when they make a run for the boat, but it ends up being blown up.  Don't worry- Forsythe survives.  Back on land, our heroes decide to go for higher ground to call for help.  After some in-fighting, however, the CEO and the bimbo end up splitting from the group.  During a chase, the guy leaves her to be killed by the monster...only to get caught himself.  Fortunately or unfortunately, the monster catches up again and kills the guards.  He manages to drive off, since this monster is not exactly good at its job.
After some shooting and some shark action- shot in close-up style and more spastically edited than in Batman Begins- the group is whittled down in numbers a bit.  Forsythe and our 'Final Girl/Woman' end up sneaking into the lab and finding out about the monster.  It turns out to be Combs' mostly-dead son- ew.  As a bonus, they find out that it has a weakness to nitrogen (they explain, but I won't bother).  They rejoin with the CEO and attempt to steal a helicopter.  After nearly ten minutes of shooting and explosions, they get caught again.  What was the point of all that then?!?  The CEO is made into shark bait, while the woman is set-up as a mate for the shark/man- double ew.  Forsythe brings an army's worth of guns in, however, and makes it to the lab.  He wounds Combs and makes short work of the shark/man with a spray gun full of some sort of nitrogen solution.  To make a long story short, it's head blows up!  Combs makes one more play for power, but gets shot.  In a scene right out of Blade 2, our heroes blow up/shoot all of the equipment and test subjects before leaving triumphantly.  We do get the 'sequel-bait' ending...which has led nowhere in the last 5 years.
This movie is not really good.  Don't get me wrong- it had potential.  The idea of Jeffrey Combs as a mad scientist is obvious, but effective.  Seriously, make a film where he's the innocent guy and someone else is the madman for once!  Unfortunately, the budget is what lets this thing down.  The shark-monster suit looks good, but you never see it standing still for more than 3 seconds.  It's not like a lot of the more recent Syfy films where you see the thing in full-frame (albeit with shit CG).  This one attacks in quick, bloody scenes that leave you wanting more.  The ending is a bit anticlimactic to say the least, with the paunchy guy making short work of everything in his path.  I know that Forsythe is your second biggest star here, but you could have not made him the 'macho male' lead.  Here's a thought: make him the CEO character or something.  I wish I could recommend this one more, but I can't.  It's a case of ideas not being up to execution.  If they ever do make a sequel to this movie, it might be able to live up what the film promises.  Then again, it probably won't.
Up next, Brian Yuzna's third film of the month comes in the form of a man vs. dog film.  Unfortunately, this dog has metal teeth!  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. Deep down inside, I want to give every single one of the SyFy channel films a chance to see if I can be the one to find the diamonds in the rough, but 200 films in to it Im afraid I am going to look like an ass. This one sounds better than the norm, but the serious lack of seeing the monster would piss me off