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Dustin Putman

Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre  (2016)
½ Star
Directed by Jim Wynorski.
Cast: Dominique Swain, Christine Nguyen, Amy Holt, Cindy Lucas, John Callahan, Traci Lords, Corey Landis, Oscar DeRosa, Chris De Christopher, Skye McDonald, Serafin Falcon, Steve Goldenberg, Tabitha Marie.
2016 – 83 minutes
Not Rated (equivalent of an R for violence and gore, and for language and sexual references).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for, May 2, 2016.
The best thing about "Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre" is its ludicrous title. It's all downhill from there. An abysmal entry in the killer-animal subgenre, this chintzy, low-rent farce features XXX-level acting and production values but not a stitch of nudity for the viewers' troubles. Unlike 2013's "Sharknado," 2014's "Sharknado 2: The Second One," and 2015's "Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!," there is little winking, tongue-in-cheek humor in "Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre." The movie must know it is bad, but is frequently so earnest it is difficult to tell. Squarely aiming for an audience of straight males who see nothing wrong with bro culture, veteran D-grade exploitation filmmaker Jim Wynorski casts an ensemble of slim, pouty, big-breasted women ready-made for a Hustler spread as a group of female prisoners on work detail in the Arkansas bayou. Said work detail consists of them randomly digging groundhog-sized holes in the middle of the wilderness and cooling off by pouring bottled water over their faces and cleavage. When an escape attempt leads them to hole up in a remote house with their correctional officer hostage Carl (John Callahan), they soon find themselves surrounded by prehistoric, dirt-swimming sharks recently released from the earth's crust by a fracking accident gone awry.

The most convincing special effect in "Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre" is one of its first, the initial reveal of a shark gliding through a swamp halfway convincing as far as low-budget CGI goes. The same cannot be said of the technical embarrassment that follows. Mid-'90s, straight-to-video-level computer effects are used not only for the creatures as they burrow through dirt—making paths which disappear from scene to scene—but also for blood and spare body parts found in the woods. The only diversity in the cast belongs to Asian prisoner Michelle (Christine Nguyen), a single mother whom the other racist convicts call "Soy Sauce." A cockamamie romance blossoms between nice girl Shannon (Amy Holt) and geologists' assistant John (Oscar DeRosa), the two of them knowing each other for 30 seconds before they are fully in love and melodramatically saying things to each other like, "We're gonna get through this, you and me."

And then there's Honey (Dominique Swain), the tough-talking gal whose attempts at busting out inmate girlfriend Anita (Cindy Lucas) gets their predicament rolling. Once a promising young starlet in major feature films such as 1997's "Face/Off" and 1998's "Lolita," Dominique Swain is now headlining "Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre." Her most notable catchphrase, repeated four times because three simply wouldn't do? "Crap on a cracker!" From one moment to the next, the movie cannot be bothered to make the barest modicum of sense (a radio station reports on the women hijacking their prison van when there is no way anyone would yet know about this event), but it cheerfully plows forward for 83 blessedly short minutes without a brain cell in its empty, little head. "Lord, what did I do to deserve this?" Michelle comments late in the film. It's a question every viewer unlucky enough to be watching "Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre" will ask themselves long before the end credits have rolled.
© 2016 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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