Cocaine Shark (2023) Review
Mark Polonia, the auteur who gave us Virus Shark and Shark Encounters of the Third Kind, among others, is back with Cocaine Shark. And yes, it’s a knockoff of Cocaine Bear, sort of. And I say sort of because, according to Creepy Catalog, a film by the name of Kanizame or Crab Shark was screened in Tokyo in January. It was directed by Mark Polonia and involves a mutated shark and a stimulant called HT25 derived from shark glands, but no cocaine.
Cocaine Shark opens with some unlucky lackey telling a friend he stole some HT25 from Gaurisco (Ken Van Sant, Reel Monsters, Return to Splatter Farm). Unfortunately for him, his boss finds out and he ends up getting fed to what looks like a cross between a shark and a crawfish.
It’s just a short prologue, but it confirms that rather than being made to cash in on Cocaine Bear, Cocaine Shark was an already existing film retitled to cash in on it. Most of the story is narrated by Nick Braddock (Titus Himmelberger, Amityville in Space, Noah’s Shark) an undercover cop assigned to take down Gaurisco’s operation. Right now though he’s drugged and securely restrained to a hospital bed with some surgical tape.
Polonia and writer Bando Glutz (Christmas Craft Fair Massacre) seem to have started out with a modern day noir centred around the hard drinking, pill popping Braddock who says things like “If you need to sneak into somewhere, just follow the rats.” and refers to femme fatale Persephone (Natalie Himmelberger, Frozen Sasquatch, Doll Shark) as a broad. That would sound fine in a film from the 40s or 50s, in a modern setting it’s unintentionally funny.
Then they added a Deep Blue Sea inspired angle that involved experimenting with sharks only instead of creating pharmaceuticals, it’s for street drugs. And instead of giant sharks rendered with state-of-the-art technology, we get a few mutants rendered with puppets, what looks like a paper mache shark man costume and digital work you can literally see through at times.
It’s nice to see Polonia trying something besides bottom of the barrel CGI. But the effects by Brett Piper (Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast, Kinky Kong) and Anthony Polonia (ZillaFoot, Sharkula) are only a minor improvement. And that’s in unintentional entertainment value more than anything else.
The real problem though, as with many of Polonia’s films is the padding. Cocaine Shark runs a brief seventy minutes but probably fifteen of that is either stock footage or the same distorted images that pass for the effects of HT25. That leaves the already weak plot an even more confused jumble of characters who pop in and out of the nearly random events with only the thinnest of connections.
Granted nobody sits down to one of these films expecting great art, but Polonia has produced some good films, and most of his films, even the bad ones, tend to at least be coherent. Cocaine Shark feels like it was pieced together from leftover scenes or unfinished scripts and might better have been called Frankenshark since Polonia has already made one called Sharkenstein.
This is one for hardcore Polonia fans and bad movie aficionados only. It’s too bad because if he’d put some effort into it this could have had the cult potential the title implies. As it stands though, all I can say is no matter how curious the title makes you don’t watch Cocaine Shark, not even once.
Cocaine Shark is currently available on Tubi and VOD Platforms. Wild Eye will release it on DVD with trailers, animation out-takes, and a director’s commentary and most likely to other Digital Platforms on July 11th. If you’re looking for a film with a bit more bite, FilmTagger can suggest a few titles to sink your teeth into.