‘Sharktopus’ Was Almost Too Insane For Even The Late Roger Corman

Sharktopus breaks free
The titular monster in Sharktopus (2010), Lionsgate

The late Roger Corman leaves behind the longest and most accomplished career in cinema which began in the 1950s with his notoriety and productivity in low-budget horror and at drive-in theaters.

A pan of blood
Dick Miller in his first turn as Walter Paisley in Roger Corman’s A Bucket of Blood (1959), American International Pictures

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As his career evolved, Corman found his way into the embryonic comic book genre with mixed results and also into television. He would spend his latter days in the second medium attaching his decorated name to gimmicky Saturday night creature features.

Airing on Syfy in the early 2000s as original movies, they sported names like Dinocroc, Supergator, and Boa vs. Python. These titles set the stage for the Sharknado series that would later eclipse them in scale, sequels, and insanity.

Chainsaw Man vs. Jaws
Ian Ziering pits chainsaw against air Jaws in Sharknado (2013), Syfy

Before Syfy got to that point, the titles and concepts of their monster movies almost – but only almost – got too absurd for their producer, Corman.

There was one that stretched the limits of believability so far that even the man who gave viewers man-eating plants, wasp women, and telepathic talking crab monsters balked. 

That title was Sharktopus, which Syfy executives pitched to Corman after the success of Dinocroc, Supergator, Dinoshark, and the other similar films in their line featuring CG prehistoric monstrosities. 

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After Dinoshark, Corman explained in an interview for the Museum of Pop Culture exhibit dubbed “Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film,” the executives called him and ran the Sharktopus idea by him. They were confident, but he had a surprising reaction.

Corman responded at first that he wouldn’t make that one because, he reasoned, you can only take viewers so far into the realm of the improbable before it becomes too ridiculous. Go to a level of insanity and they’ll be intrigued, but go past it and they’ll be turned off, said the legend.

Eric Roberts
Eric Roberts can’t explain why he is in Sharktopus (2010), Lionsgate

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He thought of Dinoshark and Dinocroc as on that proverbial level and Sharktopus as above it. Eventually, however, he capitulated and produced the film with his wife and it proved to be a surprise hit like the rest.

Corman was moreover surprised by how high the public’s threshold for tolerable insanity turned out to be, which had to be humbling for a man one would think had seen everything in his time.

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