No matter that ‘sand sharks’, as they exist, are actually water-bound creatures that surface occasionally for air and are capable of lying on the top of the ocean motionless in wait of their prey. The geniuses of this shoestring production have taken the term and concocted a much more cunning, more deadly beast ...

The opening scene is brilliant. In the most ironic sense of the word. A group of dirt bike racers shoot their bikes across the sand dunes of the idyllic (and appropriately named) Whitesands. Suddenly one racer is attacked and beheaded by something that leaps from beneath the sand.

His mate doubles back to check out the carnage, and is swiftly chased by a huge CGI shark, whose fin darts through the dunes faster than the unfortunate chap’s bike can muster.

The sequence culminates with a monster shark literally flying out of the sand. Class.

Sheriff John (Eric Scott Woods) and his deputy, younger sister and hot brunette Brenda (Vanessa Lee Evigan), soon discover the bloody remains of the bikers and are suitably perplexed. It certainly looks like a shark attack to them ... but how could that be, so far in from the shore?

Brenda calls in a marine biologist, the inevitably hot blonde Sandy (Brooke Hogan), to offer more advice on what could’ve caused the bloodbath.

In the meantime, the body-count continues to rise as John surveys the local beach ever closer, and the Mayor’s (Edgar Allan Poe the 4th – interesting name) wayward Playboy son Jimmy (Corin Nemec) returns home with a proposition for his old man.

Jimmy’s idea for pumping money into Whitesands’ economy, ailing since a shark attack spoiled its seaside income several years earlier, is to hold a music festival ... on the beach.

"Fifteen people died the last time you threw this island a party!" storms John upon learning that Jimmy’s plan has been given the Mayor’s blessing. Yes indeed, the shark attack of old occurred during Jimmy’s last beach-based festival ...

The Mayor holds a meeting between the island’s folk and local press, in an attempt to allay their fears and reinforce the fact that the beach will remain open for business. The meeting predictably goes tits up, until local fisherman Angus (Robert Pike Daniel) halts the hubbub by revealing that what they’re dealing with is a sand shark – and offering to bring them its head for a fee of $10,000.00.

Throw in a few minor sub-plots (Jimmy previously dated Brenda; his true motives for staging the music festival are dubious from the start), and the scene is set for a film that unfolds to a level of ridiculousness akin to that witnessed in the likes of SHARKTOPUS and ICE SPIDERS.

What else can be said about a film that centres on sharks capable of ‘swimming’ beneath the sand? Other than its every bit as cheesy and derivative as you’d expect?

Performances match the look of the uniformly attractive cast: strictly daytime soap standards. They gel well with Cameron Larson’s breathlessly by-the-numbers screenplay: the men spouting macho bullshit at every opportunity ("I’m drawing a line in the sand" is a memorably daft line), while the women draw most attention from the constant displaying of their ample cleavages.

The best things about director Mark Atkins’ SAND SHARKS are the Malibu beach cinematography, the shapely female cast members and the enjoyably crappy FX work. Minor gore is an obvious B-Movie bonus.

It’s like BLOOD BEACH-meets-TREMORS-meets-SHARK ATTACK in this cheap-as-chips shitefest, which is surely destined to find its true audience among the drunken 10pm Sci-Fi Channel viewing brigade.

Stealing many of its plot points from JAWS but managing to never recall that film’s style or menace, SAND SHARKS instead camps the action up in an attempt to qualify as "ironic". It works to an extent but, even though the pace never falters, the sense of déjà vu (nods to JAWS, PIRANHA etc) becomes tiresome long before the 87 minute running time has been fulfilled.

Having said all that, I enjoyed SAND SHARKS. I even savoured its painfully obvious low budget: at one point, an actress declares the music festival has attracted "a thousand kids on the dock". Hmm, I counted about 12. Shame on me.

SAND SHARKS is presented uncut in its original aspect ratio, and is enhanced for 16x9 television sets. The sun-kissed compositions are well represented by this vivid and bright transfer, while detail is fine and darker scenes are satisfyingly stable.

English audio comes in both 2.0 and 5.1 options. Despite the bombastic nature of the latter, there really isn’t much between the two. SAND SHARKS is hardly the type of film that’s lifted by a cinematic sound design ...

The UK DVD from Chelsea Films opens to a colourful animated main menu page. From there, a static scene-selection menu offers access to the film via 12 chapters.

The only extra is a fast-paced 70 second trailer for the main feature. It’s a shame there’s no audio commentary track or Making Of featurette, as I’d have loved to have known (a) what drugs Larson was injecting when he dreamed this up, and (b) how drunk the filmmakers had to get the cast to take this nonsense seriously.

SAND SHARKS is rubbish, albeit of the well-shot and good-looking variety. If you have a penchant for fast-paced ‘bad’ films, this one should be right up your alley.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Chelsea Films
Region 2 PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review