By the time you read this review, the UK may well be in the clutches of a severe cold snap. Snow laden streets usually equate to treacherous driving conditions, train cancellations and airports grinding to a halt. If this is the case, just be thankful that these are mere inconveniences compared to an encounter with an �Ancient Snow Beast�!

In other words, just when you thought it was safe to make snowman, writer and director Sam Quliana�s SNOW SHARK arrives on DVD!

Back in 1999, Professor Hoffman and his sidekicks Bianca and Gabe were investigating the bizarre disappearances of animals in a snow covered forest just outside Buffalo USA. An earthquake, that had just rattled the area, was assumed to be the cause behind the vanishing wildlife. Well indirectly it was. The tremors unearthed an ancient snow beast with fins and ferocious jaws lined with sharp teeth from its comatose frozen ice block. Its sudden emancipation now means the snow dwelling fiend is free to chomp on any living thing it encounters.

The townsfolk are reluctant to believe in the ancient legend of the Snow Shark even though Mike Evans (played by Quiliana himself) claims he killed one such creature years ago, and proudly supports the scars from the alleged battle.

Victim upon victim starts to pile up and Mayor Overman is under pressure to reassure the public by capturing and killing the beast. He consults the town�s Sheriff, Don Chapman, who is suddenly forced to accept such a creature DOES exist when his own son is brutally devoured by the chops of the prehistoric fiend.

A team are called in. Wendy Gardner a researcher who is keen to study the mysterious creature: Lincoln Anderson a crypto-zoologist with a similar motive; and Cameron Caine, a redneck who just wants empty his arsenal of ammunition into the monster!

With mental scars reopened and a face from the past resurfacing, Mike also has a mission to destroy the primeval beast once and for all.

Together, the group enter the forest for a final showdown. What�s that sound? That groan that sounds like a didgeridoo�? Hey look! There�s a fin in the snow� its� its� THE SNOW SHARK!!!!

SNOW SHARK is a slice of schlock costing around $7000 that is so silly it is actually quite entertaining. There is a liberal use of CG which didn�t surprise me. The writing was on the wall (or pissed in the snow!) when the opening scenes contained computer generated snowflakes! It follows then that the gore was flagrantly animated with red pixels brazenly dashing about the screen when the numerous murders occurred. But you know what? CG is there for the likes of cash strapped filmmakers like Quliana. It�s when the so called Majors start exploiting its use that I get turned off. To be fair to the maverick director, there was actual crimson liquid thrown around in the final showdown so at least he struck a balance of sorts.

One thing that was NOT CG was the actual snow shark itself, which revealed itself more and more as the movie progressed. At first we just saw close ups of its gaping maw coupled with a �fin� being dragged through the snow on a makeshift sledge. But in the climatic scenes even a few body shots of the flesh munching fish were evident. As cheap and cheerful as this production is, its creators can be rightfully proud of a decent effort when showcasing the shark itself.

It would be futile to concentrate on the standard of acting and characters in such a raucous exercise in fun but to be fair, even in the dialogue scenes that were laced with dry humour, the movie could not be construed as boring. These �talking� scenes were however tarnished somewhat by my only major criticism of the movie, that being the audio quality. The dialogue was muffled at times and although not exactly a plot heavy movie, the sound of the wind did engulf the speech in various outside sequences which was a little perplexing and shoddy to say the least.

The picture was clear but did have a cheap �digital� look and was presented in a 16:9 aspect ratio.

So onto the EXTRAS and we get a full length commentary track by writer, director, DP and star Sam Qualiana; producer Greg Lamberson; along with actor (who plays Professor Hoffman) Michael O�Hear. It ranges from the standard audio commentary discourse to the slightly cringe worthy when O�Hear didn�t exactly put himself in the Hollywood shop window with his constant references to how he "choked" on his dialogue throughout the shoot.

One thing the commentary DOES explain is how the full length feature is the revamping of Quliana�s 2004 short movie, also called SNOW SHARK. This 10 minute film IS included on the disc and has to be seen to be believed. If the full length version can be filed under the clich�d "so bad its good" category, then the original short must surely go in the "so shit its shit" drawer! Whereas with the latter effort, a reasonably good job was done at concealing the board on which the fin sat when being dragged around. The former however simply showed the oblong slat with an attached fin awkwardly being hauled through the snow!

But the best was the casting. What do you do when you have no actors to play the roles? You use your friends. What do you do when there are no available friends to play the roles? You use your younger sibling of course! Step up Simeon Quliana younger brother of the director who must be about 12 years old with a fake moustache glued above his lip. Bingo! There is your town Sheriff!

Two other short films from the Quliana stable follow starting with a movie called SOMETHING AFTER MIDNIGHT. I actually enjoyed this 22 minute effort about a horror movie director trying to distance himself from his successful movie "After Midnight" due to feeling responsible for the suicide of the movies actor. While it could hardly be described as slick, it was probably the most polished movie on the entire DVD.

A LOVE STORY follows which is a black and white 10 minute film about rival gangs back in the 1940s in a tale about how forbidden love is worth dying for.

6 minutes of OUTAKES are included. Herein lays the proof that O�Hear was not lying about his ability to �choke� on cue.

Then we have a 24 minute BEHIND THE SCENES chapter that focuses on the sculpting of the miniature shark models that were used in the movies production. This section was a fun watch and did make me appreciate the construction of the real star of the movie at least.

A 2 minute trailer completes the Bonus Material.

If you like crazy low budget monster mayhem, SNOW SHARK on DVD is full of fun, blood and guts and is also very generous with its �Extras�.

Review by Marc Lissenburg

Released by Independent Entertainment
Region 1 NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review