Creatures released into ‘Lake Tahoe’ go on killing spree in 2015 movie
Murky water filled with overgrown plants and debris better represents a southern swamp than it does Lake Tahoe, but that’s what you get when you film a B-list horror movie about our region in Mississippi.
Jerry Dugan’s 2015 film “Shark Lake” focuses on an exotic species dealer who releases a bull shark into Lake Tahoe — featuring an obscene amount of blood that strongly resembles ketchup, it’s a doozy of a story you should definitely force your friends to watch the next time you’re browsing Netflix at 1 a.m.
The one-star fun starts with Lake County Sheriff Department officer Meredith Hernandez (portrayed by Sara Lane, who might as well be a cardboard cutout) hunting down Clint Gray (Dolph Lundgren) for illegally trading animals. A stoic Gray drives your average windowless, sketchy van into the lake and the shark swims out the back unbeknownst to anyone, while Gray goes to shore and is arrested by Hernandez at gunpoint.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Gray responds to being handcuffed. The lack of enthusiasm is a common theme throughout the movie.
From here on out, the film comes off as a series of unrelated home videos submitted to Dugan by his closest friends. One minute we’re watching a party on the beach, the next some rednecks are shooting a killer black bear with a tranquilizer gun and shaming an ex-girlfriend for being illiterate.
Somewhere along the way, Gray is released from prison and the bull shark decides it’s a good time to start attacking people — and Hernandez is tasked with catching the animal and putting its reign of terror to an end before more people die.
Thankfully she runs into Peter Mayes (Michael Aaron Milligan), professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, who just so happens to be in the area on vacation (we think — details are largely disregarded in this movie). The two team up and prepare for some intense, over-the-top shark hunting — at one point Mayes creates a makeshift “weapon” (a plastic tube) that he plans to use for attack.
All goes swimmingly until they meet a rabid Michael J. Fox impersonator who rides a jet ski and wants to capture the shark in order to receive a massive reward. The pace of “Shark Lake” skyrockets at this moment — it’s a mere seven minutes from the most climactic part of the movie to the point where the credits begin rolling, making for a shocking and rather abrupt ending.
But that, combined with knock-off “Jaws” music, rubber-looking sharks and heavy reliance on a green screen for scenic shots, isn’t even the most glaring pointer that this movie was considerably under budget: the few actual glimpses of Lake Tahoe are clearly stills most likely taken from Google Earth.
Pixelated images of Emerald Bay crop up every few minutes, as if the crew thought we’d believe they trekked to Tahoe as long as the landmark made the cut.
Despite the flaws, it was oddly entrancing — I laughed, I cried, I’m not sure why I watched it. “Shark Lake” is a movie you’ll love to bash.
Autumn Whitney is a reporter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune and editor of Lake Tahoe Action, both sister publications of the Sierra Sun.