‘Sharknado 2’ schools New York City (VIDEOS)

07/24/2014 6:55 PM

08/08/2014 10:25 AM

Weather report for the week: Partly sharky with a chance of tornadoes.

“Sharknado 2: The Second One,” the ingeniously titled sequel to last year’s massive cult hit TV movie “Sharknado,” premieres on the Syfy channel on Wednesday, and with it comes a flurry of sharkiness.

What’s a Sharknado, you ask? It’s a tornado with sharks, silly. In the first movie, which came out last summer, a tornado touches down in the ocean, picks up a bunch of sharks, then tosses them all over Los Angeles. The sharks then chomp their way through the city, prompting Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) to rise up and save the day. Tara Reid stars as his ex-wife.

This movie is ridiculous but wholly embraces its corniness. It’s campy comedy horror at its best. Or worst, depending on your view point.

The movie certainly connected with fans, though, even if its premiere drew a lackluster 1.4 million viewers, according to Entertainment Weekly. But Twitter catapulted film into cult status. During its initial telecast, “Sharknado” generated a whirlwind 5,000 tweets per minute during its peak.

The movie then picked up more viewers upon each repeat showing.

So, naturally, a sequel would follow. This time, the action moves to New York City with more shark-filled bloody mayhem. Stars Ziering and Reid return, and are joined by Vivica A. Fox, Judah Friedlander and former rocker Mark McGrath.

The original’s success is mind-boggling to some. Anthony C. Ferrante, who directed both films, says the success could have been due to timing. We chatted on the phone shortly before he was whisked off to San Diego to participate in a panel at Comic-Con promoting “Sharknado 2.”

“There were a lot of heavy, dark movies last year in theaters,” Ferrante said. “This is just a fun release, and I think sometimes people just need that.”

He also believes that people just couldn’t believe the premise was real, what he calls a “silly obvious concept” that he helped develop.

“We just loved the title,” Ferrante said. And once people saw the trailer, they were intrigued.

“It looked like a big, kind-of summer blockbuster-y movie,” Ferrante said. “But it also looked low-budget. It had people saying, ‘I wonder if they can pull this off.’ ”

For all the fans it drew, there were also the naysayers.

“This Hollywood fusion film only became popular because of social media and celebrity interest,” said Wichitan Rod Bates via a Facebook post. “Since when did ‘Oh my god, it’s so bad you have to see it’ become the reason you have to see it?!”

“For every person that has a problem with it, you have another who loves it,” Ferrante said. “If you watch the movie and don’t like it, I respect that. The ‘Transformers’ sequel made over $600 million, and everyone I’ve talked to said they hated it.”

Regardless, Ferrante says, “I love the fact that people are talking about the movie.”

For the sequel, he said “We wanted to do it bigger and better. There was so much expectation to see if we can top the first movie.”

Production was fast, they shot it in a mere 18 days. Ferrante said they had a slightly bigger budget to work with, but moving it New York City made them “accomplish far more with similar resources.”

“We wanted to embrace the geography of New York more than we did in Los Angeles,” he said.

Expect to see iconic locations getting pummeled, including the Statue of Liberty’s head rolling down the street.

Fans will surely eat it up and Syfy is ready. The network has launched its first “Sharknado Week” with airings of other campy horror films (such as “Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda” on Aug. 2) in anticipation of “Sharknado 2.” Syfy is so sure the sequel will be a hit that it has already ordered “Sharknado 3.” Really.

“We’re playing with the action genre, the comedy genre,” Ferrante said. “We’re playing with all types of styles. You can do these movies for 10 years if you do them right.”

About Movie Maniac

The Eagle's Rod Pocowatchit offers his musings on the screen scene.

Reach Rod at rpocowatchit@wichitaeagle.com.

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