Mississippi River Sharks (2017) poster

Mississippi River Sharks (2017)


USA. 2017.


Director – Misty Talley, Screenplay – Marcy Holland, Producers – Ken Badish & Daniel Lewis, Photography – Matt S. Bell, Music – Andrew Morgan Smith, Visual Effects Supervisor – Kolby Kember, Practical Effects – Composite Effects, Production Design – Sam Hensen. Production Company – Active Entertainment.


Cassie Steele (Tara Mitchell), Tahj Vaughans (Eric), Miles Doleac (Ray Mitchell), Jason London (Himself), Dean West (Wyatt), Michelle West (Allison Harding), Marco St. John (Big Bill Braddock), Kevin J. McGrath (Possum), Nathan O’Neil Smith (Sheriff Hurley), Terence Rosemore (Phil), Jeff Pearson (Bill’s Assistant), Ashton Leigh (Teaser Girl), Catherine Quinn (Mrs Chapman), Josh Varnado (Teaser Guy)


Tara Mitchell returns to her small home town along the banks of the Mississippi. She announces she has given up on her dream of going to university to study marine biology in order to come back and help her father Ray run his hardware store. At the same time, Big Bill Braddock is holding a fishing rodeo at the town’s marina and has brought in movie star Jason London, star of the Shark Bite films, to promote the event. However, there are reports of sharks on the river having attacked a paddle steamer. Big Jim ignores the warnings and refuses to get people out of the water even as the sharks begin devouring the attendees.

The killer shark film began with Jaws (1975), which produced B-budget copies for a number of years. By the 2010s, this had evolved towards the Gonzo Killer Shark film. This began with Shark in Venice (2008) and especially Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (2009), which increasingly placed tongue-in-cheek and began to mix sharks with the most ridiculous things possible or create shark-related title puns. This reached its zenith with the bad movie hit of Sharknado (2013) and sequels.

There have been a great many shark films in a similar deliberately ridiculous vein – see the likes of Dinoshark (2010), Sharktopus (2010), Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast (2011), 2-Headed Shark Attack (2012), Jersey Shore Shark Attack (2012), Jurassic Shark (2012), Sand Sharks (2012), Avalanche Sharks (2013), 90210 Shark Attack (2014), Raiders of the Lost Shark (2015), Roboshark (2015), Shark Exorcist (2015), Ice Sharks (2016), Piranha Sharks (2016), Planet of the Sharks (2016), Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre (2016), Sharkenstein (2016), House Shark (2017), Trailer Park Shark (2017), Post Apocalyptic Commando Shark (2018), Ouija Shark (2020), Sky Sharks (2020), Noah’s Shark (2021), Sharks of the Corn (2021), Virus Shark (2021) and Shark Side of the Moon (2022), among others.. (For a more detailed overview see Killer Shark Movies).

Mississippi River Sharks was the second directorial film for Misty Talley. Since 2010, Talley had worked as an editor for Active Entertainment, a low-budget production company that specialises in monster movies (see below for Active Entertainment’s other films). Talley made her directorial debut with Zombie Shark (2015) and subsequent to this went on to make several other gonzo shark films with Ozark Sharks (2015) and Santa Jaws (2018), all for Active Entertainment.

Shark attack on a riverboat in Mississippi River Sharks (2017)
Shark attack on a riverboat on the Mississippi

I like Misty Talley’s shark films as she approaches them with an undeniable sense of humour – but not one that is taken to ridiculously absurd lengths of the Sharknado films where there is no pretence made that anybody is taking anything seriously The film gets a great deal of mileage out of an appearance by Jason London playing himself, the star of a fictional Sharknado-like franchise called Shark Bite. London has enormous fun as a version of himself who is considerably less heroic than his screen counterpart and more interested in money and photo opportunities. The end of the film also gets in an hilarious cameo from Jason London’s real-life twin brother Jeremy. (Not to mention that the script is sufficiently meta to get in reference to other of Misty Talley’s titles, Sharks of the Ozarks and Santa Jaws as Shark Bite titles).

What does bring Mississippi River Sharks down considerably is some cheap and tatty shark effects. The digital effects of the sharks swimming and leaping out of the water are sub-par. Some of the scenes of bodies being killed look like really fake gore, especially one scene with a severed head floating down the river. Certainly, Misty Talley approaches everything with a sufficient sense of humour that this does not matter too much.

Active Entertainment has also produced the genre likes of Hammerhead (2005), Larva (2005), Mansquito (2005), The Snake King (2005), The Black Hole (2006), Attack of the Gryphon (2007), Headless Horseman (2007), Flu Bird Horror (2008), Ghouls (2008), Chrome Angels (2009), Wolvesbayne (2009), Maskerade (2011), Storm War (2011), Alien Tornado (2012), Arachnoquake (2012), Bering Sea Beast (2013), Ghost Shark (2013), Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators (2013) and Snakehead Swamp (2014).

Edited compilation from the film here

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