Sharkula (2022) poster

Sharkula (2022)


USA. 2022.


Director/Screenplay – Mark Polonia, Producer – Ron Hauschild, Photography – Paul Steele, Special Effects – Ray Nobles & Anthony Polonia. Production Company – Polonia Bros. Entertainment.


James Kelly (John Beaumont), Tim Hatch (Arthur Smith), Jeff Kirkendall (Dracula), Jamie Morgan (Mina), Kyle Rappaport (Renfield), Natalie Himmelberger (Reggie’s Girlfriend), Titus Himmelberger (Reggie)


Students John Beaumont and Arthur Smith take summer jobs in the small fishing village of Arkham. They discover that their mysterious employer Vladimir Constantine insists of a curfew of 8pm in the town, along with other strict conditions. John develops an attraction to Mina who works at the town’s historical library but then finds that fraternisation with locals is also forbidden. He also believes he sees a shark with glowing eyes in the water. They are taken to meet Constantine and discover the town’s secrets – that Constantine is Count Dracula. Several centuries earlier, Dracula was pursued by a mob of villagers and forced to dive off a cliff. In danger of being devoured by a shark, he made a deal with the shark for it to inherit his vampire curse. It is now his master and demands that human sacrifices be brought to it.

Twin brothers Mark and John Polonia, who hail from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, gained recognition for their ultra-low-budget films, beginning in the 1980s when they were in their teens. John passed away from an aneurism in 2008 but Mark has continued on his own putting out a substantial body of genre works with some sixty films to his name at current count. (A full list of the Polonia films is at the bottom of the page).

The killer shark film has become its own entity, taking a turn for the deliberately ridiculous in the 2000s and beyond following the surprise success of Sharknado (2013), which led to a great any imitators. (I have a more detailed listing here with Killer Shark Films). Mark Polonia has made a number of entries in the gonzo killer shark film with Sharkenstein (2016), Land Shark (2017), Shark Encounters of the Third Kind (2020), Noah’s Shark (2021), Virus Shark (2021), Doll Shark (2022) and Cocaine Shark (2023), as well as two Jurassic Shark sequels.

After Sharkenstein, Sharkula seemed a given – it was surely something that either Mark Polonia or one of the other filmmakers mining the Gonzo Killer Shark Film would invariably do. The main problem with Sharkula is that it can’t seem to decide whether it is a Dracula film or a killer shark film. Of the two, Jeff Kirkendall’s Dracula gets the most screen time. The vampire shark occasionally pops up to bite someone or have a person sacrificed to them, but you could easily have written the shark out and it made minimal difference to the story. There is a sort of justification where the shark is tied to Dracula due to a pact he made with it but you feel as though the film needed to do a lot more to make this seem believable.

Jeff Kirkendall as Count Dracula in Sharkula (2022)
Jeff Kirkendall as Count Dracula

Polonia regular Jeff Kirkendall plays Count Dracula and promptly makes one of the least Dracula-like vampires in the history of film. When you consider the greats who have essayed the role – Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi and a host of others – Kirkendall is of pudgy, medium build and has a receding hairline. Moreover he has greying blonde hair as opposed to all the other screen Draculas who have been dark haired (as was Vlad Tepes, the original Dracula). That said, Kirkendall gives more of a performance than most of the rest of the cast put together. Probably the worst offender here is the frequently stilted performance given by Kyle Rappaport who plays Renfield (who has now become a hotel desk clerk).

All of this reaches an incredibly lame ending. Right near the ending, Jamie Morgan’s Mina discovers that she has the ability to command Dracula and endeavours to do so while standing in a regular cellar. However, Morgan does nothing to suggest someone Dracula is head over heels besotted with – she fails to project a commanding presence and only comes across as wimpy. The scene is wound up in the most feeble way possible where Tim Hatch whips a thumbnail sized crucifix pendant out, applies it to Kirkendall’s forehead and Dracula is dissolved into optical dust

The effects in a Polonia film are typically bottom of the barrel. The ones here are no different. When it comes to the provision of the Sharkula – a vaguely shark-like creature with wings like a bat, the effect is so ridiculous that you are reduced to unintentional laughter.

The Polonia Brothers films are Hallucinations (1986), the Polonia Brothers, who were then only eighteen years old, went on to make a series of horror films that became legendary for their cheapness. Over the next two decades, the two put out the likes of Splatter Farm (1987), Hellspawn (1993), Saurians (1994), How to Slay a Vampire (1995), Feeders (1996), Night Crawlers (1996), Bad Magic (1998), Terror House (1998), Feeders 2: Slay Bells (1998), Blood Red Planet (2000), The House That Screamed (2000), Hellgate: The House That Screamed 2 (2001), Dweller (2002), Gorilla Warfare: Battle for the Apes (2002), Night Thirst (2002), Holla If I Kill You (2003), Among Us (2004), Dinosaur Chronicles (2004), Peter Rottentail (2004), Preyalien: Alien Predators (2004), Black Mass (2005), Razorteeth (2005), Splatter Beach (2007), Wildcat (2007), Forest Primeval (2008) and Monster Movie (2008). John died of a heart aneurism in 2008. Since then, Mark Polonia has continued on as a solo director, making the likes of HalloweeNight (2009), E.V.E. of Destruction (2011), Empire of the Apes (2013), Camp Blood First Slaughter (2014), Amityville Death House (2015), Channel 13 (2015), Death Reel (2015), Jurassic Prey (2015), Bigfoot vs Zombies (2016), Sharkenstein (2016), Amityville Exorcism (2017), It Kills (2017), Land Shark (2017), Revolt of the Empire of the Apes (2017), Alien Surveillance (2018), BattleBots (2018), Frozen Sasquatch (2018), Ghost of Camp Blood (2018), Bride of the Werewolf (2019), Deadly Playthings (2019), Amityville Island (2020), Children of Camp Blood (2020), Return to Splatter Farm (2020), Shark Encounters of the Third Kind (2020), Camp Murder (2021), Dune World (2021), Invasion of the Empire of the Apes (2021), Noah’s Shark (2021), Sister Krampus (2021), Virus Shark (2021), Amityville in Space (2022), Doll Shark (2022), Feeders 3: The Final Meal (2022), House Squatch (2022), Reel Monsters (2022), Saurians (2022), Cocaine Shark (2023), Jurassic Shark 3: Seavenge (2023), Motorboat (2023), Revenge of the Empire of the Apes (2023), R.I.P. Van Winkle Part 2 (2023), R.I.P. Van Winkle Part 3 (2023), Saurians 2 (2023) and Yule Log (2023).

(Winner in this site’s Worst Films of 2022 list).

Trailer here

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