Shark Side of the Moon (2022) poster

Shark Side of the Moon (2022)


USA. 2022.


Directors – Glenn Campbell & Tammy Klein, Screenplay – Ryan Ebert & Anna Rasmussen, Producer – David Michael Latt, Photography – Michael Su, Music – Mikel Shane Prather, Phillip Ramirez & Chris Ridenhour, Visual Effects Supervisor – Glenn Campbell, Production Design – David Jeter. Production Company – The Asylum.


Maxi Witrak (Commander Nicole Tress), Ego Mikitas (Sergei), Tania Fox (Akula), Michael Marcel (Michael Kelly), Sandi Todorovic (Alexei), Konstantin Podprugin (Henri), Lindsey Marie Wilson (Eli Walters), Lydia Hunter (Josie), Terrence Livingston, Jr. (Liam), Michael Deni (Owen Watson), Seginal Stalling (Tom)


In 1984, Sergei heads a Soviet program to develop shark hybrids in an effort to colonise the Moon. However, the sharks have become too intelligent and break out of their tank and overrun the base. A desperate Sergei seeks refuge in the shuttle and launches it just as the sharks break in. In the present-day, the US space mission Tabula Rasa is launched under Commander Nicole Tress, intended to set up a colony on The Moon. However, the ship goes off course and crashes on the dark side of the Moon. As the group get out to repair the ship, they are attacked by humanoid sharks. They are rescued by Sergei and his part-shark daughter Akula who show them how to survive against the sharks. However, the sharks want to capture the Tabula Rasa in order to make a return to Earth.

The gonzo killer shark film has become almost its own genre through the 2000s/10s, offering up a wide range of deliberately ridiculous titles. (For a more detailed listing of titles see Killer Shark Movies). The low-budget production company The Asylum fairly much started the gonzo killer shark genre off with Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (2009) and caused it to go stellar with the bad movie hit of Sharknado (2013). They have produced multiple sequels to either of these, along with other efforts such as 2-Headed Shark Attack (2012) and sequels that keep adding more heads, Shark Week (2012), Ice Sharks (2016), Planet of the Sharks (2016), Empire of the Sharks (2017), Megalodon (2018) and Shark Season (2020).

Shark Side of the Moon also joins a bunch of Moon-themed films that The Asylum have been putting out in the last couple of years – see also Meteor Moon (2020) and Moon Crash (2022). The entire concept of the film seems to have been spun out around playing a sharky pun on ‘the dark side of the Moon’ or the Pink Floyd album of the same name. Thus we get a fairly outlandish plot about Soviets launching a ship containing genetically-engineered sharks to The Moon and then stranded astronauts encountering a shark civilisation that has grown up there. It could almost be a modernised version of The First Men in the Moon (1964) but with sharks instead of Selenites.

All of this does require some at times loopy and downrightly nonsensical plotting. There’s the idea that The Soviets have developed their own shuttle sometime in the 1980s. There is also matters of Bad Science such as the Van Allen Belt, which is normally just a zone of charged particles trapped in the Earth’s magnetosphere, but is now located between the Earth and the Moon and has become a debris field.

Astronauts vs Soviet shark on The Moon in Shark Side of the Moon (2022)
Astronauts vs genetically-engineered Soviet shark on The Moon

The most ridiculous of these is when we meet the Russians who breathe on The Moon by using a standard medical nasal cannula – the familiar oxygen tube that clips onto the nostrils. This kind of fails to explain the fact that while such a device may provide oxygen, the lack of a pressurised spacesuit would mean that any oxygen would be instantly expelled from a person’s lungs – in an airless void, a person wouldn’t be able to even hold their breath and keep the air in. Somehow this nasal breathing tube also allows everybody to speak in the airless void, despite there being no medium to carry the sound vibrations. The Asylum’s scripter Joe Roche might have been able to come up with an entertaining pseudo-scientific explanation but on all counts this comes out as absurd. On the other hand, none of this quite hits the full-on absurdity of a Sharknado and the film takes itself relatively seriously.

As with The Asylum’s in-house visual effects these days, the various shots of the space launch, shuttles in orbit and the embryonic moonbase are to a very professional standard. However, these sit alongside other effects that are not. The humanoid sharks looks quite cool but increasingly, particularly during the later scenes on The Moon, they start to look like cheap digital effects. There are various scenes with the cast on the Moon’s surface and, while effort is made to make this look authentic ie a lowered horizon, the scenes often look as though the actors have simply been digitally superimposed over the backgrounds.

Co-directors Glenn Campbell and Tammy Klein had both worked in The Asylum’s in-house visual effects department, with he being a long time visual effects supervisor on many of their films and she as a compositor. The two had previously co-directed Planet Dune (2021). Campbell had also solo directed and written Adventures of Aladdin (2019).

Trailer here

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