Awfully Good: Sharknado: The 4th Awakens

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

Sharknado: The 4th Awakens (2016)

Director: Anthony C. Ferrante
Stars: Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, David Hasselhoff

For God’s sake, you know the drill.

The Law of Diminishing Returns has never been more apparent than with the SHARKNADO series. The first one caught everyone (including the SyFy Channel) by surprise, while the sequel—still the best one, in my opinion—embraced that popularity to up the ante just enough to maximize the fun. By the third movie though, they’d already skipped ahead in the franchise playbook and gone to space with lightsaber chainsaws and David Hasselhoff. Shark jumped.

THE 4TH AWAKENS, a year too late with both its title and opening Star Wars crawl, still has its moments, but is wearing its premise even thinner. The movie throws everything and the kitchen sink at you, presenting a truly ludicrous number of [random weather pattern] filled with [random objects] that spans the entire United States. You definitely have to give the creators points for creativity; as repetitive and self-referential as the series has gotten, no one can be accused of being lazy when it comes to pushing the shark-infested envelope. But maybe they’re trying too hard…

Still there’s some fun to be had. So here are the Top 10 “best” things about SHARKNADO 4:

At the end of the last movie, a satellite fell from space and crushed Tara Reid, prompting the SyFy Channel to have viewers vote on whether her character lived or died. Well, I don’t think they bothered to even count the votes because the answer is…both. Reid, who looks more and more Asian as time and surgeries pass, did die but was brought back to life as a full-on cyborg by her scientist father (Gary Busey). It’s kind of a brilliant move as it explains both her robotic acting and unnatural appearance in the film. We’re treated to a workout montage with Reid dragging trucks and testing out her new chainsaw and lightsaber prosthetic hands. And you also get to enjoy the actress lifting multiple lines from the TERMINATOR movies, including an especially painful “Come with me if you want to live.”

The film opens with Ian Ziering’s Fin Shepherd and his family vacationing in Sin City when a sharknado predictably hits. The movie makes the most of the famous setting, from Chippendale dancers crotch-thrusting sharks to Fin “surfing” a car off the Stratosphere tower. But nothing is more ridiculous then the group stealing the ship from the Treasure Island casino and sailing it down the flooded streets of Vegas, as if it was a real working vessel with working cannons. And if that’s not enough, they encounter a group of sharks floating on a piece of wreckage and someone actually has the audacity to say, “Shark-berg, right ahead!”

In their quest to up the ante on the tired concept of sharknados, the writers have come up with an escalating series of ridiculous twisters that you have to see to believe. First, there’s the “shark-sand-nado” which starts in the desert outside of Vegas. Eventually that makes its way to the Grand Canyon where it picks up a bunch of rocks and creates a “boulder-nado” filled with flying sharks covered in spikes. Then that runs in to a working oil field, turning it in to an “oil-nado” before catching flame and becoming a “fire-nado.” (Ian Ziering’s plan to put out the fire-nado? Drive a giant chainsaw full of fire extinguishers into it and make it explode.)

Think they’re done? Go f*ck yourself. Once the fire-nado gets extinguished, it runs over an electrical plant, creating a “lightning-nado.” Then it hits a volcano at Yellowstone National Park to become—a “lava-nado.” And just when you think severe weather couldn’t get any stupider, it rolls in to Kansas and picks up the world’s largest ball of twine, creating a “twine-nado” that is literally a giant ball of string with sharks sticking out of it. Former David Leterman bandleader Paul Shaffer is killed by the twine-nado.

This one deserves a special mention. In a nod to TWISTER (and by nod I mean they completely steal the “Cow. Another cow.” line), the sharknado also picks up a group of nearby cattle, causing famed comedian Gilbet Godfried—inexplicably playing a man named Ronald McDonald—to scream, “It’s a cow-nado!”

There is some fun in seeing random Bravo and YouTube “celebrities” getting graphically murdered on screen, but the cameo selection of people you actually recognize is pretty pitiful this year. The “big” names include Carrot Top, Vince Neil, Stacey Dash, David Faustino, Dr. Drew, Wayne Newton and random WWE and MMA stars. Most of these appearances are random throwaway gags, but there are a couple inspired ones. TEXAS CHAINSAW stars Caroline Williams and Dan Yeager own a chainsaw store in the Lone Star state and get to yell at sharks: “It wouldn’t be Texas without a chainsaw massacre!” David Hasselhoff is also uncomfortably joined by his former Baywatch co-stars Alexandra Paul and Gena Lee Nolin, who make jokes about lifeguarding and being under-paid compared to their leading man, before running in slow motion and getting eaten.

You always expect some, but you’re never truly prepared when you see it. The winner in this movie is horrible internet service provider Xfinity, who pay to have two actors demonstrate how great their voice-activated remote control is, before a giant Xfinity sign slowly blows by the screen. Homelite Chainsaws also get a blatant push from Dog the Bounty Hunter, who recommends them to Fin as the best tool for shark killing. There’s a even a hero shot of all of them using the equipment. And I don’t know if this counts as product placement, but it’s amusing that every scientist at David Hasselhoff’s high-tech lab wears a pair of Google Glass. Google must’ve been giving them away for free.


  • [pulls out lightsaber arm] “May the force be with you.” – Tara Reid

  • “We need supplies. We need to stop… Bingo. Chainsaw store. Perfect.” – Ian Ziering

  • “Guys you’re not going to like this, but we’re going to have to blow up the Grand Canyon.” – Tommy Davidson

  • “So there’s a nuclear sharknado plowing through the United States right now?” – Ian Ziering

  • [Tommy Davidson jumps out of a plane in a wing suit] “What’s he doing?” “He’s winging it!”

  • [The sharknado tosses a bunch of yellow bricks in their path] “Follow the yellow brick road… I cant believe I just said that.” – Ian Ziering

  • [David Hasselhoff dramatically explaining how he made it off the moon in the last movie, before someone cuts him off] “You’re not here to win an Oscar.”

You can sort of see this coming when they keep mentioning that Fin and his family now live in Kansas and you remember that this is a movie about tornadoes. However, the sheer number of WIZARD OF OZ references clumsily shoehorned in borders on bizarre.
Stacy Dash plays the mayor of Chicago as if she was the Wicked Witch, down to her striped stockings and red shoes and even saying, “I’m going to get you, Fin Shepard. And your little chainsaw too!” Later, as they’re running from the sharknado, the storm blows a pile of amber-colored masonry stones in their path, and Fin actually instructs his family to “Follow the yellow brick road!” And if that wasn’t enough, once they seek shelter inside their family home, the sharknado picks it up and carries it unscathed from Kansas all the way to Chicago, where the dwelling falls on Stacy Dash’s upper torso. Fin’s young, punchable son then challenges the audience to change the channel by opening the door and proclaiming, “Dad, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

You can always count on the SHARKNADO movies to deliver a memorable finale and the 4th one is no exception. By the end of the movie, the sharknado has hit a nuclear power plant creating a “nuke-nado.” Ian Ziering must throw a “quantum box” in to the twister to stop it, so he dons the shoddiest looking mech-suit of all time. (I’ve truthfully seen more realistic cosplay versions at Comic Con.) By this point Robo Tara Reid is essentially Iron (Wo)Man, flying around and destroying sharks using repulsor beams in her hands and feet. Together they succeed in stopping the nuke-nado (seriously embarrassed to type this sentence), but immediately Fin falls in to the water and gets eaten by a shark, which gets eaten by a bigger shark, which gets eaten by a bigger shark, which gets eaten by a bigger shark, which gets eaten by a bigger shark, which gets eaten by a blue whale.

In any other franchise this would most likely mean the end for our hero, but you can guess where this is going. Fin’s five year old son pulls a chainsaw out of a stone like King Arthur and proceeds to cut his way through five levels of fish in order to get to his dad, discovering other still-alive family members who were eaten along the way. They manage to get Fin out but he has no pulse, so SHARKNADO 4 takes the cliché route—Tara Reid grabs two baby sharks, plugs them in to her cyborg hole, and clamps the electrified fish on to her husbands nipples to revive him via shark defibrillator. Boy, if I had a nickel for every time a movie tried that old routine.

There is one other cameo that deserves mention and that is Steve Guttenburg. Not just because the POLICE ACADEMY star is great, but because Guttenberg shows up in a crossover as his character from SyFy’s LAVALANTULA movie, plugging their new sequel titled—I kid you not—2 LAVA 2 LANTULA.

This is not a drill, folks.

Tara Reid shows some robot cleavage, but I think you’re better off with the sharks.

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • There’s a celebrity cameo
  • The movie quotes or references STAR WARS, WIZARD OF OZ, TERMINATOR or any other movie
  • There’s especially bad green screen
  • Someone dies unexpectedly

Double shot if:

  • Ian Ziering kills a shark with his bare hands

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.


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