Soon after the social-media phenomenon that was “Sharknado,” it’s doubtful there could be a better time for “Ghost Shark.”
Syfy stays in the what-else-can-we-do-to-a-shark game with its latest original movie, debuting Thursday. Indeed, the title creature is undead, having been killed by a fisherman ... and it returns to wreak vengeance, one of its targets being the father of a young woman played by “7th Heaven” alum Mackenzie Rosman. She tries to stop the terror before she becomes a victim herself, getting assistance from a lighthouse keeper portrayed by Richard Moll, famous as bailiff Bull on the sitcom “Night Court.”
Though Rosman was unaware of the countless Tweets that “Sharknado” prompted when Syfy first ran it last month, Moll knew about it and realized what it might do for his own shark movie.
“I choose to live without a television, so I miss all this great stuff,” he says. “I don’t want to amplify my couch-potato-ism more than is necessary, but that was such a hit, it’s evidently a big buildup for us. I think they may be sort of tying us in with that one.”
And, frankly, how could “Ghost Shark” not be getting the “From the network that brought you ‘Sharknado’” treatment? The previous film even had scientists weighing in on the possibility of sharks being lifted from the ocean and dropped from the sky onto cities, with ABC’s Diane Sawyer and NBC’s Brian Williams among news anchors who talked about the “Sharknado” Tweet explosion on their broadcasts the next night.
“It’s always very disconcerting when you get laughs from doing a drama,” Moll said, acknowledging the camp factor “Ghost Shark” includes by definition, “but I tried to bring as much reality to it as I could. Then again, reality for me is what some people consider extremely over the top. This is an old guy who lost his wife to a shark, and I guess the only way to kill a ghost shark is to lure it into this watery cave and kill it there. He feels if he can manage that, he can get his wife back.”
Relatively serious as that aspect may seem, Rosman admits she was drawn to “Ghost Shark“ because “it was just kind of goofy and silly and hammy, and I thought it would be kind of fun. I like to do a lot of different things, so it’s not that I specifically love this sort of stuff. I just like variety.
“I spent close to a month in Louisiana making it,” notes Rosman. “I’d never spent that much time there before, and everybody I worked with was really cool. It was definitely a different experience, though. At one point, I was running through a swamp that was knee-deep at 3 in the morning. And there were snakes and alligators everywhere. You literally had to run right through it. But it was fun.”
“Ghost Shark” is not the first movie to turn a shark’s vengeance on specific individuals. Consider the film Michael Caine was making in 1987 when he couldn’t get away to attend that year’s Oscars, where he ultimately won his first award for best supporting actor (for Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters”): “Jaws the Revenge,” in which a great white had the relatives of police chief Brody — Roy Scheider’s character in the original “Jaws” — in its sights.
As to whether his “Ghost Shark” character is meant to run parallel to Robert Shaw as Quint, the veteran shark hunter in “Jaws,” Moll maintains he “can’t even believe we’re in the same sentence, may he rest in peace. It’s kind of the same thing, except we’re not really on boats much in this. We’re more on dry land, walking the beach and entering the cave and that kind of thing, but it’s all fun. And I’d love to see a nice carryover from ‘Sharknado.’”
Both Rosman and Moll hail from beloved and long-running series, but Moll says that when he’s asked if he stays in touch with his “Night Court” comrades, “My answer to that has always been the wrong one, so my answer is, ‘I love show business. It’s the people in it I can’t stand.’ I’m not singling anyone out, but if I saw them coming, I’d probably cross to the other side of the street.”
It would be hard for Rosman not to have a brighter outlook on the 11 seasons she spent as minister’s daughter Ruthie Camden on the family drama “7th Heaven,” and she does.
“I’m always so surprised when people still say they love that show, and it seems like forever ago.” The series ended in 2007 — the same year Rosman graduated from high school — and she’s somewhat surprised to be recognized for it still.
“I was in the grocery store the other day, waiting for the bathroom,” she recalls, “and someone said, ‘Hey!’ It’s so funny, being known for something in which I was quite a bit younger, but I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t done that show.
“It really reinforces the thought of, ‘What if I had done one thing differently?’ Nothing in my life would be the same if I hadn’t gone with my friends to that audition while I was in kindergarten. It’s weird, the turns life takes.”