For lovers of bad movies, the SyFy Channel has been producing some of the most intentionally awful content for years now. From Sharktopus vs Whalewolf to Stonehedge Apocalypse, SyFy has perfected a pretty simple formula for bad moviemaking. Terrible CGI visual effects, nonsensical premises, B-movie dialogue, and C-level actors – SyFy is kind of the Troma Entertainment of the millennium minus the exploitation. Yet somehow SyFy pulled off one of the best B-movie series of recent memory – Sharknado. If a movie about a tornado filled with flying sharks sounds ridiculous, take a moment to consider that the Sharknado movies made Ian Ziering and Tara Reid relevant again. Six movies in six years, hundreds of cameos, and increasingly tangential pop culture references, now it’s time to rank the Sharknado movies from worst to … less bad.
6 – Sharknado: The 4th Awakens (2016)
For the first time in the series, a Sharknado movie felt tedious. Arguably, Sharknado: The Fourth Awakens never gets better than its strained Star Wars pun. True, it’s pre-credits Las Vegas scene promises all of the same fun from the first three movies. The sight of Chippendale’s dancers fighting sharks should inspire some giggles. Nevertheless, The Fourth Awakens seriously drags and the mayhem is less inspired, more headache-inducing. While there’s plenty of cameos again – including one that Texas Chainsaw Massacre fans will appreciate – there’s also a feeling of ‘been here, done this’ to them. Not much about this sequel feels fun.
5 – Sharknado 5: Global Swarming
By this point in the series, the Sharknado movies had long moved past just being a spoof of natural disaster movies. In addition to all of the cameos, each successive sequel upped the pop culture references. Following its Indiana Jones-themed pre-credits scene, Sharknado 5: Global Swarming course corrects from its dull fourth entry. Ferrante takes advantage of this sequel’s globetrotting premise to keep things moving briskly and as silly as possible. Moreover, the shifting settings widens the net for random nods to better movies. Global Swarming gives us a quick An American Werewolf in London nod followed by Olivia Newton-John in Australia. Beside, the Brett Michaels cameo pushes this movie up the list.
4 – The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (2018)
It had to end at some point. By the sixth entry, the Sharknado series barely resembled that first simple natural disaster movie spoof. Though each sequel retained its B-movie effects and acting, the movies were starting to resemble the Scary Movie series – more and more irrelevant pop culture references. What movies The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time higher up on the list is that it feels like a proper end to the series. And yes, there’s some nostalgia as Ferrante and Levin managed to squeeze in several past characters into the story. Throw in the time travel angle for this sequel and The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time feels just fun and fresh enough to nicely close things out.
3 – Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No (2015)
Sooner or later horror franchises eventually launch themselves into space. Like Leprechaun, Hellraiser, and Friday the 13th, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No finally jettisons Fin and April into outer space. After a pre-credits Washington DC tease, Oh Hell No unleashes another ‘sharknado’ on Universal Studios. The location provides plenty of opportunities for hilarious visual gags including sharks climbing up roller coaster tracks. As a bonus, Cassie Scerbo reprises her role from the original Sharknado. And the cameos fly at you more furiously than the sharks themselves. Some of the cameos wouldn’t work today (Ann Coulter, Michele Bachmann). But Frankie Muniz’s death scene may be the best in the series. For those who were worried that this would be the end, a cliffhanger ending all but guarantees another sequel.
2 – Sharknado (2013)
No, the first Sharknado isn’t the at the top of the list. Nonetheless, it’s earned the Number 2 spot by gifting us one of the best B-movie series ever. Director Anthony C Ferrante isn’t Alfred Hitchcock but he know what makes a B-movie work. This is purely tongue-in-cheek, intentionally cheesy fare with no other ambition than to make you laugh out loud. In addition to SyFy’s distinctly poor VFX Thunder Levin’s screenplay crams in just about every action-horror cliché. Fin and April’s estranged marriage, Nova’s tragic shark backstory – everything is manufactured to generate groans aplenty. Sharknado is missing the series’ trademark cameos, but it does give us the first chainsaw scene.
1 – Sharknado 2: The Next One (2014)
And here it is, the rare occasion where the sequel outdoes the original. This time around SyFy takes what worked the first time around and doubles down. From its opening plane attack scene that subtly references one of the best Twilight Zone episodes, Sharknado 2: The Next One is high-octane stupid fun. Here, the bad special effects are … better. Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath and Vivica A Fox (Aquarium of the Dead) join Ian Ziering and Tara Reid. And everyone keeps a wonderfully straight face with Ziering cementing himself as a B-movie icon. If you loved the first one’s chainsaw scene, The Next One one up’s it. Most importantly, this is the sequel that introduced the series’ signature cameos. While the Jared Fogle cameo has aged poorly, it’s hard not to laugh at Matt Lauer and Al Roker playing themselves.