From sharks to octopuses to killer whales, there is no shortage of movies featuring creatures from the deep run amok, nor is there a shortage of promotional merchandise and collectibles to go along with them! For this month’s edition of the Collector’s Crypt, we are taking a deep dive and showing off some of the coolest merch from your favorite aquatic horror movies.
Shark Attack Swims Into Stores
Released originally as a made-for-television movie, 1999’s Shark Attack will probably be more familiar to anyone who browsed the shelves of horror flicks at Blockbuster and other video rental chains in the early 2000s, or who has seen its more infamous and even campier cousin, Shark Attack 3: Megalodon. (For what it’s worth, this author’s personal favorite is the Shark Attack 2.) Taking a cue from Deep Blue Sea, released the same year, the first low-budget shark shocker features sharks being experimented on to provide a cancer cure. Instead, they develop an insatiable taste for blood and begin a series of attacks in an African fishing village.
When Shark Attack swam onto home video in November 1999, copies of the VHS’s and DVDs were accompanied to video stores with the only official merchandise available for this series, a blue shark-shaped stress ball with the movie’s logo printed on its belly! With a big goofy grin that perfectly captures the tone of these movies, it has a tag attached that reads “Warning: Sharks in film may be more frightening than they appear.” While that may still be up for debate, these rare toys are perfect for any horror collection.
Piranha on The Attack
No stranger to remakes, director Alexandre Aja helmed Piranha 3D, a loose reimagining of the 1978 Joe Dante classic. Released in glorious three dimensions, Piranha 3D was a knowing throwback to the campy creature features we all know and love. Starring Elisabeth Shue as a tough-as-nails sheriff tasked with saving hundreds of spring breakers from the hungry fish, it swam into theaters in August of 2010.
The month before the release, cast and crew gathered at San Diego Comic-Con with a Q&A panel and a preview of some of the 3D footage. Lucky attendees were also able to get their hands on some exclusive Piranha 3D merchandise. Inflatable beach balls emblazoned with the logo were given to fans, along with sheets of temporary tattoos featuring both the titular creatures and the “Wild Wild Girls” that play a prominent part in the action before the fish show up. The package was completed with a Piranha 3D bag to carry home your catch in!
It may be hard to believe, but the improbably-titled Sharknado became a full-on pop culture sensation when it premiered on the Syfy Channel in 2013. An instant cult classic, the outrageous movie featured – what else? – tornadoes full of hungry sharks terrorizing the unsuspecting citizens of Los Angeles. Following a highly successful TV premiere, Sharknado had a limited run in theaters and has so far spawned a whopping five sequels, each one exponentially increasing in absurdity.
When the first movie was released on DVD, officially licensed shark hats were distributed along with copies of the movie sent to critics and horror outlets. Also, between 2014 and 2018, when each of the sequels were released, the Sharknado films became a staple of Comic-Con, with cast and crew appearing at panels to promote the release and a variety of promotional items available for fans to take home. Some of that merchandise includes Sharknado chainsaws, cyclone-shaped hats, buzzsaws, sunglasses, and a variety of pins, posters, and other memorabilia.
Crawl Finds Its Legs at Home
While shark movies have seen a bit of a resurgence in recent years, other bloodthirsty creatures have not been quite so lucky. Alligators got a bit of the spotlight in 2019, when Alexandre Aja returned to the creature feature genre with Crawl. A far cry from the purposely campy Piranha 3D, the Sam Raimi-produced Crawl focused on lean, mean suspense. Set almost entirely in a partially flooded house during a hurricane, it follows a father and daughter (Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper) fighting off hungry alligators who have also taken shelter in the house.
Despite not being screened in advance for critics, Crawl received highly positive reviews. With a box office gross of $91.5 million on a budget of $13.5 million, it certainly made back its money, but many suggested it could have made even more had it had a stream of positive reviews on release day. Perhaps to make up for the lack of a large marketing campaign for the theatrical release, Paramount Pictures doubled down for the home video release. Lucky horror reviewers and bloggers received entire Crawl care packages, including a copy of the Blu-Ray, an alligator stress ball toy, gator beef jerky, swim goggles, a flashlight, and more!
Shark Night Makes Waves
Having a fear of sharks while swimming in the ocean is only natural, but lakes should be perfectly safe, right? Not according to Shark Night 3D! Directed by David R. Ellis (Final Destination 2, Snakes on a Plane), this PG-13 thriller stars Sara Paxton as a college student partying at her secluded lakeside house with friends, unaware that some unsavory locals have released hungry sharks into the saltwater lake, hoping to capture the attacks on video and sell them for profit.
Shark Night 3D released in the middle of the 3D craze of the early 2010’s, and just over a year after the similarly themed Piranha 3D, so a major marketing campaign was created to help it stand out from the crowd. A large variety of promotional merchandise was given away in online contests, most of which was themed appropriately for some summer fun-in-the-sun. Lucky fans were able to receive Shark Night 3D water guns, pint glasses, shark-shaped keychain bottle openers, and even a licensed swimsuit! These items can occasionally be found on eBay, so keep an eye out if your collection is missing some shark swag.
That’s it for this edition of the Collector’s Crypt! Do you have any promotional items in your collection? Share them with us on Reddit, Facebook, or Twitter, and your merch could be featured in a future edition of the Collector’s Crypt!