'Sharknado' sequel has bite and lots of laughs

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'Sharknado' sequel has bite and lots of laughs
This photo released by Syfy shows Ian Ziering as Fin Shepard in a scene from the TV series, "Sharknado 2: The Second One." (AP Photo/Syfy)
In this image released by Syfy, sharks attack a man in a scene from the Syfy original film "Sharknado." The network is announcing a sequel to "Sharknado," which became an instant campy classic with its recent airing. The new film premieres in 2014. (AP Photo/Syfy)
SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE -- Pictured: sharks, Empire State Building -- (Photo by: Syfy/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE -- Pictured: Ian Ziering as Fin Shepard -- (Photo by: Syfy/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
In this image released by Syfy, Ian Ziering, second left, and Cassie Scerbo battle a shark in the Syfy original film "Sharknado." The network is announcing a sequel to "Sharknado," which became an instant campy classic with its recent airing. The new film premieres in 2014. (AP Photo/Syfy)
MANHATTAN, NY - FEBRUARY 21, 2013: Mark McGrath seen on the set of Sharknado 2 on February 21, 2013 in New York. Photo Credit: RTNWandu / MediaPunch
Atmosphere at the "Sharknado" panel on Day 1 of Comic-Con International on Thursday, July 24, 2014, in San Diego.(Photo by Tonya Wise/Invision/AP)
Judah Friedlander attends the "Sharknado" panel on Day 1 of Comic-Con International on Thursday, July 24, 2014, in San Diego.(Photo by Tonya Wise/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 24: Actor Ian Ziering is seen on the set of 'Sharknado 2' on February 24, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Patricia Schlein/Star Max/GC Images)
Anthony C. Ferrante attends the "Sharknado" panel on Day 1 of Comic-Con International on Thursday, July 24, 2014, in San Diego.(Photo by Tonya Wise/Invision/AP)
From left, Ian Ziering, Anthony C. Ferrante and Vivica A. Fox attend the "Sharknado" panel on Day 1 of Comic-Con International on Thursday, July 24, 2014, in San Diego.(Photo by Tonya Wise/Invision/AP)
Kari Wuhrer from the cast of "Sharknado 2: The Second One" arrives at the NBC Universal Summer Press Day on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Kari Wuhrer from the cast of "Sharknado 2: The Second One" arrives at the NBC Universal Summer Press Day on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 19: Ian Ziering and Vivica A. Fox seen on the set of 'Sharknado 2' on February 19, 2014 in New York City. Credit: Corredor99/MediaPunch
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 19: Ian Ziering seen on the set of 'Sharknado 2' on February 19, 2014 in New York City. Credit: Corredor99/MediaPunch
This undated publicity image released by Discovery Channel shows a great white shark near Guadalupe Island off the coast of Mexico. hark Week begins Sunday, Aug. 4 at 9 p.m. EST on Discovery. (AP Photo/Discovery Channel, Andrew Brandy Casagrande)
Brian Tarango promotes Sharknado 2 at the 2013 Comic-Con International Convention on Wednesday, July 18, 2013 in San Diego, Calif. (Photo by Jack Dempsey/Invision/AP)
NBCUNIVERSAL EVENTS -- NBCUniversal Press Tour, July 2014 -- 'Sharknado 2' Screening Party -- Sharknado 2 Screening Party at The Beverly Hilton Hotel -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE -- Pictured: Ian Ziering as Fin Shepard -- (Photo by: Syfy/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NBCUNIVERSAL EVENTS -- NBCUniversal Summer Press Day, April 2014 -- Cocktail Reception -- Pictured: (l-r) Kari Wuhrer, Judah Friedlander, 'Sharknado 2' -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
BURBANK, CA - SEPTEMBER 08: Cast and crew of Sharknado Robbie Rist, Jaason Simmons, Tara Reid, Cassie Scerbo, Anthony C. Ferrante, Ian Ziering, John Heard, Emile Edwin Smith, William Boodell, Thunder Levin, Joe Cornell and Josh Foster participate in the 'Sharknado' DVD Signing held at Dark Delicacies Bookstore on September 8, 2013 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
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BY FRAZIER MOORE

NEW YORK (AP) -- Don't worry about me. The Sharknado Evacuation map supplied by Syfy network places me, as a resident of Lower Manhattan, smack in the zone most in peril this sharknado season. But I'll be ready.

You might as well batten down the hatches, too. "Sharknado 2: The Second One" (which, if you hadn't guessed, is an encore follow-up sequel to last summer's campy classic) premieres Wednesday (9 p.m. EDT).

The original "Sharknado" depicted a weather aberration on the Southern California coast that caused bloodthirsty sharks to rain on hapless Angelenos. But hunky beach-bar owner Fin Shepard (get it: fin shepherd?!) saved the day with a makeshift shark explosion.

Now he's back. Again played by "Beverly Hills, 90210" alum Ian Ziering, Fin, in the aftermath of his sharknado trauma, is heading to New York City for a quiet visit along with his beloved ex, April (the returning Tara Reid). It won't surprise you to learn that an even bigger, badder sharknado siege awaits him.

That's the bad news. The good news: "Sharknado 2" is a hilarious must-see treat.

The original film erupted as a social-media and pop-culture phenomenon, mostly celebrated for its unwitting awfulness. It was a throwback to drive-in movies of 50 years ago that you would have ignored while you and your date put your attention elsewhere. A would-be blend of "Jaws" and "Baywatch," it was funny, but never seemed to be in on the joke.

Against all odds, "Sharknado 2" has wised up. Though it and its performers teem with conviction - no winking at the audience here - the film is unabashedly awash with fun. And unlike laid-back Cali, New York - always spoiling for a fight - is the perfect arena for dramatic strife, even from killer sharks cascading from the sky.

In fact, "Sharknado 2" serves as a paean to the Big Apple. Veteran comedian Robert Klein (playing the mayor of New York in one of the film's numerous celebrity cameos) delivers a rousing call-to-arms for all New Yorkers: "When something bites us, we bite back!" Hizzoner said a mouthful!

Adding to the merriment are the many New York locations. Director Anthony C. Ferrante (back again for the sequel, as is screenwriter Thunder Levin) proves himself as a guerrilla filmmaker, capturing the city up-close-and-personal yet with a remarkably sleek touch. It's a fine-looking film, despite a budget (Ferrante hints) somewhere between $1 million and $2 million and a shooting schedule (he swears) of just 18 days.

"I had only been to New York a few times," Ferrante, who grew up in Northern California, said recently, "and getting to come here and shoot at all these landmarks, I was like a kid in a candy store. When they told me, `You only get Times Square for two hours, and with only a crew of eight,' I said, `OK, let's do it!' We shot the whole ferry scene in 15 minutes on the ride back from Liberty Island.

"We needed to do the subway scene, and got a meeting with the MTA. They didn't know what a sharknado is, but we made our case. They said, `We're gonna give you the platform at Citi Field and a functioning (subway) car for three hours.' And the Mets gave us a 12-hour day at Citi Field. I'm from L.A., but I want the Mets to win the World Series this year. They did me a solid!"

The subway and Citi Field sequences are riotous, and, among the many star turns, "Today" personalities Matt Lauer and Al Roker do some of the best work of their lives providing poker-faced coverage of the raging disaster.

But the film will sink its teeth into you from its first moments as you join Fin and April on their terrifying airline flight. Fasten your seatbelt for a wicked homage. This "Sharknado" is the very definition of scared silly.

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