SHARK VS ZOMBIE: Ramón Bravo, the Man Behind the Stunt

This piece originally appeared on iHorror.com

Even if you’ve never actually seen Lucio Fulci’s 1979 Video Nasty Zombi 2 (aka Zombie), odds are pretty good that you’re at least familiar with one of its most talked about scenes, wherein an underwater zombie fights and bites an actual shark. This single scene was the main reason I sought the movie out many years ago, and I’m sure that’s the case for a lot of horror fans.

The story goes: Lucio Fulci actually wasn’t too keen on having a zombie versus shark scene, but producer Ugo Tucci insisted after having seen Tintorera: Killer Shark a few years earlier. Tintorera was one of the many cheapo sharksploitation movies that popped up in the wake (sorry) of Jaws. It was a Mexican production, directed by René Cardona Jr., based on the synonymous novel by Ramón Bravo.

Bravo was, in real life, a shark trainer and underwater photographer and filmmaker. His interest in all things aquatic started early, with Bravo competing in the 1948 Olympics – swimming, naturally – when he was just 23-years-old. From there, he developed an interest in underwater photography, with a specific focus on sharks. He gained some notoriety for the discovery and photography of “sleeping sharks” in the Caribbean. Bravo would eventually serve as Jacques Cousteau’s dive guide, assisting exploration of these caves of sleeping sharks. He would later write a series of ocean and shark-related novels, and would shoot the underwater footage for many water-related films from director René Cardona Jr.

But back to Zombi 2: Fulci, finding the idea of an underwater battle between fish and ghoul too silly, refused to shoot the scene, so a second unit stepped in to get the footage. Long before CGI was available and working on an extremely low-budget (less than $240K), the only option the filmmakers were left with was to film the scene using a real, live tiger shark – a breed known as “the most dangerous shark species”, due to its high number of fatal attacks.

According to lore, the production planned to hire René Cardona Jr. to act as the zombie who fights the shark. However, Cardona Jr. was unavailable on the day of the shoot, so Ramón Bravo – the shark’s trainer – stepped in to play the role of the zombie. Bravo was able to accomplish the death-defying stunt by feeding the shark prior to filming, as to satiate the gilled beast’s bloodlust. Bravo also doped the shark up with a dose of tranquilizers, just to be safe.

The end result is jaw-dropping to say the least. (Jaws-dropping? Sorry again.) A real human – dressed as a zombie – wrestling a real shark, deep underwater is just something movies don’t dare to pull off these days. The battle – which culminates with the shark ripping the zombie’s arm off – is easily one of the most iconic scenes in all of horror history.

Sadly, Ramón passed away in 1998, and – unbelievably – his performance in Zombi 2 went uncredited. However, I wanted to shine a spotlight on the man who helped create such an awesome and memorable scene, and say Bravo.

Advertisements

The Cardigan-sploitation of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4!

I recently attended Screamfest’s 30th Anniversary screening of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 at Hollywood’s famed Chinese Theatre, and to say it was amazing would be an understatement. The whole cast was there, director Renny Harlin and legendary producer Bob Shaye were both there, and a fun Q&A with everyone followed the film. Sitting in the moderately-sized – but PACKED – theatre, watching the film with the stars of the film – well, that’s just a dream come true for any horror fan.

It’s always fun watching a horror film you’ve only ever seen on VHS or DVD up on the big screen. You seem to notice things you never really took note of before. For example, in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, during the classroom scene where Freddy sucks all the air out of Toy Newkirk’s asthmatic little body, I always thought Robert Englund actually peeled the apple (which had been sitting on the desk) using a real bladed-glove. However, seeing it play out 50 feet wide, I was able to see that the apple was actually pre-peeled and simply stuck back together. It was a small thing, but my insides still went “whoa, cool.”

The other thing I noticed – and maybe this just comes from having seen the movie one hundred times – is the absurd amount of cardigans. I mean, everyone wears one at some point – even Alice’s drunken dad gets in on the action! While sitting there watching the film, I took a mental note of every cardigan I saw. I eventually stopped counting and just told myself to rewatch the DVD when I got home.

I took a screen grab of all the cardigans I spotted – which is to say, there could actually be more. I’ve posted them below.

Who knew, 30 years ago, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 would be creating a whole new genre: cardigan-sploitation?

(EVEN MORE) VILE VALENTINES!

This is it, you lovesick freakos! February is already upon us and the day of reddening is just around the corner. Personally, I’ve already got my V-Day plans booked (drinking a $4 bottle of wine while staring in the mirror – hey, it’s a tradition!), but for those of you poor saps who are still empty-handed and in need of a little something to tell your significant other just how you feel about them – I’ve got you covered!

As I’ve done for the past few years now, I’ve whipped up a handful of vile valentines for only the most demented of you. I’m talkin’ real sick stuff, folks. You can see the past creations HERE, HERE, and HERE. The best part: they’re free!

So print out as many of ’em on the office printer as you can and share ’em with like-minded maniacs!

 

HORROR PET OF THE MONTH: Ella!

When the athletic Allan Mann (Jason Beghe) is tragically paralyzed in a freak jogging accident in George A. Romero’s masterful Monkey Shines, things – at first- seem hopeless for the injured Allan.

After the accident, Allan withdraws. He becomes a shell of his former lively self. He grows distant from his girlfriend. And most tricky of all, Allan hates his live-in the nurse, Maryanne – the only one who can actually physically assist Allan.

All is reversed, however, when Allan’s speed-freak med student buddy, Geoffrey (John Pankow, looking like Elvis Costello’s twin here), delivers him a surprise package in the form a cute little capuchin monkey, lovingly nicknamed “Ella”, after the famed jazz singer.

But what Geoffrey fails to tell Allan is that he’s been experimenting on Ella (and other monkeys, for that matter), injecting them with human brain tissue. Unbeknownst to even Geoffrey, the experiment ends up being somewhat successful, and in turn, Ella develops an almost psychic bond with Allan.

The relationship between man and monkey quickly goes beyond possessive and protective; soon it’s hard to tell where Allan ends and Ella begins. And that Ella, boy…she becomes one mean motherscratcher when pushed.

But ain’t she just so dang cute? Hard to stay mad at a furry face like that.

Who’s a good girl? Ella’s a good girl.

“XX” (2017) REVIEW

Since the release and warm reception of both V/H/S and The ABCs of Death in 2012, there have been a proliferation* of anthology-style horror films, more than a few of them sequels to the aforementioned titles. Despite an almost overabundance in those 5 short years, there’s been no real lack of creativity when it comes to theme for these films: the V/H/S series focused on our favorite nostalgic medium, ABCs were alphabetical bursts of horror, and from there Tales of Halloween took place on the spookiest of nights, Southbound dealt with a hellish highway, and Holidays bloodied up some of the most recognizable calendar dates. Continue reading “XX” (2017) REVIEW

STUFF THAT SCARED ME: The Ghost from THREE MEN AND A BABY!

Ghost stories are a rite of passage in every child’s life.

In fact I think the urban legends and myths that are shared among friends, huddled together at sleepovers or on long walks home, are probably just as influential in shaping who we grow up to be as any schoolroom lesson we absorb over the years is. More than just scaring the wits out of us, these stories often equal as cautionary tales and warnings to heed — like D.A.R.E., only effective. Continue reading STUFF THAT SCARED ME: The Ghost from THREE MEN AND A BABY!

Horrorstuffs & humor / don't tell yer granny

Advertisements