Today’s Calvin and Hobbes features the dreaded snow shark:


It all started with Steven Spielberg’s 1975 movie Jaws, with its threatening fins moving through the water and its ominous music. In the cartoon, the fins are moving through the snow, advancing on the hapless snowman.

Almost immediately, Saturday Night Live played on the concept, with the dreaded land shark (using the music but not the advancing fins). From Wikipedia:

The Land Shark (also land shark, landshark, LandShark) was a recurring character from the sketch comedy television series Saturday Night Live.

The character first appeared in the fall of 1975 as a response to the release of the film Jaws, and the subsequent hysteria over purported shark sightings. It was one of the most popular and imitated sketches of SNL‘s first season.[

The Land Shark first appeared in a sketch entitled “Jaws II” on the Candace Bergen-hosted episode of season 1 (the fourth episode). As narrated by Don Pardo (the announcer):

the Land Shark is considered the cleverest of all sharks. Unlike the Great White shark, which tends to inhabit the waters and harbors of recreational beach areas, the Land Shark may strike at any place, any time. It is capable of disguising its voice, and generally preys on young, single women.

The sketch depicted the Land Shark (voiced by Chevy Chase) attacking several people after knocking on their doors, pretending to be repairmen, door-to-door salesmen, and the like. Once the intended victim opens the door, the Land Shark quickly enters and swallows them.

(So land shark is a N + N compound referring to a kind of (figurative) shark that operates on land rather than in the ocean. Similarly for snow shark.)

A video clip from SNL is here.

Wikipedia adds:

The concept is influenced by the Monty Python’s Flying Circus‘ sketch “Burglar/Encyclopedia Salesman” and there have been many other comedy sketches that riff on the original Land Shark sketch.

In the SNL version, the creature claims to be a plumber, a delivery man, or whatever, but then turns out to be a savage predator.In the Monty Python version, the man at the door claims to be merely a burglar, but turns out to be that most dreaded of creatures, an encyclopedia salesman. The video is here.

Next up seems to be the 90s tv show Street Sharks, which introduces the hybrid monster theme. From Wikipedia:

Street Sharks is an American-Canadian animated television series about crime-fighting half-man/half-sharks. It was produced by DIC Entertainment and aired from 1994 to 1997, originally as a part of the Amazin’ Adventures lineup.

The horror theme continues in the 21st century, with the movies Sand Sharks (2011) and Snow Sharks (2012). IMDB describes the plot of the first: “a shark who swims in sand terrorizes a tropical paradise”; it’s an extremely low-budget movie starring Corin Nemec, Brooke Hogan, and Vanessa Evigan .


Some complexity is added here by the fact that there is an actual animal called the sand shark. From Wikipedia:

Sand sharks, also known as sand tiger sharks, grey nurse sharks or ragged tooth sharks, are mackerel sharks of the family Odontaspididae. They are found worldwide in temperate and tropical waters.

… The name sand shark comes from their tendency toward shoreline habitats, and they are often seen swimming around the ocean floor in the surf zone; at times, they come very close to shore. They are often found in warm or temperate waters throughout the world’s oceans, except the eastern Pacific. They also frequent the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas at depths from 20 to 200 m (65 to 650 ft) and sometimes more.

(So: not sharks that swim through sand, but sharks that swim close to the sand — a more distant semantic relationship than that in land shark, street shark, the horror-movie sand shark, or snow shark.)

Finally, to snow sharks as in #1. On the movie, from Wikipedia:

Snow Shark is a 2012 horror film directed by Sam Qualiana about an outrageous and spine-tingling shark that swims through frozen snow and hunt people. It starred Sam Qualiana, Michael OHear, Jackey Hall, Kathy Murphy, CJ Qualiana, Andrew Elias and Robert Bozek.

Plot: Frozen for thousands of years, freed by an earthquake, and really, really hungry. In 1999, a team of animal biologists investigating a rash of wildlife killings disappeared in the lonely woods near a small town. Years later, a local resident claims to have killed a prehistoric carnivorous creature living in the snow. Now, someone – or something – is making lunch of the locals. As curiosity-seekers and crypto zoologists descend on the small town, drawn by the legend of the Snow Shark, Mike – sole survivor of an earlier attack – leads an armed and dangerous posse into a deadly battle.

The fin in the snow:


And a poster for the movie:


It’s not safe out of the water!

One Response to “Shark!”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    Do you think the whole X Shark thing has jumped the… No, no, I can’t.

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