Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, the Ouija Shark has returned from the depths of hell to wreak havoc once more in Ouija Shark 2. This ghostly great white has caught the scent of blood, and only a seasoned sorcerer and his friends stand a chance of banishing the bloodthirsty spirit shark back to oblivion.
We at Horror Facts recently had the chance to sit down with director John Migliore to discuss his new film and learn all about how Ouija Shark 2 came to be, from its unexpected origins to its complications along the way, to everything new and exciting viewers can expect in this campy supernatural shark infested tale.
So dive into the full interview below, but be warned no one on land or sea is safe once again, not while Ouija Shark is on the hunt.
Horror Facts: Thank you for taking the time to speak with Horror Facts.
John Migliore: It’s great to be here, thank you.
HF: What inspired you to make a sequel to Ouija Shark?
JM: I had no intention really. I had gone into retirement. I was only doing little projects for people here and there. I figured I was done and then the original film picked up in popularity in Japan and Wild Eye wrote me and said “Would you be interested in doing a sequel?”. It was all unexpected. It was great that it happened and then it was even greater that it got as much attention as it did overseas and I hope people will enjoy it here as well.
HF: Ouija Shark 2 has already been released internationally?
JM: Yes. The film was released in Japan a year before its set to be released here.
HF: How has the film been received overseas since its release?
JM: The second one blew up in Japan. That was a big surprise. I knew that Japanese audiences liked the first one, so I was hoping that they would enjoy mine. I certainly didn’t expect it to play in France and Japan in theatres. In Japan, in particular, it played in twelve different theatres across the country. It even played on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to sell out crowds. It’s like “What happened?” I didn’t expect a theatrical release, much less for them to make all kinds of merchandise for the film. It just blew me away – it was something that I never could have expected at all.
HF: The movie sounds like it is already a hit in Japan. How do you think it will do when it’s released in North America?
JM: I hope people will enjoy it here as well. I just hope I’m not spoiled now by such a great reaction. I know North American crowds are a lot more cynical. So I hope when they see it, they will see it for what it is – a cheesy fun movie. I like to think of it as a throwback to the goofy 70’s kind of horror movies, which are the kind of movies I love above anything else. So I think audiences will enjoy it if they go in with that kind of attitude.
HF: Were there any complications from continuing the story from the original Ouija Shark?
JM: Yes. In the first movie, I died very definitively. Like I’m dead. I never expected to do a sequel so now it became figuring out how I come back and it shouldn’t be something that just goes click and I’m back. I wanted to make it tough to come back and make that part of the story. Even the old Greek myths always had the hero go down to hell and had to do something before he could fight his way back and I thought I should probably go that route.
HF: What’s new or different in Ouija Shark 2 compared to the first film?
JM: The first one is all set on Earth. The whole occult side of the story is also kind of a surprise, as the film’s primary characters are not expecting it to happen, so when it does happen it comes as a big surprise. Whereas this one jumps in as we’re already in a world filled with the occult and filled with occult users. So it’s very different. It’s kind of like going from let’s say Jaws, where it’s a movie about a shark where people are getting killed, to more of a Dr. Strange situation, where everybody is powerful and everybody can do magic. So I would say that’s probably the biggest difference – it goes from being more grounded in some sort of reality, I mean it is Ouija Shark so there’s only so much reality, but it’s at least set in some sort of reality, and this one is pretty much pure fantasy.
HF: What ideas did you want to explore with this new film?
JM: Going in, I knew I wanted to do something that would please fans of the first one, but I also knew I wanted to take the story into more of a fantasy realm direction. So, I looked at all the things that I knew people liked about the first movie. In the first one, you have the Ouija Shark who eats a lot of people and there are a lot of women in bikinis. I say that reluctantly because whenever I read a review of Ouija Shark it states, “Well it’s not that good of a movie but I liked all the girls in bikinis” and so many reviewers say that.
HF: Really? They all comment on the woman in bikinis.
JM: Yeah, it’s kind of creepy in a way. But I thought it makes sense – you have a water-based animal like a shark, so people in bikinis just make sense to go with it. But I thought, okay, this movie is not set anywhere near water, there’s no water anymore in this movie and yet there is a shark, how am I going to get people in bikinis where it would make any sense? So, I came up with this idea, where the head of hell likes to surround himself with bikini girls – it’s his creepy vibe that he likes. That was my way of keeping that element in the film.
HF: How has the shark evolved or changed compared to the first film?
JM: In the first film there is a hint towards the movie’s end that the shark is being controlled. It’s not just acting on its own. That’s something that doesn’t become clear until quite near the end of the original movie. Whereas in this one it becomes very clear that the shark doesn’t have a will of its own and does have a master who is forcing it to do things, and there’s even some discussion around the movie, if the shark is evil or if it is being made to be evil. So that gets explored a bit as well along with the fact that Ouija Shark has a lot of new powers that he didn’t have in the first film. One of them is this ability to change his size because I knew that I also wanted to move towards not just a shark attack movie, but I wanted a giant monster movie; a Godzilla film. So along with more of a backstory, there are several new abilities that the creature has, that I hope just add to the fun of the movie.
HF: What made you want to make this film more like a monster battle movie over a shark attack film?
JM: I grew up on Godzilla films, Hammer films, and a lot of indie stuff. I remember they would show these movies late on Friday nights. My mom would let me stay up late on Friday to watch them. I was twelve years old at the time and I got to watch movies like Death Race 2000 for example, and so many other amazing films. There was something about these movies that really spoke to me. I guess you could say that I got warped at a young age and I kind of stayed that way.
HF: What made you decide to go with a gator?
JM: With the gator I wanted another somewhat aquatic animal to fight. In some ways, I wish I had gone with a snake because the gator was really hard to make and he was really hard to operate. It didn’t have as much flexibility and give as the shark did. So, I had to really work hard to get it to do the things that we wanted it to do and I’ve jokingly said many times “Next time a snake”. Just because I feel it would be a lot easier, but I wanted something aquatic and I wanted something that looked like it had a chance against a shark, so that’s why we went with that.
HF: What’s your favorite scene or moment in Ouija Shark 2?
JM: I never really thought about what my favorite scene is. I really like the big battle at the end because, even though we’re on a microscopic budget, we were able to pull off shots of giants wrecking a big city, as well as a pretty decent monster-fighting monster scene. It’s pretty cool that we were able to do that on our budget. I also like the musical dance sequence in the movie. When I first wrote it into the script, I thought this was the moment where the audience was either going to be in or out. They were either going to be like, “This is hilarious. I’m having a good time with this,” or they were going to be like, “Alright, I’m done. I can’t take this movie anymore.” That was the line in the sand for me and I did it intentionally. I was like, let’s be outrageous here at this point because I wanted it to be very apparent within the first ten minutes of the movie how cheesy and corny some of the jokes are. You can’t still be there an hour later saying this “Isn’t for me.” I don’t think that after an hour you should be going “I’ve decided now that this isn’t really for me” You should know pretty early on whether it’s for you or not.
HF: How did your role change going from co-writer and actor in the first film to now being the sole writer, director, and lead character in the sequel? What were the challenges of taking on more responsibility for the second film?
JM: There were tons of challenges. It was even more than that. Because it was the middle of COVID when I got the job, so, that was a challenge right off the bat. In the last movie I wrote and shot my own parts and there was this freedom to just put that together and do something crazy with it. That was more about having fun with it, whereas, with this new one, I felt a lot more responsibility to the audience because I knew people actually liked the first one. I had to be able to do more of what the audience liked about the first one but on a microscopic budget. I also made all the creatures myself that you see in the movie. Along with the special effects, I did all the special effects and editing myself as well. Making this film there were a lot of challenges because you are constantly wearing every hat in the room. So, I’d say that’s probably the thing that was the biggest challenge, having to sometimes be at my computer for 12-18 hours a day, which was crazy.
HF: What do you hope audiences will get out of watching Ouija Shark 2?
JM: I really just want them to have a fun time. Go in knowing no one is trying to hide anything here. It’s a microbudget movie. It wasn’t made for very much money at all. It’s got a lot of do-it-yourself, homemade techniques to get things to work. But, it’s fun and it’s funny, and there are definitely lots of moments to laugh at or laugh along with, depending on what you like. I knew that the Japanese audience really connected to the whole family aspect of Ouija Shark. So there is some heartwarming stuff in there too, where there is this kind of family formed over the course of the movie. So I think there’s a little something for everyone, as long as you keep an open mind that it’s a small budget and its cheesy fun I think you will have a laugh.
HF: What do you think makes these types of campy horror films fun to watch?
JM: I don’t know. I think it changed over the years because when I grew up watching Ed Wood movies and Rudy Ray Moore movies, there would be some things that you would laugh at just because they were inept or they’re screwed up. I love in Bride of the Monster where they’re cutting between two angles of two people talking. In one scene, the old lady has a pencil behind her ear, and then she doesn’t, then the pencil is back behind her ear, and then it’s gone again. Watching that, you can’t help but laugh because you see this mistake, but I always also felt that with Ed Wood, he was earnest about his work. He really was doing the best that he could with what he had, and a lot of fans, I think, laughed at but also genuinely liked what Plan 9 From Outer Space or Bride of the Monster turned out to be. Now, I’m not sure. I think people are a little more cynical now. I think they like to laugh at something more than they get into the actual spirit of things, but I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong, because maybe it’s just defensiveness on my part. When it went to Japan, I thought, well, we’ll see what happens, and I was surprised that they actually liked some of the stuff I put in that wasn’t just screw-ups or mistakes or low-budget problems or whatever.
HF: Looking back, what did you learn from the first film to the second film?
JM: I guess it’s hard to take anything for granted because the first one was something I did in a very short period of time, maybe over the course of a month, because the movie needed to be completed. I just did everything that was necessary to do and I didn’t think twice about it. At the time it was just one more job. For me, I’ll do a bunch of different acting or movie jobs over the course of a year, but to have something come back years later, I never thought that would be the case. So I would say now when I do stuff I don’t take anything for granted that it’s a one-off. I have started to think that I should leave some little easter eggs here or there. I will never leave big, wide-open endings, I hate that in most movies where they leave these big, wide-open endings. I think it’s good to tell a full story, you can leave a few strings here and there that you can come back to later if there is any interest in revisiting the film, but certainly not anything too big. So, I would probably say that has been my biggest takeaway.
HF: Is there anything else that you want viewers to know about Ouija Shark 2? Why should someone see Ouija Shark 2?
JM: I joke about the Prince of Tides, I don’t know why that particular movie, I think it’s because I just enjoy it that much, but if you’re expecting that movie, well, this isn’t it. I think that Ouija Shark 2 is different than most of the stuff out there right now. It’s very odd. It’s a very strange, funny movie. I found that in the last few years, I don’t know what happened to comedies. They’re almost all gone, you barely ever see them. I think this is the first summer where there’s been kind of a tent pole comedy put out by one of the big Hollywood types. I don’t know, I think that people like to laugh, not sure why that kind of went away and there’s certainly lots to laugh with and at in this movie. It’s an enjoyable good time and that’s the main reason you should see a movie. I know myself, when I go into a movie, I want to be able to go in, have a good time, be entertained, and then be able to walk away feeling good. That’s certainly something I was trying for in this movie, l want people to have a fun time watching the movie and then walk away with a smile on their face.
HF: This film is clearly a hit in Japan. So, when are the plans for an Ouija Shark 3?
JM: There has already been talk and I already have ideas. When it’s going to get going, I’m not sure because we’re not quite ready yet. They haven’t even released the second one in North America yet. So, let’s see what happens when this one comes out before anything else happens.
HF: What’s next for you?
JM: I just finished working on a paranormal dinosaur movie. The film took me about a year to finish, every movie takes me about a year to finish. To give you an idea of what I do, before I start working on a film, I always watch a bunch of movies, not to swipe ideas, but to put me in the mood, and also to give me ideas. So, for the dinosaur one, I watched all the Amityville films, The Exorcist, The Shinning, and every Poltergeist film. Then I also watched other dinosaur-related movies like The Valley of Gwangi and Carnosaur. That’s a thing I like to do. I like to do mash-ups. So, there is going to be a lot of supernatural stuff going on but with dinosaurs. I’m hoping that Wild Eye is going to announce it soon. But right now I’m working on a big foot movie. This one is really crazy and over the top. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch when I’m done. I’m maybe a third of the way into it, but then after that, I would hope that we should be free and clear to maybe start looking at doing Ouija Shark part 3.
HF: When is Ouija Shark 2 being released and where can people watch it?
JM: The digital release date is July 25th. It will be all over any digital platform. I think when it comes out on streaming it’s going to come out free except for maybe some platforms like Amazon Prime where you already have to have a subscription before you can get it. But I would bet you’ll be able to see it on Tubi or even Plex immediately. So, when people say why should I see the movie, it’s because you’ll probably be able to see it for free the first time you see it unless you want the fully-loaded Blu-Ray, which is set to be released on August 15th, and I mean loaded. We included so many extras along with the Blu-Ray. Because I said if we’re doing this as a Blu-Ray, then, I’m going to send you a lot of extras. So, it’s got music videos, deleted scenes, director’s commentary, and alternate takes. All kinds of crazy stuff.
HF: How can fans best support you and the Ouija Shark franchise going forward?
JM: I would say see the movie, and tell people about the movie. Enjoy and get other people’s eyes on it if you can. That would be number one, because if there is interest then that pushes for more. And you can also, for those that are physical media collectors the Blu-Ray is just going to be beautiful. I mean, first of all, it’s going to be Blu-Ray, it’s going to have a slipcover with the movie poster art on it. Inside has the Japanese movie poster. So, there are two different covers. There’s also an insert poster inside and as I said before there are just loads of extras. So, if you’re a collector, I know that we’re getting to be fewer these days than we were, but if you’re a collector. We did everything we could to make this a nice collectible item.
After picking John Migliore’s brain, it’s evident Ouija Shark 2 strives to serve up the same cheesy, chilling fun that fans loved about the first film while incorporating things from his own life into the story.
Migliore’s behind-the-scenes glimpse spotlights the dedication and passion invested in crafting a follow-up that pays homage to its predecessor while cranking the campiness to new extremes.
The director makes it clear this spectral shark’s appetite is far from satisfied. As the body count rises, humankind again faces the stark reality that no one draws breath freely while the Ouija Shark patrols our realm. Those brave souls foolish enough to believe they’ve conquered this otherworldly predator once and for all better think again because supernatural terror takes many forms. And this time, nowhere is off limits.