When Jaws came out, it unleashed a whole can of nightcrawlers. At first, these worms attracted your typical fare — a renegade shark ruining a regatta, disrupting a scientific breakthrough, or crashing a fishing trip. The worms must have been good eatin’ (or radioactive), because over time, these sharks have become larger than life:

First, they started swimming backwards. Then, they flew around in tornadoes. They grew six heads. Now, they patrol the Shark Side of the Moon, terrorize cornfields, and come back from extinction to battle Jason Statham.

Anything is possible in the shark horror subgenre, and for us fans, the bigger, zanier, and more outlandish, the better. Few have delivered more entertaining and creative takes on the shark story than Misty Talley, reigning queen of sharksploitation.

Button linking to patreon.com/horrorfam (opens in a new tab)

Who is Misty Talley?

Misty Talley shark horror director

Misty Talley contains multitudes. She’s directed a slew of shark flicks including Zombie Shark (2015) aka Shark Island, Ozark Sharks (2015), Mississippi River Sharks (2017), and Santa Jaws (2018). She even edited Ghost Shark (2013)! By the way, Misty, if you edited the slip-and-slide scene . . . thank you.

Never before has there been such an impressive back-to-back run of shark hits! But that’s not all. Misty Talley’s a director and editor at Fable House, a video production company in her native Louisiana.

In addition to two of her shark movies, she’s made a fantasy film with Fable House –Ten to Sing (2014), an atmospheric short about an elderly woman who is the last person on Earth. The film received wide acclaim, and Talley later presented it at Cannes Film Festival.

History-making and Christmas-editing

Zombie Shark movie poster

A self-proclaimed B-movie connoisseur, Talley has edited several Christmas TV movies including Ladies of the 80s: A Diva Christmas (2023), A New Orleans Noel (2022), and Christmas in Mississippi (2017). (For some reason, you’ll find this pairing often, especially in independent horror; Philly filmmaker Steve Rudzinski, acclaimed for his CarousHELL series, has also directed several Christmas-themed movies.) 

When Talley sat in the director chair for Zombie Shark, she made history as the first woman to direct a SyFy original. In that film, she demonstrated her ability to infuse characters in bombastic situations with a great deal of humor and charm. Since then, she’s followed it up with some of my personal favorites in the sharksploitation genre!

Where do shark movies come from?

Well, dear reader, when two sharks love each other very much . . .

If you’ve ever been scrolling through Tubi and thought, “Gee, some of these shark movie titles sound like they just came up with a bunch of funny names, circled the best ones, and said, ‘Yeah let’s make those!’” then you would be right! At least, according to Talley. Shark movies like these might start out as goofy names on a list, but Talley takes these concepts and populates them with humorous, compelling characters and storylines with enough self-awareness and, dare I say, restraint to deliver a thoroughly delightful viewing experience.

Exhibit A: Mississippi River Sharks! Tagline: “There’s a new mouth in the river.”

Mississippi River Sharks

Every shark movie has to have some event for the sharks to ruin; the regatta in Mississippi River Sharks is a fish rodeo. This event is the small town’s bread and butter, and it’s such a big deal that they’re not willing to let a few random shark attacks in the Mississippi River slow them down! The show goes on, and who comes to town? None other than famous Hollywood actor Jason London, whose acting credits cheekily reference other Misty Talley films.

When they can no longer ignore the hungry and adorably-awkward CGI sharks, the townsfolk band together and set about to stop the hungry fish. While London stands out as the bombastic and grandstanding version of himself, the rest of the cast matches London beat for beat. It’s this commitment to the bit that really sells the whole deal.

Santa Jaws


Santa Jaws was my first introduction to Misty Talley, and I was hooked from the start. It’s a story about a kid named Cody whose magic pen brings to life his Santa-hat-wearing, comic book shark. This does not bode well for anyone, least of all Cody’s loved ones! Sure, the concept is wild, but when you cut through the thick absurdity, there’s a really solid story and likable characters. I’ve watched it twice.

Last year, we were given Meg 2: The Trench, and soon we will have 47 Meters Down: The Wreck. I’m one guy who will set out some extra Christmas cookies and milk in the hopes that Santa will deliver a Santa Jaws 2 soon.

What is Misty Talley Doing Today?

Through her editing work on the aforementioned Christmas movies, Talley seems to be focusing more on Santa and less on Jaws these days. Meanwhile, she teaches at her alma mater, University of Louisiana Lafayette, and continues to make movies with Fable House. Most recently, she directed the documentary film The Tiger & the Oak, which dives into the history of the Cheniere au Tigre, a historic region facing an existential threat in Louisiana.. Watch a preview here.

In the pantheon of Great Sharksploitationists, Misty Talley keeps court with filmmakers like Christopher Ray, Anthony Ferrante, and Mark Atkins. All of her work has a lot of heart, and her shark movies in particular are sure to put a smile on the face of any horror fan!


Images were purchased via MovieStillsDB and CineMaterial.

About the Author

Isaiah Swanson is a freelance writer from South Carolina. A movie buff from a young age, he enjoys writing about cinema, especially the horror genre. When he is not writing, he is traveling the country in his campervan with his Australian shepherd, Judy. You can find more of his work at Ned Hardy, The Game of Nerds, and The Bitter Wolf.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Related Posts