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TV movies that horror fans can sink their teeth into

The networks can't get anybody to watch on Saturday night anymore. They've abandoned it to reruns.

So be grateful one courageous cable channel dares to debut original movies!

Shot in global locales!

Starring names you know and love!

With action to keep you on the edge of your seat!

Because, really, how can you turn away from a giant dinosaur shark leaping from the water to chomp a flying helicopter?

"Dinoshark" was one of the two-dozen exclamation-point flicks premiering yearly in Syfy's Original Movies franchise. If you missed it (don't worry; it'll be repeated), maybe you caught one of the previous 175 titles — like "Frankenfish" or "Mansquito."

Or maybe you didn't. Maybe you wouldn't.

But why be snobby? If some call it schlock, "we like to call it escapist entertainment," says Thomas Vitale, Syfy's executive vice president for programming and original movies.

There's certainly no profound realism in the April premiere, "Mega Piranha," which — do you really need a plot synopsis? — stars "Brady Bunch" eldest-son Barry Williams and '80s pop tart Tiffany.

"Saturday night is a night when you want to order a pizza, pop open a beverage, and sit back and have some fun with the movies," says Vitale, who loves this stuff. "Look at what broadcast programming used to be on Saturday nights — sitcoms and fluffy escapist shows like 'Fantasy Island.'"

Indeed, a Syfy Original Movie might well be a "rather delightful little sci-fi squib," as 2004's "Dragon Storm" was described by star John Rhys-Davies. A veteran of blockbusters like "The Lord of the Rings," Rhys-Davies takes these low-budget, high-concept quickies for what they are.

Apparently, so do lots of us. "Dinoshark" drew more than 2 million viewers, a number that would make The CW, for example, very happy. (It beats "Gossip Girl" and "90210.")

That viewership matches the per-film budget of around $2 million, less than a typical hourlong network episode. "But they're all shot on 35mm film," Vitale stresses, "and mastered in HD, and we use CGI, and they're shot all over the world." That doesn't mean Paris. It means Mexico or Bulgaria."