Today’s installment into the “Water Foul” spotlight on the worst aquatic monster movies ever made is one of the illustrious members of IMDb’s Bottom 100: 1984’s Devil Fish.
Devil Fish was directed and co-written by Lamberto Bava, the son of the legendary giallo director Mario Bava (Black Sunday, Black Sabbath). He directed the film under the pseudonym of John Old, Jr., which was a frequent practice for Italian directors making knock-off films. Lamberto Bava also worked with noted Italian horror icon Dario Argento on the films Demons and Demons II.
The other credited writers on the film included Dardano Sacchetti (The Beyond, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, Manhattan Baby), Gianfranco Clerici (Cannibal Holocaust, The New York Ripper), Luigi Cozzi (Starcrash, Hercules, The Adventures of Hercules 2), and Sergio Martino (The Mountain of the Cannibal God, The Great Alligator, Torso).
The cinematographer for Devil Fish was Giancarlo Ferrando, who also shot movies like Troll 2, Hands of Steel, Warrior of the Lost World, The Great Alligator, and Torso.
The editor on Devil Fish was one Roberto Sterbini, who has also performed editing duties on films like Zombi 3, Hands of Steel, and Beyond the Door II.
The music for Devil Fish was provided by Fabio Frizzi, who also provided scores to Zombie, The Beyond, and the outlandish 1977 colorized, Italian version of Godzilla by Devil Fish co-writer Luigi Cozzi.
The ‘shark’ for the movie was created by one Ovidio Taito, who astoundingly has no other listed special effects credits on IMDb. The rest of the special effects are credited to Germano Natali, who also worked on movies like Starcrash, Suspira, The Beyond, Hercules, and King Solomon’s Mines.
The plot of Devil Fish is pretty straightforward: it follows a hunt for a mysterious, unidentified creature that is attacking swimmers off the coast of Florida.
As the dialogue loves to remind the audience throughout the film, the monster featured in the movie is clearly not a shark. Despite this, one of the most common alternate titles of this movie is simply Shark. Other alternate titles included Red Ocean, Devouring Waves, Monster Shark, and Shark: Red On The Ocean.
The reception to Devil Fish online is incredibly negative, and its IMDb rating of 2.4 places it in the Bottom 100 of the website. However, this is mostly due to the fact that the movie was featured on the hit show Mystery Science Theater 3000, which tends to dramatically skew votes into the negative range.
Devil Fish was obviously a Jaws knockoff in concept, but it clearly went very wrong somewhere in the creation process. The plot moves almost unbearably slowly in the movie, and the plot lines are barely interesting enough to follow in the first place. There is also, of course, tons of bad science loosely thrown around to try to explain the squid-shark antagonist of the film. I particularly like that it is supposedly capable of breaking down into individual cells and reforming into countless copies of itself, provided they don’t completely destroy it within a set amount of time. As you could probably predict, the evil shark-beast was created by sinister scientists for a vague military purpose, which explains some of its more outlandish qualities.
As bad creature movies often do, the monster was shown far too early on in this movie, and is given too much exposure throughout the film. On top of that, it looks really damn goofy, because the design is pretty much a sharktopus. While it looks good as far as quality goes, particularly for a movie as cheap as this one, it is damn near impossible to take a sharktopus seriously as the central monster of a movie.
Aside from the monster, the blood effects used in this film are really shoddy. There is a point where a character is shot and instantaneously has clearly fake blood dried on his shirt, which is pointed out to great comedic effect by the MST3k crew.
Overall, Devil Fish is a shockingly dull movie, given what it is. Despite fleeting moments of amazingness, like when the monster is killed by a mass of flamethrowers, the pacing of the film is so awful that it is a chore to sit through the whole thing. Even the handful of attacks are boring and routine, whereas they should be highlights of the flick. Unless you are used to watching through movies with Mystery Science Theater 3000, this is a movie that you should absolutely skip. There just isn’t enough going on here to be entertaining.