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.
Well, there isn’t much to say for this movie. This is one of those movies that relies on massive amounts of stock footage just to get by, and it makes the whole thing just about unwatchable. It can only just barely qualify as a movie. It is a series of uninteresting scenes interspersed with stock footage of planes (mostly in the act of refueling). It reminded me of a B-movie I recently watched called Frogs, in which stock footage of animals starts attacking the people living in a remote swamp. That is actually an overall enjoyable crap movie though, making it nothing at all like The Starfighters.
The acting, when there is acting, is not exactly your typical fare of most B-movies. It feels and sounds more like a classic social hygiene films, but without the entertaining cheese and vapid moral message. It isn’t as over the top as Reefer Madness, as it is quite a bit more subdued in regards to the tone and acting. I think all of the military style throughout the movie gives it that rigid quality, and prevents anyone from being particularly interesting. The same pretty much goes for the writing, it is just completely forgettable. The plot is not very deep, mostly just a father and a son arguing over whether bombers or fighters are cooler (fighters obviously, right?). The whole thing just doesn’t entertain in the slightest.
If you took Dr Strangelove and cut everything but the stock footage of airplanes refueling over calming music, and repeated that for an hour, you would have something pretty close to The Starfighters
I actually don’t think this belongs on the Bottom 100 (#68 currently), because there is no reason a movie like this should have enough votes to qualify. I would bet there are countless movies on par to this from the early 60s, but they have all been rightfully forgotten. It isn’t one of the worst movies ever made: it is a slice of history, a relic of an extinct style of film. This should absolutely have the low rating that it does, but I think it almost deserves to exist on a different plane than the other movies on the Bottom 100. The vote quota exists in theory to prevent the endless numbers of movies like this from flooding the Bottom 100 list. The list would be absolutely overrun with unwatchable social hygiene movies and homemade YouTube films that don’t deserve any kind of recognition on a list of this kind.
At the same time, this movie does belong on this list. This is a movie that is absolutely saved by the MST3K riff in every sense. Not only does it make the movie watchable, but this is one of those films that would have been completely forgotten if not for the MST3K treatment. I think that fact enough gives it an understandable case for being on a list like this. MST3K made this movie memorable, and turned it into more than what it is on the surface. I feel the same about movies like Red Zone Cuba, which shockingly does not have a spot in the Bottom 100. The votes for this movie aren’t about the movie itself, but a testament to the influence of Mike, Joel, and the Bots on the hobby and culture around terrible movies today.
*this is the first video I did, and is much longer and rougher around the edges than the others*
I decided to repost this video, primarily because I spend quite a bit of time talking about Devil Fish and The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-up Zombies in there. As for Boggy Creek 2, I feel like it is a comparably boring movie to those two. Nothing particularly stands out in the movie, and they show the monster far too early on for there to be much suspense or anticipation. The effects and acting are both typical 0-budget fair, and there just isn’t much else to say about it. There is apparently an entire sub-market of Sasquatch movies out there that you can delve into if that seems up your alley though.
This movie is Sharktopus if it was made in the 1980’s Italy. Yow.
It was obviously a Jaws knockoff in concept, but it clearly went very wrong. Everything moves very slowly in this movie, and all of the plot lines are equally boring. None of the dialogue is very good, and there is tons of bad science loosely thrown around to try to explain the squid-shark thing. I particularly like that it is supposedly going to break down into individual cells and reform into countless copies of itself if they don’t destroy it within a set amount of time. That is some impressive garbage writing. When it comes down to it, the writing is definitely at the rotten core of this movie, everything else was just orbiting it. I don’t even have anything to say about the general plot. There are scientists doing something. Some bad scientist made a sharktopus for some vague military reason. Sharktopus is eventually stopped. End on freeze frame of elated laughing.
As bad creature movies often do, the monster was shown far too early on here, which is always an issue if the monster is the key to the film. On top of that, it looked really damn goofy. It looked good as far as quality goes, particularly for a movie like this, but it the design of the thing was horrendous. It didn’t look intimidating or frightening, it just looked…odd. As the dialogue loves to remind everyone, it is clearly not a shark. Despite that, one of the most common alternate titles of this movie is simply “Shark”. Good job there, folks. Aside from the monster, the blood effects used are really shoddy. There is a point where a character is shot and instantaneously has clearly fake blood dried on his shirt. Just lazy work all around there.
As with any Italian movie aimed to a US audience, there is bad dubbing here. It is better than some movies for sure, but it is definitely a long way from good. If you are used to watching crappily dubbed movies, it isn’t particularly jarring. For a casual audience, I’m sure it would be distractingly noticeable though. The acting is pretty much standard fare for this sort of movie, but it is pretty overwhelmed by the dubbing regardless.
This is another one of those movies that is so entertaining in concept that it is baffling how they messed it up to the point of it being boring. Showing the monster early hurt for sure, the bad effects hurt, the dubbing hurt, but the inability of the writing to keep this movie going at a decent pace was absolutely fatal to the film. A movie that ends with a sharktopus being torched with flamethrowers shouldn’t be so absolutely unwatchable. There isn’t much else to add, this is just a thoroughly boring movie to sit through. There are too many dull attack scenes throughout the movie, which means that there is no suspense and no stakes involved at the climax. It thus makes the climax of the movie monotone with the rest of the film, which makes it feel even longer than the movie actually is. All of the attacks even look the exact same for the most part. Jaws goes after a few different sort of targets to give some variation, which makes the attack scenes more interesting to watch. No such luck here.
This movie is currently #48, which places it very close to …Mixed Up Zombies. There are some definite similarities between the two, but I would give the edge slightly to Devil Fish for reasons I don’t entirely understand. They are both similarly boring and poorly paced, and both have an interesting enough premise. I suppose the flamethrower scene, lack of poorly shot musical scenes, and mostly mediocre camera work puts Devil Fish just ahead of …Mixed Up Zombies in regards to entertainment value.
I don’t understand why on earth this had to be a musical. All of the numbers are distracting, poorly shot, horribly executed, and they drag out the story much longer than it has any need to go. I never thought I would praise Girl in Gold Boots, but it looks like a professional musical production compared to this mess.
Related to the musical numbers, the costuming is surprisingly dull given the setting of the movie at a carnival. The makeup on the antagonist is way over the top though, which I see as an all or nothing thing: either go all out with the makeup and costumes or don’t. The MST3K folks make a really big deal of the hair in this movie. Personally, I think it is just a relic of the era it was made in, but it does look pretty hilarious in retrospect.
The cinematography in this movie is just straight bad. There are POV roller coaster shots that are excessively shaky to the point of causing nausea. There are superimposed images on superimposed images in an attempt to look surreal. Worst of all, the performance scenes are just inexcusably poorly shot for something billed as a musical (again, why?). There are also excessively dramatically angled shots during the initial palm reading scene, which the MST3K guys hilariously riffed without saying a word: they all just leaned dramatically in a given direction to imitate the shot. Personally, it reminded me a little of the Lord of the Rings ripoff scene in House of the Dead, in that it immediately brought to mind the intimidating shot of General Ripper behind his desk in Doctor Strangelove (this one: http://tinyurl.com/n2psd6j). I don’t think this one was nearly so blatant or intentional though, it didn’t take me out of the movie at all. It still looked pretty bad though, without any doubt. It just totally missed the mark that they were aiming for.
There isn’t much to say about the acting apart from that it was 60’s style cheesy. None of it was good, although the villain hammed it up a little bit. Nothing stood out like Torgo in Manos for sure. I actually think if the villain had played it up a little bit more, this would have been a little easier to sit through.
As it stands, the pacing of the plot in this movie just killed me. It has musical numbers chained to both ankles, and can barely hobble along through the run time. There are scenes that are too long, and plenty of footage that isn’t necessary at all throughout the movie, like San Francisco stock shots in The Room. I think this movie could be recut into something slightly better, but only slightly. There just isn’t quite enough decent content in this for a full-length quality movie.
I do like the premise here, though. Pre-Romero zombie movies are interesting to bump into, and pull from the classic zombie lore that is mostly forgotten by cinema. This sticks to the mind control / voodoo aspects of classic zombieism pretty well, and could have been a good horror movie with a different director, writer, cast, and 100% less musical numbers. You know, a different movie entirely.
This is another one I hadn’t seen before, and expected very little from. I interestingly have way more to say about it than I could have imagined I would going into it. From what I had seen in reviews of the movie, it is criticized for being essentially a string of loud noises and colorful images without any actual substance behind it. That is absolutely accurate and inarguable. This movie is as vapid as movies come.
However, there’s something that seeps out of every goofy, ridiculous pore of this movie: nostalgia. This movie suffers from the same issue that Lawnmower Man 2 does, in that it is completely misplaced in time. It is a 2005 movie trying to recreate the success of a 1994 movie that in turn relied entirely on long-expired, Tex Avery style cartoon humor left over from the mid-century. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an anachronistic film.
The longing for a return to simplistic cartoonish violence hangs over the movie, which gives it an oddly sad tone at times despite the constant stream of bright colors and noises. Jamie Kennedy’s character is clearly an avatar for the film’s writer, who (unsurprisingly) was a struggling cartoon writer, working on shows like “CatDog” and “Aaahh!!! Real Monsters” in the 90s. When things are actually focused in on the lead character, there is an interesting metamovie to dig into. There is a lot of honesty written into the character throughout the movie, particularly before the zaniness gets put into high gear. I really felt bad for the writer of this movie, because it has to really suck to suck at the thing that you most love doing. I get the feeling there are some really unfunny original ideas in this guy’s head that have been rightfully and routinely shot down throughout his entire career. He doesn’t realize that his ideas are bad though, because they are just like the cartoons he watched as a kid and loved (and went stale decades ago). I would bet that he has been fired after a flopped pitch meeting before, not unlike in the movie. If you watch it from that angle and ignore the near-plagiarized cartoon that makes up most of the movie, it is actually a mildly interesting (and very depressing) movie.
If you are a fan of the old Tex Avery Looney Tunes stuff, I still couldn’t recommend this movie to you. I can recommend that you go on an “Animaniacs” bender, because that show knew how to pay homage to the past while still being original and funny. I dearly wish that I had spent this movie’s run time watching “Animaniacs”…
On to more failures in this movie:
I’m not going to gripe on the acting. Jamie Kennedy was absolutely devastated by the outcome of this film, and it is clear he is doing what he can with what he was given. And I didn’t hate Cumming as Loki, surprisingly. His costuming was, at best, distractingly stupid though. (Oh yeah, this movie involves Norse mythology by the way. I want to treat it as canon with the Marvel movie universe pretty bad) Everyone else was just…there. Steven Wright was actually a pretty convincing scumbag boss, who oddly never faced a comeuppance. He didn’t have much screen time to speak of, however, and Mr. “Super Sounds of the 70s” has a knack for lulling into the backdrop with that voice. The real problem with this movie in regards to acting were the…nonhuman?…actors.
It is no shock that some of the people behind Cats and Dogs were involved in this godawful mess. The special effects are absolutely horrendous, and look like they could have been lifted directly from Cats and Dogs, which was released a number of years prior to this one. Once again, this movie is completely lost in time: A 90s movie with bad early 00s CGI and 40s cartoon writing. The practical effects didn’t look so bad on the actors, but the CGI dog and baby were just a atrocious, and they were regrettably the primary focus of the film. There isn’t much else to say, except it looked really damn bad and distracting.
This movie is sitting at 38 in the bottom 100 currently. I can’t argue with that placement, primarily because of the disparity of quality I’ve seen among the movies I’ve hit so far. This was less generally boring than Lawnmower Man 2 (to be covered in Part 5) and less rage-inducing than Pledge This! for sure, but not fun to watch by any means. I think it belongs in a special cage on display as an example of how humor needs to evolve to survive, and as a warning to not make unnecessary sequels to already bad movies.
There’s not a whole lot to say about this one. I actually don’t hate the story to Soultaker, it is just executed really poorly all around. The soultakers themselves are really unconvincingly done up, and the “souls” (read: glowsticks) are just silly.
There isn’t a whole lot of tension to the movie for some reason, despite them being chased down and running against a clock. I think the movie really needs to be shorter, and perhaps cut a little better to build up suspense. The movie just does a bad job in pacing, and it doesn’t help that everything moves slowly in the movie anyway. This is a movie where the riffs don’t even really help the film much, though they don’t do a bad job with it.
The acting doesn’t particularly hurt the movie, but I feel like if someone had put in the effort to go overboard, it would have been much more watchable. Maybe not better though, to be perfectly honest.
This is sitting at #41 in the Bottom 100 right now. I’m not going to argue with that, but it is a very forgettable movie. I’ve probably watched it five times at one point or another, and the only things I have ever remembered about it were the glow stick souls and Joe Estevez in a leading role. Not one I can recommend.
Reviews/Trivia of B-Movies, Bad Movies, and Cult Movies.