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While the title and advertising would imply that this is yet another Jaws rip-off…and to a degree it is…the film is more conspiracy thriller than nature-run-amok flick. The story has a series of vicious attacks on swimmers and divers by schools of voracious barracuda in the waters off the peaceful shore community of Palm Cove. When environmental activist Mike Canfield (Wayne Crawford, who also co-wrote) joins forces with local sheriff Ben Williams (William Kerwin) to investigate, they discover a conspiracy that goes from a local chemical plant all the way up to the very government itself…a conspiracy some might kill to keep secret.
I’ll give writers Crawford and Harry Kerwin…who also directed…credit for trying to expand a simple killer fish flick into something more, but Joe Dante’s Piranha already did the conspiracy thing and mixed it with the carnivorous fish elements much better. This is a very slow moving and sometimes dull flick that has a few bloody attacks, but otherwise focuses on it’s land-locked conspiracy story about a ludicrous plot to use chemicals to control peoples behavior…chemicals that are being dumped into the sea and are effecting the local barracuda population. The FX are cheesy, the acting is purely wooden and the whole story has more holes than a barracuda snack. I also give the filmmakers credit for giving it such a bleak ending, but that would only have impact if it was a far better movie. At this point you want it to be over and don’t care how it ends.
Overall, this is a bland and forgettable killer fish/conspiracy thriller that is similar in many ways to Joe Dante’s Piranha,but without any of the wit, cleverness and blood spattered fun of that flick.
2 chemically enraged fish.
DEVIL FISH aka MONSTER SHARK (1984)
Italian Jaws rip-off…and there were plenty…tells the story of a series of vicious attacks off the shores of Florida. When the attacks are investigated by two scientists (Valentine Monnier and William Berger) and their tech specialist, Peter (After The Fall of New York’s Michael Sopkiw) they find the creature is a genetic mutation of an octopus and a prehistoric fish known as a Dunkleosteus (It’s a real thing! I Googled it!). What they don’t know is this mutation is not a freak of nature, but bred specifically for a very sinister purpose…and those that bred it, want their intentions to remain undiscovered.
This silly film is written by Gianfranco Clerici and directed by Lamerto (Demons) Bava…under the pseudonym John Old Jr. It is very cheesy with it’s rubber monster and dubbed cast, not to mention, the ridiculous plot and dialog that tries to support it. The action scenes are clumsily staged and the monster never appears to be anything but a prop. There is very little suspense or thrills and the conspiracy plot is outright ridiculous, though better integrated than in Barracuda. The acting is also very poor and the film doesn’t even make good use of it’s Florida locations, seemingly filming in the same few spots. The climatic confrontation with the creature is as ludicrous as the reason it was created, but at least there is some generous blood-letting and gore. There is, at least, a base entertainment value in all the badness, as it is sometimes badness in just the right degree.
This is not a good film, but unlike the dull Barracuda, it has at least got some laugh-ability to it. Rubber monsters always make me chuckle, as do dubbed actors who take the proceedings far too seriously considering the material. A bad movie, but not without it’s entertainment value.
2 pre-mutation Dunkleosteus.