Friday, January 23, 2009

Killer Fish(1978)d/Antonio Margheriti

Dire straits over here,droogies.My dvd drive is in the midst of a total dump,which puts a damper on culling screenshots for the very reviews you read here.The only thing I can liken it to,is watching a movie after overdosing on quaaludes.If you try and speed the playback up,it skips ahead to the end of the disc.As of right now,playing certain dvds is hit and miss,so what I can play I'll review until I can replace the whole computer.Eh,whattayagonndo? Antonio Margheriti was another Italian director whose body of genre work was enormous,from horror(Cannibal Apocalypse,Flesh for Frankenstein,Virgin of Nuremberg)to gialli(Naked You Die,Seven Deaths in the Cats Eye),and everything in between(Hercules Against Karate,The Last Hunter).This 1978 Margheriti vehicle incorporates elements of all his genre films,while avoiding classification in any of them,really.As such,it remains a rip-roaring good time,helped along by an interesting cast,which includes Lee "Six Million Dollar Man" Majors,Karen Black,James Franciscus,former Houston Oiler quarterback Dan Pastorini,and is topped off by a fabulous non-performance by model-turned-actress(?) Margaux Hemingway,long before Keanu Reeves first froze in front of a camera for a paycheck.And did I mention piranhas?
A daring jewel heist with an exploding emerald mine power plant as the backdrop.Check.
High roller,Paul Diller(James Franciscus)hires a group of jewel thieves,headed by Lasky(Lee Majors)and Diller's own girlfriend Kate(Karen Black), to stage a heist at a power plant outside an emerald mine in Brazil.The thieves set off multiple explosions inside the plant to divert the security guards while they slip in,in wet suits,and slip out with a fortune in gems.To avoid attention,they sink the stolen jewels in a waterproof box at the bottom of a local reservoir,to be retrieved in two months when the heat dies down.Diller,knowing the nature of his motley crew,has stocked the reservoir in advance with fifty pairs of man-eating red bellied piranha,which by now number in the tens of thousands,to ensure that none of the thieves lift the box from the water before the designated date.You know,I'll just bet some of the thieves are gonna get greedy and sneakily try and dive for the stones themselves,and instead,get the flesh stripped off their bones in seconds like the proverbial cow who's always stumbling into the Amazon River.In the meantime,an overweight effeminate photographer and his toothy subject(Hemingway) arrive at the same resort for a fashion shoot.Lasky throws on some clothes that would make a pimp blush,repeatedly lays his famous Bionic Man squint on her(what Majors calls "acting"), and successfully beds the model,to the disgust of Kate,who's rethinking her relationship with the unscrupulous Diller,that is,until he agrees to fish the gems out of the reservoir with her.A couple of men eaten alive?Nevermind all that.
Dan Pastorini saw better days facing the Steel Curtain at Three Rivers Stadium,that's for sure.
In the climactic finale,all the remaining players wind up on a sinking boat,in a lake filled with Diller's piranha when the dam breaks,leading to the little bastards gnawing on anyone who has the misfortune of contacting the water,including the rotund photographer,who seriously gets eaten for what seems like five onscreen minutes.They're swimming in and out of his cellulite,biting his worn out intestinal tract,he's flailing and mincing,splashing and bleeding.Good show,Antonio.It's no wonder that when Diller makes off with the stones AND the only life raft,the piranha only nibble at Lasky when he swims after him through the deadly waters,as,after all,too much ham will clog even the toughest fishy digestive system.So does Diller get away with the booty?Does Lasky blag them AND endure the company of the chicklet-toothed Gabrielle?Or does he dump the airhead in favour of crooked faced Kate and her annoying flesh-toned nylons?Can ANYONE endure Lasky's poor sense of dress and trademark quizzical tv-squint?Or do the piranha ignore the health warnings and chow down on every last piece of ham involved?Snag yourself a copy on DVD and find out for yourself!
Lee Majors should have been nominated for an Oscar,keeping a straight face while wearing a hat like this like this.
Margheriti's work,though uneven at times,never fails to entertain me.I used to watch this one on a regular basis on HBO in the black pirate cable box days,so revisiting it brought me back to that glorious era for a little while.Karen Black always puts on a game face,even if it IS a bit on the crooked side,while I'm still scratching my head as to how Majors and Hemingway ever made it to the big screen.Lee's got the squint,Margeaux has..well,even less than that.Her sister was great in Star 80,though she could have boosted her implants a smidgeon to get into Stratten territory(I had the Playboys growing up,so I fancy myself something of an expert on her pillowy dimensions!).You'll catch genre vet Anthony Steffen and tv's Gary Collins in the extras if you squint hard enough.There's enough grue to satisfy the gorenophiles,enough espionage to sate the action fans,and the Brazilian scenery isn't half bad either.The deAngelis brothers pile on the disco in the soundtrack,as is expected.Though it pales in comparison to fare like Cannibal Apocalypse or Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye,it will manage to keep you amused,and if I'm wrong,let's remember that I'm NEVER wrong.Even when I'm wrong.Which is never,cos I never am(piss poor cult movie bloggers trivia scores aside!)!Score this one:
These piranhas get bloated,munching on a diet of hammy actors.


Lost Video Archive said...

Margheriti is one of my favorite Italian splatter directors, Killer Fish looks like it's only going to reaffirm that.
Great blog.

beedubelhue said...

Glad to see you aboard.If you're already a fan of Margheriti,you're in for a good time.Enjoy!

Balberith said...

ooh, Karen Black?! I have never even heard of this film, looks pretty fucking interesting though

beedubelhue said...

I can say without hesitation that I like Margheriti ALMOST as much as Giovanni Lombardo Radice does.

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