Thursday, February 19, 2009

L'ultimo Squalo(1981)d/Enzo G.Castellari

As the proudest of Italians,I honestly feel that we,as a people,never half-ass what we set out to do.Even when we're ripping off American blockbuster movies.So when Enzo Castellari's L'ultimo Squalo(Great White,U.S. title)was successfully sued by Universal Pictures and yanked shortly after release,Americans had little idea of what a bombastic trainwreck of a motion picture they were missing out on.With a four million dollar advertising budget,a cast of b-movie staple actors,an outta sight disco soundtrack by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis,a script that generously borrows from both Jaws(1975) and Jaws 2(1979),and a mechanical monster that looks to have cost no less than forty-six bucks to construct,Squalo is one of the finest pieces of exploitative garbage to have ever thread a movie projector.Seriously,this film is like Plan 9 From Outer Space with a dorsal fin.Steven Spielberg couldn't have topped this if Richard Dreyfuss looked directly at the camera fifty more times than he already did in the original screen adaption of Peter Benchley's(remember that name)novel.Though no region one dvd exists at this point,get your hands on a PAL format release,or a bootleg immediately.You won't believe your eyes.
"He's down therrrre...waiting to attack.That's been his patterrrn...right before he makes an attack." says sometimes Irish shark fisherman,Ron Hamer(Vic Morrow).
When one of Jenny Benton's(acting-wise think Keanu Reeves with breasts)cool windsurfing buddies disappears one morning,she enlists her father,writer Peter Benton(not Peter Benchley)to track down the wayward watersporter.Benton(James Franciscus)calls in grizzled sea captain Ron Hamer(Vic Morrow),who's stumbled across a chunk of the boy's surfboard while floating around off the coast of Port Harbor(and floating in and out of a bad Irish accent),to help in the investigation.After Hamer deducts that only a great white shark is large enough to do the kind of damage seen in the piece of surf equipment,both men deliver the bad news to Mayor Wells(Joshus Sinclair),who slags them off,as he busily prepares for a re-election campaign AND an annual regatta/windsurfing competition that will boost the sleepy town's tourism immeasurably.After discovering a local fisherman's swamped boat,his severed arm floating below,the mayor agrees to put up safeguards against this rogue menace,in the form of a metal underwater gate,which the shark abruptly busts through anyway.During the windsurfing competition,the beast surfaces and sends the townspeople and surfers into a frenzied panic,before hitting a rowboat with the mayor's assistant on it,sending him twenty feet straight up into the air(!)and back down into the water,where the shark eats him in front of tv cameras(!!).
Shark attack or dummy on a rowboat hitting a depth charge?You decide.
When the local media pressures the mayor to act,his son and friends take his father's boat out to hunt for the killer,which promptly bites off Benton's daughter's leg.Wells then takes a chopper out over the sea,hanging a rack of ribs on a towline over the water(the mere scent is all it takes,apparently),and when the shark pulls the winch directly off the helicopter,the politician falls into the surf,eventually getting both of his legs bitten off(!!!)trying to climb back into the chopper.The shark then sinks the chopper,as well.Later,Benton and Hamer,equipped with a singular dynamite belt(nothing like being prepared),take the sea captain's boat out to hunt the shark,but in the underwater melee,Hamer drowns.When the local newscrew ties off a chunk of meat to the pier as bait,the shark tears the entire dock loose,trapping a dozen or so people on it.As Benton drives Hamer's boat back into shore,he comes across what's left of the trapped citizens,and as he helps them onto the boat,he becomes trapped himself on the floating dock.As he fends off the shark's attacks with a plank of wood,Hamer's dead body comes to the surface(from miles away,mind you)and bumps into the edge of the dock.The writer pulls his lifeless buddy onto the floating deathtrap and takes the detonator from the deceased fisherman's still-intact dynamite belt,as the shark surfaces again,and promptly eats Hamer's corpse.At this point,Benton slo-mo jumps off the flotilla (for no apparent reason)and pushes the detonator,effectively blowing the 30-plus foot predator to smithereens.Back on dry land,the writer punches out a nosy television reporter and walks off with his wife,to try and pick up the pieces of his life.
Peter Benton(James Franciscus),a writer in a wetsuit,clutching a lifeless chunk of prosciutto(Vic Morrow)to use as bait.
The late Morrow,a poor man's Quint, regularly flubs his lines,talking in nonsensical circles in spots(his slideshow speech and on-boat pep talk to Franciscus are particularly heinous/hilarious),while Franciscus,a poor man's Chief Brody,is left to improv through it as the camera rolls.The impossibly fat and conical mechanical shark(constructed by Giorgio Ferrari,but too clunky and awkward to draw comparison to the automobile of the same name!),which does an awful lot of bobbing in and out of the water,is about as menacing as swimming pool cramps.Castellari,who directed everything from westerns to post-apocalyptic set pieces,generously fills in here with ample stock footage of great whites of varying sizes,tiger sharks,nurse sharks,and bull sharks.What's-ah the difference,eh?!!The gore is plentiful and passable,albeit mostly amputated legs and poor bastards bitten in half at the waist,with a severed arm or two thrown in for good measure.It's been lumped in among the worst movies ever made in some circles,and though I really couldn't argue against that distinction here,it IS highly entertaining,and uproariously funny in the most unintentional of ways.Hunt yourself down a copy,even though on the scale it bobs to the surface flaccidly with a meager score of:
Eh,squalo!Mangiate ed ingrassate!


Nigel M said...

Love this film. You are right about the entertainment value- that is a funny shark. I think it pops up again in Jaws 5 (now there is a great double bill for you cruel jaws and last shark for a double helping of the same fish).

beedubelhue said...

Oh yeah,I'll have to try and play Cruel Jaws this week now.Wouldn't play on my dvd drive the last time I tried it,but I've been on mission to overhaul the whole hard drive and rescue it from an untimely death.My roommate rewound about eight different scenes here multiple times,with tears of laughter in his eyes.I warned him!

Balberith said...

I absolutely have to see this, especially after discussing it a bit more with you.

We need to work out something to save me time, B.W... Like maybe have some lame little fan club where members get a cheap copy of films that you review... Wow, even include an autographed 8x10. Now that would be spiffy haha

beedubelhue said...

An autographed 8" x 10" of who?Franciscus and Morrow are both dead.Unless you've got a nifty Ouija board we can use to contact them...but you never can trust those damned things.

Balberith said...

Haha, no from you

beedubelhue said...

Me??!!??Don't you know my southpaw backhanded chicken scratch would just detract from the value of any 8" x 10" I managed to scrawl upon?

Bunche said...

This movie has the "best" shark ever and every time I see it all I can think of is what a crappy "Jaws"-related float would have looked like in a cheesy local parade circa 1975. And it even growls! Best bit: the guy hanging from the helicopter.

And if you somehow missed it, you cannot go to your gave without seeing "Shark Attack 3: Megalodon." It's just as stupid as this one (minus the name actors) and features a fantastically idiotic moment when the Godzilla-size shark assaults a party yacht, Go to You Tube and check it out.

beedubelhue said...

I've been unfortunate enough to see Shark Attack 3:Megalodon in the past,and it's everything you say it is,my friend!And less!

viagra online said...

How come people really intended to make such films, they are bad form the title.

cialis online said...

I don't like this kind of movies because I think they're really bad, specially because look at that shark it's completely a fake shark.

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