Saturday, October 8, 2011

"Shark:Rosso nell'oceano"(1984)d/Lamberto Bava

There's really no mistaking the difference between a film by maestro Mario Bava and one directed by his son, Lamberto.I think you know where I'm going here.Tonight we'll be looking at one of the latter(we'll never run out of movies to review here at the Wop, never, you hear me?!!), and not one of Lamberto's crowning cinematic achievements, either.Known alternately as "Monster Shark" and "Devil Fish", tonight's muddled-but-ambitious aqua-giallo, partially penned by Luigi Cozzi(and Dardano Sacchetti and Sergio Martino and Lamberto Bava and...), as evidenced by the inclusion of his obligatory 'Stella' character, predates the SyFy 'original', "Sharktopus", by twenty-six years, for those of you out there that happen to be keeping score on this sort of thing.In the end, though, it's just another Italian Jaws rip-off afterall, made more laughably rotten by a Velveeta-laden soundtrack as realized by Guido and Maurizio DeAngelis, a corrugated cardboard cutout creature created by Ovidio Taito, and a second unit director named Mattei(yeah, him).Still, you might be able to make it all the way through this one if, like me, boobs, blood, bad acting, and an extra hokey ratiocination are what you oftimes groove upon, as there are plenty of all of those to keep it entertaining throughout.
"Arggggh! That thing is making off with my new Bruno Magli's!!!"
A couple enjoying a leisurely cruise(in a toy boat launched in an aquarium in certain establishing shots, mind you) at sunset is interrupted by the rubbery suction cups of a tentacle arm that vigorously smashes their boat and kills them off-camera.Dr. Stella Dickens(Valentine Monnier) feeds dolphins and researches them scientifically, as evidenced by her clipboard and pencil she's carrying around.Uhhh, "do tricks for fish", check.At the same time, the Coast Guard helicopter has spotted the pre-credit boat wreck, sending screeching rescue divers to rummage for survivors.Meanwhile, Dr. Hogan(Lawrence Morgant), a marine biologist who never met a pop top can of beer he didn't like, is picking up strange sounds from a sonar buoy he's towing behind the "Seaquarium", his not-so-cleverly-named research ship.The divers pull a legless corpse from the murky water via rescue harness, as Hogan's boat is suddenly attacked, with Dickens' dolphins schitzing out at the exact same moment.The autopsy of ol' legless proves inconclusive, as the sheriff(Gianni Garko) tells his 'roid-ripped deputy to photograph the body.Hogan later tells Dickens that the sound he captured on his equipment during the boat attack resembled a voice, and then, a "terrifying sound filled with hate"(he must've recorded the sound of my first stretch of the morning).Enter Peter(Michael Sopkiw), the resident electrician who's about to vacation in New York with "three beautiful women"(Electricians get all the pussy) when Stella pulls up on her motorcycle and flirtingly begs him to build a Santa's Naughty or Nice-sized list of electronic equipment instead, to the chagrin of his sensual mulatto/terrone-esque assistant/lover, Sandra, who's watching in the wings.Wow, a lot of shit's going down in this one, too bad, none of it is any good...
Washed up on the beach...sorta like Pamela Anderson these days.
Let the makin' out commence(cue:Mad Magazine flexi-disc, you know you've still got yours...).At West Ocean International, named after Professor West(William Berger), of course, Dr. Davis indiscreetly makes out with West's wife Sonja while elsewhere, Peter goes the tonguey route with Sandra, only to get roughed up by some henchmen who smash the hi-tech equipment he'd been burning the midnight oils to finish for Stella."They smashed the converter...You work all night and they smash it to bits!", he says.Meanwhile, a scuba diver who's just been harrassed by stock footage of various different shark species gets chewed up but good in the prehistoric yap of our titular monster shark, while a W.O.I. lab assistant has also mysteriously turned her toes up.The sheriff decides that its a murder alright, investigation notwithstanding.Another body is discovered on the pier, and some highly detailed plaster casts are made from the bite wounds that reveal one mutha of a toofus.Peter, Stella, Bob, his beer cans, and Sandra set off on a sonar-heavy boat to search for the monster, and after Bob chucks his empty into the ocean(kind of odd behaviour for a marine biologist, eh?)and the creature plays chicken with the bottom of the ship, appearing as a glorious eight-bit graphic on Peter's scope, Bob throws more cans into the water, and the crew celebrates capturing the monster's noises on their equipment.The lone survivor to this point flatlines at the hospital, causing the doctor to defibrillate him eleven times in rapid succession before stating that "fear" killed him(yeah, that or the 165 thousand volts you just sent through him...).Cutting through a bible's worth of banal dialogue and sub-plots that go nowhere fast, the creature is, to quote Dr. Davis, "A marine monster, almost indestructible*. And whose genetic characteristics are as fearsome as the white shark's. A gigantic octopus with the intelligence of a dolphin, and as monstrous as a prehistoric creature." *(unless there's an electrician with flame throwers around)
"Now that you're all gathered around, and I've delivered my last words, I can die dramatically."
Bava, who's credited as "John Old, Jr." here, followed this uncomprehensible garbage up with the ever-popular cult classic Demoni(1985), then Midnight Killer, and Demoni 2 the following year.Sopkiw was a mid-eighties staple in Italian genre films, appearing in Sergio Martino's 2019 - Dopo la caduta di New York(1983), Bava's Blastfighter(1984), Nudo e selvaggio(Massacre in Dinosaur Valley)(1985), and of course, this mutt.Berger, who worked with Bava's father on 5 bambole per la luna d'agosto(1970), enjoyed a long career in genre films, appearing in everything from Sabata(1969) and Keoma(1976) to Franco's Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun(1977) and Porco Mondo(1978), before passing away in 1993.I shouldn't have to say too much more about this one, you know what you're in for, and whether or not you're going to enjoy it at all.Technically speaking, on the scale, it's a One Wopper, all the way.
Let's hear you say "mutated proto-dunkleosteus tentacles" five times fast.


Kev D. said...

Bravo for getting through it. That's an achievement.

I got through Hell of the Living Dead last week, but after reading your post, I feel like its only a mild accomplishment...

beedubelhue said...

Don't sell yourself short, Kev, making it all the way through Hell is no small accomplishment.I'm a shadow of my former self after five or six viewings.


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