"Sangue negli abisi" (1990) d/ Raf Donato, Joe D'Amato
When you're dealing with Italian Jaws rip offs, things usually go one of two ways: a) The movie is laughably terrible and thus, a fucking blast to behold. b) The movie is Sangue negli abisi, or Deep Blood, an awful, sloppy, boring mess fumbled through for the most part, by Raf Donato, and completed by Roman porn king Joe D'Amato, our focus tonight as we kick off a month long selection of genre movies from Italy here at the Wop. As rotten as this thing is, and trust me, it's as rotten as the meat dumpster behind the slaughterhouse during a Texas heatwave, Italian trashmaster Bruno Mattei still somehow borrowed footage from it for his own pathetic Jaws rip-off, Fauci Crudelli/Cruel Jaws (1995).
"What's the big idea...dumping your Strawberry Quik in here!"
So, we've got these four young boys roasting weenies over a fire on the beach in broad daylight, when they're suddenly interrupted by what looks to be the town drunk vaguely garbed to resemble some sort of Indian. He lays a tribal legend about a monster from the sea on them, and gives them some ornate piece of wood to bury in the loose sand, but only after they've taken a blood oath to be there for each other, you know, for always. Fast forward several years, and our boyhood chums have now matured into young preppie non-actors, each with their own clunky exposition and flair for flubbing dialog. One's the son of a mayor, who shouts his lines and wears his slacks just south of his nipples, the other's the son of a fisherman who no longer fishes, content to bang a hammer against a wooden coop in the garage rather than fish. He doesn't even clearly explain why he doesn't fish anymore, he just doesn't. The third gets eaten while researching spearfishing locales (I think he does, anyway, if splashing around in strawberry-colored water before disappearing with the edit constitutes a shark attack here) with the fourth, a pouty kid with an annoying accent who's always telling the sweaty sheriff, who later exclaims, "How many sharks could there be out there!", how to do his job.
"Of course I'm a shark expert. Can't you see me running water over these shark jaws in the sink?", queries Rob Reiner.
Loads of inappropriate synth instrumental, action dialog from a stationary helicopter, footage of a dead shark being chain-dragged onto a pier by the mouth, a digested waitress, and one consumed mom on a pool float later (her mulleted little boy takes her passing like a champ, btw), the boys convince the fisherman to take them out to hunt the stock footage beast responsible for the deaths. The shark snaps the bait line and scares him into returning to land. Not much of an angler, this guy. Anyway, there's a rotten dramatic exchange between Pouty and his dad, and before you know it, the boys are joined by an eighties-tastic douchebag smartass who has a last second change of heart, they dig up the wooden artifact (and pocket knives, can't forget those), and set out to blow up the shark with crate upon crate of wooden planks painted to look like dynamite. Hell, they even recruit one of their mallrat pals to whip up an electronic shark attractor just for the occasion. Because sharks find yellow metal boxes with flashing lights on top irresistible, apparently. More synth, more stock footage, endless shots of nautical preppies wrapping wood together with electrical tape, and then there's the dollar store underwater explosion we've all been waiting for. Finally over.
"This doesn't look like enough dynamite. I know where we can score a tactical nuke."
I'm not one hundred percent sure about the Florida locals claiming to be actors here, but if I was to make an educated guess, I'd say none of them ever made that same mistake again, save for credit as an extra in a crowd scene, maybe. For some of these mooks, even that'd be a fucking stretch. If any of the shark footage looks familiar to you, it's probably because it was purchased by D'Amato from National Geographic, and packs nearly as much tense thrills and excitement as one of their television specials. There's no nudity, there's no gore, no suspense, hell, there's barely even a shark to speak of, beyond an artificial dorsal fin that wobbles repeatedly as it cuts awkwardly through the surf. One wop is probably me at my most generous here, as there's hardly anything that would merit such a rating in this thing. If you haven't seen this one, you really aren't missing much.
"Yaaaaaahhh! It's a Great White Stock (footage)!!!"