Friday, October 2, 2009
Island of the Fishmen (1979, Sergio Martino)
Island of the Fishmen. How could this movie be good? Then again, how could it not be totally fun and watchable? Anybody expecting a well though out, big budget thriller was obviously lobotomized or snacking on lead paint as a child. I first heard about this film when I was checking out some other Sergio Martino films. Martino, like many Italian directors of the 60's and 70's, has dabbled in many different genres: Spaghetti Westerns (Mannaja), Futuristic Sci Fi (2019: After the Fall of New York), Cannibal (Mountain of the Cannibal God). But he is definitely most renowned for his work in the Giallo genre (Case of the Scorpion's Tail, Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key and a few more). It was really after watching his enjoyable Giallo slasher Torso, I knew I had to see more. I figured it would be interesting to see what he could do in the creature horror genre.
Island of the Fishmen takes place at the end of the 19th century. Claude, an army doctor (Claudio Cassinelli) is lost at sea with a bunch of prisoners. Some mysterious creatures in the sea capsize their boat, killing some of the prisoners. The doctor and the remaining prisoners are left stranded on a mysterious island. They split up and soon Claude comes across the self appointed ruler of the island, Edmund Rackham (Richard Johnson) and his wife Amanda (Barbara Bach). Claude soon finds out the secret behind the creatures who killed the prisoners in the sea and Rackham's evil plan with them.
Island of the Fishmen was pretty much what I expected. Cheesy, fun and bad. This film was more of an action adventure monster movie than the horror film I assumed it was. Apparently, this film was re-cut with new gory scenes added in after it's original release under the titles Screamers and Something Waits in the Dark, which I would actually like to see. The thing that made this film watchable is the cast. I was familiar with Cassinelli from Mountain of the Cannibal God (he was actually in several Sergio Martino films before his tragic death while filming Martino's Fists of Steel), Richard Johnson from Beyond the Door and Fulci's Zombie and Barbara Bach from the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (and for being Ringo Starr's wife). They were all fun to watch here, as were the fishmen themselves. They were sort of like hairy versions of the Creature from the Black Lagoon. This movie was about 15 minutes too long and deserves a 2/5 but I'll give it a 3/5 just for the sheer ridiculousness of it.