Barracuda (1978)

Barracuda (1978)

You Can Almost Hear The Screams! as the water below becomes a CHURNING DEATHBED of FLASHING TEARING TEETH!

In a top secret government experiment, the drinking water of a whole city is mixed with a chemical which makes people aggressive by depriving them of blood sugar. But the dodgy chemical plant doesn’t think straight and pumps the waste out to sea. Naturally there are still chemicals in the water and a school of barracudas are turned into man-eating killers.

 

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was just another of those mainly crappy Jaws rip-offs released in that classic film’s wake, right? Wrong! Barracuda could win the award for ‘film that goes off on a tangent the most’ as its plot strafes from the creature feature cheapie to some sort of The X-Files conspiracy flick. Its Jaws meets The Crazies in a bizarre mixture of genres which may have worked had they not completely forgotten about the fish when the cover-ups begin.

This one starts off like Jaws as the barracuda swiftly take apart a few random divers and swimmers without any real purpose and significance. The barracuda themselves look very cheap and rubbery and the attacks aren’t done very well. We only get to see some bloody water instead of the barracudas actually chomping their way through their victims although there is a severed head shown in one scene. They attack in packs like the piranha from Piranha and although I’m not familiar with barracudas in real life, I’m sure they’re not anything like this. Coupled with the traditional underwater monster point-of-view shots that Jaws utilised so well, the barracuda might as well be any other fish with teeth because they’re not really the focus of the film. In fact the characters spend more time away from the water than they do near it. It’s the most obvious thing in the world to do – if there’s something killing people in the water, then don’t go near the water. But this is a film, not real life, so I expected to see more dumb people going for swims or fishing.

At about the halfway point, the film switches to it’s The X-Files mode as it turns into a government conspiracy and cover-up mystery film. Once this is given priority, the barracuda are hardly mentioned for the remainder of the film and there’s no resolution to their plot. They’re not killed off or dealt with in any way. I guess they’re still swimming around there, with their low blood sugar levels. It looks like they were just a cheap plot to attract ‘monster on the loose’ fans such as myself. You can actually see by the other title it went by, The Lucifer Project, that this has obviously been renamed to cash in on Spielberg’s masterpiece. I actually wanted there to be some form of ‘local festival taking place in which the local mayor wanted to keep the beaches open despite danger’ plot like there is in all of these Jaws rip-offs. But that was just a cheap ploy and the barracuda are only secondary to the real plot. It’s blatantly cheap, false advertising.

The conspiracy plot is a complete waste of time and you just know which townspeople are in on the cover-up from the way their characters have been portrayed throughout the rest of the film. The film also ends with a real twist which came as a bit of a shock to me but looking back I should have seen it coming. If Barracuda had focused on the title fish a lot more much like Piranha did and then had the cover-up plot as the secondary theme then its overall quality would have been greatly enhanced.

 

It’s funny that in Jaws, the mayor tells Chief Brody that “You yell barracuda, everybody says ‘huh, what?” Barracuda is a cheap cash-in which has little to do with killer fish and more to do with shady federal agents. Barracuda – “huh, what” indeed.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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