When boats are torn apart and chewed bodies are found off the South Florida coast, scientists are unable to match the bite marks with any known creature and they conclude that they have come across a entirely new species of predator. They come to discover that the creature is a prehistoric shark with tentacles but what they don’t know is that it hasn’t just reappeared after millions of years, it’s actually a genetically cloned bio-weapon.
Can you go wrong with an 80s horror flick about a shark/octopus hybrid loose in the Caribbean? Let’s look at the case: Jaws rip-off? Check. Usual Italian horror movie deficiencies? Check. Talent-less nobodies in lead roles? Check. Monster that looks appalling? Check. I could be naming any one of about five really bad cash-ins on Spielberg’s masterpiece but in this case, I’m referring to the horror that is Monster Shark. I should have had instant doubts with the cheesy 80s synth-based score, sounding more like a porno than anything, blasting out from the screen during the title credits but the cover box lured me in a little too close for my liking.
Monster Shark is just such a dire film right from the get-go and is so eye-shutting slow, that the film reel almost stops at certain points. This is really, really dull. Maybe they could market Monster Shark as a cure for insomnia? If you’ve seen Jaws (I shouldn’t even need to say if), then you’ll know how this is going to pan out. The Italians were masters at ‘paying homage’ to more successful American films (see their countless Alien and Dawn of the Dead knock-offs too) and this one is no exception, throwing in plenty of the same plot elements as Spielberg’s classic. At least Jaws had amazing pay-off to the first half – Monster Shark just keeps going at the same pace throughout the film without cranking it up a few notches for the finale.
Added to the main story about the shark killing people, there’s also a ‘cover-up’ plot where some sleazy hit-man goes around killing people trying to interfere with the genetics project. He has seemingly been added to the film for the sole purpose of stripping one of his victims naked to give us the required T&A for the film. The two plots run awkwardly side-by-side with each other as if two unfinished films were hastily edited together in the cutting room. They never work well together and harm the film in the long run. This is not just a bad film because of its content but it’s a badly made film because of the sloppy writing and editing.
At least some of the other Italian knock-offs like The Great White had some reasonably cheesy and entertaining scenes in them. This has nothing at all. I mean it opens promisingly with the shot of the mutilated corpse being winched up by the chopper but then nothing else interesting happens. Even the few attack scenes are badly handled – you don’t get to see much at all in them and the editing is shocking. When the monster does eventually appear, you’re not given a long look at it but that’s probably for the best as it looks silly and very rubbery to say the least. Watching actors writhe around with plastic tentacles is one thing I can cope with but when the monster takes a bite out of someone, it looks like it’s just stroking them with its blunt teeth. One guy even gets his head lopped off by the creature.
Unfortunately these scenes are not very gory and thus we’re robbed of one of the usually-reliable trademarks of Italian horror. I wonder whether Roger Corman got the idea for Sharktopus from here since there’s not too many films which feature half-shark, half-octopus monsters! It’s fed enough throughout the film but you’ll wish it was fed a little more as the characters are dire. The acting is non-existent as usual in such Italian hack efforts and the cast here are arguably one of the ugliest I’ve ever seen! To say the females are there to provide ‘eye candy’ would be correct if candy meant rotten apples. It’s amazing to think that Lamberto Bava would follow Monster Shark up with one of Italian horror’s cheesiest and most loved horrors – Demons. And it’s also amazing to see just how many people it took to write this mess.
Monster Shark is terrible. It’s hard to say which is the worst Jaws rip-off ever because 90% of them suck so badly that it’s uncanny. But this has got to rank there with the bottom three. I don’t even know why I gave it marks – perhaps for the artwork on the poster.