Up from the Depths (1979)

Up from the Depths (1979)

Your vacation is about to end!!!

Unusual warm water currents carry a rare killer fish to the shores of a Hawaiian beach resort where it begins to kill swimmers and divers. The local hotel owner tries to cover up the presence of the fish, fearing that it will scare all of his guests away but eventually relents and sponsors a hunt for it.

 

One of the single worst Jaws rip-offs to emerge out of the video vaults in the wake of killer-monster-in-the-water films released soon after Spielberg’s masterpiece, Up from the Depths is just awful. I mean all of these films are basically the same thing so it’s simply the different creature that people are curious in viewing. I honestly believe that there is a market for these films given how many of them have been released over the years. Jaws is a classic film that keeps on rewarding its audience every time you watch it. There’s an audience out there that wants to see something similar so why has it been so hard to recreate the same sort of feel as Spielberg’s masterpiece? Arguably the best killer-monster-in-the-water flick released since 1975 has been Jaws 2 and it’s not very often that a sequel can hold the tag of being the second best film in its sub-genre.

Rather than an attempting to make a serious, scary horror-thriller, Up from the Depths has a horrendous comic tone which doesn’t mix well. But before I talk about the film itself, let’s look at the fish. We want to see what sort of menace under the water can drag us to our deaths and the front cover certainly looks promising. Films can find it hard to get distributed – it’s a problem as big now as it was back in the 70s and 80s and usually the only way lower budget films were ever able to get any sort of hype or create a buzz was to create a front cover for the VHS or DVD which would attract people to it. You can trawl through any horror sub-genre from during the 80s video boom to find all manner of weird and wonderful covers which promise a whole lot more than they actually deliver.

Up From the Depths may possibly be the biggest culprit yet! It looks nothing like the terrifying, toothy beast that’s about to snack on a female swimmer on the cover. Instead it looks like a huge plastic pool toy and swims in a completely straight line all of the time, no doubt due to the limitations of the crappy model. We are given a couple of fleeting glimpses of it during the attack scenes but these just consist of the same shot of the fish used time and time again followed up by a shot of some red, bubbly water to indicate that it’s succeeded in feeding. That’s it. You don’t see much at all. The scenes are edited so quickly with split-second glimpses of this and that. I’m sure they re-use the same shots too. The fish is also pretty impervious to any attempts to kill it including having the most bullet proof skin ever. It is well fed although its menu consists solely of people introduced and killed off within the same scene.

With such little fish action, a lot of screen time is left to fill and that is taken up by the human sub-plots and lots of comedy. We are bombarded with drunks – drunken boat captains, drunken businessmen and drunken tourists. And best (or worst) of all is the comic relief given by the resort manager and his brightly coloured suits. But this is not a spoof flick, right? So why all of the comedy characters? There are also some unnecessary subplots about a tourist and his wife wanting to find some buried treasure and another one about a Playmate visiting the resort for a photo shoot. Whilst this does give us our required breast shots, it’s unnecessary – even the fish looks embarrassed having to eat these people. However there is one hilarious moment, whether it’s intentional or not, as the group who try and hunt the fish at the end decide to lure it by dragging a recently-deceased guy laced with explosives behind the boat as if he were some sort of fishing lure.

The constant goofing around by the human cast does hurt the film’s tone so that the fish comes off more as a silly sideshow instead of being the main serious threat it should be. The attacks are shot in a grim and sober fashion yet as soon as the film shifts back to land, that tone is forgotten about for some shenanigans with the cast. In fact they forget about the fish for most of the time, only remembering that there is a problem when another extra gets eaten.

 

It came ‘up from the depths’ and within ten minutes of this crap you would wish it would go back down too. Up from the Depths would be one of the worst films ever made had it not been for the moments of inspirational insanity.

 

 ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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