Devil Fish (1984)

Devil Fish

Directed by Lamberto Bava

Story by Luigi Cozzi (Screenplay: Gianfranco Clerici)

Tagline: "Sink your teeth into pure terror."

Run Time: 90 min

Other Titles: "Devouring Waves", "Monster Shark", "Red Shark In the Ocean"

“At first sight I say it was a shark. And a big one at that. But not necessarily.”
– Dr. Davis


A terrible Italian monster movie about a killer fish-octopus-fossil. (The filmmakers couldn’t make up their mind on what the thing was supposed to be.) The goofy dialog and silly looking monster could have made this movie a lot of fun, but the useless subplots (that never seemed to get resolved) muddy the waters and turn this potentially fun ‘time-waster’ into a grueling ordeal.

The Cast:.

Stella Dr. Stella Dickens (Valentine Monnier)

Dolphin trainer and marine biologist. She runs around in slinky bathing suits and generally does what all women do in these types of movies: just listen to what the male characters tell them to do.

Hogan Dr. Bob Hogan (Lawrence Morgant)

Beer guzzling marine biologist who tosses his empty beer cans into the sea. Eventually gobbled up by the Devil Fish. (Karma?)

Sheriff Sheriff Gordon (Gianni Garko)

Metro Sheriff Gordon does his best to solve the mystery of the Devil Fish. He gets some of the goofiest dialog I’ve heard in a long time.

Helper Sandra Hayes (Iris Peynado)

Peter’s assistant and occasional lover. She betrays Peter to some Bad Guys so they can destroy something or other. Are you a little lost? Welcome to Devil Fish.

Peter Peter (Michael Sopkiw)

Our hero. Peter the electrician and TV repair man falls in love with Stella and helps discover the way to kill the Devil Fish using, what else, flame throwers.

Our picture begins with a sunset shot looking over a calm sea. A boat is moored a little ways off the coast, while classical violin music plays in the background. What a placid scene. Nothing terrible could happen here, could it?

A married couple on the boat sits down for dinner. (At least I assume they’re married: The woman is yapping her head off about nothing while the man ignores her. Yup. They’re married.) Whoa. Replay the scene showing the boat on the water but this time loop in an obnoxious ‘scary music’ track to indicate that something ‘bad’ is about to happen. A shot from under the boat (a patently toy boat floating in an aquarium…I guess they couldn’t find any stock footage for this shot, so they had to actually, you know, create a ‘special’ effect.)

Devil FishOK, a montage of quick-cuts here. The couple talking, something dark moving through the water. (I did catch a glimpse of an octopus arm, so I can only assume the shot was filmed in an aquarium or something.) Somehow the doofus of a husband manages to cut his finger while spreading butter and his wife rushes off to get some iodine because the cut "might get infected." This says a lot about her cooking.

Another intercut shot of an octopus eye, I think. Who knows. But the ‘scary music’ is playing in the background so I assume this is the Devil Fish.

Cut to the same shot of the toy boat floating in the water, followed quickly by the same shot of the boat floating on the sea.

You know what? I’m getting a really bad feeling about this move.

OK, back under the boat. Something dark in the water. Yes, ok. The Devil Fish rams the boat from below and sends the couple tumbling to the floor. Off screen stage hands cast magazines and empty cardboard boxes on the wife as she tries to get back on her feet. Meanwhile, we hear the husband screaming for help from above. The woman scrambles to help and sees a gigantic octopus tentacle smash the dinner table. Recoiling in fear, she runs back below deck where the monster smashes a couple windows and eventually kills her. (We don’t see it actually grab her or anything. That would have required spending money on special effects.) We now get to see the title credits as the huge octopus arm smashes up the boat. How charming.

Devil FishWe now cut to see Stella working at an aquarium with a pod of dolphins. A clipboard and pencil quickly establish her as a ‘scientist’, since all scientists run around with clipboards and pencils. We see a shot of a big research ship called the "Seaquarium" (Get it? "Sea" + "Aquarium" = "Seaquarium". Cool!) chugging out to sea to, well, do research I guess.

Cut to the Seaquarium where Dr. Bob Hogan is busy tossing a baby shark into a holding tank.

Sorry, back again to the aquarium where Stella is feeding the dolphins and smiling serenely, content with the day’s research. Inside one of the aquarium buildings, a tour is in progress. Finished looking at whatever ever they were looking at in a big tank of water (we don’t get to see it, of course), the tour guide herds the tourists outside.

Cut to title credits. Wait a minute. Didn’t we just see the title credits when the boat was being smashed up? What the hell is going on here?

Devil Fish Devil Fish

How many credits does a film need?

OK, fine. We are reminded that this film is in fact called "Devil Fish", in case we had forgotten. You know, I’ve seen a lot of different methods directors have used to pad run time, but using 2 title sequences?! (There’s even a credit for a "General Organizer"…for a film so unorganized, I sure hope that dude got canned.)

The second set of credits completed, we see a rescue helicopter circling around the wreckage of the boat that was attacked in the beginning of the film. No wait. Cut back to Bob drinking a beer on his research boat. No wait. Cut back to Stella training dolphins at the aquarium.

You know, there is a technique for putting movies together called…oh what’s that word again…oh yeah: EDITING!!! I sure wish they would have tried some editing techniques in this movie!

Back at the helicopter, rescue divers hop out of the circling craft and into the water. (The divers give a big "Eeeeeaaahhhhhhhhhhh!" yell when they jump into the water. Is that part of Coast Guard training?) They pull a floating body from the water, ok, I see it’s the guy that was eating dinner when the boat was attacked. The pilot lowers a rescue harness and…

Cut back to Bob on his boat. He opens his beer, leans back in his chair and takes a drink. With a smile he…

OK, the rescue harness is lowered. And the man is put into position. Once the body is safely secured, the harness is raised and…

Stella tosses a fish to one of her dolphins. The dolphin jumps up into her arms while the tourists applaud and then…

We see the man is missing both his legs. He is pulled into the helicopter as we cut to see an octopus swimming in murky water.

We then cut to see Bob drinking his beer. One of the sonar buoys he’s dragging in the water is sending back some sort of result. These ‘results’ cause a red light to blink on some sort of instrument on the control panel. (Am I being vague enough for you? Confused? Irritated? Good. Then you know how I feel.) Using his scientific instincts, Bob wisely tape records the odd noise that is being sent up from the sonar buoy.

Suddenly the boat is attacked and Bob is knocked to the floor. His beer is spilled (yes, a special shot was taken showing the beer tipping over), and there is general mayhem while the Devil Fish head butts the boat.

Back at the aquarium, the dolphins are going nuts and swimming around like maniacs. You see, they can hear the sound via the water, but Stella can’t since she’s not in the water. Something like that. Anyway, being the highly trained scientist that she is, Stella loses her balance and falls into the dolphin tank. We immediately see shots of the Devil Fish approach her as she struggles to reach the surface of the water. (I find this very odd since A) the monster was just attacking Bob out at sea, and B) the dolphins are in an enclosed environment at an aquarium, so how could it attack her there?)

Devil FishOK. She wasn’t being attacked. The film makers just editing in a shot of the monster in order to make the scene more exciting, even though it had no relevance in the scene. It’s like if you’re watching a movie where a guy is walking in the woods and trips over a tree root, then you cut to see a pride of lions on the African Serangetti stalking something in the bush. Just randomly edited scenes that have no relevance.

Whatever. The sounds desist and Bob switches off the recorder, but not before he opens another beer.

At the hospital, Doctor Nameless has just finished examining the legless body and is giving his opinion to Sheriff Gordon. (Say, wasn’t there another shark movie where a somebody examines a shark bite victim and reports to the sheriff…hmmm…I’ll remember the name soon…) To muddle the waters, the Doctor says, "At first sight I say it was a shark. And a big one at that. But not necessarily." Mmmmkay. And your point is….? After some more mumbo-jumbo the Sheriff suggests photographing the body (Gee..you think?), and orders deputy Cortez to handle it. (By the way, Cortez is an enormous body-builder dude. It looks like he could have just as easily ripped the guy’s legs off himself…)

Later that day, I think, Bob and Stella are discussing the strange sounds he tape recorded. Bob plays the tape for Stella but the odd noises failed to record. Bob tries to describe it noting that "It was like a voice." Changing his mind, he instead says it "Was like a terrifying sound. Filled with hate." OK. So which is it? A voice or a terrifying sound filled with hate? I’m really on pins and needles here, so please let me know. Stella notes that the dolphins went berserk at the same time that Bob heard the noises. Wow! A connection! Bob is still puzzled as to why the sound wasn’t recorded, so Stella suggests that maybe the frequency was "too high or too low." (He accepts the explanation, which seems rather dubious since he was able to hear the sound with his naked ear, but anyway…) Well, unable to figure out what to do next, they call their friend, and electrical wizard, Peter.

Cut to Peter’s workshop. A plethora of wires, tools and sundry do-dads are hanging on the wall, indicating that Peter is either an electronics genius or a total slob. Peter’s assistant, a young hot-chick named Sandra is busy playing a computer game instead of working. Ha ha. As luck would have it, Peter’s about to go to New York for vacation where "three beautiful women are waiting…". Yeah, sure.

Just as Peter is about to leave for the airport, up drives Stella on her motorcycle. Stella asks him to help her obtain a huge list of equipment to be used in the search for the mystery "fish". Peter poo-poos the list noting that he’s about to leave for vacation and everything on the list has to be "built to spec!" (Oh no! Not to spec!) Stella bats her eyelids and says "Pleeeaaassee" and Peter relents. (Note that Sandra, Peter’s young assistant is watching from the shop with growing jealousy. Subplot #23)

Somewhere else, namely a place called "West Ocean International", or "WOI" as it is cleverly abbreviated on the sign, a middle-aged woman makes her way through the lobby and into an elevator. (Oh yeah, the director of the, *ahem*, WOI is Professor Donald West. Hey! That’s why it’s called "West Ocean International"…Cool!)

Upstairs in a lab, Dr. Davis is busy making ‘bubbly’ noises by sticking some sort of spinning thing into a beaker of water. I wish I could be more specific, but it’s just never really clear what people are doing in this film. As Davis continues making bubbles, his computer suddenly comes to life and the words "I Love You, Davis" are spelled out on the screen (accompanied with a ridiculous synthesized computer ‘voice’ of a little lower quality then the old "Speak and Spell" toys we (older people) had when we were kids.)

Devil FishAs Davis looks around the seemingly empty lab, out pops the woman we previously saw. Davis cautions her to be more careful with such playful messages in case her husband should find out about their affair. (Even though they haven’t mentioned her name yet, I’ll bet you a beer that she’s none other than Prof. West’s wife, Sonja. (FUTURE NOTE: I’m right.)) Wrapped up in his work, Davis mumbles something about the WOI being "involved with genetics, not fish!" then proceeds to kiss Sonja. (This kiss is far from passionate, in fact, their lips don’t really even touch, he’s actually kissing the corner of her mouth. Great directing.) Yes, as this oh-so-passionate kiss continues, they notice a young lab assistant walk by the lab and spot them…A witness! Oh dear, what will they ever do to her?…

Look, I’m doing my best here to describe what’s happening…it’s not always that easy. And I’m certainly not going to rewind the film to see what I missed. I’ve already seen this movie twice and this, the third viewing while writing this review, will definitely be the last.

Peter is now burning the midnight oil in the lab with Sandra. As Peter puts together the equipment on Stella’s list ("To spec!", mind you…), Sandra watches on and yawns. (Much like the viewer.) Then for no particular reason, Sandra starts making out with Peter and we cut scenes to the aquarium.

I hate this movie.

At the aquarium Bob the Beer Lover is looking at the latest batch of shark-bite photos that the sheriff has delivered.

No wait. Cut back to Peter and Sandra. Sandra now has her tongue down Peter’s ear while perfunctory Casio synthesizer pseudo-porn music plays in the background.

Ok, enough of that. Cut to a young attractive woman packing a suitcase. (How many freakin’ characters are there in this movie? How many subplots does it take to make a movie called "Devil Fish" for cripes sake!?) Oh yeah, and by the way, the same ‘porn’ music is playing as the woman packs her suitcase. Classy movie.

Moving right along…the woman’s suitcase-packing activities are interrupted by somebody repeatedly pushing on the doorbell. When she opens the door, in bursts a guy named Miller. Who ‘Miller’ is or what he does is not clear, but he is obviously Somebody Up To No Good. He tries to strong arm the woman (Names? Could somebody please give me a name?) for money, I think (nothing is very clear).

Enough of that thread for now. Back at the electronics workshop, Peter is awoken by the sounds of somebody smashing up his equipment. (OK, there is a monster in this movie, right?) Peter is quickly attacked by a couple of Bad Guys. Despite being what looks like 40 pounds lighter than his two assailants, Peter manages to kick some butt and quickly dispatches them with some well placed punches. Unfortunately, Miller comes up from behind him and knocks him out. (You remember Miller, right? The guy who was ringing the suitcase-packing woman’s doorbell? (In a manner of speaking.))

When the three Bad Guys take their leave, Sandra runs in and tends to the injured Peter. The battered electrician remarks, "They smashed the converter…You work all night and they smash it to bits!" At this point I’m a little cloudy on the following points:

1) What converter?

2) Why do they want to smash it?

3) Why am I watching this movie?

OK, enough of that I guess. Cut to a scuba diver busily, well, scuba diving. The "Happy Music" quickly changes to "Scary Music" just so you know that something "Bad" is about to happen. Sure enough, we see a stock footage shark swimming in shallow water. (Much, much shallower than the water that the scuba diver is swimming in…but who would ever notice that?)

To make things even more exciting, they now film the scuba diver swimming in slow motion. Can you imagine how exciting it is to watch that!? After a few more stock-footage shots of sharks (each one is a different type of shark from shot to shot), the diver drops his spear gun (instead of, say, using his spear gun to shoot the shark) and frantically swims back up to his boat.

For some unexplained reason, we see the diver climb back into his boat in slow motion accompanied by violin music (!!). I really don’t know who edited this movie, but the choices that were made are truly bizarre. I can’t imagine what they were thinking.

Devil FishAmazingly enough, the stock footage shark now turn into an entirely different creature altogether. Different shape, size, and color. I mean, did the film makers think that nobody would notice this? The obviously didn’t care, and who can blame them. Who could possible care about this terrible, terrible film. OK, finally the ‘monster’ chomps down the diver, sort of. We get a POV shot from inside the fish’s mouth and cut back to the WOI building.

It turns out that the young lab worker who spotted Sonja and Dr. Davis kissing in the lab has turned up dead. (Remember all that? Way back in the beginning of the film? I think it’s plot thread #23 if you want to review your notes…) Sheriff Gordon is interviewing the director of WOI himself, Dr. West. A few Classic Lines transpire:

Sheriff: "Do you think it was an accident…or could she have committed suicide?"

Dr. West : "I think that’s up to you to decide."

Sheriff (chuckling): "I think I’ll decide on murder. [!!] "

Well, OK. The Sheriff decides to call it murder. (Actually, does the Sheriff have the power to determine the cause of death? Isn’t that the medical examiner’s job?)

OK, kid running along the beach. Does he find a dead body. I bet he does. Yep. He does. Well, ok, he’s not dead, but it’s the guy who was driving the boat for the scuba diver. An ambulance is summoned and he is taken to the hospital, where he lapses into a coma. The police discover another body up on the pier (??) and make a plaster cast of his bite wounds. (I’m not exactly sure who this second victim is…The scuba diver fell into the monster’s mouth, while the boat driver was rushed off in the ambulance. Oh well…)

Back at the hospital Sheriff Gordon is eager to interview the survivor and try and find out what happened. The victim is not very compliant and instead goes into shock, forcing the doctor to give him a sedative and postpone Sheriff Gordon’s interrogation. (I too could use a sedative after watching this movie for the last 20 minutes…)

Doctor Nameless takes Sheriff Gordon to look at the plaster cast of the bites from the dead body on the pier. The cast that was created is of a gigantic tooth. I’m not sure how they made a cast of a bite mark that big…nor if it’s even possible to make a cast of a bite, but well, they managed to do it somehow.

Just as the Doctor is about to speak, we cut to the Seaquarium. (Nice editing.) Peter is testing his new sonar equipment while Sandra and Stella are loading box after box onto the ship. (Why is Sandra there? She’s an assistant electrician for cripes sake. Is her presence really necessary in order to hunt down a gigantic killer shark?)

Stella walks over and asks Peter if he thinks the new equipment will work. "Do you think it will work?" she cleverly asks. "Are you kidding?!" retorts the Peter confidently. "You have nice eyes!", observes Stella before turning and walking away.

Yep. This is dialog at its best. Yessirree.

Devil FishPeter dons scuba gear and dives into the water to check on some equipment while Stella and Sandra join Bob on the deck. (Yes, Bob is drinking a beer.) When Peter jumps into the water, we cut to a murky shot of something swimming in the water. The shot is so murky you can’t see anything, so I question the utility of that particular shot. Unfortunately for the viewer, they reuse this same shot over and over and over again throughout the film.

Interestingly enough we see another shot of the monster with long tentacles behind it. This is completely different than any of the other monsters I’ve seen so far, so I’m not that even the filmmakers knew what the monster is supposed to be as the made the film so they just inserted everything they had and hoped for the best.

Devil FishOK, back on the bridge of the ship. (Yes, the scenes of Peter diving into the water and the shots of the monster shark/octopus had nothing to do with each other.) Having presumably reached the open sea, Peter turns on the new equipment and puts on a pair of headphones. Bob meanwhile finishes his beer and chucks the can overboard (!). Incredibly enough, the beer can shows up as a little ‘blip’ on Peter’s scope. This is cutting edge stuff!

Suddenly the scope comes to life and shows a large something-or-other swimming towards the ship. (Maybe it’s pissed because Bob, the marine biologist, throws his empty beer cans into the ocean.) Apparently this new sonar device is sensitive enough to pick up a sinking beer can but manages to render the image of the monster into what looks like the ‘bat’ from the Atari 2600 game ‘Adventure’. (My apologies for connecting Atari with this movie in any fashion.)

Unfortunately the monster dives and disappears off the screen. Bob gets more beers.

Back in subplot #34, Miller receives a wad of cash for his role in smashing up "the converter". He’s further more ordered to "keep an eye on him." (who?)

OK. Back on the Seaquarium again. The monster is starting to surface again, but now the new recording device manages to record the monster’s sounds. Nope, Peter takes a look at some dials and explains that "Its frequency is so high that it’s screwed up the recorder!" (Doncha hate when that happens?) The creature approaches to within 20 feet of the boat before turning and diving again. Boy.

This is an exciting movie, eh?

Oh joy. They did manage to capture the monster’s "sounds" on the tape. Yippee. Bob grabs a few more beers to celebrate. (He casually tosses the pull-tabs over the side of the boat and into the sea.) Stella notes that if they had the right equipment they could analyze the tape and determine what it is they’re dealing with. Except for one problem: the only person with that type of equipment "is that pig Dr. West at WOI." (This must be plot thread #18)

At the hospital, Sedated Man is not doing so well. Sheriff Gordon asks if he’s going to make it, to which the Doctor replies "We can only begin to hope." (Well, can you please tell me when I can begin hoping…I don’t want to start hoping too soon.) By the way. This scene was obviously cut from the previous hospital scene when the man was first given the sedative. It’s edited in (and I use the word edited with great reservation) to make it look like this is all happening later in the day. Man, this movie sucks.

Oh dear. Sedated Man groans and flat-lines without warning. Doctor Whats-His-Name grabs a pair of defibrillator paddles and administers shocks 11 times before pronouncing him dead. (Good grief!) Too bad for Sheriff Gordon that he wasn’t able to interview the man. The doctor explains that the man’s heart just gave out. The Sheriff agrees, adding, "It was fear. Fear stopped his heart." Either that or the 11 jolts of 15,000 volts of electricity administered to his body in the space of 10 seconds.

Well, Stella plays the tape at WOI, but is met by a rather unenthusiastic crowd. The tape is left behind for further analysis. (OK, gee whiz…do you think WOI is involved in this mutant creature? Gosh…I just don’t know.)

Just in case you thought that there wasn’t enough characters to keep track of, Bob calls a female scientist at the "Paleontological Institute", a one Mrs. Janet Bates, and tells her to come down right away with all her notes regarding "proto-sharks." When she arrives the next day (?) we are then treated to a Cliff’s Notes type lecture on the history of sharks. Great. She concludes by saying that, after studying the plaster casting of the tooth, they are dealing with "a living fossil." (So know the Devil Fish is a living fossil? Isn’t it a mutated octopus-shark from WOI?)

Back to plot #56. We see that Sonja talking to Miller…the bad guy who smashed up Peter’s workshop. It turns out that she took a bribe to let the thugs into the shop under the pretense that they would only smash up the converter. (The obviously overstepped their bounds when the destroyed the entire shop and kicked Peter’s butt, but hey…) Anyway, Miller warns her that she’ll be receiving further instructions and she’d better carry them out.

I still don’t know what converter they’re talking about.

On the Seaquarium (I hate that name), Peter, Bob, and Stella are tossing out sonar buoys. They’ve see up some sort of perimeter in order to try and locate the shark, er octopus, er living fossil. Whatever it is. (Oh yeah…Janet the fossil expert is along for the ride.)

Devil FishPeter scans the horizon and notes a large yacht in the vicinity. Bob recognizes it as Dr. West’s boat, ‘The Challenger’ and remarks that he’s probably there to spy on them…maybe even to ‘steal’ the Devil Fish from them if they catch it. ("[Dr. West] is very ambitious," says Bob, "he’d sit on his mother’s head if he had something to gain by it." Well said, my good man, well said.)

Back at WOI, Dr. West is trying to access files on something called "Sea Killer". However, access is denies. (Doesn’t he run the place?) Of course he uses a computer that says everything that appears on the monitor. So the words "access denied" appear on the screen at the same time a tinny, ridiculous voice says "access denied". And just when you thought this movie couldn’t get any more annoying.

Ack. Peter and Stella go out to investigate a buoy that has stopped working. After a careful investigation lasting 2 seconds, Peter concludes that it was sabotaged by one of Dr. West’s men. They put the damaged buoy in their little motor boat and head back to the Seaquarium. Alas, the motor doesn’t start. (sigh) Rope or something is wrapped around the propeller. Gee. Who woulda thought. Peter gets to work unraveling the rope from the propeller while Stella goes swimming because it’s so hot. (You would think that a person would abstain from swimming while hunting a giant Devil Fish…)

OK, back at the Seaquarium, the Devil Fish suddenly shows up on the scopes. (Now the fish has a completely different shape on the sonar screen than it had before. It looks a bit like a fold-out sofa bed or something now…) Doh! The fish disappears from the screen. No wait. It’s back. No wait. Cut to Peter and Stella on an island.

Peter running in slow motion. Peter and Stella kissing in slow motion. Peter and Stella making love on the beach (Rated PG style). Please, let it all end! I can’t take much more.

Gee, cut back to the Seaquarium. The fish is heading back towards them. (Via use of the same freakin’ octopus stock footage. Good Lord! Is it a shark or an octopus?) Well, Bob and Janet stare on the scope and a monitor hooked up to an underwater camera. Bob sums it up by saying, "My God, look at those tentacles. A shark with tentacles!" (Yes, my thoughts exactly, except I was being a little more cynical when I said it.)

Devil FishThe Devil Fish bites off the camera mounted under the boat and is now lurking directly under the Seaquarium. Peter goes wild with excitement and grabs an air rifle fit with darts. Yes. He is going to try and tranquilize the Devil Fish with an air rifle. (I think we can all agree that Bob’s time on this Earth is quite limited at this point.)

Unfortunately for Bob, his research boat is fitted with a large open area in the middle of the bottom deck…I think. It looks that way at least. Maybe it’s used to dive into the sea. I just don’t know anymore. Regardless, the Devil Fish slings up a few tentacles and grabs Bob while Janet screams in terror. (Kind of strange how the creature ‘roars’ when it attacks Bob even though it’s below the water’s surface.)

To make a long, long, scene short, Janet is pulled into the diving pool or whatever it is. Grabbing a convenient hatchet (!), she hacks away at the suckered-arms and even manages to hack off a small portion of one before…

Cut to Peter and Stella returning from their love-making session. The call out for Bob and become alarmed when they see a bloody tip of a tentacle laying on the deck. (Yep, you’d think they would, wouldn’t ya?) On the upper deck, Peter finds the hysterical Janet and cradles her in his arms…

Later that day, Peter has delivered the video tapes of the monster to WOI. "The computer analysis says that it’s forty feet long," reports Dr. Davis to Dr. West, Sheriff Gordon and Peter. Davis continues, "It’s jaws can open up six feet wide and its underwater speed is over 30 knots." (That’s quite an analysis. Man, those WOI dudes have some pretty advanced equipment.)

Peter suggest they could try and lure the monster into a trap using a tape he made of the creature’s "voice" (??). Although it will have "slight modulations" (?), Peter is confident it will work. West and Davis try to talk him out of trying (Hmmm…are they trying to hide something…) but the Sheriff insists that it’s worth a try.

Just then the computer begins spouting out it’s analysis of the tentacle specimen. West glances at the data on the monitor and says, "It has a primordial biological structure. Extremely resistant. Average age of cells…eight months." (Is it just me, or does all that sound like a bunch of BS?)

The Sheriff asks the question we’re all thinking at this point: "You mean that monster is just a pup?"

(I wanted to ask how much longer this film will last, but oh well…)

Devil FishLater we see the Coast Guard (!) loading up a boat with explosives. Well, cardboard boxes with the word "Explosive" spray-painted onto the sides. (To say that these props are unconvincing would be an understatement.) Just around the corner, Miller is receiving orders over the telephone to stop "them" at all costs.

Suddenly we see Cortez the Deputy With Enormous Arms run up to Sheriff Gordon and breathlessly report that Peter’s assistant, Sandra, has been found murdered. (Gee…that was convenient! You gotta love it when characters disappear off camera like that.) Gordon hurries off to investigate.

Devil FishMeanwhile, Peter and Stella dive into the water with some sort of device to attach onto the Seaquarium. To nobody’s surprise, we see an inserted shot of the monster approaching through the water. This time, to my great surprise, you can actually see it, sort of, through the murk.

While Peter and Stella are underwater, Miller and his gang of thugs arrive via motor boat and board the Seaquarium. Janet, alone on the boat, is soon captured and murdered by the goons. Yes, Stella and Peter are also attacked by knife-wielding thugs underwater. A bad guy gets shot by a harpoon gun, another knife fight. Cut to a shot of Devil Fish. I’m getting dizzy now.

Devil Fish eats Bad Guy scuba diver #1 while Peter scrambles back up onto the boat. (Now that was really convenient!) He spots Miller holding Stella at knife point on another boat, (just go with the flow) tackles him, and they both fall into the sea, where, yes, the Devil Fish is approaching again.

The editing on the next sequence of scenes is so poorly done I’ll just have to sum it up for you:

Stella, hands bound, falls into the water. Devil Fish (DF) grabs Stella. DF grabs Miller. Peter grabs Stella. DF lets go of Stella. DF lets go of Miller. Miller swims. DF grabs Miller again. DF eats Miller. Peter and Stella scramble back onboard the Seaquarium.

All aspiring editors should watch that last sequence. Never, ever, edit like they have done in this film.

Back onboard, Stella finds Janet lifeless body laying on the deck. (Note that the pseudo-porn music is playing in this scene…kind of creepy to be honest.)

Meanwhile, Dr. West calls Sheriff Gordon (on his patrol car radio!) and reports an alarming finding: "Every cell of that creature is capable of reproducing similar creatures." To sum up: Cut a piece of the monster, the piece will grow into a new monster. Alert viewers will recognize this bit as a total rip-off of the ‘reproducing tail’ in Reptilicus. Man, you know if you’re ripping off Reptilicus, then you’re in bad shape…

Desperate to stop the creature from being blown to bits by the explosives (yes, explosive buoys have been set out in the sea in hopes the creature will run into one and blow itself up), Sheriff Gordon goes up in a helicopter with a rifle. Noting that he won "a free-fire gold medal at the Police Academy in Sarasota", Gordon opens fire on the floating buoys, thus blowing them up. Yup, it would really call for a sharp-shooter to hit a 6-foot wide, bright-red floating buoy from a distance of 20 feet. Good thing you were there, Sheriff.

Back at WOI, West is hacking away at the computer trying to get information on the Sea Killer project. Now that is exciting to watch. And ‘hear’, since the computer ‘says’ everything it displays on the monitor.

Devil FishWith all the buoys destroyed except for one, Sheriff Gordon notes the Devil Fish is directly under them and is swimming towards the last, unexploded buoy (What are the odds?) As the monster surfaces (we actually get a half-way decent shot of it) Sheriff Gordon fires wildly before hitting and exploding the last buoy (I guess the Devil Fish was going to eat the bouy…or attack the helicopter…I don’t know.)

West finally hacks into the computer (don’t ask how…it’s totally ludicrous). Spewing information, the computer says (literally) that the monster has been programmed to control a certain area of water. The computer report further implicates Dr. Davis as the originator of the project. (I found it strange that they computer stutters and mispronounces the word "proto-type"…How in the hell can a computer stutter?)

Davis corners West in the WOI library and holds him at gunpoint. The eeeevillll Dr. Davis rationalizes his project by rather redundant stating, "Our future is in the sea. Anybody who…taps the tremendous reserves of the sea, will have the future."

We know discover just what the hell the Devil Fish really is. Here, let Dr. Davis explain in his own words:

"A marine monster, almost indestructible. And whose genetic characteristics are as fearsome as the white shark’s. A gigantic octopus with the intelligence of a dolphin, and as monstrous as a prehistoric creature."

Well. That clears things up, thank you very much.

Look who pops in. Mrs. West. She shows up out of nowhere and spouts her mouth off about her husband’s unwillingness to go along with the monster. After she’s done spewing her ridiculous dialog, guess who pops up from behind a bookshelf. Yes, none other than Sheriff Gordon. A brief gun battle ensues and Davis is killed. (OK, yes, Peter and Stella were also hiding behind the bookshelf.)

With one final brainstorming session, they decide to try and lure the monster to the surface where they will burn it to death. (How do you burn a fish that’s in the water?) Anyway, to make things more (yawn) exciting, the creature’s cells will "disintegrate" in about 8 hours, with each cell then reproducing into a new Devil Fish.

Or something like that.

Out at sea, Stella plays the tape recording of the Devil Fish in order to lure it to the surface as planned. It seems to work as we see the same shots of the creature approaching the surface as we have seen 300 times already.

If you ever watch this film make sure to note how Peter is shown out on a motor boat in one scene, then amazingly reappears on the deck of the Seaquarium beside Stella, then teleports back out to the motor boat. This is beautiful ‘bad movie’ stuff here, folks.

Yes, the monster is lured up into the shallower water of a canal so Gordon’s men can fry it with flame throwers. Oh wait, they have spread gasoline on top of the water’s surface and have set it aflame.

Is it just me or does this plan seem fundamentally flawed from the outset?

First: Won’t the gas just spread out and wash away in the current?

Second: If the monster has the intelligence of a dolphin, wouldn’t it see the flames and choose to not surface?

Third: Even if the monster decided to surface into the flames, wouldn’t it immediately submerge again?

Just as Peter is about to reach the kill zone with the Devil Fish in hot pursuit…the motor on his boat conks out and stalls. (oh BROTHER!!!) Doing what every sane person would do if a giant monster Devil Fish were just behind them…he jumps into the water and swims for shore.

Sheriff Gordon, up in a helicopter, sees the whole thing and lowers a harness. (This scene is obviously filmed in a totally different location than the one where Peter jumped from the boat.) The helicopter rises into the air just as the monster takes a snap at Peter’s dangling legs. Gee…you mean Peter didn’t die? What a huge surprise!

Now it’s suddenly evening. Hmmm… I wonder what happened to the last 6 hours.

Anyway, Gordon and Peter are checking in on the various "squads" who are floating around in the canal looking for the monster. In another huge surprise, the Devil Fish jumps up and eats Squad #2.

Devil Fish eats Squad #3.

Somehow the whole "Send Out Two Man Squads in Small Boats" plan doesn’t seem to be panning out how they had hoped.

They finally command all squads to pour out the gas onto the water and then open fire with flame throwers. Despite its, *ahem*, ‘dolphin-like’ intelligence, the Devil Fish chooses to writhe on the surface instead of going back underwater. Engulfed in flames, the Devil Fish roars (!!) and floats to the surface…as a charred, smoldering hulk.

Bye-bye Devil Fish.

Closing scene: Peter leaving for vacation again. Up rides Stella on a motorcycle. (Gee, just like the scene from the beginning of the movie, how clever.) Stella turns off the bike and asks Peter where they’re going for their vacation. With a wry smile, Peter says, "To the mountains!"

You get it? Because last time he was going on vacation he ended up going to the sea where he got involved with a giant Devil Fish and a ring of killer genetic engineers and nearly got eaten and shot and beat up and burned to death.

Where’s the aspirin….

The End.

Dennis Grisbeck (June 2005)

Afterthoughts

I think the main problem with this movie is that it bit off more than it could chew. If it would have just stuck to being a Giant Killer Devil Fish movie it would have been another run of the mill ‘bad’ monster flick. i.e., kind of fun to watch. Instead it added the whole Evil Scientist subplot (the fish is a genetically mutated shark-octopus something or other), and the subplot with the guys trying to destroy some sort of ‘converter’….the film makers simply were not skilled enough to weave all the plot threads together into a coherent story. Instead it seems like there are at least 2 or 3 movies happening at the same time, somehow related, yet never really sewn together in a believable manner. The result, instead of a standard ‘bad movie’, is a complete disaster.

Let me point out a couple things. The editing is truly, and let me emphasize ‘truly’, atrocious. We are talking Ed Wood bad. There are only 2 or 3 music ‘loops’ in the whole movie: ‘Scary Monster Music’, ‘Pseudo-Porn Music’, and one other one that was used whenever the 2 others didn’t ‘fit’. I also thought it was very odd how they played the ‘Pseudo-Porn’ music in nearly any type of scene: Peter and Sandra having sex, Peter and Stella having sex, a woman answering a door, Stella discovering Janet’s body, and so on.

What can I say? This movie really sucks. But it is slightly entertaining if you want to see some terrible editing and listen to hilariously unbelievable dialog. Maybe a 12-pack of beer and the MST3K version could be fun, but don’t dare watch this movie with only one of the two. You’ll need them both…trust me. I’ve been there.

Read more about Devil Fish at

IMDB

3 comments to Devil Fish (1984)

  • guts3d

    I remember this one from MST3K, it stunk on toast, as Pearl Forrester would say.

  • Truly, this is a beautifully terrible movie. Unbelievably bad editing, and I love the scene where the Coast Guard divers jump out of the helicopter while yelling “Eieeeeeeeeee!”

  • BrendanM

    “Say goodbye to beer for me” I am physically incapable of making it through this movie without vomiting and/or urinating on myself uncontrollably. And iv seen it like 57 times.Probably the greatest MST3K of all time.Quite possibly the funniest thing thats ever happened. MITCHELL!! would be close 2nd. Im gonna go watch it now!

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