Well here we are with another slightly above average horror picture from Stuart Gordon, the guy who did REANIMATOR and a couple other halfway decent movies, but who seems to live next door to Full Moon Video or something. By this I do not mean that he only makes movies about little bastards like ghoulies, demonic toys, subspecieses, dollmen, shrunken heads, puppet masters, and etceteras. All I mean is that he seems to share alot of stylistic choices, collaborators and straight to video horror blood with those guys. But this is one of his movies that seems a little better. A little.
I know this one got a small amount of theatrical play here in seattle and that alone is an amazing accomplishment for Stuart these days. In case you are wondering it is not about dragons. If you look closely there is no R. In fact it is about a village of fish people, which could only mean that it is based on stories by Howard P. Lovecraft.
Now don’t ask me why, but Howard P. Lovecraft was afraid of fish. I know it seems like a pretty wacko thing for some fruit to be scared of but at least the guy made something productive out of his whole problem. He was horrified and disgusted by this idea of people who worship a fish god and slowly turn into fish and squid and screw people and make fishpeople babies. And the filmatists here do a good job of making that idea seem like a resonable premise for a horror movie.
The best thing about the movie is the creatures. You don’t see them too many times but when you do they have some nice designs, creepy in a phoney cgi kind of way. Most of the time there are no effects though, just menacing villagers who act strange enough that you know hey, these are fishpeople man. The movie was shot in spain with a mostly spanish cast and crew. The leads are american though so it’s got this whole touristy, dare I say fish out of water kind of deal going on where the stupid american web-yuppies crash their yacht and end up poking their noses where they don’t belong. In fishland.
Or maybe they do belong there. The main dude, who I will call the dude with glasses, has been dreaming about fishpeople, and especially about a sexy mermaid. I don’t think his wife knows about this shit though. Man he needs to see a therapist. Anyway the americans are so obnoxious that it is easy to root for the fishpeople. I mean I wouldn’t want these idiot lungbreathers walkin around my village if I was a spanish fishpeople.
Slowly the dude with glasses discovers the real deal. There is one old drunk here who is a human. Everybody else is fishpeople because they worship a giant squid named Dagon, and they are slowly growing squid tentacles and gills and shit, and they cut off people’s skins leatherface style and wear them for religious ceremonies. Freedom of religion, man.
So they got some nefarious plans. There is a virgin sacrifice involved, and some interspecies fuckin, I believe. Spiritual type stuff. These americans need to learn the cultural differences in my opinion.
The best scenes are long no dialogue scenes where the dude with glasses runs around and gets chased by the fishpeople through hallways and out in the rain and etc. These are mostly old men and they stumble around in a mob and mumble in what might be spanish or might be fishpeoplese, I don’t know enough about the region to be sure. So it’s kind of like your night of the living dead type situation combined with an evil dead type running around in a panic feel.
Where the movie falls apart though is in the casting, because this dude with glasses just does not have the presence to pull it off. He is your typical straight to video/bad independent movie lead who has no personality or charisma. But he winces alot and keeps adjusting his glasses and it’s supposed to make him Bruce Campbell. It just doesn’t work and you really don’t want this dweeb to keep getting away every time. If Samuel L. Jackson can get his head bit off by a super intelligent shark right in the beginning of NIGHT OF THE SUPER INTELLIGENT SHARKS or whatever that picture was called, then there shouldn’t be any problem giving this guy an octopus arm through the earhole and then the rest of the movie could’ve been about the fishpeople, their relationships, dreams, etc.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.