Monster Shark AKA Devil Fish [1984]

The first things you’re going to notice about Monster Shark are the competent directing and great cinematography. Just a couple of minutes later you’ll start getting this feeling that something feels off and that this might be a movie so bad it’s good. Once we get to our screaming rescue team jumping into the water, that becomes painfully apparent. Exhilarated and excited to the maximum you rejoice at another one of those hidden gems from the eighties ready to make you spit out your beer laughing.

Shark: Rosso nell’oceano as is the original title of this movie was directed by Lamberto Bava best known for horror cult classic Demons, released in 1985. It has several different titles, out of which I didn’t mention only Red Ocean and Devouring Waves. There’s something about these Italian exploitation movies, especially the animal attack subgenre. The passion, style and artistic vision set these movies apart from the usual B movie trash. We should add to that list all the post-apocalyptic movies, but that’s a story for another time.

Everything about this movie is just so unintentionally funny that I could barely get through it. Every little fucking thing. The sound effects are hilarious and add another dimension to already silly scenes. This especially goes for computer and sonar effects, not to mention the “full-of-hate” Devil Fish. Music doesn’t match scenes and you could play a little game guessing where the song would be appropriate. And finally, we have the synthetic “computer voice” that seemed oddly human but incredibly funny nonetheless.

At the same time you’re dying laughing you can’t have nothing but the utter respect for this motley crew trying to make a Jaws rip-off on a budget. The lack of money forced a lot of decisions and scenes. However, their determination to make this thing happen is nothing if not admirable.

We don’t have a science laboratory? Fine, let’s take a high school chemistry classroom and slap a picture of a nuclear explosion on the wall to make it more believable. In this high-tech laboratory, one dedicated scientist is carrying out important experiments by blowing bubbles and twirling beakers. To finish me off, the computer started speaking and this had me rolling with laughter.

With a nice and sunny setting, this is a movie that will get you in a better mood. It’s a perfect little piece of escapism enabling you to travel back in time and have some fun. You basically reverse engineer what they were trying to do and see how they went about it. And if you watched just a couple of these movies where our team is trying to the capture creature terrorizing the population you’ll know all the clichés and characters. If nothing else, they drunk a lot of beer while making this movie.

Speaking of the creature, I must commend their choice of Dunkleosteus, a formidable-looking creature that didn’t need the octopus to be so dangerous. The largest specimens were up to 8.79 m (28.8 ft) long and weighed around 4 tons. The most frightening thing about them was their armored jaw that could easily and quickly close and open again, shredding their prey to pieces. This brings us to a bit of gore that’s practically obligatory in Italian exploitation movies.

What made Monster Shark feel so good and gave it that additional kick of quality are the committed performances of relatively amateur actors. Our main couple Michael Sopkiw and Valentine Monnier starred in a couple of these movies together and have great chemistry. Finally, if you’re looking for more movies like this I recommend you check our Rabbit Reviews analysis of the Shark movies subgenre The rise and fall of Shark Movies. Enjoy.

Director: Lamberto Bava

Writers: Lamberto Bava, Gianfranco Clerici, Luigi Cozzi, Vincenzo Mannino, Sergio Martino, Hervé Piccini, Dardano Sacchetti

Cast: Michael Sopkiw, Valentine Monnier, Gianni Garko, William Berger, Iris Peynado, Lawrence Morgant, Cinzia de Ponti, Paul Branco, Dagmar Lassander

Fun Facts: The film’s cast and crew were made up of Americans, Italians, and Latin Americans. Communication was often a challenge. The cast shot their scenes speaking their native languages, knowing that the dialog would be dubbed in English later.

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