Shark Week: Day Three

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Shark Week: Day Three

Half-way there and have I got winners for you today!  Coming out of twenty-six hours of shark movies I have learned two things very important, apparently Italy really likes to make shark movies and I did not prepare myself for this level of punishment.  But not everything is bad acting and crappy special effects, for today I re-watched the second greatest shark movie ever made…Sharktopus.

The Last Shark (1981)

  • Directed: Enzo G. Castellari
  • Produced: Edward L. Montoro, Ugo Tucci
  • Written: Marc Princi
  • Starring: James Franciscus, Vic Morrow, Micaela Pignatelli, Joshua Sinclair, Giancarlo Prete, Stefania Girolami Goodwin
  • Music: Morton Stevens (USA)
  • Distributed: Film Ventures International (USA)
  • Release date(s):
    • April 2, 1981 (ITA)
    • March 5, 1982 (USA)
  • Running time: 88 min.
  • Country: Italy
  • Language: English/Italian

Great White (a.k.a. The Last Shark; Italian: L'ultimo squalo) is a 1981 Italian horror film directed by Enzo G. Castellari and starring James Franciscus and Vic Morrow.  The film is extremely similar to Steven Spielberg's Jaws.

A quaint little beach town is terrorized by a bloodthirsty great white shark in the infamous Italian Jaws rip-off The Last Shark.  As usual, the powers that be turn a blind eye to it for tourist reasons, although eventually even they cannot escape the ocean of blood at their doorstep.  Cue novelist Peter Benton (James Franciscus) and shark hunter Ron Hamer (Vic Morrow), who valiantly seek to kill the beast.  Best known for the Universal Pictures lawsuit that found the film's North American theatrical release cut short and subsequent releases barred due to the blatant similarities to Steven Spielberg's blockbuster and its sequel, The Last Shark lives on in movie legend and Japanese laserdisc bootlegs for those who can find it.

The film was briefly released theatrically in the United States by Film Ventures International in March 1982.

The film has a cult following in the United States because of its brief 1982 theatrical release and a proliferation of publicity materials, especially stills showing the titular shark's enormous prop, many times larger than any actual known species, on the internet.

Universal Pictures sued to have the release of this movie in North America blocked, accusing the makers of Great White of plagiarism of Jaws.  The studio won the case, and the movie was pulled from North American theaters shortly after its release.  It has never been legally released on video in North America, nor shown on North American television, though bootlegs are regularly available on the internet.

The film was released on DVD in its native Italy in 2007 and on May 21, 2008 it was released on DVD in Sweden.  It wasn't available on any format in the USA until 2011 when Amazon released a video download and a twenty-dollar, burn on demand copy of the film on their site.  The disc is burned from a blank one upon ordering, but still, can't be bought in stores unless bootlegged.

On March 5, 2013, RetroVision Entertainment released the first official DVD release of the film in the United States since the film's banning.  The film comes with restored colors, along with special features, including the short documentary Great White: The Legacy – 30 Years Later and rare theatrical trailers.  The DVD is limited edition Region 0, and only 500 copies were manufactured.  It is only able to be purchased online.

Devil Fish (1984)

  • Directed: Lamberto Bava, Bruno Mattei
  • Produced: Mino Loy
  • Written:
    • Gianfranco Clerici (screenplay)
    • Lamberto Bava(additional material)
  • Starring: Michael Sopkiw, Gianni Garko, William Berger
  • Music: Guido De Angelis, Maurizio De Angelis
  • Cinematography: Giancarlo Ferrando
  • Editing: Roberto Sterbini
  • Release date(s):
    • September 7, 1984 (Italy)
    • January 23, 1985 (France)
    • November 14, 1986 (USA)
  • Running time:
    • 90 minutes (USA)
    • 94 minutes (Germany)
  • Country: Italy
  • Language: English

Monster Shark (original Italian title Shark: Rosso nell'oceano; also known as Shark: Red on the Ocean, Devouring Waves and Devil Fish) is a 1984 Italian natural horror film, and one of several environmental disaster films to emerge following the success of the 1975 film Jaws, including films such as: Great White, Orca, Piranha, Tentacles and Tintorera.

In this moronic genre hybrid, at least seven credited writers -- including Luigi Cozzi, Sergio Martino and Dardano Sacchetti -- throw Jaws, Piranha and anything else they can find into a hopeless amalgam of hackneyed story, dull subplots, and terrible effects.  Michael Sopkiw and Valentine Monnier are the typically dedicated scientists who try to avert ecological disaster while pawing each other like overheated teenagers.  The monster, which is supposed to be a genetically-created hybrid of an octopus and a prehistoric proto-shark (instead resembling a toothy starfish with leprosy), spends most of its time just floating through the water.  To compensate for this lack of movement, the victims flail about frantically while pulling the creature's inert tentacles over their bodies.  Dr. Davis, the mad scientist behind the "Seakiller Project," gets to babble endlessly while his henchmen run around killing everyone in sight, including a woman who is beaten, stripped naked, and thrown in a bathtub before being electrocuted with a hair dryer.  The filmmakers seem to enjoy the sight of women getting beaten up, because all of the female cast members get pummeled at one point or another while wearing very little clothing.  Most viewers will find that even the appearance of such Euro-film favorites as Gianni Garko, William Berger and Dagmar Lassander aren't enough to make this awful mess worth enduring.

Monster Shark was poorly received by critics. As of January 2013, the IMDB rates the film in 61st place on their Bottom 100 list.  Popcorn Pictures only gave the film marks for its artwork stating that "it could be a cure for insomnia".

On August 15, 1998, Monster Shark, under its alternative title of Devil Fish, was featured on an episode of the movie-mocking television series Mystery Science Theater 3000, on which it was spoofed for its poor acting and erratic editing.

The film's French title is "Apocalypse dans l'ocean rouge", meaning "Revelation in the Red Ocean."  The film's cast and crew was made up of Italians, Latin-Americans and Americans and communicating on the production would often be a challenge.  The cast shot their scenes speaking their native languages, knowing that the dialog would be dubbed in English later for release.  In an interview with star Michael Sopkiw it was revealed that despite the film's seemingly warm Florida locations the waters that the cast had to swim in were often extremely cold.  Star Michael Sopkiw attributes the film's flaws and negative reviews to the production's limited budget, saying that Lamberto Bava was a great director.  Lewis Coates, aka Luigi Cozzi, always names the female lead character "Stella" in his moves. Lewis Coates is one of the credited story contributors.

Sharks in Venice (2008)

  • Directed: Danny Lerner
  • Produced: Lee Weldon
  • Written: Danny Lerner
  • Starring: Stephen Baldwin, Vanessa Johansson, Bashar Rahal
  • Music: Stephen Edwards
  • Cinematography: Ross W. Clarkson
  • Editing: Michele Gisser
  • Studio:
    • Nu Image Films
    • Venice Sharks
  • Distributed: First Look International
  • Release date(s): August 6, 2008
  • Running time: 88 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English, Italian

Sharks in Venice is a natural-horror film film directed by Danny Lerner and starring Stephen Baldwin, Bashar Rahal and Vanessa Johansson.  According to several websites, the plot of the film puts it into contention for being the worst movie of all time.

A world-renowned archeologist and diver discovers a deadly secret lurking beneath the labyrinthine canals of Venice in this salt-water  shocker from genre specialist Danny Lerner (Shark Zone, Raging Sharks).  Upon learning that his father has perished in Venice under mysterious circumstances, diving expert David (Stephen Baldwin) sets out for northeast Italy in search of answers.  When the city's most ruthless mob boss becomes aware of David's discoveries and responds by kidnapping his girlfriend (Vanessa Johansson), it's up to the fearless adventurer to race to her rescue while searching for sunken treasure and avoiding the sizable jaws of the ornery shark that now calls the canals of Venice home.  If he has any hope of saving her he must enter the deadly waters.  Can David out-gun the Mafia  assassins and survive the voracious sharks laying in wait beneath the surface, or will he succumb to the same fate as his father?

The film was shot on location in Bulgaria.  In fact, the director intended to name the movie Shark in Bulgaria, however, it would not have had the same "flow" as if the movie were titled Shark in Venice.

Sharktopus (2010)

  • Directed: Declan O'Brien
  • Producer(s): Roger Corman, Julie Corman
  • Written: Mike MacLean
  • Starring: Eric Roberts
  • Music: Tom Hiel
  • Cinematography: Santiago Navarrete
  • Editing: Vikram Kale
  • Release Date: September 25, 2010
  • Running time: 89 mins.
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Single-handedly the greatest film to ever be called a Syfy Original, Sharktopus for all it’s obvious flaws is actually a fun movie to watch.  Roger Corman is the master of hilariously bad horror and he does not disappoint.  Just turn off your logic, ignore the fact there is nothing in the void where the tentacles meet and sit back and take in the wonder of Jaws if written by H.P. Lovecraft.

A genetically altered super-weapon embarks on a nightmare rampage of chaos and carnage in this campy tale of terror in the water from legendary producer Roger Corman.  "S-11" was created to be the most powerful weapon in the U.S. Navy's arsenal.  A horrifying hybrid of shark and octopus, it strikes with lightning speed, and incredible precision.  But all hell breaks loose when the creature's creator, Genetic Scientist Nathan Sands (Eric Roberts) follows orders to stage  an impromptu demonstration for his government contact, and the control device that controls the leviathan is irreparably damaged.  Now free to swim the ocean and attack at will, "S-11" makes way for Puerto Vallarta and decides to turn the tables on the local sea-food lovers.  With no time to lose as the uncontrollable abomination emerges from the sea to feast on terrified beachcombers, Nathan's brilliant daughter Nicole (Sara Malakul Lane) enlists the help of a hard-drinking mercenary, a fearless investigative reporter, and her easily-rattled cameraman to destroy the most powerful weapon in the history of modern warfare.

The sharktopus is oh so gloriously fake. Here’s a list of the awesome things it does:

  • It eats a few of its victims the way we eat hotdogs.
  • It snaps a woman off a bungee line, and a man off a jungle trapeze line.
  • It climbs onto various beaches and buildings on the shore. We also get to see it crawl around on land.
  • It takes down a yacht.
  • It stabs (and sometimes beheads) its victims with steel-tipped tentacles.

I should add that its gills are adorned with spikes, and that the sharktopus honors the b-movie law requiring all sharks to growl underwater.

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