Up From The Depths (1979)
Cast: Sam Bottoms, Susanne Reed, Virgil Frye.
Dir: Charles B. Griffith
Synopsis: Monster Fish with a rapacious appetite rampages through an Hawaiian Holiday Resort with devastating consequences.
A film forgotten by time, indeed one of the few movies that they haven’t ever bothered to release on DVD let alone Blu-ray. It had its last run as a VHS and it was pretty tough discovering a copy to watch solely on the basis of a rather spectacular poster that actually adorns my bedroom wall.
Expectations were however very low as the old adage was kept in mind about awful horror movies often having the most spectacular posters and this was to be no exception to the rule alas. The opening scene where a pretty young research assistant
(always the teachers “side-chick” cum pet) goes diving into the sea off the Hawaii only for there to be some tremors which apparently release a ghastly seas beast far uglier, larger and more ferocious than a shark but the problem is the all the viewer gets to see is a blur followed by fake blood rising through some murky water. If this opening was something to match the opening of Jaws from a few years ago, well , let’s just say it was a gargantuan fail on all counts. None the less, a monster movie has to be persevered with and you didn’t catch a glimpse of Bruce (Jaws) until well into the last third of the classic Spielberg movie, so Up From the Depths deserves a fair chance.
The focus shifts to the sun soaked and alcohol drenched beaches of Hawaii where a super-geek of a resort manager is trying to make sure all his customers are getting exactly what they paid for; a luxurious, fun filled holiday. Strange events suggest all is not well; first up a swimmer emerges from the water covered in fish bait, or what looks like fish bait. However we, the audience already know that there is something more sinister at work and the fish bait is not the result of some careless fisherman. Moments later a large toothy shark carcass is discovered with large chunks of its body bitten into by something even more monstrous lurking in the depths which the holiday makers are yet oblivious to.
There is a rusty old boat run by a beery, unshaven lout attempting his best Quint impersonation and failing miserably but we all know that he and his boat are likely to be key players later in the game. Things plod on as we follow the fortunes of a local couple and their interactions with the mostly elderly couples inhabiting the resort. Earl, The Quint impersonator
in his gruffest, most sea-weathered voice mumbles something about a stash of ivory and jade lying at the bottom of the sea which the struggling couple as well as some avaricious tourists take a keen interest in.
Meanwhile another tourist with a very odd foreign accent is attacked by a blur (representing the unseen monster) and dragged underwater and out of sight. Not far away a local diver discovers a severed human arm probably belonging to the researcher from the opening scene. Slowly word starts filtering out about some sea creature that is not a shark causing havoc but the business demands of the resort are paramount and safety fears are downplayed so that the vacationers can continue to enjoy themselves.
The predictable dullness is alleviated by the arrival of a horrid actress with a ridiculous “common” East London accent who you just know the worst death of all has to be reserved for. Rich bitch glamour dolls who brazenly flaunt themselves are the preferred fodder for deep sea movie monsters the world over. Meanwhile there is much waist wiggling Hawaiian style as the fun and frolic continues despite the rising body count. Things develop in very Jaws tradition with the forces of greed up against those of humanity at loggerheads while the monster finally makes its less than overwhelming appearance and all sorts of mayhem ensues as word finally reaches the revelers that their lives are in peril.
A hideous soundtrack tries its best to muster some sort of suspense or drama but is way too lame and dated to make a mark. The only saving grace is Iris, the Supermodel, flashing her breasts with carefree abandon not knowing that Monsters love that sort of thing. The scenes of people fleeing the beach are rather bizarre…fleeing the water is understandable but rushing hysterically helter skelter on land to avoid a fish in the sea is a little bit of an over-reaction. At no point has this fish ever hinted at sprouting legs or having the capability of flourishing on land.
As the reporters and bounty hunters descend, the horrified tourists depart en masse and as the movie lurches towards its non-existent climax there is still time for some lame comic scenes featuring a Japanese tourist who intends to take to the sea monster with his samurai sword in hand. Other fools also trawl the sports goods store for arsenal as the remaining tourists gear up for a lethal assault on the fish monster with two dorsal fins, which presumably indicates that it is twice as dangerous as a shark which has only the one.
The film dawdles to its pathetic conclusion, none of which is even visible other than a blur and some stock footage of some random sharks in extreme close up. As a huge admirer of Monster fish movies in general there is a need to say something, anything positive about this murky, meandering, mess of a movie. Other than the spectacular poster, there really is nothing else to recommend. Up From the Depths is a truly lame movie on all counts.