Monday, February 27, 2012
The Island of the Fishmen (1979)
It took me a few years to actually watch Sergio Martino's Islandof the Fishmen, but when I finally took the time it was well worth it. Maybe I was a bit sceptical after Martino's disastrous The Big Alligator River and the generic and uninspired Mountain of the Cannibal God, both from the same time - but this fishy tale had such an interesting look and feeling, almost like on of Kevin Connor's adventure movies with Doug McClure mixed with a healthy dose Island of Dr Moreau and Lovecraft. Can't go wrong with a combination like that!
Claudio Cassinelli is Lt. Claude de Ross, a doctor working on a ship that just sank - so we're meeting him and some of the surviving crew fighting for their lives in the stormy ocean. Some of them find their way to an uncharted island where a crazy fucker named Edmond Rackham (Richard Johnson) prances around pretending to be some local king. He's having some kind of romantic relationship with the young and hot Amanda Marvin (Barbara Bach), the daughter of a crazy scientist, Professor Ernest Marvin (Joseph Cotten), who's the unofficial prisoner of Rackham. Everything could be quite normal here, but under the damn island is the remains of Atlantis and it's habitants is fishmen who worship Amanda like a queen! Everything so that Rackham can have them bringing up gold and other treasures from the ruins! Our hero, de Ross, wants to the girl and run - like always with those darn heroes - but it will be harder than they both thought!
This is a very old-fashioned movie, almost family-oriented (almost, because I'm sure some kids could be scared by it and the violence is intensive without getting bloody and gory) and somehow I can understand how it flopped in the US, even under it's other title of Screamers ("Be Warned: You will actually see a man turned inside-out!". It's a lot of story and it just takes time to get going. But if you can get through that first half hour this is a damn fine adventure movie! It has everything I want from this genre, from secret temples and a hunky hero to monsters and a volcano.
Talking about heroes, Claudio Cassinelli - what a man! It's interesting how his career never generated the hype among cult movie fans like it should have a long time ago. Especially here, a brilliant and convincing performance, handling both the action and the action like a pro. It's a damn pity he left us some years later during the shooting of Sergio Martino's Hands of Steel. A tragic helicopter accident that took his life way too early. The other actors is great also, especially the always wonderful Richard Johnson - here more or less playing a fresh and mentally stable version of his crazy doctor in Zombie Flesh Eaters. Joseph Cotten is frail and old, but do what he's suppose to do. Barbara Bach was always a welcome sight during the seventies, and I think she's a very underrated damsel in distress.
Island of the Fishmen was a lot better than I expected it
to be, though I could have wanted some gore and blood - just for the fun of it!
We're talking fishmen here, not teddybears dammit!