Saturday, November 1, 2014

Killer Fish (1979)

Several bargain-basement American stars appear in this rotten international production, which is part aquatic horror movie and part romantic heist thriller. The story alternates between two tonalities—incoherent and stupid—while the filmmakers waffle about what sort of movie Killer Fish should be. Sometimes, it’s a straight-up Jaws rip-off with bloody scenes of victims getting chewed to death by carnivorous sea creatures. Sometimes, it’s glossy late-’70s fluff about slender people with nice tans having sex with each other. And more often than not, Killer Fish is simply confusing. The picture starts out with an elaborate robbery sequence during which criminals Robert Lasky (Lee Majors) and Kate Neville (Karen Black), along with their accomplices, break into the office of a Brazilian power plant and steal a cache of emeralds. To distract security guards, Robert and Kate set off a huge explosion. Meanwhile, mystery man Paul Diller (James Franciscus) gambles in a tropical bar. Turns out Paul is the brains behind the robbery, and an inside man at the company that owns the plant. Paul, Robert, and Kate stash the emeralds in a lake, figuring that’s a safe hiding place while they wait for the inevitable investigation to cool down. Only Paul, without telling his pals, fills the lake with piranha so no one can grab the gems prematurely. As if the story wasn’t already crammed with enough random elements, enter fashion model Gabrielle (Margaux Hemingway), who arrives in Brazil for a shoot and, naturally, falls in love with smoldering Robert. Never mind that Kate’s sorta hung up on Robert even though she’s Paul’s girlfriend. After several of Paul’s underlings die from piranha bites while trying to steal the gems, the surviving major characters end up on a boat together during a giant storm, which producer Alex Ponti (son of Carlo, stepson of Sophia Loren) and director Antonio Margheriti depict with cheesy miniature effects straight out of a Toho Productions monster mash. Awful disco music runs underneath all of this nonsense. An embarrassment for everyone involved, Killer Fish is almost completely without redeeming values, except perhaps for some attractive locations. Together with The Norseman (1978), Steel (1979), Agency (1980), and The Last Chase (1981), this movie also helped kill Majors’ post-Six Million Dollar Man movie career before it really began.

Killer Fish: LAME


Peter L. Winkler said...

"break into the office of a Brazilian power plant and steal a cache of emeralds."

Because power plants are the first place you'd expect to find rare gems stored, right?


By Peter Hanson said...


Unknown said...

This sounds too awesome to be true! Must see it someday!

Omar UrzĂșa said...

Producer Carlo Ponti? I don´t think so, at least from the poster that you says Alex Ponti! Anyway, I always enjoy your blog, great work!

By Peter Hanson said...

Yep, jumbled my Pontis by one generation. Fixed now. Thanks for catching the error.