Sunday, April 17, 2016

Up from the Depths (1979)



The cycle of Jaws ripoffs spiraled ever downward with Up from the Depths, one of several movies that Roger Corman commissioned in order to cash in on the success of Steven Spielberg’s aquatic-horror blockbuster. Helmed by frequent Corman collaborator Charles B. Griffith, Up from the Depths revives that old trope from 1950s monster movies, the notion of an ancient creature accidentally released from underwater hibernation. In this case, the critter is a dinosaur/shark/whale thingamabob, but nothing in the movie compels the audience to exhaust much energy identifying the beast’s identity. The attack scenes are derivative and silly, and once the creature is finally shown, it looks like a pile of plastic junk that was left outside to melt in the sun. As for the perfunctory narrative, it’s the same old shit about a resort proprietor suppressing evidence of a rampage in order to protect his livelihood, with disastrous results. The nominal protagonist is American hustler Greg Oliver (Sam Bottoms), who teams up with marine biologist Rachel McNamara (Susanne Reed) to investigate several mysterious deaths. Yawn. Per the Corman template, sex is used at regular intervals to compensate for the lack of suspense. The opening scene, a shameless cop from The Deep (1977), features a buxom diver in a white T-shirt that becomes semi-translucent underwater. Later, a model arrives at the resort to shoot a topless layout. Even the nudie shots, however, fail to enliven Griffth’s hapless attempts at generating a campy hybrid of horror and humor. One should not be surprised to discover the involvement of Filipino-cinema bottom-feeder Cirio H. Santigo, who produced this picture; few filmmakers so consistently excluded believability and logic from their storytelling.

Up from the Depths: LAME

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