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Film / Devil Fish

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No, not the species of large ray, but rather a spastically edited Italian Jaws ripoff from 1984, directed by Lamberto Bava (son of Mario and usually a competent directornote ) and best known for appearing on Mystery Science Theater 3000's Season 9 episode.

The WOI (short for World Oceanic Institute, or "Woi") has made a fish. Not just any fish, mind you, but a giant, tentacled, beaked monstrosity that ignores every other source of food in the ocean to snack on whatever humans wind up in there. Why? For Science! Or possibly for money. Or maybe just for shits and giggles; the movie isn't very clear on the "why". All that is clear is that they made a fish, and it has a taste for Italian.

For some reason, a scrawny appliance repairman named Peter is just the man to kill the fish. Or study it. Again, it's not clear. Tagging along are an even scrawnier, Frampton-esque woman named Stella; a less skeletal woman named Janet, and an extremely beery British guy named Bob Hogan. This happy foursome is out to do whatever it is the script said to do, but they mostly pair off to go make out, down Budweiser by the barrel, and occasionally get themselves eaten by the titular corporate-sponsored squid/fish thing. Somewhere in the mix is a fantastically ugly Professional Killer brutally killing off every attractive woman in the cast for equally foggy reasons.


This film contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Dr. Bob is at all times either drinking or cracking open a beer. The devil fish probably picked up a good buzz off of him. Naturally, the riffing on this starts off strong and doesn't stop.
    Bob: It lasted for three minutes.
    Servo: (as Bob) Like my last 12-pack.
  • Admiring the Abomination: West's wife thinks the creature is a "beautiful creation".
  • Ambiguously Brown: Sandra. She's dark-skinned and curly hair, but has bright blue eyes.
  • Artistic License – Biology: So, the Devil Fish is like an amoeba and if any scraps of its anatomy is cut off, it'll grow into a new Devil Fish? Really, movie?
    • To be fair, there are animals that can reproduce by fragmentation, like starfish, but that ability is nowhere near on the same level. Starfish require at least a full arm and part of their core to grow a new starfish, while the Devil Fish can apparently regrow From a Single Cell.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: At the beginning of the lecture about fish evolution, the woman scientist opens with the phrase "Approximately 320 years ago". Considering the size of the predatory fish she's showing, either she forgot the word "million", or Washington's crossing of the Delaware was much more dangerous than history portrays. In addition, this lecture states:
    • Fish with teeth first appeared 320 years ago.
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    • The marine reptile Kronosaurus lived in the Jurassic (and the picture representing it is a great white shark).
    • Tylosaurus was apparently a basking shark.
    • Sharks themselves only appeared at the end of the Cretaceous (which is referred to as the Cetaceous, making it the...Age of Whales?)
  • Cartoony Eyes: On Stella. Looks kinda creepy. It doesn't help every female character, regardless of race, have blue eyes.
  • Character Shilling: Every female character flirts with Peter and call him a "genius" in the opening few minutes of the film. Needless to say, Peter shows no evidence of being one given he spends most of the movie completely out of his element — he did build very specialized acoustical equipment in the space of a day, but as Bob says he's an electrician, not a marine biologist.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Sandra, Peter's shop assistant. She makes bizarre comments and plays games when she's supposed to be working, to the point where Peter seriously worries leaving the shop to her while he's on vacation will result in it going bankrupt overnight.
  • Dull Surprise: Sandra, when she's not mumbling or making weird noises. She says, "You're hurting me" with no emotion whatsoever.
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: An odd choice for a horror movie, but yes. Well, at least Peter and Stella laugh. Everyone else is dead.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Being an electrician is seemingly treated as one. Actually more of a "stick to your own specialty" comment; Bob was reminding Peter that, as an electrician and not an oceanographer he shouldn't think he should know how to do Bob's job. Which was still stupid, since the specific issue was the operation of equipment that Peter built.
    Bob: How would you know, electrician?
  • Fiendish Fish: While it's a Jaws ripoff, they replaced the shark with a non-descript mutant fish-cepholopod hybrid.
  • From a Single Cell: One of the Devil Fish's abilities - apparently even one single cell severed from the original creature will grow a new Devil Fish. This is a pretty big problem since the creature is also unstable and designed to disintegrate after a week or so, which will then reform into dozens of new Devil Fish.
  • Hot Scientist: Janet is a LOT more attractive than female lead Stella, who resembles Marfuska, ten years older.
  • Magical Defibrillator: Accidentally subverted. It's still depicted as magical revivifying device, but it just looks like using it on the bearded guy ended up finishing him off.
  • Meganekko: Janet wears big, Sally Jessie-style glasses when first introduced.
  • Missing Steps Plan: Step One involves creating a monstrous fish that will destroy all life in the sea except for itself and propagate beyond anyone's control. It's flawless! You're just too old to understand! Too old For Science! and too old for your wife!
    • To be fair, the film does give a reason: the Devil Fish is supposed to patrol resource-rich stretches of ocean to protect it so those resources can be exploited. What's not explained is why this is better than obtaining normal offshore mining/drilling/fishing rights.
    • The Institute's plan has yet more issues. One, the creature has no apparent impulse to hang around resource-rich areas, instead preferring to hang around swimmer-rich areas and eat them. Two, it is never made clear how they intend to remove the creatures from resource-rich areas so that the Institute can exploit them without all its employees ending up as chum.
  • Mix-and-Match Critter: We never get a very good look at the Devil Fish, but evidently it's a prehistoric shark/giant squid combo covered in barnacles. The head and jaws are a Dunkleosteus, with the rest being an octopus (Pacific giant octopus, judging form the color). No shark parts as far as can be told. And since the characters say it has the intelligence of a dolphin, it probably has a dolphin brain.
  • The Mole: Sandra, who let Miller into the shop so he could smash the converter Peter was building to help find the Devil Fish.
  • Monster Misogyny: Averted. Miller the killer accounts for nearly every female victim, although given that his methods are so violent that Best Brains had to cut the actual murder scenes, they may have rathered the fish got to them first.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Really badly. None of the voice actors can hold a convincing American accent.
  • Red Herring: Early on the film really tries to make you think West is the Big Bad. The whole deception hinges on the audience noticing that he wears a fancy watch identical to the real villain, but not noticing that their builds and voices are completely different.
    • That and the fact that he's referred to with contempt several times for no apparent reason earlier in the film. Later, he's shown to be polite and helpful.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: There are plenty of other fish in the sea, but devil fish doesn't seem to give a crap about them. At least they gave it a reason, it was designed to attack boats.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Miller warns Sandra that he's watching her, and that he'll kill her if she goes out of line. So, not one minute after he leaves her presence she tries to call the police at a public phone. It doesn't go well for her.
    • It was smart for her to do so at a public phone at the bar of a busy, crowded swimming pool-the stupidity manifested when she didn't start screaming bloody murder to attract attention to her attacker.
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: Simple Q&A format, large, easy-to-read font and habit of speaking every line of data out loud? Check, check, annnnnd check. The computer even feels it needs to emphasize plot points for the movie. "Professor Davis, DAVIS, DAVIS!"
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: The formula is as follows: Upward Camera Angle + Ladder + Peter + Tiny Shorts = Unplanned Nut Shot
  • Worst Aid: When attempting to save the bearded guy's life after he flatlines, the doctor ignores the nurse's offered needle of adrenaline (which could potentially get the heart working again) and continues to shock him with the defibrillator (which, as the name suggests, only works to stop an arrythmically-beating heart so that it can regain its normal rhythm). Not only that, but he zaps him a good ten-fifteen times in less than a minute.
  • You're Insane!: Invoked by Dr. West.

"Bob, it's right underneath us!" "I knowww!"

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