Devil Fish is an Italian Jaws ripoff from 1984, directed by Lamberto Bava (son of Mario Bava and usually a competent directornote ) and best known for appearing on Mystery Science Theater 3000's Season 9 episode. Original title: Shark - Rosso nell'oceano, and also known as Monster Shark.
The WOI (West Ocean International) 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. Regardless, they have made a fish, and it has a taste for blood.
When the marine biologists Bob and Stella find themselves unable to properly track the creature, they bring in electrician Peter to design a custom machine to help them track and kill the monster fish, and sometimes to go make out, down Budweiser, and get eaten. Somewhere in the mix is also a fantastically ugly Professional Killer brutally killing off the female cast.
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.
- Admiring the Abomination: West's wife thinks the creature is a "beautiful creation".
- Ambiguously Brown: Sandra. She's dark-skinned and curly haired, 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? While there are real life animals that can reproduce by fragmentation, like starfish, that ability is nowhere near on the same level. Starfish require at least a full arm and a part of their core to grow a new starfish, while the devil fish can apparently regrow From a Single Cell.
- Also, the description of the devil fish's reproduction as being "like an amoeba". Those animals that can reproduce by fragmentation? Amoebas are not one of them. Amoebas reproduce by binary fission, not fragmentation. If an amoeba's cell wall is ruptured it won't turn into two amoebas... it will just die.
- 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 that:
- Fish with teeth first appeared 320 years ago.
- 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?)
- Character Shilling: Pretty much 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.
- Didn't Think This Through:
- The woman who gave both her husband and her secret lover - who is her husband's co-worker - identical watches as gifts. Spelled out straight by her husband when explaining how he knew about their affair.
- The plan to protect undersea resources for future exploitation with a nigh-unkillable, man-eating, mass-reproducing sharktopus monster has certain flaws, in much the same way that planning to rig your garden with an atomic bomb to scare away neighbourhood pests would have certain flaws.
- 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.
- 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.
- Missing Steps Plan: Step One involves creating a monstrous man-eating fish which will destroy all life in the sea except for itself and propagate beyond anyone's control. This fish will be released to patrol resource-rich stretches of ocean to protect them so those resources can be exploited. How is this better than obtaining legal offshore mineral rights? How will the creatures be kept in the areas where WOI wants them to be? How does WOI intend to stop the fish from chomping their own employees too? Obviously you're just too old to understand. Too old for science! And too old for your wife!
- Mix-and-Match Critter: We never get a very good look at the Devil Fish, but evidently it's a prehistoric "shark"/giant octopus 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. Most of the monster's victims are men, although Miller kills a few women, in ways crueller than the monster's own methods.
- Mundane Utility: The WOI apparently thinks the best use for incredibly advanced genetic engineering and DNA recovered from an animal that's been extinct hundreds of millions of years is to guard mining operations. That it's also a Missing Steps Plan more likely than not to go horribly wrong is a whole other issue.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Really badly. The movie is set in Florida, but none of the voice actors can hold a convincing American accent.
- Product Placement: The beer everyone drinks is very clearly Budweiser, with the labels aimed directly at the camera.
- 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.
- Threatening Shark: The film seems to be going for this, as indicated by the Italian title, but the monster is actually a cross between a bony fish and a mollusc.
- 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.