We’re including this water-bound entry because – shockingly – it is the closest the Italians came to doing a rip off of America’s banner year of H20 hokum in 1989. If you know anything about the Italian film industry, this is incredibly surprising. There wasn’t a subgenre they didn’t love to exploit, from westerns to post-apocalyptic to slaying sharks. Perhaps they were like, “Eh, water issa too mucha work. I likea rock quarries.” Sadly, one of the reasons is because the Italian film industry was dying around this time and exploitation that required a bit more effort like underwater bases and aliens took a bit more money and work. So while Spain gave us THE RIFT (1989), the closest the Italians came to an underwater flick was Bruno Mattei’s SHOCKING DARK (1989), which had a setting of a submerged Venice but was mostly an ALIENS (1986) remake filmed in factory boiler rooms. It is truly a shame as I would have loved to have seen what Xerox cinema masters like Mattei or Claudio Fragasso would have done with a riff on THE ABYSS (1989) or LEVIATHAN (1989). As it stands, the closest we can get is CREATURES FROM THE ABYSS, which might not be from one of the replication masters but is definitely a kindred cinematic spirit.
Mike: “Professor, how long have you been fucking fish?”
Professor: “They were old enough, they were old enough!”
Truthfully, that actually brings the film down as I much prefer the unfiltered weirdness that emerges from straight dubbing. Not a lot happens in the first hour or so of the flick, but once things start rolling the film is surprisingly over-the-top. First off, this is one of the few Italian films where they used some stop motion FX. Second, the monster stuff is actually pretty gross (a woman giving birth to fish eggs) and the mutant fish are pretty well realized. So plan your post-viewing meal at Red Lobster accordingly. Believe it or not, Media Blasters actually got this flick into stores like Best Buy back in 2001. It is truly a testament to how strong the DVD industry was back then that something of such low quality could share shelf space with the latest Harry Potter blockbuster. It was a strange time.