BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
Up from the Depths is a salvage film. Rescued from the Philippines by legendary B-movie producer Roger Corman, a lot of the film was already in the can before Corman flipped it into a monster under the sea picture set on a Hawaiian island. This is in part because of his success with Piranha; people were STILL afraid to get back into the water, even if the scares were of a lower class. It was also because Corman knew how to make money on even the simplest of movie knock-offs and, while awful in many aspects, Up from the Depths delivers a far goofier alternative to the intensities of JAWS.
Inferior in every way to Piranha, Corman’s Up from the Depths is fortunate to even see the light of day in HD. Scream Factory, also knowing how to make a dime or two, have seen fit to limit this release to 1000 copies and make it available solely on their website. For B-movie enthusiasts – the ones who can’t look away from absolute train wrecks and so on – this release on blu-ray is real find.
Directed by Charles Griffith (the writer of Little Shop of Horrors, Death Race 2000, and almost every other Corman hit including Bucket of Blood), Up from the Depths is loaded with fabulous characters who wouldn’t be able to find their way out of a paper bag. They certainly don’t give normal responses to the attacks in this film. Even composer James Horner can’t help but slip with this one and revert to music ques best reserved for cartoons.
“My Gawwd,” screams a lady at the hotel bar, “there’s a monster fish on the loose!” “Give me one on the rocks” is the only response. And that’s from the waiter. No one cares about the attacks until it is far too late. They all make jokes about the sheriff sending someone out in two days, dismissing the mysterious disappearances as a sort of kids will be kids and runaway sort of thing. And then, out of sheer frustration, they simply use the dead bodies around them as bait.
So a big ass shark is dragging people away from the shore and the sea. We know this from the very beginning, though, when a cute diver goes missing after kissing her man for good luck. Hilariously, the tourists go running to the Hawaiian shore and then keep running, causing mass hysteria and igniting uncontrollable fires. Do they not know that Sharks can’t walk? It actually takes one couple to discover this for themselves; that’s all the hope the boneheaded material Griffith directs gives us.
Unfortunately, his direction is not much better. Even if the b-movie is funny, one has to wonder just how intentional all the laughter is. Only one performance tops the shark’s rather flat appearance and that’s from Forbes, the hotel manager, who has one insane and largely inappropriate comment after another. Certainly, there are jabs and jokes and a healthy dose of ribbing, but there’s little else.
And the red dye in the water isn’t murky enough to hide the two prop handlers pushing the shark toward the screen. Did the filmmakers just give up? I hope so. Movies this hilariously awful should provide reasons. And there is one. Griffith, who was sent to make an action movie, wound up making a comedy and then, when Corman got his hands on the print, it was tucked and trimmed and tossed back out into the world as another underwater monster movie in the vein of JAWS; that’s bound to make an editor’s job a nightmare.
Even for a knock-off flick, there’s just not much here. The monster is a near embarrassment and, as it takes 40 long minutes for it to appear, the audience has to wonder why they are there in the first place. We get teased and taunted, but the loopy characters – played here by Sam Bottoms, Susanne Reed, Virgil Frye, and Kedric Wolfe – spit their lines out just as quickly as the sea-bound shark does its victims and with just as much of an impact.
This floater is for the collector only.
MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime: 85 mins
Director: Charles B. Griffith
Writer: Alfred M. Sweeney
Cast: Sam Bottoms, Susanne Reed, Virgil Frye
Genre: Horror | Comedy
Tagline: Your vacation is about to end.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Oh my God, it's a monster fish!"
Theatrical Distributor: New World Pictures
Release Date: June, 1979
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: September 27, 2016
Synopsis: SOMEWHERE BENEATH THE WAVES LURKS A HORROR BEYOND YOUR DEEPEST NIGHTMARES... AND IT'S COMING UP FROM THE DEPTHS.
We've all been lured in by the promise of a relaxing vacation, and a luxurious tropical resort is the perfect place to get away from it all. But when an undersea earthquake awakens a vicious sea creature from its slumber, the only thing the resort's innocent sun worshippers will want to get away from is the deadly — and voracious — beast with a craving for human flesh. Can this monster be reeled in, or will this beach become its personal all-you-can-eat buffet?
Shout Factory Exclusive
Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray - September 27, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: Region A
Released on 1080p (with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1) by Scream Factory, Up from the Depths isn’t exactly the best looking upgrade to grace your television sets. I bet you won’t mind either. There is, in some certain location shoots at sunset, a heavy layer of grain. Now, this doesn’t bother me. I like grain. Grain works, but if you are expecting a low budget knockoff to look better some number of years AFTER its release date, then you will be disappointed by this restoration. They did what they could to get the new transfer from the best possible sources. Black levels are good, but never impressive. Some of the effects shots, while dated, are pretty solid with good execution…even if we know the monster isn’t real. The sound is presented in a basic DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track.
First, Corman speaks about the movie. He talks about saving the film and about assigning it to Griffith. He is followed by quick interviews from the crew who worked on the movie. And, yes, it all sounds like a terrible and unique experience on the set as one person got over his childhood fear of the water after having to constantly work in it. This release is only available from Scream Factory and is limited to 1000 copies.
- Making-Of Featurette
- TV And Radio Spots
- Theatrical Trailer