|Copyright 1979 Medusa Productions
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 21 April 2001
- Lt. Claude de Ross - Military doctor that was washed ashore after a shipwreck. I should be happy that a military type finally survived, but of course he has to be a doctor as well.
- Amanda - Attractive woman with a talent for interacting with marine life, she is also a crack shot. Anybody who can hit a snake's head from about forty yards, firing from horseback, is impressive. (I'm in love, but Ringo Starr said "zug zug" to her first.)
- Ernest Marvin - Mad scientist. He is working for the betterment of mankind, but what if I don't want gills?
- Francois and Skip - Prisoners from the same ship Claude was on, they meet with distasteful ends.
- Peter - The requisite evil prisoner. For a career rapist/murderer he sure isn't very good at it.
- Jose - Another prisoner, but he becomes one of Dr. Marvin's experiments. Humanely put down by Claude.
- Shakirah - Native priestess and a master at the art of voodoo, also an amateur seismologist. Shot to death.
- Edmund Rackham - Greedy man who funded Dr. Marvin's research into making fish men. He had hoped to recover a fortune in treasure from the lost continent of Atlantis by using the creatures, instead he is eaten by that very same research.
- The Fish Men - Created by Dr. Marvin to solve the looming world population crisis. Love it when a woman tells them to "go and jump in a lake."
- Everybody we meet in the first twelve minutes - Fish men food!
|Fish men, fish men, roly poly fish men...
There are some wonderful things you can do with synthetic materials, besides giving the Catholic Church more actions to label as sinful. Turning a normal man off the street into an amphibious monster is one of them.
We start with a group of Nineteenth Century treasure hunters visiting a cursed island in hopes of finding gold. Scenes are a little dark and you might have problems identifying the characters. Don't worry about it; they will not be appearing in the rest of the film except as rotting corpses. I don't expect all of them to see the closing credits. Heck, I honestly expect only one or two survivors, but I have complained about it before and probably should again: why do we spend twelve minutes with people who all die?
Okay, I am done. No more ranting - for now. As implied, the group of treasure hunters is killed off by the island's denizens with much prejudice. Since this is still early in the film, almost every fatality is caused by a claw quickly descending on the camera. Fish men appear to be very strong and able to rip a man's head off with little effort. They also scratch a couple of people to death in the film's course. Seeing someone's camera point of view attacked by the claw, then watching them fall backwards with little more than superficial wounds to the face, leaves you with wonderment at the frailty of life.
Next group to discover the island is a lifeboat full of felons and Claude. The doctor couldn't let men drown, even if they were father-stabbers and father-rapers (Father-rapers!), so he unlocked their cell as the ship sank. Perhaps "discover" is the wrong word; a fish man smashes the lifeboat against jagged rocks and begins killing the hapless swimmers. You've sprinkled flakes into the tank and watched a fish trying to eat all the pieces of food before right? With so many flakes, some make it to the bottom and this is exactly why Claude survives. The monster has his hands full killing all these people; a few waterlogged survivors wash up on the beach.
Food and potable water become the castaways' priorities. Neither is available, so they drink brackish marsh water and hunt among the reeds. Francois does manage to catch a flamingo, but a fish man manages to catch Francois. A very dead Frenchman results. Claude and his pet criminals decide to push inland, hoping for greener and less deadly pastures. Why doesn't anybody ever hunt for food in the tidal zone? Fish, mollusks, and other foods are in abundance there. Find something that does not seem ready to stick a poison spine in you and chow down.
During their trek it becomes obvious the island is inhabited, though a mysteriously empty graveyard makes Jose start babbling about voodoo. He keeps up the rigmarole through their meeting with Mr. Rackham and Amanda, only ceasing when somebody clobbers him. Next time we see Jose he will not be communicating. Thank goodness for mad scientists with truncheons.
Meanwhile, it is obvious the island paradise is in peril. The volcano is rumbling ominously and Amanda seems to have a hate-hate relationship going with Edmund. Peter tries getting back to his roots by raping the beautiful lady and is looking badly out of practice when a monster intervenes. Claude is also attacked, but doesn't get his brain-housing group ripped off, probably because the hero always has his head screwed on right. *Crickets Chirping* Actually Amanda rides up and tells the fish man "No."
Claude has a hard time getting information out of the movie's antagonist (hint: it's not the fish men) about what is going on when Dr. Marvin stumbles from his laboratory. Covered with infected sores, the scientist has seen many better days. With his appearance the plot becomes a torrent. The aquatic killers are first passed off as being descendants of Atlantis, under tenuous control thanks to a secret potion and the female lead's beguiling looks. In reality the creatures are genetically altered humans who the madman hopes will populate the oceans. Rackham has some different goals in mind; he wants the gold and jewels that lie beneath the waves. Below the island, in a few thousand feet of water, is the religious center of Atlantis (I do mean directly underneath, it almost seems as if the island is supported by rock pillars). Only the fish men can retrieve the treasure from such depths and Amanda is compelled to do as Rackham wishes.
Exactly, screw that. Give me a small army of killer fish men and then try to bully me, it would be the last mistake of your life. Amanda never thinks of this, which is just as well when the situation falls apart. Can Claude save the woman he lusts after? Will Rackham get his just desserts? How do you escape from dozens of rampaging fish men? It takes about fifteen minutes to get resolved, plus you get to watch what appear to be fishing lures dance in front of a model in somebody's fifty-five gallon tank.
An oddity about "Screamers" is the box, which describes the movie thusly: "The tribesman say that the doctor has created grotesque half-human creatures for evil, secretive purposes. And though at first the prisoners do not believe this, as they disappear, one by one, they begin to change their minds." I don't know what movie this really describes, though it sounds a lot like "Screamers." I mean there are natives, monsters, and a scientist, but the facts do not quite match up. Let's not forget the tagline either. "They're men turned inside out! And worse... ...they're still alive!" What? Huh? Where are the inside out guys again? I want to watch the movie described on the box!
Here is a study in getting around copyright laws. For all intents and purposes this is H.G. Wells' "The Island of Dr. Moreau" with fish men. Not to say that I didn't like the movie, but it came just two years after the 1977 Michael York adaptation and has all the major plot points. Check this one out if the opportunity arises, watching Piranha with opposable thumbs is a good time.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- Don't visit some place called "The Cave of the Dead" at night.
- Lobsters spin webs.
- If you find milky sulfurous water bubbling out of the ground you probably shouldn't drink it.
- Hitting someone across the chest with a stick will knock him out of action.
- Fish love milk.
- There is a rare species of python that drools.
- Having a rug (to wipe muddy feet on) will help prevent the discovery of your secret door.
- Don't stick some man wearing a wig in front of the camera and expect me to believe it is the heroine.
- 2 mins - Who set up a fog machine behind that rock?
- 6 mins - What in the Hell was a starfish doing on the ceiling?
- 9 mins - Ewww... ...naughty boy, you'll go blind.
- 15 mins - Walk much?
- 26 mins - There is a species of tropical rattlesnake, but it does not look like that.
- 28 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A VOODOO ALTAR!
- 38 mins - Notice that the background changed from ocean to marsh.
- 42 mins - How did he not see the cliff?
- 73 mins - That pipe has to be gravity fed, plug it up with something. Your shirt stupid, try using your shirt.
- 79 mins - Whoever invented Piercers must have watched this film, I wonder if it was Gary Gygax?
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Jose: "This island is inhabited by zombies, the living dead. That's why the graves are empty, there are zombies here!" |
Claude: "Stop it Jose, you're talking nonsense. Zombies don't exist, they've never existed."
||Edmund: "You knew those men would follow you, didn't you my dear? You're a very naughty girl."
||Claude: "Nightmares don't have sharp claws. There is something living in the swamps out there, and it attacked me!" |
Amanda: "You're talking nonsense, Claude."
||Claude: "You are not a scientist! You're a madman, an insane criminal!"
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|The creatures are completely out of control here, having been driven over the edge by the sight of their creator dead. Edmund is making good use of his pistol to stop the evolved Mahi Mahi, plus the natives are armed with shovels!
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