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Tintorera: Killer Shark (25th Anniversary Edition)

Desert Mountain Media // R // September 21, 2004
List Price: $14.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Bill Gibron | posted October 4, 2004 | E-mail the Author
A while back, Universal was celebrating the DVD release of Jaws and the media was putting on its own onerous feeding frenzy. Looking for any way to commemorate Steven Spielberg's landmark shark fest, anything was warranted and welcomed. The Fox News Channel, vying for a decidedly different angle to all the other half-assed hoopla, got the brainstorm to dig out some doddering dofus for a one-on-one interview. As the publicity puff piece began, the idiot was introduced and his purpose was revealed. This moron was an avid moviegoer back in 70s, and he had been profoundly affected by the blockbuster made out of Peter Benchley's underwater beast book. As he blathered on about being petrified to go into the ocean, and detailing the nightmares he experienced, a title card was superimposed across his chest. It offered his name (which, oddly, wasn't Hugh Jass or Stu Pidiot) and the following staggering statement: "Still Scared of Jaws". Here was a man who, at age 45 or so, was being touted as a timid tool that was still frightened by the ultimate big fish film. What a badge of honor. What a personal accomplishment. What a load of barnacle BS! Back when the future Mr. Moneybacks crafted his crackerjack horror film out of a malfunctioning prop and a magnificent manner of mise-en-scene, Jaws had an immediate impact. But to be afraid of a film you now know every spec sec and tech check about seems silly. However, if Joe Jockhead wanted a cinematic squat to really power his pants peeing, he need look no further than Rene Cardona Jr.'s repugnant retread of the Orca's last dance. But Tintorera: Killer Shark is not terrifying because of its title entity. Nope, this movie is menacing because of all the girl/guy grab ass passing before the lens.

The DVD:
Esteban/Steve is an overworked businessman who has landed in the hospital after drinking seven cups of coffee and smoking three packs of cigarettes in 2 hours. The doctor prescribes an extended rest, and Steve's sister has just the plan. Some wealthy friends have left their luxurious yacht parked outside the sun-drenched beaches of Mexico, and Steve can use the seafarer to cure what ails him. Turns out, Steve needed a little sexual healing, because the minute he hits the hot Caribbean sand, he is scamming on the ladies like a convict on conjugal visit day. But there is a problem. This tropical paradise is the territory of Miguel, a swarthy male escort who loves 'em, leaves 'em and takes a substantial cash deposit as motivation for engaging in both proclivities. Suddenly, Steve and the stud are rivals, vying for the affections of Patricia, a British bird who enjoys early morning skinny dippy. Unfortunately, her pre-dawn repast places her directly into the jaws of a man-eating tiger shark.

After a couple of quizzical moments, Steve has entered into a wager with Miguel over who will be first to bed the newly arrived Gabriella, another English wench with a penchant for cheap sex. Turns out, Gabby will merrily mount them both, since she wants a weird ménage a matrimony meeting between the threesome. Oh yeah, and that pesky people eater is still swimming around, munching on plot points and occasionally turning our focus away from all the free love and fornication. Tintorera: Killer Shark, can be such a barnacle based party pooper sometimes. The bastard.

Here are some words of advice for any soul daring enough to brave even a single showing of Tintorera. Heed these words and you may actually make it out of this movie more or less unscathed. First, get yourself an uncomfortable, smelly chair and place it directly in front of your home theater system. Line the seat and sides with carpet tacks, a few handfuls of fire ants and a healthy portion of fiberglass insulation (preferably shredded and coarse). Next, grab a tube of industrial strength rubber cement, plaster a nice fat layer of the gunk across each of your eyelids, then slam those flesh folds back into your head with a few well-placed staples or a blast or two from a pneumatic nail gun. Follow this up with seven precisely spaced icepicks. Measuring out approximately 13.47mm from your left temple and traversing the entire forehead, drive each of the pointed tools directly into your frontal lobes. Finally, find a nice refreshing beverage, something that will keep your mouth moistened and your soft pallet supple. Pop in your DVD of Rene Cardona Jr.'s 1977 murderous marine life movie and plop your ass into the prepared padding. After about 10 minutes, you will be grateful for the libation, since your maw will become arid from all the jaw-droppingly dumb moments. The glue and irritation-based reupholstering will keep you awake, less you find yourself dozing during this tedious, overlong awfulness. And the ice picks? They're a preemptive strike, a chance to isolate the brain damage you'll experience after watching this waterlogged waste to a single, isolated area.

Like the foul funk from a red tide fish kill or the overwhelming sensation of being sodomized by a bull walrus, Tintorera is one Caribbean crap-fest that should have been gutted and fed to the seagulls before it had a chance to lay around and fester. The direct rip-off result of the hysteria surrounding Jaws, it's a shark movie in name alone. The narrative actually has more in common with such foreign frolicking pork pies as I Like the Girls Who Do and Emmanuel Does a Chum Bucket than any amount of blue bayou/white death. For a film revolving around a prehistoric predator with the unfortunate reputation of a non-stop eating machine, Tintorera sends 87.65% of its screen time focusing on the sex life of a couple of Mexican lotharios, men who wear Speedos like dress slacks and seem to exude a combination of pheromones, body odor and rancid bay rum. Esteban – Steve to us non-Latinos – and his ought-to-be-gay play pal Miguel run around Cancun looking to pick up chicks while airing out their nether regions. There is more nude man ass in this movie than nubile female flesh, and when we do witness some feminine skin sacks blowing in the breeze, they are of the decidedly mid-70s "miniature" variety. With all the trim tracking and boy booty filling the screen, there is hardly room, let alone stomach, for a fed up flounder with an inferiority complex.

But director Cardona keeps insisting on heaving the razor-toothed tiger fish foolishness on us. You know that all he really wanted to make was a softcore romp where tourists tryst with island playboys for a little sun burnt slap and tickle. There's no real desire to incorporate the dorsal fin doodie into the sex story being explored. The eventual moments of monster melding are awkward and obvious. Steve has a boatman known as "Redhead" who helps out around the yacht. What does he do when he's not playing waiter to idle idiots? Why, he catches and kills sharks (which we witness in several, pre-PETA fish beating sequences). And when one UK babe needs to be 86'ed to make room for the name female star, how does Cardona resolve his rivalry? Why, by turning Fiona Lewis into an early morning meal for the swimming skank disposal unit. At every turn, Tintorera reconfigures its narrative to keep the hot spicy skin sinning front and center. Instead of giving us divers in a death struggle, or children as a shore based chow line, Cardona lets Miguel and Steve argue over the morality of casual copulating. Between shots of actor Andres Garcia in nothing but a dong thong and Hugo Stiglitz looking like a combination of Grizzly Adams and a peeled herring, this movie presents a pretty miscreant view of South of the Border beach combing. Add in the elderly drug lord (who looks like he's more "crisped" than "baked") and dozens of runaways looking to get lucky (but settling for intense tropical action with migrant workers in the back of orange trucks) and this so called man vs. beast vehicle is suddenly Summer Lovers without said film's internal narrative logic.

But the most amazing, mind-boggling moments in this movie are yet to come. Miguel and Steve have spent about a month sharing Gabriella's groin and they are happy as bearded clams. As a matter of fact, they are really starting to enjoy hanging out together, in AND out of clothing. One day, after shopping in the village, the guys have a meaningful corazone-to-corazone about their relationship – and they start making cow eyes for each other. Like one of those scenes in the classic romance novel where the couple destined to be together (and express said bond physically) finally lock lids and start the mental deflowering, Steve and Miguel enter into a silent butt buddy agreement, as everyone in the audience suddenly understands that they've just added DC to their "current" AC only paradigm. What this scene of hidden yet overt gay longing has to do with a carnivorous sea creature is anyone's guess. Perhaps Cardona thought that he'd make a more mature fright film by pressing sex into service. Or since a certain Steven S. subverted Benchley's book-based subplot where Chief Brody's bride bonks oceanographer Hooper, maybe the Mexican maverick felt like reinserting schtumping into his merry mix. Whatever the reason, there is just not enough bloody shark murders in Tintorera. If you like to see barracuda being speared – over and over again – and you don't mind watching scuba divers coldcocking sharks with the underwater equivalent of a bolt gun, then you might actually enjoy the scale based carnage in this film.

But don't except too many human casualties in this overwrought cinematic sushi. Over the course of two plus hours, only three people meet their maker, and even then, each death seems superfluous to what Cardona really cares about. Indeed, the most disappointing aspect of Tintorera is the fact that it sets us up for some enjoyable ersatz exploitation, but then decides to spend all its time on the erotic side of the aisle. We want to see blood! We long for a decent dredging of gore. But aside from a couple of artery opening sections where the water is maroon with mayhem, the killings are nothing more than camera tricks, insert shots of real life sharks biting into bait-filled special effects. We never experience anything remotely repugnant and actually start craving, outright, some good old-fashioned corpse grinding. But it never comes. Instead, Tintorera keeps piling on the plooking until we are simply sick and tired of the carnal misunderstandings. We could care less if Steve and Miguel ever knock boots. We wonder what Gabriella sees in these two tanned twits, and visualize what she'd look like mashed between a few dozen shark incisors. Had it made any effort to be a horror film, or even your typical foreign con job, then maybe this movie would have worked. But saddled with a story that is more cock and bull than fatal fish farce, Tintorera is terrible. As an example of milking a successful movie for all its money's worth, it's oceanic offal at its most awful. Tintorera: Killer Shark is boring, bewildering and far too bawdy. Too bad it forget which side of the shoreline its genre conch was croqueted on. It constantly shucks when it should have just jived.

The Video:
The 1.33:1 full screen image for Tintorera is acceptable, but lacks any real outstanding features. Apparently, this is the full, uncut version of the movie since many sequences are presented here in their original Spanish language incarnation. The good news is that Desert Mountain Media provides English subtitles for these additional sequences. The bad news – aside from having even more minutes of mindless movie to view - is that the translation NEVER goes away. In order to see what we're missing verbally from the film, we have to suffer through every line of the film being represented in some form of text. And to make matters worse, the English dubbing is offered with Spanish subtitles as well. If all of this sounds confusing, it is. Tintorera plays like a bad AV device for a first year language class. Half the time the characters are speaking in badly dubbed brogues. In other instances, their native tongue takes over. By the end of the film, you have a headache from all the written language variations and whiplash from nodding your head up and down every time there's a conversation.

The Audio:
Since it was made in 1977, Tintorera is one of the rare films to have a completely disco soundtrack. Famed for his work in the Conan canon and Robocop, Basil Poledouris's musical musings - which sound like Paul Jabara being gang raped by Jacque Morale, Giorgio Moroder and Dan Hartmann - really make you want to move your booty...into the bathroom, so you can projectile vomit. Otherwise, the overall aural issues are decent. Our title terror has his own electronic theme, which means that we instantly know when trouble's brewing because we hear the obvious sonic cue. Talk about your suspense killers. And even though it's presented in so-called Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, the reality is that this is Mono merely channeled through both speakers.

The Extras:
Saving us the torture of having to tolerate this film further, either via scene-specific commentary or behind the scenes featurettes, a group of text-based biographies of the cast and crew is the only bonus content offered. The DVD packaging declares this title to be the 25th Anniversary edition of Tintorera. Apparently, one celebrates a quarter century of existence with bare bones basics, not digital domain opulence.

Final Thoughts:
Something is really wrong with Tintorera. The juxtaposition of shark and sex just doesn't work. Anyone who thought combining undersea terror and between the sheets shenanigans would guarantee a bodice and/or body ripping good time was sadly insane. Nothing in this nauseating movie makes a lick of logical sense and the entire enterprise actually feels like a failed experiment in space-time continuum corruption. You will actually witness your DVD clock stand still as untold minutes of monotony implode and compress into infinite quadrants of temporal tedium. Perhaps, had director Rene Cardona Jr. been brave and taken his Queer Eye for the Kept Guy mentality to its necessary ends, we would have had a better movie. Miguel and Esteban could have abandoned this foolish fish flop and ended up as Fire Island's resident exotic ballroom dance instructors. All the gals glomming onto our sinewy stud muffins could have turned Sappho and spent all of their down time in same sex sultriness. Even our main monster could have abandoned his people eating ways to focus all his attention on making little baby Tintoreritas. But no, this Mexican mierda bought into the hype that anything revolving around the ocean, a dorsal fin and a few drops of red food coloring would lead to box office gold. They were almost right. Tintorera does prove something about the staying power of Jaws. Anyone still afraid of Steven Spielberg's first big film is just a publicity-seeking putz. Tintorera: Killer Shark is the real movie to be afraid of...but for a great many, very, very wrong reasons.

Want more Gibron Goodness? Come to Bill's TINSEL TORN REBORN Blog (Updated Frequently) and Enjoy! Click Here

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