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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Devil Fish aka Monster Shark (Blu-ray)
Devil Fish aka Monster Shark (Blu-ray)
Code Red // R // July 3, 2018 // Region A
List Price: $19.24 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted February 6, 2019 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Lamberto Bava's 1984 killer fish movie was obviously inspired by the success of Jaws and the countless other Italian knock offs that Spielberg's movie birthed. While it may not be the worst of the Jaws rip offs, it's definitely in the running… but it's still a hell of a lot of fun.

Set out in the ocean, we see a series of boats destroyed by an unseen force. Dr. Stella Dickens (Valentine Monnier) is called in to investigate but the teeth marks on the wreckage don't match anything, which means only one thing: that it's some sort of undiscovered creature that's been causing all this chaos and that she and her team of crack scientists are obligated to do everything in their power to capture this creature alive.

What Dr. Dickens doesn't know is that the culprit is actually a genetically engineered fish that's been created by some other, meaner scientists to be the ultimate weapon and that this ‘devil fish' can procreate asexually. That means that pretty soon there's going to be a whole lot of crazy, nasty fish wrecking boats and eating people all over the world's oceans. Thankfully tough guy Peter (Michael Sopkiw) is around to help out.

Anyone with an affinity for the goofy Italian Jaws rip offs of the early eighties already know what to expect from this one: bad acting, goofy effects, a ridiculous premise all made worse by horrible English language dubbing. Not particularly coherent or logical, Devilfish (which was at one point lampooned on Mystery Science Theater 3000) is a fun movie, but it's tough to defend it. Euro-cult fans will appreciate seeing the lovely Dagmar Lassander and Gianni Garko pop up in supporting decent enough roles in this mid-eighties schlockfest. The leads do okay. Sopkiw handles himself well in the action scenes and has enough charisma to carry the film when he's involved in the on-screen action. Monnier is a bit more wooden and a bit more flat, not the most convincing scientist we've ever seen in a movie but she's fun to look at.

Production values are pretty threadbare here. Although the movie is shot well enough on a technical level, the effects used to bring the monster fish to life are pretty laughable. The creature never even comes close to moving like a living thing, it's instead painfully obvious that it is made out of rubber. Still, a lot of the film's goofy charms come from the scenes where we see the cast attempting to act alongside this thing. They get an A for effort, if nothing else. Lamberto Bava paces the film well enough, despite a couple of slower scenes that happen in the first half of the movie. We can look past these with no trouble once the film focuses less on the story's human element and more on the clear and present danger posed by the giant rubber fish.

The film is better known as Monster Shark in some circles and was released uncut on DVD in Japan, but did not see domestic release on DVD outside of the MST3K version. Code Red's Blu-ray does right by the film in that regard.

The Video:

Devilfish arrives on Blu-ray from Code Red Releasing framed at 1.66.1 widescreen and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. This isn't an amazing transfer but it is more than decent. Some shots look a bit soft, which could have more to do with the way that the movie was shot than anything else, but detail is definitely stronger than you'd get on DVD. Color reproduction is pretty decent here as well, and black levels aren't bad. The transfer is film-like, retaining a natural amount of grain and showing minor white specks here and there, but no serious print damage to note.

The Audio:

The DTS-HD 2.0 Mono English language track is a no-frills affair but it gets the job done. Dialogue is a bit flat but the track is always audible enough and free of any audible hiss or distortion. It's clean and properly balanced and seems true to source.

The Extras:

The main extra on the disc is a commentary track with leading man Michael Sopkiw who is joined by Code Red's Bill Olsen and Damon Packard. Three are long gaps where the trio quiets up and a few spots where they sort of seem to struggle to remember details that they're discussing, but when they're on, there's good information here. Sopkiw talks about shooting on location, a few other Italian genre films he was involved in, how he got along with his co-stars and what it was like working for Lamberto Bava.

Menus and chapter selection, a trailer for the feature (that looks like a Youtube rip), bonus trailers for After The Fall Of New York, Blastfighter, (both of which star Sopkiw), Seven Bloodstained Orchids and The Violent Professionals and a quick two-minute introduction with Sopkiw and ‘Bananaman' finish off the extras on the disc, which comes packaged with some neat reversible cover art.

Overall:

Devilfish is seriously goofy stuff, but it's a lot of fun if you're in the right frame of mind for it. Code Red gives the film a more than respectable presentation and offers up a few extras as well. Recommended!

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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