In the summer of 1975, one of the greatest horror films ever made was released, and it made an entire generation afraid to go into the water.
The following decade saw a tremendous amount of imitators, from Orca, to The Jaws of Death, to Great White, to Shark, to even a scene-for-scene knock-off with a grizzly bear called Grizzly, but nobody has been able to emulate this 40-year-old film that is still setting standards today.
The film in question is Jaws, and no other creature feature has ever come close to replicating the brilliance that made film critics (arguably) coin the term “blockbuster” and catapult a film director into one of today’s most reputable filmmakers.
But it is films like this that make the more horror-savvy explorer dive deeper for sunken treasures, only to find other films following the tried formula that made Jaws a success, and one of those films happens to be the hidden horror known as Up from the Depths.
Set in a Hawaiian tourism resort on the beaches of Mahu, Up from the Depths begins with a diving expedition gone awry, after our creature devours its first victim in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it inaugural ingestion. This sets the mood for future scenes that all consist of quick flashes and over-the-top utilization of red food dye in the water. The creature itself barely gets any screen time.
Meanwhile, safe on terra firma, cumbersome resort manager Mr. Forbes is struggling to keep his guests pleased after a series of unrelated events. But when the real problem arises, and several body parts keep sweeping ashore, Mr. Forbes puts a price on the creature’s head that compels the locals and tourists to arm up and hunt the beast.
Up from the Depths has everything that makes a poorly labored film: terrible acting, poorly-written dialogue, bad dubbing, and some of the worst editing ever put together on the cutting room floor.
So what makes this film worth watching? It is possibly one of the greatest partnerships between unintentional and intentional comedy ever put to celluloid. I stress the latter form of comedy, as this film is no doubt a spoof of the subgenre. It’s as if Troma had produced Jaws, and this was the outcome – sans the gratuitous nudity and over-the-top violence.
Perhaps this film is a hidden horror for the bad rap it receives on Internet message boards and forums, not to mention the 2.5 star IMDb rating and the seven per cent rating on the Tomatometer, yet Up from the Depths is still a fun watch for anybody looking for a fun-in-the-sun horror film on the next rainy day.
– Matthew McPhee