Island of the Fishmen / L'isola degli uomini pesce (1979)

1.0 out of 5

With such a promising title, how could things go so dreadfully wrong? Unterrifying Sergio Martino adventure may feature Barbara Bach being menaced by amphibious man-beasts on the box art, but that's as far as any Jaws ripoff comparisons apply.

This is strictly PG-rated material with nary a drop of blood shed, nor a boobie exposed. The promotional art may be absolutely horrifying, but it's hard to accept just how castrated a flick this is. Lead Claudio Cassinelli proves he is every bit as undynamic a physical presence onscreen as he was in the tepid Violent Milan, and, predictably, once Giuseppe Castellano ends up impaled at the bottom of a jungle pit, the movie's remaining 50 minutes are completely downhill.

The fish-man attacks are less suspenseful to watch than Barbara Bach's imperceptible changes in facial expression. Joseph Cotten appears for an easy day and a half's work, fulfilling the movie's obligatory tortured-scientist-who-performs-evil-experiments-on-humans-role with more passion than any of the movie's stars. And this includes the fish-men.

Except for their bulging eyes, the creatures themselves are almost sympathetic in their meekness, even with the movie's sound department clipping together their "lines" out of old 1950s audiotape of elephants and tigers.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics