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Up From The Depths

Title: Up From The Depths
Year Of Release: 1979
Running Time:
85 minutes
DVD Released By: Shout Factory
Directed By: Charles B. Griffith
Writing Credits: Alfred M. Sweeney

Sam Bottoms, Susanne Reed, Virgil Frye
1. Your vacation is about to end!!!
Alternate Titles:
1. Jurassic Jaws

Review Date: 9.15.20

Shadow's Title: "Copy Catfish"

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OOP DVD Double Feature
Up From The Depths / Demon of Paradise

Up From The Depths


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Greg Oliver – He runs an old beat up fishing boat with his uncle on the island of Maru, which is near Maui. He likes to run cons on the tourists, from overcharging for cheap souvenir trinkets to staging elaborate phony sunken treasure dives. He takes it personal when the monster fish that invades the area snacks on one of his marks and vows to kill it. He may be a swindler, but at least he has integrity! Ends up with Rachel at the end.
Earl Sullivan – This is Greg’s uncle. He plays the part of drunken old sailor to help lure gullible tourists into renting his boat for bogus treasure hunting trips. Then again, every time we see him, he has a drink in his hand, so I don’t think he was just playing the part, but full on living it. He offers a whole case of rum as reward to anyone who can capture the killer fish…that is, if he doesn’t drink it all first.
Rachel McNamara – She works at The Tropical Palace as director of the Public Relations department. That has got to be a pretty crappy job when the guests are being eaten by some strange water monster and the press wants to know what is going on. You really can’t spin that one too much, unless you imply that it’s a great way for folks to get rid of their elderly relatives. Send grandpa on the vacation of a lifetime!
Oscar Forbes – This fool is the manager at The Tropical Palace resort. He runs around a lot in a frenzy, seeing to the guests and doing what he can to make them happy while at the same time barking at all the employees. When people start dying, he’s the asshole who wants to cover it up in hopes of not losing any money. At one point, in a panic he shoots himself in the foot like a true idiot.
Dr. David Whiting – A marine biologist that is undertaking some sort of research project in the waters off the island of Maru. What exactly he’s doing or looking for is never really explained, but once the giant monster fish shows up and chomps down his booty call female student, he’s obsessed with capturing it alive. Gets walloped to death.
The Harbor Master – The movie is not very good at assigning names to many of the characters, so I’m not positive if this guy had a name or not. What is known about this guy is that when advised to bring a gun with him on a boat ride, he brings a freakin’ assault rifle. I have to wonder what other weapons he had at home and how big his personal arsenal was. Gets munched.
Ed Bennett – This is one of the tourists staying at The Tropical Palace resort. He seems like a real loudmouth and doesn’t appear to have too many brains, either. He gets conned by Greg early on and throughout the movie he and his wife pop up for moments that I suppose were originally meant to be funny, but were just agonizingly painful.
Louellen Bennett – The other half of the Bennetts. She seems to get dragged around by her husband everywhere he takes a notion of going. She manages to stay on shore for most of the movie but by the end is forced to row a boat so that hubby cam operate his crossbow. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her push him over the side when the monster fish swam by.
Mr. Leseau – Another tourist. His name is never really heard too well and is not listed in the credits. My DVD has no subtitles, so going by the fact that he was French and by what it sounded like they were calling him, I dubbed him Leseau. He had a camera with him and he took photos of everything he saw. Gobbled.
Mr. Holland – Another tourist. The only thing to be said about him is that he was seen on the beach playing chess with himself. He goes along on the bogus treasure hunt cooked up by Earl and Greg, only to find real treasure while diving. Alas, before he can cash in, he gets gobbled up.
Jimmy – This tool was on vacation with his parents. I don’t know if he brought his girlfriend with him or the chick he was constantly smooching was someone he met while at the resort. The two of them join in the hunt for the monster fish and it’s only pure luck that either of them survive.
Darleen – Again, I’m not sure that this was this girl’s name, but I have yet to find another female character in the film who it could be. She pops up a few times, usually lip-locked with Jimmy and annoyed at the lack of privacy. Looks really good in any kind of swimsuit.
Iris Lee – A super model that is using the resort for her latest fashion shoot. Yes, she’s hot, but she’s also dumber than a box of rocks. She gets partially nude at one point to help liven things up a bit and then opts for an underwater photo session. Gobbled up along with her photographers.
The Catfishark – Some type of prehistoric deep water fish that was disturbed and brought to shallow waters by an earthquake. It looks like some sort of crappy cross between a catfish and shark, thus the name I gave it. It also has quite the appetite and snacks on a great many resort guests as well as employees. Don't expect to see it very well.


The Plot Hold your cursor over an image for a pop-up caption

30 stories high, Breathing fire, His head in the sky, GODZILLA! GODZILLA! GODZILLA!After a quick underwater shot, we see two people in a small two-engine boat. They are Dr. David Whiting and student Sandy Kane. She is prepping her scuba gear for a dive during which she will be placing some type of transmitters for their research. She asks for a kiss for good luck and after a quick smooch, she dives into the water. I suppose she and Whiting have one of “those” student/teacher relationships, where he gives her an A as a grade and she gives him boom-boom. Anyway, he waits in the boat while she descends below, which is already a huge mistake as you should never dive alone.

What follows is a series of shots of her swimming around underwater placing the transmitters and him monitoring the situation from above. Then the camera starts to shake and for a quick second I thought it was because the actress swam past the cameraman and bumped him, but rather, it’s an underwater earthquake. There’s more shaking and we see some rocks and soil shaken loose, but Sandy swims on. All of a sudden she’s facing the camera and waving her arms about in a panic. She’s being attacked by something! Of course, you’d never know it because the editing does not make it clear that something is attacking her nor are there any musical cues to denote a dangerous creature nearby. Everything just stays the same, all sedate and then all of sudden she just starts flailing about. We get a shot from behind some rocks that show her hand-held light rise to the surface and then a veritable plume of blood that had to be enough for about a dozen people.

Above, Whiting notices all the bubbles and the sudden color change in the water. He grabs a glass, dips it in the water and examines the red-tinted water as if to be sure it’s blood and not say…Kool-Aid. He gets this look on face, realizing that something bad has happened to Sandy and that his days of banging her and now over.

We pull back from shore as the credits unfold. We see some Hula dancers and with the sudden quick beat of some drums, I thought we were in for an Hawaii Five-O style theme, but it quickly segues into a slower, relaxed number that makes you think more of luaus, mai tais on the beach and Don Ho singing in the background rather than cops and Jack Lord. We see The Tropical Palace resort, located on the small (fictional) island of Mahu, near Maui. There are lots of people swimming, relaxing on the beach, snapping photos, playing ping pong and having drinks. Lots and lots of drinks. I think I’ll take one right about now. I’m gonna need it for this movie. Suddenly the music changes again. We keep the Hawaiian theme, but now it’s in the style of a Vegas stage show. As the camera pans around we see some of the morons…er…characters that will feature in this mess. There’s Mr. Forbes, who manages the resort and is running around seeing to the needs of the guests. There’s Mr. Leseau who has a camera around his neck and is snapping photos of damn near everything. There’s Mr. Holland, who is playing chess by himself. And there’s Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, two tourists who have more money than brains and who will pop up throughout this mess.

Speaking of Bennett, he is wading ashore, approaching some young kids. One of the kids is yelling to his mom on the shore that there is something weird in the water. Michael Phelps perhaps? No, whatever it is, Bennett trips right over it and collapses. When he rises from the water he is now covered in all manner of guts and entrails. He tosses it all back in the water, but he is now stained with blood. His wife rushes to him with a towel she yanks from a nearby sunbather. Forbes scrambles over to see that he’s all right and offer the couple free drinks. Everyone passes off the guts as bait that washed ashore from a fishing boat. A funny moment occurs when Mrs. Bennett hands off her drink to one of the kids while helping her husband. She forgets all about it as they leave. The takes a sip of what is left of it and then spits it out into the water.

While the Bennetts enjoy their free drinks, Forbes is looking for Rachel McNamara, the head of the resorts public relations department. He is informed that she is on “water patrol.” Apparently this means that she is just transported around on a canoe by one of the islanders. When she returns, Forbes grabs her and drags down the beach to a secluded spot where he rants and raves about how “they” are out to swindle his guests and how “they” are out to get him and how “they” dump chum in the water and let it wash ashore. So I guess “they” in this case are fishermen, especially a particular pair of local fishermen. As he’s ranting, Rachel spots a dead shark on the beach, which Forbes also blames on “them” and tells her that she needs to go to “that scummy little harbor” and get rid of “them.” Then he stomps off with her trailing behind. After they go, Mr. Leseau appears and snaps photos of the dead shark.

“Sorry folks, I’ve never heard of a horga'hn.”We next see the Bennetts again, who are swindled out of fifty bucks by Greg Sullivan, who works in tandem with a guy running a souvenir stall to sell them an overpriced Tiki statue. When Bennett hears that Greg lives nearby on a fishing boat with his uncle, he says he’d like to see it.

At the harbor, Dr. Whiting is returning on the small, outboard motor boat without Sandy. Apparently he and his group are working off a larger fishing boat for the duration of their research, which is docked at the harbor. Whiting climbs aboard then goes ashore to inform the harbor master of a missing person. Greg, who is heading to his own boat, overhears this and questions why Whiting let Sandy dive alone. Whiting is annoyed and stomps off. The Bennetts arrive and mistake Whiting’s boat for Greg’s. The harbor master points them in the right direction: a run down, considerably smaller boat further down the dock. Inside are Greg and his uncle Earl, who sits at a table surrounded by empty bottles and half-eaten food. The Bennetts want to rent the boat for a fishing trip, but Earl and Greg relate a bullshit story about some lost ivory and jade artifacts offshore nearby to entice them further. It seems that is the way they scam tourists.

Rachel arrives to see Greg. It seems they are kind of a couple. She asks if he and his uncle had dropped any bait nearby, but he says no. He tells her a girl drowned earlier and then she informs him that he and Earl have been banned from the resort in perpetuity for running cons on the guests. He wants to see the remains of the shark and she says to come see it and then she turns and leaves, annoyed that she didn’t really seem to be getting through to him.

On the research boat, the harbor master – who is enjoying a beer while seemingly on duty – asks Whiting how he knows that Sandy just didn’t come ashore some place. Really? REALLY? How did this dumb shit get his job? Why in hell would anyone swim all the freakin’ way back to shore rather than ascend to the boat right above them? The only reason I can think of is if that person was hugging the sea floor, trying to evade a large predator like a shark. That would be a cause for concern, but Mr. dumbass here doesn’t seem worried and is content to just sit here and drink other people’s beer. Whiting says they were a long way out, but let’s hope she did. WTF? Does anyone think about going back out to where she was diving and look for her? As far as they know, she came back up and found the boat gone. She might be out there right now waiting for someone to return or trying to make the long swim back to shore, but these clowns are just sitting around drinking beer as if it was no big deal. Anyway, the harbor master leaves and some locals row up in canoe to hand off some fish they caught to Whiting. He’s surprised at one having been found in such shallow waters and doesn’t even recognize another.

A quick shot shows a fin cutting through the water before submerging. Nearby are a bunch of tourists taking a ride on a glass bottom boat. While everyone’s attention is on the sea bottom and the tour guide, the resort employee at the rear of the boat notices something on the sea floor and quietly slips overboard. He dives down and recovers it: a severed hand with a depth gauge still strapped to the wrist.

Night has fallen, but the festivities at the resort continue. Forbes makes the rounds, ensuring everything is going well. Mr. Holland is still playing chess by himself, a Mr. Suki is enjoying dinner and Rachel is dinning with Mr. Leseau. As he chats with them and expounds upon how great the resort is, a waitress comes and informs Forbes that some guy named Harry wants to see him. So Forbes goes to see Harry who informs him about the severed hand and where it was found. Forbes tells him to get rid of it and to tell no one about it. At another table Forbes finds Greg and Earl talking about the “treasure” to the Bennetts as well as Mr. Holland. Forbes tries to tell the guests that the pair are swindlers, but they don’t seem to hear it. Mrs. Bennett even chastises him for potentially spoiling their fun! He finally calls for some employees to run Greg and Earl off the property, but Earl just snarls at them and they end up turning tail and running away. Before Greg and Earl do leave, they tell Bennett and Holland to meet them at the boat the next day.

The following day we see Rachel and Mr. Leseau being rowed to a more secluded beach near the resort to have a picnic. Already there is a young horny couple who are necking in the bushes. They stomp off, annoyed that they are no longer alone. The canoe deposits Rachel and Leseau, then turns and leaves. I don’t know how the pair plan on getting back, unless they have to make a long walk or something. They wade ashore but before they can eat, Leseau starts snapping photos of Rachel as she poses on some rocks. He moves to several different positions to get various angles and eventually is standing behind some rocks in waist deep water. We get a POV shot to tell us that something in the water is moving closer to him.

Side note: we will later see that the beast in question is actually quite large with a very long body. How Leseau or Rachel could not see it is beyond me, especially since she is standing up on some rocks and is in a higher position. She should easily see this massive fish come swimming up to Leseau. The fin alone should be sticking straight up out of the water, but we see nothing. She claims that the sun is in her eyes, which may hinder her sight somewhat, but should certainly not prevent her from seeing an animal of that size from such a short distance away.

“Okay, take off your shirt and then jump up and down fives times.”Always shoot with the light BEHIND you.Anyway, the fish creeps up on Leseau as he is readying another photo. It goes for his legs and we see blood in the water. From Rachel’s perspective, we just see him sliding down into the water as he cries “help!” That’s it for Mr. Leseau. There are no further screams, no frantic splashing, nothing. Just his camera left behind on the rocks where he dropped it. For a monster attack scene, it was rather lame. He could have just as easily been slipping on some rocks when he vanished from view, instead being devoured by a huge fish.

We cut now to Greg diving somewhere, near the wreck of a sunken ship. He plants numerous fake coins and other bits of “treasure” for his marks to find when he brings them out to dive later. Lots of underwater shots – including some brief stock footage – ensues. It ends when he uses his spear gun to catch a large fish.

We segue to a similar fish being butchered on a table top in the resort’s kitchen. Mr. Forbes is having a fit, ranting and raving about the oversized portions going out on the dinner plates. Too much food on a plate means too much is not eaten, which means money lost for the resort. Rachel now wanders in, still in a daze from the death of Mr. Leseau. Forbes, seeing that she is not too steady on her feet and has glistening eyes from tears, asks if she is pregnant! When all she mutters is, “Mr. Leseau,” he replies with, “Oh my god, you’ve been raped!” Nice of him to go straight to the nuclear option. When she says that Leseau is dead, Forbes rushes her out of the kitchen so they can speak without anyone overhearing. She tells him that Leseau was pulled under water by a fish or a crocodile or something. She asks if he will call the police, but the closest cops are on Maui and he doesn’t want to alarm the guests.

We turn now to Greg and Earl, who are out on their boat with Mr. Bennett, Mr. Holland and a local guy named Roger who must be part of their crew. We see Earl manning a grill, Greg donning scuba gear with Holland and Roger just sitting there smiling and laughing like he plans on murdering them all and taking their belongings. Who is driving the damn boat?!!! Eventually they toss the anchor overboard and Greg and Holland make their dive. Holland is locating the previously planted fake coins and treasure as Greg watches. Greg then seems to take interest in some of the things Holland is finding and stuffing into his bag. Suddenly the music switches to Japanese Koto for no apparent reason. I guess because they are supposed to be recovering Japanese artifacts.

Eventually, before all of this can put the audience to sleep, the killer fish comes hurtling out of nowhere to attack Holland. We get a split second look at its head and gaping, tooth-fill maw is it zooms in. Then it’s a series of quick shots showing bloody water, some sort of piece of ragged meat being shaken and lots of bubbles. Greg wastes no time in heading for the surface. I guess they had not dived too deep, otherwise the bends would surely smack him upside the head. He climbs back on the boat all shaken and quickly tells Earl that Holland is dead and that they need to get out of here. As Roger gets the boat underway and everyone ignores Bennett’s questions as to Holland’s whereabouts, Greg tells Earl about the real treasure he found down there as well as the very real giant not-a-shark thing that gobbled up Holland.

Back at the resort, we witness the arrival of Iris Lee, a leggy model of some renown. As she gets out of her car, a bunch of photographers are there to snap pictures of everything she does. A large portion of the guests are in awe at her presence, as if her mere touch will cure cancer or something. Rachel doesn’t seem too thrilled about her.

Greg and Earl are bringing their boat back into the harbor, making plans to catch the not-a-shark and claim the treasure that got swallowed along with Holland. As they dock they are met by Mrs. Bennett and we hear her husband relate to her how Holland drowned and was swept out to sea by a storm. “What storm?” she asks. Indeed, the horizon is quite clear of cloud activity. Nearby we see Rachel informing the harbor master of Leseau’s death. Earl approaches and tells the harbor master that he also has a drowning to report. The harbor master shakes his head and says he will call someone named Barlow, who will send someone over in a couple days. Presumably this Barlow is on Maui.

Rachel and Greg stand there looking at each other saying nothing. Then Dr. Whiting comes over and says, “You’ve both seen it. How big was it?” How does he even know that there is an “it?” He wants to know if “it” had any phosphorescent properties and if the eyes seemed blind. Greg tells him to get lost. That seems dumb. Why say that to someone who might have some knowledge on what the not-a-shark may be? Whiting then tells Rachel that he will come see her the next day, after she has gotten over the shock of seeing it. Hell, I don’t even think she did see it. Remember there was nothing in the water to be seen when Leseau was pulled under.

Night has now fallen and its time for more festivities at the resort. Forbes is leading around a bunch of photographers looking for Iris Lee, but she can’t be found. They come across that horny young couple necking, who tell them to get lost. Then they find Rachel and Greg just sitting quiet. I thought Greg was banned from this place in perpetuity? I don’t see Forbes flying off the handle at his presence. Rachel then mutters something about Moonlight Beach and walks off, everyone following her. There they find Iris Lee wading in the water. Rachel says that no one should go into the water at all, but they all dismiss her claims that there is something out there.

“Room service? Can I get an extra-large espresso with say…50 pumps of Jack Daniels in it?”Day comes and Greg is coming to see Rachel at her bungalow. Also there is resort employee Harry, who is there to tell her about the severed hand that was found and that Forbes wanted hushed up. Rachel goes to call the harbor master while Harry takes Greg to where the hand was found, “out on the reef.”

Aboard Dr. Whiting’s boat, the harbor master arrives to ask him about “his fish.” Whiting tries to claim ignorance, but the harbor master isn’t buying it. Whiting concedes that he knows there is some previously unknown fish out there, but doesn’t want say anything about it right now. The harbor master offers him a lift to the resort and Whiting tells him to bring a couple of rifles along, just in case. “I can do better than that,” is the response.

Rachel, unable to reach the harbor master by phone, joins Greg, Harry and one other expendable guy as they head out on the glass bottom boat. Elsewhere on a catamaran, Iris Lee is posing for pictures, her cadre of photographers hard at work, snapping away. Onshore, it’s business as usual at the resort. Forbes is running around in another ridiculous looking outfit when he notices a guy in a suit and tie. This turns out to be Bob Durrell of the Honolulu Star Bulletin. A reporter! That’s the last thing Forbes wants to see around here now. The reporter starts asking about Sandy Kane – the student who got munched at the beginning of the film, for those of you who can’t remember shit too easily – but Forbes blows him off, having spied Earl lurking around the beach. He tells Earl to leave or he will have him killed, but Earl says that he has a business proposition for him.

Out on a small boat, Dr. Whiting is telling the harbor master that they have a big fish to deal with and that it probably killed Sandy. He adds that all sorts of strange deep sea critters have been popping up in local waters as of late, due to shifting currents. He figures they will head back down to deeper waters eventually, but he wants to capture the big one before it can do that. The harbor master calls him out on his desire to advance scientific knowledge by sacrificing people who may go swimming. “Hey, the fish were there first,” Whiting proclaims.

Now we see a bunch of youths jumping off some cliff ledges into the water near where both the glass bottom boat is now moving about as well as the catamaran with Iris lee. They dive down to the sea floor, searching for coins tossed into the water by tourists. Alas, what they do find is trouble with a capitol T. Resting on the seafloor a short ways off is the big not-a-shark thing that has been munching on people, and one must assume that it is hungry again. Funny enough, the creature’s head resembles a catfish more than a shark, though as we will see, its long body is very reminiscent of carcharodon carcharias. Naturally, the youth freak out when they see the beast and promptly soil their swimming shorts. Well, I assume they did. I would have.

We get a shot of a guy standing on shore, near where these kids jumped. No one is clamoring to get out of the water. Does that mean the kids we saw are all gone, swallowed whole perhaps? Next, the glass bottom boat arrives at its destination and those aboard see what seems to be the severed head of a diver, still wearing its face mask. That must be Sandy…or what is left of her. They have barely had time to react to this sight when the Catfishark attacks, its big rubbery head rising from the deep to grab one end of the boat and smash it between its jaws. The entire vessel falls apart is if made from balsa wood and everyone is thrown into the water. Alas, the poor expendable guy at the rear (now played by a noticeably different actor) then meets his end in another flurry of shots like last time: a quick shot of the Catfishark, then hurried shots of water, thrashing limbs, blood, ragged meat and bubbles, though somehow the lei he was wearing is left floating on the surface.

Greg, Rachel and Harry are all floundering in the water when the boat carrying Dr. Whiting and the harbor master comes racing over. The harbor master was apparently prepping for World War III as he now produces an assault rifle and begins firing at the Catfishark. Greg and Rachel are pulled aboard while Harry splashes toward shore. He manages to climb up and cling precariously to some rocks. After we saw the monster rise from the water just now, I really don’t think he’s far enough above the water to be safe. Just around the corner from him is a recessed cave-like area and in the far back we see about seven or eight kids all huddled up, trying to occupy the same space at the same time. So I guess they all managed to avoid becoming fish food. I bet that area smells, too; since I bet every single one them crapped themselves and now has liquid shit running down their legs. No wonder the Catfishark let them go.

“That wasn’t what I had in mind when I told you to bring me a bag of weed.”Over on the catamaran, Iris Lee is in a bikini and looking pretty damn good if I must say so. Does anyone find it creepy admiring the looks and bodies of actresses in these older films, knowing that at the time they were filmed, you were only a child or maybe even years away from being born, thus making you ogle over a woman who is now either elderly or dead? No? Me either. The boat with the others is racing in the direction of the catamaran, which a few seconds ago, was not that far away on the horizon. Now, however, Iris Lee has time to change into two different outfits and then back into her bikini while they are still on the way. She removes her bikini top for some boob shots, showing of her ample bosom. She then claims she is hot and wants to do the underwater shots.

POW, just like that she and a pair of photographers are now underwater. She’s got a scuba tank and mask on, but is still topless. The photographers are just equipped with long air hoses from the boat. One guy is snapping photos with what appears to be the same camera he was using above. A wide shot above shows the boat with the others FINALLY approaching the catamaran, even though the shore doesn’t seem to be that far away. Why did it take them so damn long to get there? Did they take the scenic route? Perhaps they had to get fuel. Maybe they stopped for an ice cream on the way. Whatever the case may be, Greg and the harbor master climb aboard the catamaran. Below, the Catfishark arrives and gobbles up both photographers and Iris Lee in that order. When the air hoses are pulled up from above, all they see are the jagged ends.

Whiting now says that the beast is on the move and getting away, so Greg and the harbor master jump back aboard and off they go back towards shore. I wonder how long it will take them to get there this time.

At the resort, we see that the sun is getting very low in the sky, about to touch the watery horizon. The usual festivities are underway with food, drinks, music, drinks, dancing and more drinks. It’s as if Noel Coward wrote a play set in Hawaii. Earl is trying to tell Forbes his idea for getting rid of the fish, but Forbes doesn’t even believe that the fish exists. Earl, ever the capitalist, wants to stage it as a contest and sell tickets.

The boat with the others now arrives and they yell for everyone to get out of the water since the monster fish is on its way. I guess they beat it back to shore. Everyone in the water now starts heading towards land. Within seconds everyone is panicking and screaming…and I do mean everyone. Even the dozens and dozens of people safely on dry soil now begin to scream and run around all crazy as if either Godzilla himself was seconds away from rising from the sea and stomping them all flat, or Harvey Weinstein had just arrived to make a speech at a women’s college. Canoes are hurtling towards shore and those aboard jump out and run just as soon as they hit beach. There is a lot of screaming, and I do mean a lot, probably only surpassed by Black Friday at Walmart.

Greg and the harbor master climb aboard a floating platform and start taking shots at the Catfishark as it swims directly at them. The fish rams the platform and the harbor master is thrown into the water, crashing through a pretty flimsy railing in the process. He gets gobbled up. On shore, Forbes has grabbed a pistol and is running towards the beach proclaiming, “I’ll kill it!” Whiting and Rachel, who have now made it to shore, try to stop him, which only ends up with Forbes shooting himself in the foot.

You’d think by now that the entire area would be cleared of people, but you’d be very wrong. There are still dozens of folks running around screaming and waving their arms about like they were on fire or trying to signal someone in a plane for help. Someone knocks over some tiki torches on the beach and suddenly a shack is going up in flames. This all goes on for a long time. Greg manages to wade safely ashore while the sun is just barely above the horizon. Did no one give enough of a shit about him to go retrieve him in a boat? The next thing we know, it’s pitch black out and people are still running around and screaming. Do the tourists think it’s a game or something? The nightly round of run from the shark monster? Sheesh. There are a few moments of what is supposed to comedy thrown in, but which only make things even more ludicrous. Will it ever end?

A Bloody Mary drip!  Now we’re talking!Finally, finally FINALLY it’s the next day and people are checking out of the resort in droves. All over one section of lawn a triage area has been set up to help all the injured. I can only assume that all these injured folks got that way, not from the monster fish, but from being trampled by all the other panicking morons. A TV reporter is filming a segment out front, where a line of people are waiting to board a bus and get the F out of Dodge. He tries to talk to Rachel and accuses her of participating in a cover-up, but she just replies with a “no comment.” We see Mr. Bennett trying to talk his wife into staying for the additional two days that they have booked.

Elsewhere, Dr. Whiting is showing a poster to Rachel, Mr. Forbes and a police officer. The poster offers a case of rum as reward for catching the killer fish and delivering it alive to Earl Sullivan. Seeing that, Forbes about loses it and stomps off. He corrals the remaining resort guests into one of the lounges under the pretext of free drinks (I want one desperately about now) and then announces to the gathered crowd that The Tropical Palace is offering one thousand dollars (the equivalent of over 3500 bucks in 2020 money) for the head of the fish…in as many pieces as they like. In addition, they will get a full week in the presidential suite, all expenses paid.

This really motivates the crowd and now one of the most ridiculous scenes plays out. People jump up from all over the lounge, grab the decorative spears that are placed around the joint and walk off to do battle with the monster fish. Mr. Bennett tells his wife they need to head to the sporting goods place to find something “lethal.” There the place is jammed with people buying up every firearm and sharp object in the place. Bennett manages to snag a crossbow of all things. Soon the drunken crowd is marching towards the shore. One ridiculous shot shows two guys decked out in full scuba gear, leaving their room and walking backwards down the hall. They pause as Mr. Suki exits his room dressed only in shorts, sandals, headband and sunglasses while wielding a katana. Everyone heads to the beach armed with their weapons looking for a boat. Forbes is happy to rent one to each of them for nine bucks an hour (almost thirty-bucks in 2020 money).

The entire time all that has been unfolding, we’ve gotten shots of a car racing down a road. It arrives at the harbor – which I didn’t realize until now was so far away from the resort – and Dr. Whiting and Rachel jump out just as Greg, Earl and Roger are setting off in their crappy boat. She calls for Greg to come with her on Whiting’s bigger boat, so Greg dives overboard and swims back to the dock. Earl chides him on missing out on his cut.

Meanwhile back at the resort, the parade of imbeciles continues. That horny young couple try to rent a boat and are denied, so they commandeer one that has been left sitting on the beach. This thing is completely transparent and hardly looks bigger than your average bathtub. I would not want to go out hunting anything in such a flimsy craft, left alone a huge Catfishark. We see the Bennetts in their rented canoe, Mrs. Bennett forced to row while her husband tries to work out how to operate his crossbow. One trio of idiots boards the piece of junk boat they rented. On the side is the name of the craft and I shit you not, it reads: Humuhumunukanukiapaa II. If that isn’t goofy enough, one the drunken morons - played by the late R. Lee Ermey no less - is armed with a flame thrower! Predictably, these fools manage to set fire to their boat in a drunken display of pure idiocy and dive off just seconds before it explodes. All of them make it safely to shore, but are laughed at by another pair of fools – the same ones who brought those strange fish to Dr. Whiting earlier – who are manning a dinky little boat that sits so damn low in the water, I think if a bird landed on it, it would capsize.

On Whiting’s boat, Rachel has changed her clothes, putting on an outfit that must have belonged to the late Sandy Kane. Greg and Whiting are getting their scuba gear on, much to Rachel’s surprise, as she claims she wouldn’t go "down there with that thing." Whiting plans to hit the Catfishark with a tranquilizer and then hopes to hoist it aboard in a net. He wants it alive but Greg seems more interested in killing it. They pass by Earl’s boat and Greg calls out a few taunts to his uncle.


Note - It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.


Budget cuts forced the deletion of the Shark Chariot scene in Aquaman.Meanwhile, the horny young couple have managed to hook the Catfishark with nothing more than a chunk of meat on the end of some fishing line. They don’t even have a pole. The Catfishark pulls them and we see that the beast is easily five or six times the length of their teeny tiny boat. The guy falls out and the girl calls out, “Jimmy!” I guess that’s his name. The water is now still and quiet, with no sign of either Jimmy or the Catfishark. There’s a sudden splash and…Jimmy pulls himself back on the boat. This entire scene worked out very differently than the similar scene in Jaws 2 with Tina and Eddie.

At the resort, Forbes is annoyed to see that two of his luau cooks have left the grill behind and are now boarding a canoe so they can take a shot at killing the Catfishark. Mr.Suki has found a canoe and tries paddling out, but it’s stuck on some rocks. Another drunken guest boards a canoe armed with a rifle and plenty of booze. Out on the water, the Catfishark swims near the Bennetts and Mr. Bennett manages to hit it with his crossbow. Four guys standing up in a nearby canoe also manage to hit the fish with some spears. Annoyed, the big fish knocks them all off balance and into the water where it quickly gobbles them all up. I bet in those last few seconds of life, each was considering if the lure of a thousand bucks had really been worth coming out and getting brutally chomped into pieces and devoured.

Whiting’s boat has anchored and before he and Greg can dive into the water, Earl’s boat floats up alongside. Greg’s uncle chides him on his choice to go after the fish in such a way. Whiting and Greg then make their dive. Earl prepares bait of his own to lure the monster fish, in this case, a live pig. Below, the Catfishark appears and seems to attack Whiting, but doesn’t eat him. Greg helps him back to the surface and we see that the Doctor is bleeding. Rachel uses the dinghy to go and scoop them up. Between her and Greg they manage to get Whiting on the boat. They unzip his wetsuit and see a lot of blood. Whiting mumbles incoherently and then falls silent. Greg then uses his vast medical knowledge to declare that “his insides are all busted.” Nope. He’s dead, as Rachel proclaims.

They return to the boat where another guy (one of Whiting’s fellow researchers) dons his gear and boards the dinghy while Greg procures some explosives from one of the other crewmen. He’s got a blasting charge, a long ass cord and a detonator. Not having any proper bait, they strap the charges to Whiting’s body and prepare to throw him overboard. Rachel protests, but the other guy says that Whiting would have wanted it this way. SPLASH. They toss the body over the side. Starting up the boat, they then start dragging the explosive-laden corpse behind them in a scene straight out of Weekend at Bernie’s. From his own boat, Earl watches all this with a WTF expression on his face.

Sure enough the Catfishark shows up and goes for the body, but bites completely through the line, severing it. Now they have no way to detonate the charges. Damn, does that means the movie is going to keep going on and on and on and…you get the idea. The other guy notes that the line hasn’t been severed after all, just disconnected. They both prepare to dive down and connect it. He tells Greg that he’ll have just twenty seconds after he plugs it in again. Rachel doesn’t want him to go. They make the dive and within seconds, the Catfishark shows up and eats the other guy, whose name I don’t think At least there won’t be two dolphins popping up at any second.was ever revealed. We then see Greg plug the line back into…something.

I’m not too sure what he is supposed to be doing. Did the Catfishark eat Whiting’s body and the explosives strapped to it? What exactly is Greg plugging together to activate those charges? Is the fish trailing a line out of its mouth that he had to grab and then connect with his end? It doesn’t make a lot of sense. Anyway, KABOOM. There’s a big explosion under the water and resulting jet spray of water at the surface. Everyone on shore sees this and begins hollering and offering salutes. How do they know that the Catfishark is dead? For all they know, that explosion might have been a missed shot and the beast is still roaming the waters. A worried Rachel looks on and then Greg surfaces. She smiles and jumps overboard to swim to him. Again, how does she know the fish is dead for sure? I guess the filmmakers realized this, too and now show us an expanding circle of red water on the surface, which no doubt denotes the death of the Catfishark. Greg and Rachel embrace in the water. Freeze frame.


The End.



The old idiom states that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In the film industry, I think imitation is the sincerest form of making a quick buck. When someone has a hit with a particular theme, then somebody else will crank out something similar with far less money (and often far less skill) in order to cash in on the idea. This is not a new phenomenon and it certainly won’t being going away any time soon. Hell, in this day and age, there are production companies out there that not only follow this path shamelessly, they specialize in it. And yes, I am referring to the good folks over at The Asylum. I love the crap they turn out, even if most of it is such blatant cloning of big budget films. Anyway, after the success of Jaws, there was a glut of films surrounding aquatic terrors of all sorts. Plenty of sharks, squids, octopuses, barracuda, piranha and the like, whether they were normal sized or unnaturally enlarged and pissed off, began gracing silver screens. Even a sequel to Jaws popped up during this time and before the trend would completely run its course, Up From The Depths would be inflicted upon movie audiences.

Some tales claim that director Charles B Griffith shot the film as a comedy, only to have massive cuts performed by Roger Corman at New World Pictures. I can certainly see where this would be true, as the existing film is still loaded with many moments that are intended to be more humorous in nature. I get the feeling that there were several running gags throughout the film and as a result of the editing process, what we see are just unfunny moments with little or no context. Another story relates how after filming was completed, the dialog track and the script were lost, forcing many of the actors to watch their footage, “guess” what they might have been saying and then record new lines to be dubbed in. This accounts for why some characters sound different during various parts of the film. Shot in the Philippines – standing in for Hawaii and not doing the best job of it – it was released in the U.S. in June of 1979, at the tail end of the killer sea creature cycle.

People like me who love monster movies know that you can’t have the monster on screen all the time. In the past this was usually due to the monster looking rather cheap and silly, as in this particular case. Filmmakers know that despite the monster being the draw, the movie still has to keep the audience entertained with its human characters. Sadly, this is not always a goal that is accomplished. Indeed, watch many of the films from the aforementioned Asylum and you’ll find an abundance of shallow characters that all fall prey to the film’s monster in numerous scenes showcasing the beast and leaving nothing to the imagination. I’ll admit it again, I love that stuff, because to me it is the modern equivalent to the old B-movies from the 50 and 60’s or the grindhouse theaters of the 60’s and 70’s. In the modern age, movies like that just go straight to video and in the classic style of producers of times past, they often have a concept and movie poster before one word of a script is written. While perhaps not adhering exactly to that formula, to me Up From The Depths fits snugly into that category, coming out in that nebulous time between the decline of grindhouse and drive-in theaters, and the rise of the home video market.

Due to the severe editing performed on the film, the characters never have the chance to rise beyond much of a stereotype. Greg and Rachel are the most serious-minded, approaching events with more concern than the others, though the movie’s short running time, with so much of it focusing on the shenanigans of others, leaves little room for their development. Earl is a drunken sea captain out to scam someone –anyone – out of their money. Forbes is just as avaricious, who uses his position to boss others around in his own display of cowardly foolishness. Whiting must be the worst scientist ever, with the usual disregard for anyone else as he pursues knowledge for the sake of science; and the seemingly endless parade of goofy resort guests is almost on par with a three ring circus. When we see this cavalcade of stupidity in the film’s final act, as the throng takes up whatever weapons they can find to hunt the killer fish, it’s so ludicrous that whatever tiny bit of credibility the movie had flies right out the window at that point. I can’t help but wonder if folks who actually saw this in the theater back in 1979 accepted this asinine turn of events or did they bury their heads in their hands out of disgust? One wonders.

The monster fish in the film is, of course, nothing like the poster art suggests. This would not be the first time, nor the last, that advertising imagery would promise one thing only to have the film deliver another. The classic The Giant Claw comes to mind as a prime example. Rather than some type of spiky prehistoric shark monster what we get is a rubbery monstrosity that looks more like the world’s biggest catfish. Since catfish can pose their own dangers to humans, why not just call it an oversized catfish and be done with it? Why the convoluted story about earthquakes and altered ocean currents? Even with the fleeting glimpses when get of the monster, its rubbery nature is not difficult to ascertain. Look closely in shots featuring its unique double dorsal fin breaking the water surface and you’ll probably see the wake of the boat towing the shark rig. The attack scenes are poorly done, being comprised of a series of quick shots to convey the frantic, desperate nature of the violence, but wind up threatening to induce a seizure more than an upset stomach. As for the film’s music, it is mostly forgettable. There are a few moments here and there where it is obviously trying to emulate the iconic Jaws them without being a blatant copy, but other than those instances, it’s your standard fare from the 70’s.

So to sum up, Up From The Depths plays more like a B Movie from twenty years before its time. The characters are flat, mostly annoying and make poor choices given the circumstances. The music is forgettable and the monster fish itself is quite silly looking when you do get to see it. There’s too much attention paid to bad comedy rather than to the inherent horror of the situation, which is too bad given the short running time. The dubbing is absolutely god awful in places and even some brief nudity won’t liven things up too much. Lovers of cheezy cinema will want to check it out, but for all others do not in any way expect anything on the same level of Jaws. Or even Jaws 2. Maybe Jaws 3. Maybe.


Expect To See:
Annoying Kids – There is an extremely brief scene featuring some young kids near the film’s beginning. Blink and you’ll miss it. Still, ALL kids are annoying, so we have to haul out this icon. I advise you to blink.
Comic Relief – Mr. Forbes is our odious comic relief. His running around in a constant near panic, trying to see to the needs of the guests, attempting to hide the fact that people are dying and falling all over himself while doing it...IS NOT FUNNY.
Gore – Despite the nature of the deaths in this film, there is very little of this. We see a severed hand, what seems to be a decapitated head and one guy swims through a pile of guts that were used as bait.
Gunplay – Not too much of this, however there is a great moment when one character, advised to bring a gun along with him on a boat ride does one better…he brings along an assault rifle. In the end it didn’t help him one bit when he fell overboard.
Nudity – A super model named Iris Lee decides to use the resort as the location for her latest fashion shoot. Naturally, this occasion calls for her to prance around in some revealing outfits before exhibiting her bare boobs before she gets gobbled up.
Ocean Hijinks – A good portion of this film takes place on boats of all sizes and designs, from tiny canoes to a huge catamaran. Sadly, aside from the aforementioned Iris Lee showing off her boobs, nothing exciting happens on any of them.
Sea Terrors – An earthquake stirs up the ocean currents causing fish from the deep abyss to rise to higher levels, including the monster fish around which the film is centered. Some of the unsightly tourists splashing around in the water might also apply.
Skin – Aside from Iris Lee’s moments of showcasing her body, there are plenty of others in swimsuits walking and swimming around. This is a resort after all. The most notable is young Darleen, who looks pretty damn good in her bikini, too.
Undersea Hijinks – A good portion of the movie takes place underwater, but these scenes are dark and poorly filmed, relying on stock shots to brighten them up. When the monster attacks, don’t expect to see a damn thing.
Violence – Lots of people get eaten by the monster shark and this is always a brutal, bloody affair. Just don’t expect to see much of it. Another fool manages to shoot himself in the foot, but you’ll wish it was his head.


Movie Stats:
Shadow's Commentary:

Deaths: 13
Gunshots: 11
Explosions: 2
Cigarettes smoked: 2
Cigars smoked: 6
Pipes smoked: 1
Alcoholic drinks consumed: 66
Photos taken by Mr. Leseau: 15
Hawaiian shirts spotted: 55
Hot women in bikinis: 19
Non hot women in bikinis: 1
Boobs: 2
Capsized boats: 2
Live pigs: 1
Dead pigs: 1
Miles from shore catamaran appears to be: 1
Miles travelled from shore by twin engine boat to reach catamaran: 10
Percentage of film set underwater: 15.18%

03 Min – I think she was about 50% blood.
06 Min – Best. Spit take. Ever.
07 Min – Damn, that guy is sweating something fierce.
17 Min – Drinking while on duty. I definitely have the wrong job.
24 Min – At least he saved the camera from getting wet.
29 Min – Waitress looks right into camera.
32 Min – What is with the Japanese music?
37 Min – Take the price tag off that hat already.
40 Min – Those are some glow-in-the-dark boobs!
44 Min – You don’t even have the stuffing in all the way.
49 Min – Random act of violence against a glass bottom boat.
51 Min – Boobies!
52 Min – How long does it take to travel a mile or so? Sheesh.
57 Min – What? Is Godzilla on his way or something?
60 Min – That is some terrible dubbing.
65 Min – Random act of violence against a bush.
68 Min – A dangerous fish out there, yet kids are still allowed to play in the water.
69 Min – How in the hell do you pronounce that?
81 Min – There’s a deck in the foreground. Are they really that close to land?

Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time someone in the film takes a drink, YOU take a drink.


Images Click for larger image

“Damn, time to start the movie.”

Thank goodness it wasn’t Dick Miller.

Does he run in slow motion
along the beach?

Looks like Uncle Ed strained too hard
and blew his guts out his ass again.

Watching the parade of men in and
out of his mother's cabana was when
little Timmy’s drinking habit began.

The last thing Quint saw.

“Of all the things to save from the
sinking ship, why did you prioritize
the cold cuts?”

“It’s a superbug all right. I can
see a cape and blue tights.”

“Get your ash out of my face.”

“Raar! I’m a monsta!”

Puppet shark + model boat + blue
bed sheet background = shit.

“Do have someone between
my teeth?”

The reaction when cousin Marty
upped the ante from farting in the
pool to shitting in the pool.

I have never wanted to be a pink
towel so much in my life.


With minutes left in the fishing
derby, some folks got
increasingly desperate.

With R. Lee Ermey (for reals)
as a drunken tourist.

The fake shark rig malfunctioned
and poor Harry was pushed three miles
out to sea before a fix could be made.

They’d been cruising for a good 20
minutes before realizing Joe forgot
his water skis.

Looks like Godzilla ate a Mexican
fishing boat again.


Immortal Dialog
Keep In Mind

One drunken couple prepares to go hunting for the Catfishark.

Female tourist: “And here’s your goose call.”
Male tourist: “I thought we were going after fish.”
Female tourist: “They didn’t have a fish call.”

Shadow’s Comment: Just stick your head in the water and whistle. Be sure to inhale first.

  • Human bodies contain about 50 gallons of blood.
  • 30 foot long shark monsters are masters of stealth.
  • Being stunned and in shock is a sign of pregnancy.
  • Free alcohol solves any customer complaint.
  • Fish enjoy bubblegum.
  • There are no sharks in the water surrounding Hawaii.
  • Harbor masters are commonly armed with assault rifles.
  • Fashion models can change outfits 3 times within 60 seconds.
  • Giant predator fish pose a danger even when you're 50 yards inland.
  • Katanas, crossbows and flame throwers are acceptable fishing equipment.
  • Dead people can be used as bait for large predatory fish.
  • There is seemingly an unlimted number of patterns for Hawaiian shirts.

Greg offers his experienced opinion on Dr. Whiting’s fatal injuries.

Greg: “His insides are all busted.”

Shadow’s Comment: I suppose that is a few magnitudes worse than “messed up.”


Movie Trailer
This Film & Me
This movie opened in June of 1979 just as I was finishing up the fourth grade. I remember seeing the ads for the film plenty of times on TV and us kids talking excitedly about it on the school playground. At that age, everything seemed like it would be fantastic and the notion of a movie being bad never even entered our minds. At least, it was never a thought I ever entertained until many years later. The movie was given an R rating, though in hindsight, I can only assume this was because of the prolonged shots of bare breasts and not for any blood or gore, as the megahit Jaws – which this film was so obviously inspired by – had far worse scenes in it and had only been slapped with a PG rating. Of course, my chances of convincing my mother to take me to see it were zero. Dad was always the one I went to when there was an R rated movie I wanted to see, and many times he was accommodating because he wanted to see it, too. This time however, even dad could not be persuaded and the film passed quickly in and out of theaters without me seeing it. It was a good twelve or fifteen years later when I finally caught the movie on TV and by that time I was a bit more discerning when regarding whether a movie was good or bad. This one definitely fit in to the bad category. I never saw the film again until the double feature DVD arrived in 2012. Naturally, being the lover of crap cinema that I am, I practically fell over myself in a rush to order it online. Until this review, I had only watched the DVD once. After this, I think I’m good for another few years.


Shadow Says

Shadow's rating: Three Tombstones

The Good

  • Babes!
  • Boobs!
  • Bikinis!

The Bad

  • Phillipines standing in for Hawaii
  • Needless comedy
  • Can barely see monster
  • Crappy dubbing

The Ugly

  • Monster resembles giant catfish
  • Attack scenes are terrible
  • Moron characters


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