Lamberto Bava is a filmmaker that generally splits audiences like the front desk at Samurai Deli. You either love him or hate him, and I am not just regurgitating a cliche line when I say that. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who felt tepid about Lamberto’s career. People are generally very passionate about his work and I’ll be honest, the most passionate ones tend to be those who fall on the side of hating his films. His career is as spotty as they come, with major classics such as A Blade in the Dark right alongside films like Blastfighter. There’s no doubt that his artistic credibility comes into doubt when you look at the amount of garbage he has produced, but the few films of his that I thoroughly enjoy have more than made up for the bad ones. Also, in terms of Eurotrash, Bruno Mattei would be a far less director in my opinion although that filmmaker has no short supply of fans. Regardless, apologizing for Bava is pretty pointless at this juncture as I won’t be following up this paragraph with very many kind words in regards to Devilfish.
As dated as any film possibly could be, Devilfish tends to entertain primarily in its grocery store size allotment of cheese. A pure work of exploitation within the Italian film industry, Bava hits every possible note that he can in order to make his title as lurid and profitable as could possibly be made. We have ample nudity, gore, cheesy FX work and a Eurocult cast that borders on greatness. Valentine Monnier shows up as the leading scientist and she makes the most of it. If you have ever seen 2019: After the Fall of New York, then she will instantly be familiar to you. Although I wouldn’t consider her a classically beautiful woman, she has very intense features that make her stand out and give her a regal beauty that few seem to have. Gianni Garko, who is best known from his Spaghetti Western roles, puts in a amicable performance as the token Sheriff out to stop this rampaging shark. Whether it was the material or director, Garko seems to coast on his charisma throughout the movie. He does it well however and Garko could play a tough law figure in his sleep, and still make it believable! The Varied Celluloid poster boy Michael Sopkiw shows off some legs as he runs around in short-shorts throughout the majority of the film. I like this Sopkiw more than in Blastfighter and he once again gets to show off some attitude making it one of his better roles. Even if the film itself is generally stale.
Devilfish suffers from a slow build up that ultimately goes nowhere. Where Jaws had a riveting second half full of suspense and reveals, Devilfish presents us with an awkward and implausible monster and then proceeds to whimper out as it loses what little steam was developed throughout. My main problem is that the movie has a slightly lazy feel to it. A good example comes from the editing early on, as we watch Bava and his editor try to mix and mash several pieces of stock footage together in order to place a real shark in one of the scenes. The problem is that it is blatantly obvious that the sharks do not match up in size nor in appearance. We go from a fully grown shark of about fourteen foot in length, to a baby shark less than half that size. An audacious piece of editing that should elicit a giggle, but the movie is full of random pieces of strange behavior. The Sharktopus Monster goes from being around five feet in stature during one sequence, to being the gigantic dinosaur that it is claimed to be in just a span of minutes. There is a love affair that Michael Sopkiw’s character takes on with his assistant, and we watch as the movie completely abandons this concept halfway through for no apparent reason. You can just feel the laziness creeping out of the movie as it moves along.