Up from the Depths (1979)

A seaside community is besieged by a giant shark like creature that threatens the local serenity. Greedy resort proprietor (Wolfe) sees a marketing opportunity and invites all and sundry to hunt down the perpetrator for a booty in cash and hotel discounts. Sounds reasonable. When you see the concoction, you’ll understand why that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. But then, there are as yet undiscovered marine life living in deep sea trenches that could conceivably resemble the giant, dual-dorsal finned groper with dentures. Kudos to director Griffith for envisaging such a beast so we can marvel at nature’s oddities.

“Up From the Depths” is a fast paced, amusing experiment which has attracted minor cult status for its sheer absurdity. The acting, in particular, is atrocious and not all of it is ham flavoured, so there’s some excruciating performances to endure. Director Griffith, who hails from the Roger Corman inspired school of movie making seems to have attempted a cheerful homage to those early, inexpensive AIP monster movies, and there’s certainly a camp quality to the dialogue and acting (the scene in which the samurai tries to alight from the beach in his canoe is hilarious in context).

Dubious voice-over looping is badly out of sync with the actors’ speech, while the shark is one of the more intrepid creations of a sea monster, but still has enough mobility (combined with the right camera angles and additional footage) to give the attack scenes some plausibility, if only for a moment. An occasional severed head falling to the sea floor post attack tells us that at least some of the meagre budget was dedicated to make-up effects, perhaps so much that the makers couldn’t blow up the shark itself – its fate is implied with a loud explosion, although there’s no visible evidence (save for everyone waving their arms in jubilation).