Review Date: June 21, 2002
Released by: Shriek Show
Release date: 8/28/2001
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
Mike, his fiancée Margaret, and their friends Bobby, Dorothy and Julie are all headed out on the ocean for a cruise in their motor launch. Unfortunately, Bobby forgets to bring extra gas and they get stranded on the high seas as a storm hits. Fortunately for the group, they happen to come across a luxurious yacht floating aimlessly and board it to take shelter. But what's this? The yacht is apparently abandoned, with nobody onboard. What's more, there's no explanation for what happened to the crew, who apparently left in quite a hurry, since they left all the lights and equipment on. The yacht is some sort of scientific research vessel equipped with a high-tech laboratory. Apparently the scientists were doing research on marine life found at great depths, as the ship's lab contains many unusual fish specimens. Disturbingly, it appears that one of the specimens was somehow able to escape from it's confinement.
Bobby believes that the ship was used to refine drugs and the lab is just there as a cover. However, Mike isn't so sure. After the group hears strange noises coming from the ship's hold, the two men go and investigate and are shocked to discover a member of the ship's crew who has been driven almost completely insane. His ID indicates that he is a scientist named Clark Dewison. They try to make him comfortable. A little while later, Mike and Margaret are in the laboratory and Mike attempts to access the ship's computers to find out what exactly Dewison and his colleagues were working on. What he finds is a shock: the ocean plankton has been contaminated by radioactive waste, and the fish the scientists caught, having eaten it, have been turned into vicious monsters. That's what happened to the yacht's crew, they were all killed! At that moment, Margaret is attacked by one of the killer fish, which springs to life and bites her on the neck. Mike wrestles it off and he and Bobby kill it, but there are more and even more vicious beasts they will soon have to deal with. Even worse, the plankton could turn them into monsters themselves! Will any of our heroes survive their encounter with the Creatures from the Abyss
Watching Creatures from the Abyss
, I realized this Italian film certainly doesn't seem like it was only produced in 1994. The story is reminiscent of a 50's monster movie. It's filled with hilariously pseudo-scientific discussions and concepts, and, somewhat insultingly, scientific information that is common knowledge to even uninformed viewers (like what plankton is) has to be explained in-depth. But although the plot may resemble an older horror movie, the film's style and feel are reminiscent of some of the worst of the horror schlockers to come out of Italy in the 80's. The production looks incredibly inexpensive and rushed, and is loaded with cheap special effects, as well as a little gore and nastiness thrown into the mix. None of it is very convincing, in fact, some of the special effects are on par with the level of effects found in a 50's monster movie.
The acting, dubbing and dialogue are also some if the worst ever. I knew things were going to be bad when, early on, I saw a female character standing in front of the camera flashing her breasts and saying "I think it's time to get a new bra", but even my grim expectations were surpassed. The characters are mostly stereotypes and are sketched in the broadest possible terms; there's the boneheaded jock, the noble (though geeky) hero, his "good girl" fiancée, a slutty girl, and a dumb girl. The actors playing these characters are on the level of an Ed Wood movie. These people aren't acting, that's too much of a compliment. They're just reading dialogue and standing where the director tells them to.
Obviously, from a normal viewpoint, Creatures from the Abyss
is utterly hopeless as a serious horror movie or thriller. However, while the film is undoubtedly a mess, it is also an extremely funny one. Some parts are just plain hilarious. Other parts are so outrageously bad and unbelievable that, wondering if I might be hallucinating, I almost started searching the floor around my chair to see if there were any smoked joints or empty liquor bottles. If what you are looking for is a "serious" horror film, this is absolutely the last place to look. But if you're looking for great bad movie to have a good laugh at, Creatures from the Abyss is definitely worth a viewing.
Creatures from the Abyss
is presented letterboxed at 1.85:1 with enhancement for 16x9 TVs. The transfer looks better than a film of this caliber probably deserves. Colors are very natural and well saturated, and the picture is by large clear and detailed. Only a few trivial specks and blemishes were noticeable on the film elements. However, some minor problems still plague the transfer. Some dark scenes look a little too murky. There are still some times during the film when the picture will look unaccountably soft and hazy, and some MPEG artifacts show up here and there,. Still, the this is definitely a solid piece of work.
The soundtrack is presented in English in Dolby 2.0 Stereo, and is adequate. This is not the most powerful or enveloping track you've ever heard (I suspect the quality of the film's original sound mixing isn't that great anyways), but it gets the job done. Dialogue is easy to understand and the track is without any audible distortion or background noise. No subtitles or alternate language tracks are provided.
The supplements provided on this disc are rather sparse. The best extra is without a doubt a 2-minute videotaped interview with Al Passeri, the film's director, who shows off some of the special effects models used in the film and gives a little information on the production. The only other extras provided are a very brief still gallery and trailers for Lucio Fulci's Demonia
, the Hong Kong thriller Bio Zombie
and a bizarre-looking Asian film called Eko Eko Azarak
. There is no trailer for this film itself, though; Shriek Show seems to have an odd habit of not including a film's trailer on its actual release. Their releases of the first two films both lack the trailers found here!
Creatures from the Abyss
is a good movie for bad film lovers, and one that has been given a nice release here by Shriek Show, although the supplements are sparse. Judging by the quality of this release, I think we should be confident that the other - generally much better, I may add - Eurohorror titles that they've acquired will be given good presentations.
Movie – D (but good for laughs)
Image Quality – B
Sound – B
Supplements – C+
- Running Time - 1 hour 26 minutes
- 1 Disc
- 11 Chapter Stops
- English 2.0 Stereo
- Director interview
- Still gallery