The Last Shark

If you squint, it’s Quint…The Last Shark, aka, L’ultimo squalo is basically Jaws minus Chief Brody and all elements intact (even if limbs are not). In his stead, an author (of all people) and a Robert Shaw-aping Vic Morrow are tasked with taking down the killer fish.

The town of Port Harbor is gearing up for a windsurfing regatta, and the denizens are treating the spectacle as if it’s hosting the Formula 1. It’s all anyone can talk about, and even radio blabbers provide traffic-and-weather-together-type updates about the big race in between songs.

When a surfer bum becomes chum, things get glum. That’s one way to put it. However, like Jaws, there’s a stonewalling elected official who wants the big race to proceed, damn the torpedoes, if you’ll excuse the mixed nautical metaphors. The horror author tries to sound the alarm, but the politico has aspirations of state governor and insists that it continue. And he’s got a plan in place to protect the beaches with extra patrols, netting, vigilance, etc.

Hence, the race is on.

From there, things don’t go too swimmingly for the bipedals as The Last Shark’s incredibly fake version of Bruce the Shark, starts making the townsfolk his waterlogged repast.

And what a shark this is. It’s been likened to a Macy’s parade float, but with it’s silly verticality resembles one of those Bozo the Clown pop-up punching bags.

Vic Morrow as Quint-alike Hamer chews the scenery like ballplayers do tobacco. It’s a dreadful performance and he vacillates between Irish brogue and what sounds like upset stomach Hungarian (and possibly Greek too, or maybe that’s just the cable-knit sweater/po-boy cap Corsican figure he cuts).

This is unquestionably a terrible movie. However, it holds up well as compared with other horror rip-offs from Italy’s boot (Bruno Mattei’s Hell of the Living Dead, for example) and horror knock-offs more broad (Abby, the cheap-o Exorcist).

And word of advice: don’t dangle steak from a winch in a helicopter. Trust.

*** (out of 5)

[Check out our Really Awful Movies Podcast episode of The Last Shark]

Killer Crocodile

You know you’re in trouble when your POV killer croc title sequence is juxtaposed with the phrase, “the crocodile was created and built by _________.” Please, for the sake of whatever smidgen of suspension of disbelief we still have left, hold off until the closing credits, will ya?!

Killer Crocodile’s title (if not reputation) precedes it. As you might have guessed, it’s yet another um, killer crocodile movie with the distinction being that it’s got the best Search Engine Optimized name. And delivers on its title promise.

We meet an amorous couple in the tropics, the male half of whom must be some kind of magician as he gets high notes to come out of the bass string of his guitar as he gently plucks sweet nothings to his paramour. Within seconds she interrupts this intimate moment by doffing her top  and charging the beach like its Normandy. She frolics about, then waves, coaxing him to join her.

Next thing you know, she’s dinner.

An ecologist (who resembles Greg Sestero from The Room), his lab assistant, a local guide, a photographer (and their little dog too) are paddling through a swamp that’s apparently been poisoned by the local plant. One of them dons a bio-hazard suit and jumps into the muddy river, Geiger counter in tow, apparently to see if metal barrels clearly marked “radioactive,” are indeed so. Gotta admire their due diligence.

Radioactivity is the springboard, for, I don’t know…a thousand creature feature movies? And it’s a pretty good, if incredibly lazy conceit for screenwriters to fall back on.

From there the natural horror devolves into, “has anyone seen __________?” and the time-honored, “you don’t think something’s happened to her, do you?” Don’t worry…”

And there’s lots of speculation about why people are going missing, and washing ashore. At first the carnage is mis-attributed to a boating accident, which is extremely weird unless the coroner is a graduate of the Dr. Nick Riviera School of Medicine.

Killer Crocodile is another hilariously inept Jaws variant, this time Italian, so ergo the bonus of awkward, stilted ADR. Director “Larry Ludman” sounds suspiciously like an Alan Smithee alternative, but it’s really the pseudonym of Frabrizio De Angelis, Umberto Lenzi/Lucio Fulci collaborator, best known for the Karate Kid knock-off, Il ragazzo del kimono d’oro (The Boy with the Golden Kimono).

Chomp down on this one. It’s kinda fun. And tune into our discussion on the Really Awful Movies Podcast.

*** (out of 5)