BASTARD PUPS OF JAWS: Tentacles (1977)

Somehow, Ovidio Assonitis (Beyond the DoorMadhouseThe Visitor) must have had pictures of people in Hollywood in very compromising positions. How else could he have gotten Hollywood royalty like Henry Fonda, Shelley Winters and John Huston to appear in a movie about a giant killer octopus?

Want to know how far Assonitis went to rip off Jaws? The trailer to this movie is narrated by Percy Rodrigues, who also voiced over the trailers to every single Jaws film.

You know how it goes: Solana Beach is a tourist town that’s facing off with a giant octopus that likes to eat people the whole way down to the bone. That’s because Mr. Whitehead’s (Fonda) Trojan company has built an illegal underwater tunnel that’s using radio signals that are too loud, driving the octopus insane.

Luckily, marine expert Will Gleason (Bo Hopkins, Midnight Express) and newspaper reporter Ned Turner (Huston) are on the job, tracking down the beast and setting a pair of killer whales named Summer and Winter loose on it. By the way — for this scene, that’s a real octopus — a dead one from a fish market — getting torn up. Oh you wacky Italians and your disregard for life!

Also: there’s a long sequence where Hopkins talks to his killer whales about how people treated him as a killer and how he loves them so much more than any human being he has ever met before he asks them to understand why they have to kill the octopus. It’s totally ADR and beyond ridiculous and made me love this movie 200,000 times more than I thought were possible.

Along the way, you’ll meet the gorgeous Delia Boccardo, Italian comedian Franco Diogene and the always welcome Claude Atkins as, you guessed it, a sheriff.

Moving things quickly — no matter how plodding the film gets — is a great soundtrack by Stelvio Cipriani, who is something of a Jaws ripoff music maestro, considering he also scored The Bermuda TriangleEncounters in the DeepNight of the SharksThe Great Alligator and Piranha II: The Spawning.

The best thing about this movie is that it doesn’t care at all about having a plot of a central character that you can follow. Major characters just disappear. Shelley Winters doesn’t even have to be in this movie. And Assonitis seems like he’d rather be making a drama or art film than one with a giant rubber octopus, which makes this even more awesome than it should be.

Want to see it for yourself? Shout! Factory has you covered.

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