Call it Monster Shark. Call it Monster from the Red Ocean. Or Devouring Waves. Even Shark: Red in the Ocean. By whatever name you call Lamberto Bava’s (credited as John Old Jr.) undersea monster film, it’s still pretty ridiculous. But then again, you’re not coming to an Italian shark movie to get high art.
Based on a story by Luigi Cozzi (Starcrash, Contamination) under the name Lewis Coates and producer Sergio Martino (who is so beloved here that we devoted an entire week to his films), Devilshark was written by…you guessed it, Dardano Sacchetti, who wrote pretty much every great 1980’s Italy scumfest.
Along the Florida coast, a place where Italian beercans are still imbibed by our hero Peter (Michael Sopkiw, Blastfighter), there’s a monster loose that’s a mutant mash-up of an octopus and the prehistoric deep sea Dunkleosteus. Of course, that monster is loose because of a military experiment and has been set loose on a tourist town, but that’s how these things go.
Peter and Dr. Stella Dickens (and yes, Luigi Cozzi names every one of his heroines Stella) have to stop the monster before it grows, while the military wants to stop them and recapture the Devilfish. There’s also a sheriff on the job who is played by Sartana himself, Gianni Garko.
Cinzia De Ponti, the bicyclist we last saw get eviscerated by The New York Ripper (she’s also the aptly named babysitter Jamie Lee in Fulci’s utterly bizarre Manhattan Baby), shows up here, as does Dagmar Lassander from Hatchet for the Honeymoon and The House by the Cemetery.
For those that enjoy these things, there’s a flash of man meat. There’s also plenty of synthesizer soundtrack music, knife fights in the water, a goofy monster, flamethrowers vs. monsterfish, women screaming “PETER!” and plenty of bad dubbing.
Lamberto Bava takes every nice thing I ever said about his father and throws it in my face with every movie that he makes, but I still give him chance upon chance. Still, I kind of adore that there was a time when Italian filmmakers would come the whole way to America to make horrifyingly inane films.
Oh yeah — one time in 1977, Luigi Cozzi made his own version of Godzilla by redubbing 80 minutes of the original Godzilla, throwing in some footage from the U.S. 1956 version and then added in nearly 25 minutes of World War II newsreels and various other films like The Day the Earth Caught Fire and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.
If that wasn’t enough, then Cozzi artist Armando Valcauda spent three months placing colored gels over the black and white film, colorizing the movie in a way that approaches pop art that was called Spectorama 70. Then, there was a new soundtrack by Vince Tempera (under the pseudonym Magnetic System) that was mixed in Futursound, an 8-track magnetic sound system based on Sensurround. Imagine Goblin with super loud explosions that could, would and did rock entire theaters with blasts of noise.
You can learn more about this moment of cinematic craziness here and watch the video below: