• Killer Fish (Scorpion Releasing)

    Released by: Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: September 30th, 2014.
    Director: Antonio Margheriti (as Anthony M. Dawson)
    Cast: Lee Majors, Karen Black, Margaux Hemingway, Marisa Berenson, Roy Brocksmith
    Year: 1979
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    The Movie:

    A look back at the cinematic legacy of the late, great, Roy Brocksmith has been long overdue. Having warmed our hearts as the fascinating Dr. Edgemar in Total Recall or in his turn as Tu in the Eddie Tudorpole Vehicle, King Kull, Brocksmith played the annoying fat guy better than any other annoying fat guy actor that you can name. And nowhere is his talent for playing the annoying fat guy more obvious than in the Antonio Margheriti classic, Killer Fish, costarring Karen Black and Lee Majors in a whole lot of chest hair exposing shirts only ever buttoned up half way.

    In the film, Lee Majors plays Lasky, a master criminal working with Kate Neville (the late Karen Black of House of 1,000 Corpses and immortalized in Trilogy Of Terror) and a few other hoods on a jewel heist that will make them all very rich people. The man behind it all is Paul Diller (James Franciscus of Cat O’ Nine Tails), an evil mastermind with a great brain, but a weak heart.

    After the crooks stash the jewels at the bottom of a lake completely unaware that it is infested with deadly piranhas, they take it easy at a local resort where they run into a high fashion model named Gabrielle (Margaux Hemingway, granddaughter of Earnest Hemingway, who tragically killed herself in 1996) and her fey photographer Ollie (the aforementioned Roy Brocksmith). Of course, with Lee Majors strutting his stuff in some exceptionally tight bellbottoms that accentuate his million dollar package and one of those shirts that exposes all of his mighty chest hair, it should go without saying that it isn’t going to take long for supermodel Gabrielle to fall for him. And fall for him she does, literally, as the suave SOB pulls her into the pool during a shoot.

    Eventually some of the thugs decide that they’re going to help themselves to the jewels before the rest of the crew can get to them – a big rip off, right? When they do this, the movie starts to live up to its name and we witness the first of many piranha attacks. As more and more people get eaten, Lasky realizes that someone has taken some very extreme measures to protect their interests in the jewels and he thinks he knows who that someone is…

    Despite the lukewarm premise and goofy script, Killer Fish still manages to be a pretty entertaining little B-movie. The cast are a lot of fun here and Majors is great as the slicker than grease tough guy ladies’ man in the lead role. He struts around like he owns the place and he’s a kick to watch. Karen Black is equally as good as the weird looking sex pot criminal chick. She and Majors have a weird but effective chemistry here. Doesn’t it go without saying the Brocksmith’s Ollie is the star of the show? Or course it does, we don’t need to go into too much detail there, he’s great too even if he’s playing the same obnoxious fat guy he’s played in every other movie you’d recognize him from. Watch for Antonio De Teffe of Django The Bastard in a small role and Frank Pesce is fun here too.

    The true stars of this movie though are Margheriti’s miniature sets, all of which blow up really nicely and/or flood when the dam inevitably breaks later in the film. Sure, some of them may look a little familiar to Margheriti fans but these set pieces are great and nobody blew up tiny buildings and vehicles like Margheriti did. These miniatures also share the spotlight with some quality plastic fish (some of which are very obviously on wires) that attack anyone who gets near the jewels. By most standards, Killer Fish is not a ‘good’ movie, but it is a good time! Watch and be entertained, if sometimes for all the wrong reasons.


    Killer Fish was released on DVD some years ago in Italy in a fullframe transfer that left plenty of room for improvement. Scorpion’s DVD release is framed at 1.78.1 and anamorphic at that and it looks quite nice. Detail is about as good as you can expect from a standard definition presentation and color reproduction is strong. The source is clean and there are no obvious authoring issues to note.

    The English language Dolby Digital Mono sound mix is also fine. Levels are well balanced, the score sounds good and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion.

    The main extra on the disc is a lengthy interview with Frank Pesce who speaks in an Italian restaurant over food and wine with Bill Lustig (who used him in all three of his Maniac Cop films) about how he got into acting, his relationship with the late, great Joe Spinell and most importantly, his work on Killer Fish. He tells some great stories here about the recycling of the miniature footage, trying to communicate with a director who didn’t speak English and about shooting on location. Lustig asks him all the right questions and this featurette is a blast – make sure you take the time to watch it, this conversation is a lot of fun.

    Outside of that? A static menu and a trailer for the feature, which puzzlingly includes a quick still of Christian Bale from American Psycho at the end of it? Whether this is an issue with the test disc that was sent for review or if it affects finished product, however, is a mystery.

    The Final Word:

    Killer Fish is pretty silly stuff but it’s almost impossible not to have a good time with it. Scorpion’s DVD looks pretty good and the bonus interview with Pesce and Lustig is great making this a really fun release.