“Your vacation is about to END!!!” / “It waits underwater…to skin you ALIVE!!!”
In the wake of Jaws (Wake! Get it?), other filmmakers cranked out dozens if not hundreds of similarly themed thrillers throughout the ’70s and ’80s. A whole bunch of these were produced by prolific B-movie legend Roger Corman. Shout! Factory continues its run of Corman releases with this pair of aquatic creature features.
• Up from the Depths (1979)
A tropical beach resort is turned upside down when a prehistoric sea monster awakes from hibernation and goes on a killing spree. A biologist and a group of fisherman brave the waters to kill the beast.
• Demon of Paradise (1987)
A tropical beach resort is turned upside down when a prehistoric sea monster awakes from hibernation and goes on a killing spree. A scientist, a reporter, and the local sheriff brave the waters to kill the beast.
These two flicks are so similar, they’re like watching one movie twice. In addition to Corman, the other common name is Cirio Santiago (T.N.T. Jackson), who produced both films and directed Demon of Paradise. Both movies shamelessly ape the Jaws formula, but Santiago is no Spielberg.
In Up from the Depths, it’s a long wait before we get to the giant shark, and boy does it disappoint, looking so bad I can’t even call it unintentionally funny. From there, the movie suffers from an affliction plaguing many low budget flicks—padding. When the monster in your monster movie isn’t cutting it, that’s when you throw in a ton of subplots, like the uppity resort owner, the bickering married couple, the celebrity model, and more. Running time still too short? Splice in footage of hula dancers at random times for even more padding. The whole thing is a chore to sit through.
Demon of Paradise suffers from many of the same padding problems. (There’s the celebrity model subplot again! There’s random hula dancer footage again!) This time, the monster isn’t a shark, but a Creature from the Black Lagoon type, and it looks pretty good, if a little rubbery. The tone of this one is more mean-spirited than it is comedic, with another subplot about sleazy drug dealers, and a cast using the “angrily yell every line no matter what the scene is” method of acting.
The movies look and sound surprisingly good, considering their age and obscurity. Some scenes are little soft and hazy, but overall it’s a solid audio/visual transfer for both. Unlike other Shout! Factory Roger Corman discs, this one’s pretty light on the bonus features, with trailers and TV spots for both flicks, and a “grindhouse experience,” that allows you to watch the movies back to back in one sitting, with trailers in between.
Look, I love a so-bad-it’s-good Jaws ripoff as much as the next guy, but this pair of flicks just don’t cut it. If you want a trashy-yet-fun sea monster movie from Corman and Shout! Factory, skip this disc and pick up Humanoids from the Deep instead.