Directed by Mark Dippe
Produced by Ash Shah, David Hillary & Tim Peternel
Written by Simon Barrett & Scott Clevenger
Director of Photograpy Eliot Rocket
Music by Ryan Beveridge
Cast: Tory Kittles, China Chow, K.D. Aubert, Matt Rauch, Muse Watson & Tomas Arana
2004/84 mins/Color/5.1 DD
1.78:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment DVD
Several years ago, there were a number of news stories concerning a kind of fish known as a "snakehead". These small predators are aggressive and can quickly upset the eco-system of a pond or lake. Never doubt Hollywood's potential to exploit any story, as there have been several "snakehead" horror films made in the wake of this news. A quick check of IMDB.com yields SNAKEHEAD TERROR, NIGHT OF THE SNAKEHEAD FISH, and SWARM OF THE SNAKEHEAD. Another entry, this one involving mutant snakehead, is coming to DVD in the poorly titled FRANKENFISH.
As FRANKENFISH opens, medical examiner Sam (Tory Kittles) (my cats ask for it by name) is summoned to a bayou-area (in an undisclosed state) to examine the body of a fisherman who was found bitten in half. Surmising that the death wasn't the result of an alligator attack, Sam decides to visit the area where the body was found and invites Mary (China Chow) (once again, cats = love it), an employee with the fish and game commission, to join him. Making their way up-river, they find a dead alligator and a derelict ship which is filled with dead bodies. Once they arrive at the small house-boat community where the dead fisherman had lived, things get crazy, as the area is attacked by a giant fish with a voracious appetite. As the fish picks off the residents of this area one-by-one, Sam and Mary have little hope to survive -- that is until a group of big-game hunters arrive.
The DVD box for FRANKENFISH states "From the Director of SPAWN". Don't let that fact (as SPAWN is one of the worst movies ever made...well at least the worst squandering of a great franchise) and let's face it, FRANKENFISH is a dumb title. And reading the above synopsis, you've probably gotten the feeling that you've seen it all before. And you have. FRANKENFISH borrows heavily from JAWS, PIRANHA, and DEEP BLUE SEA, and doesn't appear to be ashamed of this fact. Also, the characters are your basic stereotypes; stalwart doctor, potheads, mute loner-guy, voodoo woman, etc.
But, director Mark Dippe and writers Simon Barrett and Scott Clevenger use the story and character's familiarity to their advantage. Once the basic premise of the film has been established, the action kicks in and doesn't let up. One of my major complaints with most horror films is that there's too much talking and not enough action. FRANKENFISH doesn't commit that sin. The first 36-minutes (of this 84-minute movie) set up the basic story, and while there are two deaths in this part of the film, they are relatively tame. But, at the 37-minute mark, the fish begins its assault on the house-boats and the action doesn't stop until the credits roll. As the characters are trapped in their dwellings, this part of the film feels more like the failed regatta outing in JAWS 2. The fish attacks are very violent and gory and the movie is never afraid to let us see the CGI fish (which looks pretty good). And, as the film doesn't contain any major stars, it lets us know immediately that anyone can die at anytime and some of the deaths are quite shocking. FRANKENFISH is by no means a classic movie and much of the dialogue is incredibly dumb. (My favorite line, "I've killed and tracked just about (anything) you can think of." Shouldn't you track it and then kill it?) However, this is one of the few movies that actually delivers on the promises made by the DVD cover art. The movie is short, sweet, and to the point. If you're a fan of animals-gone-amok movies, then FRANKENFISH definitely delivers the blood-soaked goods. And where else are you going to see a semi-nude woman get pawed by an ocelot?
FRANKENFISH swims upstream to DVD courtesy of Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer has been enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. FRANKENFISH was shot using the 24p digital video method. Thus, the daytime scenes look fantastic, as the image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no grain at all. Most of the night-time shots look all right, but some of then have a grainy look and lack in detail. The colors look fine and the image has a nice amount of depth. The DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track truly rocks and delivers some great subwoofer action when the fish attacks, especially when it bangs into a boat. The rear channels are active as well, offering enhanced splashing noises and bayou sound effects. The dialogue is always clear with no distortion. There are no extras on this DVD, save for bonus trailers for other Columbia horror titles.
Note: there is no extras on this DVD.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©