Medical Examiner Sam Rivers has been called to the Louisiana bayou to investigate the grizzly death of a local fisherman. What at first is thought to be the work of an alligator becomes more mysterious once Rivers looks at what’s left of the man. Teaming up with resident biologist Mary Callahan he heads up river to question the inhabitants of a small houseboat community. But soon they all realize that there is something monstrous lurking in the waters, something that is very hungry.
Directed by Mark Dippé (responsible for the appalling Spawn) this tale of a mutant killer fish is a cheap and cheerful low budget B movie. Unlike many modern B movies it doesn’t resort to parody, playing things straight, well as straight as a film called Frankenfish can play things. Conforming to all the conventions of the genre it is economical with plot, containing the minimum amount of characterization and set-up to get on to the important stuff of killing off the cast in inventive and gory ways. This is where the film is most successful, in its numerous and inventive death scenes which are nice and bloody with one being delightfully unexpected. Added to this is that other requirement of the genre, the occasional topless female.
The cast of unknowns fit all the expected character types of such a film – the heroic investigator, the love interest, the wise woman with supernatural inclinations, the annoying guy everyone wants to see get eaten etc. Trapping them all in the confined setting of a handful of houseboats works well in ensuring the characters have nowhere to go and can’t simply stay out of the water to avoid the jaws of Frankenfish. Indeed, it’s when the plot takes the characters away from this location that the film becomes less enjoyable with a rather rushed finale. Although there is quite a satisfying way for our hero to dispatch the man-eating monster.
Not a contender for one of the numerous top 100 films of all time lists Frankenfish is nevertheless a surprisingly fun straight to video B movie. Even if it doesn’t offer anything that hasn’t been seen by genre fans before. The fx are acceptable for a film of such an obvious low budget and, as with most films of this type a set-up for a sequel is tacked on to the end of this enjoyable Friday night flick that gives the punters what they want. Blood, guts ‘n’ boobs. Roll on Frankenfish 2.