24 July 2014 | BA_Harrison
And I was so looking forward to seeing a man turned inside out.
I first read about Sergio Martino's Island of the Fishmen in Chas Balun's '80s book Horror Holocaust, where it went by the alternative title of Screamers. Since Balun's book was all about the splatter, I immediately added the film to my mental list of must see gore movies, but have only recently been able to track down a copy of the film (via YouTube). Unfortunately, what I had forgotten was that Screamers, released by Roger Corman's New World company, was a re-edited version of Martino's movie, with extra footage added to make it more marketable to the US market, and that the original version, which I had found, was virtually blood-free!
The untampered Island of The Fishmen is a formulaic Jules Verne-style adventure in which a small group of castaways are washed up on an uncharted island where the owner Edmond Rackham (Richard Johnson) has creating half-man/half-fish mutants in an effort to retrieve a valuable lost treasure from the submerged ruins of Atlantis. There is lots of dreary talking and plenty of unremarkable action, but graphic violence is limited to a man having his face clawed and another falling into a trap full of spikes, making it far from the gloriously gory epic I had long hoped it would be. The film doesn't even make the most of the presence of Bond beauty Barbara Bach, who remains fully clothed throughout (unless you count her strip down to Victorian underwear, which practically covers her entire body anyway!).
Shot in the same tropical locations as Lucio Fulci's Zombie, and with atmospheric cinematography from Giancarlo Ferrando, Martino's film has the look and feel of many a classic Italian gorefest, but remains a remarkably dry affair, and while the fishmen themselves are entertaining thanks to their ridiculous design and expressionless faces, the film as a whole is a rather tedious affair. I guess I'll just have to satisfy my yearning for excessively gory fish-man horror with repeat viewings of Corman's Humanoids Of The Deep (1980)—at least until I can get my hands on a copy of 'Screamers'.