Monday, February 23, 2009

Creatures From The Abyss (1994) AKA Plankton

If you like your cheesy horror to be psychotic, then this is your new favorite film. It’s a shame this movie doesn’t have more of a cult following. It makes films like Piranha and Reanimator look sedate and boring. It wreaks of cocaine and suntan lotion and looks like a Hawaiian shirt. It’s an extravagantly weird 1980s (even though it was made in the 90s) luxury yachting acid trip. Everything about this film is surreal, from the opening scene on the beach shot through an orange filter, looking as though there were a pair of pantyhose over the lens, to the pastel lit interior scenes, all accompanied by an ambient synthesizer score. It is Creatures From The Abyss, AKA Plankton.
It’s all a big excuse for some gory set pieces, slapstick, alcohol consumption, and sex. And line after line of obscenely stupid dubbed dialog.
Some teens set out from a beach in Miami in a rubber dingy, with no apparent destination in mind, and happen across an abandoned luxury yacht with a scientific laboratory aboard it. Apparently some genetic experiments have been taking place, resulting in monstrous little carnivorous fish, a contagious virus, and other slimy stuff.
The yacht is guarded and narrated by a talking computer system who states “Hi, I’m Jessica Rowland, I give good times,” (Who?!) and many more bizarre statements. Fictional technology is abundant aboard this ship, and there’s even a perverted, talking shower. At one point in the movie these words are spoken: “Professor, how long have you been fucking fish?” To which he replies,” They were old enough!” The inquisitor responds in an understanding mumble “These things happen…” Need I say more?
If you’ve ever seen the Discovery Channel programs about the fish inhabiting the deepest ocean depths where sunlight does not penetrate, and how freaky they look, then you will appreciate the “creatures” from the abyss. The killer fish in this movie can live out of water as well, and like to scamper across the floor in search of dumb teenagers to chow. Many of the fish POV shots are accompanied by growling noises, and of course they can fly through the air to attack as well.
The soundtrack reminded me of some of the 80s movies scored by Tangerine Dream, such as Manhunter, Risky Business, or The Keep. Knowing Italian horror directors, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was actually partially lifted from one of those films. They’ve certainly stolen music from other movies before, like when songs from Dawn of the Dead played repeatedly in Bruno Mattei’s Hell of the Living Dead (1980).
Not a lot is written about this film. I would love to know how ridiculous the filmmaker was trying to make the film. There is a short interview on the DVD where he claims there were many difficulties and budget problems while making the film. It is perfectly plausible that he was trying to make a serious film. Claudio Fragasso, who directed Troll 2, still does not understand why so many people laugh when they watch his movie. I’m sure he is equally clueless as to why a documentary being made on the cult following of Troll 2 is going to be titled “The Worst Movie Ever Made.”
Massimiliano Cerchi, who also calls himself Al Passeri, was the director. I have not been able to track down any of his other films, although after having viewed this one repeatedly, I must confess that I would rob a video store armed only with a plastic fork in order to see them. With titles under his belt like Satan Claus (1996), Brainmaster (1993), Kendall Ransom: Bounty Hunter (1998), and Mummy Theme Park (2000), his films sound amazing.
Creatures From The Abyss is a maniacal cackle of a movie that must be seen to be believed. It would take too long to adequately describe the manic, “what next?” type of atmosphere this film runs on. Fortunately it won’t take long to find a copy of it because it is available on DVD from Media Blasters and on sale at Amazon and Netflix under both titles, Plankton, and Creatures From The Abyss. This is quite possibly the best bad movie ever made.

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