Thursday, August 9, 2018

fish cake.

The Last Shark (AKA The Last Jaws, L'ultimo squalo, Great White. 1981).
Dir: Enzo G. Castellari.
Cast: James Franciscus, Vic Morrow, Micaela Pignatelli, Joshua Sinclair, Giancarlo Prete, Stefania Girolami, Gian Marco Lari , Chuck Kaufman, Gail Moore and a shark.

"No damned shark is gonna screw up a whole year's work and planning!"

Hip, bubble-permed windsurfing champion and Mr. Bungle lead vocalist Mike Patton, is practising his cool moves to the smooth sound of Yvonne Wilkins hit "Hollywood Big Time" whilst wearing the tightest vest ever known to man (Which in itself is quite a feat) in the hope of winning the annual Port Harbour surfing competition.

Everything is going swimmingly, well surfingly, until poor Mike is dragged kicking and spluttering beneath the waves.

Enter (you know you want to) local writer and shark expert Peter Benton (Beneath The Planet of The Apes, Cat o' Nine Tails and Naked City star Franciscus) who after getting an earful regarding a lack vegetables in the pantry courtesy of his Farrah-lite wife Gloria (the terrifyingly toothsome Pignatelli) decides to investigate Mike's disappearance.

"Is it in yet?"
You see, their beautiful, well I say beautiful, daughter Jenny (Castellari's real-life daughter and latter-day Hollywood based assistant director Girolami) was on the beach at the time is pretty sure that the overpowering stench of fish filled the air seconds before he vanished.

Anyway, whilst Peter is wandering around the obviously off-season and freezing cold beach looking for a big rubber fish, his wife is busy at work organising the aforementioned competition and regatta for local congressman and professional stud-muffin William Wells (Sinclair, the actor that, in an alternative universe was cast as Tony Stark in Ruggero Deodato's Iron Man movie).

Wells, being a kindly soul is a wee bit worried that a giant shark terrorising the bay might put folk off from visiting the festivities so decides to hire local fisherman Ed Glover to hunt down then destroy the ferocious fish.

Vic Morrow deciding whether to use Head and Shoulders or Sainsbury's own brand to wash his hair yesterday.

Unfortunately (for Ed) the shark gobbles up everything except his arm before nudging the boat back to port as a kind of water-based ASBO calling card.

Wells is obviously even more worried now but his white suited assistant (Howard Keel in an uncredited cameo and a nipple revealing string vest, I'm sure of it) manages to convince him that a rogue hand grenade caused the damage and also, as luck would have it that he's noticed that the local Asda has a massive collection of shark proof nets on sale.

And they're three for the price of two.

Seeing this as a good omen (as opposed to say, The Final Conflict), Wells orders the show to go ahead but not before putting Peter and his best pal, the comedy accented and candy-floss haired Scottish skipper Captain 'Ron' McHammer (the late, great Morrow, chewing scenery like a starving Somali chews his own gammy leg) in charge of security and the islands only pair of binoculars.

I wouldn't want that swimming up my arse.

Soon the beach is full of playful teens, pot bellied adults and those kind of ball headed, hairy children you only got in the seventies all intent on enjoying the regatta.

With all the participants are waxing their boards before heading into the water, it's left to Peter and Ron to nonchalantly watch the water for tell-tale fins whilst Howard Keel supervises the race from his little boat.

What could possibly go wrong?

With nothing unusual in the water save a mysteriously bobbing buoy the race begins but within minutes the very same bouncy and somewhat bullying buoy is zig-zagging thru' the competitors knocking them all off their boards.

Too late Cap'n Ron realises what's happened.

That snide shark has obviously disguised himself as a beach ball and is even know preparing to lunch out on the surfers smooth thighs.

Using his fishing boat and big net to catch stray surfers and pull them to safety, Ron and Peter are oblivious to the big beast swimming (well lolling) closer to the star of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers until it's again too late.

Damn you Mr. Tension.

Without warning (save a sexy guitar twang) Howard's boat is throw skywards by some unseen force (which I'm assuming was meant to be either the sharks hitherto unexplained psychic powers, a massive fishy fart or that the model refused to shoot upwards) leaving the poor sod bobbing about in the water crying like a baby till the shark gobbles him up.

Richard Dreyfuss farted...and it was an eggy one.

A by now really annoyed Wells, realising that he'll never have his armoured suit ready in time to kill the shark retreats to his office in a huff, leaving our terrific twosome to go it alone and, in a plan of diabolical ingenuity follow the shark back to his underground lair, what till it goes out for lunch then hide inside armed with some dynamite on a stick.


With Gloria on-board for moral support and a cheeky show of flesh, Peter and Ron suit up and dive down to the sharks cave only to get trapped in a rock-fall caused by the crafty fish itself, who had already anticipated their plan and had been lying in wait behind a big sponge.

This shark is good.

With Ron unconscious and his air hose broke (no doubt causing lots of trouble and lots of bubbles) Peter, using a makeshift underwater catapult fires the dynamite at the shark and frightens it away.

Not only that but the explosion clears the rocks giving our heroes a clean run to the surface.


With all this exciting (if a wee bit dangerous) shark hunting and near death chills going down you'd be forgiven for thinking the poor audience would get a break from the excitement to get their breath back or at least have a slash, but oh no because we soon discover that back on the island Wells' pube haired son Billy has rather foolishly decided to steal his dads boat and alongside his friends (and Jenny) to head out to sea and kill the shark themselves to avenge Mikes (you remember him) death.

It's like an episode of Eastenders but with fewer laughs and less of a rancid fish odour.

Jenny: I've got something to put in you.

Busying themselves by tying a bag of offal to a broom the teens completely fail to see the shark slowly heading towards the boat till it's too late, only noticing when it jumps out of the water to grab the meat treat.

The friends have no other option but to scream and shout as the brute tears up the bait before inadvertently biting the broom in half, sending Jenny tumbling into the cold, icy sea.

Billy desperately tries to pull her back on-board as the snappy shark bounces up and down on the waves like a multi-toothed beach toy whilst the rest of the crew shuffle about trying to look concerned, eventually tho' Jenny is dragged to safety.

Minus her leg.

"Boiled Onions!"

As luck (or simplistic plotting) would have it her dad is just sailing passed as this is happening so Within no time at all Jenny is back on dry land and laid up in a hospital bed as her dad (quite cruelly methinks) chats to her about the first time she rode a bike, her first dance and the like, you know just all the stuff that she won't be doing again any time soon.


but not everyone is so calm as we can tell from Wells' reaction to seeing his son moping about the waiting room.

After administering a quick disciplinary buggery on the boy, our moustachioed hunk, armed with only a machine gun and a carrier bag full of entrails heads over to his private heliport to take to the skies in the hope of raining hot leaded death on the killer fish.

just imagine that's your cock he's about to suck on...just don't imagine him taking it out of a box and lighting it first.

After a few minutes hanging out of the helicopter throwing bits of meat into the sea Wells actually seems surprised when the shark shows up.

Tho' saying that I probably would be too seeing as it appears to be moving thru' the water whilst balancing on it's fin looking for all intent and purposes like a badly made performing seal.

none of this really matters tho' as Wells is soon in the drink and frantically waving at the helicopter to pick him up.

"Laugh now!"

Wells' fearless pilot Geoff lowers the helicopter as near to the water as he can enabling a very wet Wells to grab onto the landing rail and get whisked to safety.

Well that was the plan anyway.

The reality of the situation is much more amusing as the shark leaps up out of the sea and bites Wells' in half before eating the helicopter.

Can this film get anymore pant wettingly exciting?

You betcha it can, cos even now back onshore beardy news reporter Bob Snatch and his porn god cameraman Sheldon have decided to staple a pig to the pier in the hope of getting the shark on TV.

And planning for every eventuality they've even hired a big game hunter to shoot the shark live on air.

Well I'd tune in.

"Balsa wood in mah mooth ya bastards!"

But don't forget that Ron and Peter have once again braved the elements and are back out at sea hoping to find this fiendish fish from hell.

Coming across (not in that way, tho' it's Vic Morrow so you never can tell) the debris from Wells' helicopter, Cap'n Ron dives down to investigate only to find Wells' severed arm and a long piece of string.

Tugging it gently Ron soon discovers that the string is tied to one of the sharks teeth and that the poor animal is using the wreckage in an attempt to pull it out.

So that's why it's so grumpy.

Swimming back to the boat to fetch his cavity filler Ron manages to become entangled in the string and is soon dragged to his death below the ocean waves as Peter watches on helplessly.

Which is nice if a little less dramatic a death scene than we'd have liked.

Realising what an arse he's made of things so far Peter admits defeat and heads back to the beach for a well deserved ice cream and a can of fizzy pop only to be greeted by the sight of the town pier, with his wife, Sheldon, the big game hunter guy and various non-speaking townfolk aboard, being dragged out to sea by the shark.

Racing to the rescue (but not in time to save the hunter or Sheldon) Peter pulls alongside the rapidly sinking pier and drags everyone aboard his boat but as he manhandles his wife's ample arse aboard the shark picks up speed, dragging our hero away from safety and trapping him on an ever quicker sinking pile of sodden wood and streamers.

"Will it eat me whole?" "No it shall probably spit that bit out".

As the shark leaps toward Peter like some grinning seventies sock puppet our hero notices Ron's body hanging limply out of the side of it's mouth.

And just within reach?

Ron's handy dynamite belt.

With  all his remaining strength and a high pitched scream Peter launches himself at the beast, grabs the detonator and kicks his best pals bloated corpse further down the sharks gullet before diving into the sea and pressing the detonators shiny red button causing the shark to pop like a big balloon full of jelly.

"Aya! Mah BCG!"

Returning to dry land with his wife on his arm and the townsfolk cheering Peter has one piece of unfinished business to deal with.

Punching Bob in the face for no discernible reason, Peter throws his wife into the backseat of the car and drives home for some well deserved sex.

From Italy's master of unlocking, the great Enzo Castellari (he of Inglorious Bastards and The New Barbarians fame amongst other goodies) comes the tarnished jewel in the scrap pile of copycat movies released in Jaws wake.

After replacing Charlton Heston in Beneath The Planet Of The Apes, James Franciscus seems to have no qualms about stepping into Roy Scheider's shoes whilst Vic Morrow just looks happy with the thought of earning enough to eat that month and the rest of the cast?
Who cares.

Apart from Universal Pictures and Steven Spielberg himself obviously, who successfully managed to have this film pulled from American cinemas.....FOREVER.

Which is a shame really because in many ways The Last Shark is superior to the film it rips off.

Nah, only joking.

Standby for action!

But it does boast a fantastic eighties Italiana score, some very stylish haircuts and a rare appearance by Howard Keels nipples so in that respect at least it's worth a look.

Plus if I'm honest Vic Morrows arse looks great in a wetsuit.

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