Wednesday, October 9, 2019

sick squid.

This film was like the Holy Grail of beast-based horror growing up.

No, seriously - alongside The Crater Lake Monster it was on the top of my 'must see' list for decades.

And why? I hear you cry.

Well I remember catching a few clips of it on Clapperboard with Chris Kelly (as in he hosted it, he wasn't babysitting me or anything dodgy) and thinking it looked sensational, tho' in my defense I was 7 at the time.

So did it live up to childhood expectations?

Go on, guess.

"Clap mah board you magnificent wee bastards!"

Tentacles (AKA Tentacoli, 1977).
Dir: Ovidio G. Assonitis (AKA Oliver Hellman).
Cast: John Huston, Shelley Winters, Bo Hopkins, Henry Fonda, Delia Boccardo, Cesare Danova, Claude Akins, Alan Boyd, Franco Diogene, Marc Fiorini and
Sherry Buchanan.

 "Will, I've heard the suckers on a tentacles are like the claws on a tiger."
"Compared to suckers on a tentacle, claws are nothing Mr. Turner."

Welcome to the hip n' happening saucy seaside resort of Solana Beach where men are men and the women are hideously overdubbed in an makeshift shed to hide their Italian origins.

One such woman is busy adjusting her lippy as her frighteningly chubby baby bounces in it's buggy.

How sweet.

She soon however sees her best friend pull up on the opposite side of the road and in a move that even the McCann's would baulk at abandons her baby at trots off for a wee chat.

As the pals happily natter away we can only watch as the baby bounces happily in the background (tho' to be honest he's huge so wouldn't be that hard to spot) before promptly disappearing as a bus goes by causing a bout of mild indifference in the parent.

Meanwhile over at the docks we're introduced to 'salty' Stan the sailor man and his shiny peg leg as he, alongside his tight-shorted sidekick Erasmus prepare their boat for a wee fishing trip.

But all this dockside polishing is hard work (ask your mum) and Erasmus soon wanders of for a sandwich leaving poor Stan to get tugged overboard by an unseen assailant.

Don't worry tho' he soon turns up (well bits of him do) bobbing about in the ocean as a fat lady in a tiny red bikini attempts to get a greasy rat-like guy to put it in her.

Who says romance is dead?

"Laugh now!"

Enter (gently tho' he's 71 and may hurt his back) top journalist type 'Newsworthy' Ned Turner (cinema god Huston, wishing he hadn't bought that second holiday home) who's convinced that the recent deaths are somehow related to the massive tunnel being dug out at sea by the amusingly monikered Trojan Tunnels PLC.

The local sheriff (Akins from loads of stuff, go look him up if you like, I'll still be here when you get back) agrees.

His reason?

"That tunnel that they're building is using equipment Buck Rogers couldn't dream up!"

Which seems fair enough.

Fuck the deaths and discussions where are the old men in dresses? I hear you cry, well don't worry as the next scene features Huston wandering around the house in a christening gown smoking a cigar, his ickle fin legs sticking out of the bottom like stubbly matchsticks as his sister Tillie ( the heck did Assonitis get this cast?) poses provocatively around the house for his amusement.

One tearful wank and a Pot Noodle later (well I'm only flesh and blood) and we're back to the plot good and proper with an autopsy of the unfortunate Stan.

It appears that whatever killed him tore of most of his flesh before chowing down of his cartilage and finally guzzling all his marrow, leading our heroes to phone an underwater expert to see if he has any clue as to what's going on.

With Richard Dreyfuss busy in rehab it's left to famed oceanographer and whale trainer Will Gleason (Teevee stalwart and father of Anthony, Bo Hopkins) to step into the fray.

Unfortunately it looks like he'll only be able to assist from afar seeing as a recent case of the bends has left him unable to even dip his toes in water without fear of exploding.

As a plus point it does mean that he and his sharp-faced wife Vicky (Boccardo from the classic Secret of the Sahara Teevee Mini-Series) will get a free holiday out of it so it's not all bad plus being so well renowned he can easily send two no-mark extras out to sea to have a nosy around in his place.

Which means more food for whatever's munching its way thru the cast so everyone's a winner really.

"Hello French Polishers? You might just be able to save my life!"

Not everyone is so happy at the thought of Gleason's arrival tho', especially the head of Trojan (and purveyor of Buck Rogers style drilling equipment) Mr Farley Whitehead (Fonda, Mel Ferrer was busy).

Could chemicals/radiation/out of date peaches released by his sinister multinational be to blame for the recent deaths?

In any other movie the answer would be yes but in a bizarre twist of logic (and due in all probability to dear old Henry only being available for a single afternoons shooting) the only thing they've done wrong is forget to forward the paperwork to head office to say that they've started drilling a week early.

But who cares about dead Italian extras when there's a regatta to organize?

Especially when Tillie's son Tommy and his urine obsessed pal Jamie are entering.

The race that is not each other.

"How much for a mooth shite-in?"

Meanwhile back at the main plot Will is pining for his whales so decides to attempt to woo his wife into indulging his animal passions instead, unfortunately she has a sailing trip to go on (alongside her sister, a hunky man with high hair and bizarrely enough a fat Mexican played to comic perfection by the fantastic Franco Diogene, who after sporting cinema's biggest underpants ever in Andrea Bianchi’s Strip Nude For Your Killer is rewarded here with the world's tiniest swimming trunks) so leaves our hero dazed, confused and with his meager erection in his ladylike hands.

As luck would have it she gets stuck in the toilet and misses the boat leaving it up to Sherry Buchanan (she of Zombi Holocaust fame) to supply the bikini clad sexiness (alongside some top racist fatphobia) for a few minutes before the three are eaten whole.

Well not the fat guy obviously, that takes a few more bites.

Whilst all this sea-based tomfoolery is going down, Will and company make a startling discovery.

And it's not that they're stuck in a terminally dull Italian Jaws rip-off with delusions of entertainment value.

Which would be quite nice if I'm honest, I mean the rest of the film could be taken up with the American cast desperately calling their agents whilst the yumsome Buchanan lounges about in a tiny bikini.

But alas it's not that interesting or arousing.

But it is fairly funny.

Turns out that the drilling is so loud that it's annoyed an octopus that lives near by causing him to lose sleep and go a wee bit mental, killing anyone he thinks is related to the project.

Just like octopi are known not to do.

Well glad that's settled.

Here come the Belgians!

By this point you can tell that the movie is beginning to hurtle (lurch?) toward an action packed climax as a few more folk are quickly munched by the monster whilst the Sheriff runs around in a vain attempt to shut off the coastline before anyone else dies.

Unfortunately in all the excitement he appears to have forgotten to cancel the regatta.


So the scene is set for an ocean-based blood(less) bath as the boats set sail, everyone aboard clutching walkie talkies specifically tuned to an octopus-baiting frequency (how lucky is that) whilst the rest of the town sit on the beach and watch a shit clown tell even shitter jokes totally oblivious to what's going on.

But best of all tho' is the fact that all of this plays out to a big band remix of  Stelvio Cipriani's theme from What Have They Done to Your Daughters? on an almost constant loop.

No really.

I mean when the composer can't be arsed coming up with some new music for a movie what chance do the rest of us have?

To be fair tho' he was kinda busy at the time scoring such classics as  The Great Alligator and Piranha II: The Spawning.

I almost expected the octopus to burst out of the water on a motorbike, slashing at the competitors with a huge knife whilst taking candid pics of underage girls in bikini's.

Saying that it's a thought I often have anyway.

Buchanan: Gallery.

Will our heroes be able to stop the octopus and it's reign of rampaging revenge before the race has finished?

Will our heroes wife be stupid enough to go out to sea to look for her missing sister only to be eaten in a scene directly riffed from Jaws?

Will John Huston vanish from the film entirely after realizing it's beyond saving leaving poor old Bo Hopkins to face the creature alone (apart from a couple of Killer Whales that is)?

Will Henry Fonda ever forgive his agent?

And Will Shelley Winters please stop showing her arse?

Most famous (around here anyway) for 'co-directing' the best sequel James Cameron ever made - the aforementioned Piranha II: The Spawning, Ovidio G. Assonitis takes Jaws as a template for his octo-based 'orror but decides (wisely or unwisely depending on your tolerance to pain) to replace that movies taunt pacing and genuine scares with endless shots of people chatting behind shrubbery, inappropriate kazoo use and Shelley Winters in a variety of ever lager hats intercut with scenes of a baby octopus nonchalantly nudging a toy boat in a bath.

Genius or madman?

You decide.

But (try to) ignore all that and stick with it to the bitter end and you'll be rewarded by the awesome sight of a visibly drunk (and somewhat aroused) Bo Hopkins tearfully flirting (via radio mike) with a couple of whales before sending them off to do battle with the films titular terror and all this is (frighteningly realistically) achieved by attacking a baby octopus with two handmade felt rod puppets.

But probably only because it was too much hard work to catch the real thing.

Oh yes and find a bath big enough to film it in.

Essential viewing for fans of Shelley Winters in hats.

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