Frankenfish (2004) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Quick quiz. Very quick. Only one question.

Frankenfish is:

(a.) A really liberal underwater talk show host.

(b.) A fish stitched together from parts of other fish.

(c.) A member of Country Joe's band.

(d.) None of the above.

The answer is (d) none of the above. Although this movie features giant creatures, and those creatures are fish, they are not stitched together from other fish to animate or re-animate a new species.

Instead, these fish conform to the general principles of giant movie creatures, which are:

Method 1. If the writer is a liberal, the giant creatures are formed when irresponsible Republican politicians dump unlimited quantities of poisonous substances into the air and water, thus altering the ecosystem and precipitating the development of a giant new species which can survive under extreme conditions and therefore presents a threat to man. The changes in the species do not take place over millions of years, like normal evolutionary processes, but happen overnight.

Method 2. If the writer is a conservative, the giant creatures are formed when godless scientists place their curiosity above mankind's accepted moral principles. The scientists choose to ignore the rules of nature, play God, and create a new and unnatural species to study. Being evil atheists, they never stop to think that if God had wanted the world to be filled with 80 foot gerbils, He, in His infinite wisdom, would have told Noah to build a larger ark. More important, we know that the Good Lord does not want gerbils to be 80 feet tall, because if He did, He would have made Richard Gere much larger.

Method 2a. If the writer hates liberals and conservatives equally, he puts a twist in Method 2. The godless, atheist scientists create a giant creature, but only because they were paid vast sums to do so by a filthy rich Republican businessman whose hobby is big game hunting. The rich hunter has already killed every species on the planet, even the most dangerous ones, so he needs the godless scientists to violate the rules of nature and make a new species which is more dangerous than any on earth, thus allowing him to reinvigorate his adrenalin flow.

This particular giant creature film follows Method 2a.

All giant creature films should follow certain other conventions as well:

1. There should be an old gypsy woman, or cajun witch, or voodoo priestess, or the equivalent. This old woman believes that the creature is not simply a mutation which can be explained by science (well, to be more specific, by movie science), but is rather an evil spirit, possibly even the Lord of Darkness himself, and has been sent by God to punish her for something she did with another woman and some KY jelly and some "Japanese octopus porn" and some common table salt. She knows God cannot forgive her even though she was only 16 at the time, and it was only one time, and she was just experimenting with sexuality in ways familiar to so many of us, especially those of us who live near the Japanese seacoast. Alas, her soul is lost to The Dark One, who has now come to attack her in the form of the 80-foot gerbil.

Inevitably, she has an exotic anti-gerbil talisman which can protect her against the Evil Spirit. Just as inevitably, it gets destroyed just when it might actually serve some purpose.

2. The destruction of the giant creature should actually occur about halfway through the film, after a prolonged battle which costs many human lives. Then, just when everyone is relaxing, an even larger creature should appear from nowhere, kill an additional human, and disappear quickly, so that the stunned survivors are in shock, and are terrified because they now realize that the one they defeated may have been just one of many, and may even have been a baby. By killing it, they may have forced a confrontation with an angry mother gerbil.

3. There should be a stuck-up guy who refuses to co-operate with the plans of the other people fighting the giant creature. There is no good reason for this. It is just required by genre convention. Sometimes the stuck-up guy is allowed to redeem himself by dying in a self-sacrificing way, but this is not essential. Sometimes his death just provides darkly comic relief.

And there you have the plot of Frankenfish, except that the creature is not a gerbil but, as you might expect from the title, a giant fish. Frankenfish has rudimentary lungs and can breathe out of the water, so a human can not easily escape it.

I'm almost ashamed to admit that I thought a totally predictable film named Frankenfish was actually pretty good. Of course, giant creature films are inherently delimited in quality, and their quality ceiling is quite low. Can you name one that is really any good, except for Jaws? If you were strapped to a polygraph, you'd have to admit that even the legendary giant creature films like King Kong and Godzilla are pretty damned awful. King Kong, of course, reached out to mainstream audiences with a lot of heart. Frankenfish isn't that type of film. It is a pure genre film which doesn't care about mainstream audiences. It's filled with extreme gore, gratuitous nudity from unnecessary characters, and macabre humor. It also has some genuine tension and some pretty good scares.


Noelle Evans, playing a swamp nudist, showed her breasts in a sunbathing scene.

A completely unnecessary woman walked around topless in the background while the big game hunter talked on the phone. This woman was not identified, and did not figure in the plot in any way.

DVD info from Amazon

widescreen anamorphic

Honest to God, I didn't mind it at all!!!

It kinda got my heart pumpin'.  It's far from a masterpiece, and it has some unnecessary plot detours, but it is ten times better than you'd expect from a film named Frankenfish.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 3.5/10. It isn't that bad.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C. It must have the worst title of the millennium, but if you have a taste for giant creature films, this one has its moments.

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