Frankenfish (2004) Review: Fierce Fishy Fun
“Welcome to the bottom of the food chain.”
Synopsis: While investigating a mysterious death in the swamp, a wildlife biologist teams up with a band of locals to survive a vicious creature attack.
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Frankenfish is one of the first creature features I truly loved. Though the acting, music, and effects are generally a step above laughable, the filmmakers took that buffer and smashed it to pieces with the introduction of drunk sad sack Dan and a number of stellar one-liners. Frankenfish also sports an over-the-top ridiculous end credit song.
The plot is fairly banal, with the fish in question being snakeheads. (Along with piranhas, snakeheads are way over-represented in the creature feature fish category.) But there’s slightly more reason for the snakeheads to be dangerous than usual: after all, they are genetically modified snakeheads, intended for some hunter’s “most dangerous game” lifestyle. After an accident, the snakeheads end up loose in the Louisiana swamps, which means most of the action actually takes place on the water via fanboats, canoes, and houseboats. Nothing overly creative, but certainly a nice change of pace.
It’s also worth noting that Frankenfish cheerfully breaks one of the classic horror tropes: that black characters are just cannon fodder. Not only are most of the leads people of color, but most of them – gasp! – have personalities that aren’t just stereotypes. The movie also treats the swamp denizens fairly kindly, dispensing with the easy hixploitation option. Both of those qualities are pretty surprising in a low-budget creature feature.
When it comes down to it, the best part of Frankenfish is that it makes me laugh. I can laugh at both the intended jokes and at the campy missteps, and I can do so even after seeing it way too many times. This movie holds a place of honor in my “so bad it’s good” shelf, and I highly recommend it for fans of the creature feature subgenre.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: B
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