Every generation needs a giant snakehead fish movie. Luckily, we’ll go down as the first. In fact, we now have the good fortune to receive two snakehead fish movies in as many months. Fresh off of the “Snakehead Terror,” Sci-Fi Pictures proudly presents the next evolution of horror in “Frankenfish.” Then again, maybe not. In fact, scratch all of that.
Sam Rivers (Tory Kittles), a medical investigator, is sent into the Louisiana Bayou to investigate a strange murder. Along for the ride is biologist Mary Callahan (China Chow). The local residents of a houseboat community feel the danger as one person after another begins disappearing into the mouth of an unknown creature. Stuck on the shoreline without any means of communication or escape, the small band of residents, along with the two outsiders, must find a way to finish off the creature before it can enter larger waters.
Mark A.Z. DippÈ directs this sub-standard creature fare. He’s the man responsible for the live action “Spawn” movie back in 1997. But, he’s also an accomplished special effects crewman, taking part in two of the 90′s biggest blockbusters “Terminator 2″ and “Jurassic Park.” As such, the effects here are above average for a direct-to-cable creature feature. The CGI is passable while there are multiple uses of traditional animatronic and puppet wizardry. The oversized snakehead itself is also a nice little design, but in a movie like this, it never really matters.
Since the movie is titled “Frankenfish,” everyone already knows this is a giant fish-eats-people movie. Why the mystery? This one is frustratingly slow to build, wasting nearly 45-minutes before things pick up, and even then it loses momentum again almost immediately. Had the finale provided a pay-off this wouldn’t have been such a problem, but it doesn’t. Instead, viewers are left watching less than capable actors (though the two leads do a decent job) fending off their meager belongings against a monster that never gets any screen time.
Blood flows freely here, really pushing the limits of standard cable a few times. People are decapitated, chopped up in a fan boat, and dragged underwater leaving only red bodily fluids behind. The final demise of the snakehead is also a classic (and somewhat innovative), though only for the obscene amount of gore. There are a few surprises in the body count as well, but the characters are far too one-dimensional to care.
Yet, the biggest travesty here is the monsters “reason to be.” It’s arguably the most important part in a movie like this as it gives some kind of purpose to the proceedings. Here, the description flies by in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it segment. Even if you do manage to figure it out, it’s still less than satisfying. All the time spent trying to figure out what the creature is for nearly 80-minutes from the moment this film starts is wasted. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, yes, it does set itself up for a sequel at the end.
Finally, the last complaint goes to the Sci-Fi Channel. Generally they have the decency to show original movies in their widescreen format, but here they chose the alternate route going with a terrible pan & scan presentation. It made an already hard to watch movie even more unbearable.
“Frankefish” has some small potential to work, but it needed serious editing and at least twenty more minutes of screen time to our amphibious friend. As it stands, this is another travesty to the small group of people who enjoy movies like this from a station that never seems to care. How much money is actually made from something like this will never be known, but buying stock in the Sci-Fi Channel is not recommended.