Roger Corman's Cult Classics Double Feature: Up from the Depths & Demon of Paradise

Roger Corman's Cult Classics Double Feature: Up from the Depths & Demon of Paradise
Because the culturally dominant justification for a humdrum corporate lifestyle and blanket complacency was, and is, the whole sunshine getaway, fun-in-the-sun notion of an annual exotic vacation as its driving motivator, it makes sense that the late '70s and early '80s would feature a plethora of horror movies admonishing this superficial ideal. What with Patrick Bateman Capitalism taking over for the anti-establishment ethos, the logical response of a genre based on id impulse is to poo-poo that of the assimilative norm. These lazy, schlocky, Roger Corman-produced Jaws rip-offs likely didn't stumble onto anything this profound intentionally, but their mutual plotlines of ignorant tourists exploited by unethical resort owners on foreign land are almost identical in structure and ideologue. Up from the Depths is the more amusing of the two films, featuring Sam Bottoms (Last Picture Show, The Outlaw Josey Wales) as a reluctant pothead hero hunting a man-eating fish (from the depths) that's terrorizing a struggling Hawaiian resort. Amidst the drunkenly improvised filler scenes and random, unnecessary storylines about topless models, the biggest laughs come from the kill scenes, which are essentially just close-ups of people in the water with red dye thrown in front of the camera. The lethargic indifference of the Hawaiian extras calmly holding their breath and ducking under the water while supposedly dying is in itself pure comedy gold. And even though much of the dialogue is intended to be funny in that broad, sitcom-ish, "my husband is a lout" sort of way, a scene where the resort owner asks a frazzled woman, "What's the matter? Are you pregnant? Were you raped?" is now at the top of my list of terrible and hilariously inappropriate movie quotes. Demon of Paradise is far less entertaining, featuring the same plotline, right down to the random topless model, only the killer fish is replaced with a lizard man in a bad rubber costume that walks around with his arms in the air. The other difference is that cocaine is the drug of choice instead of weed, being an '80s film and all. The films are separated by trailers for Caged Heat, Jackson County Jail and, my personal favourite, Firecracker, which is the first erotic kung-fu movie ever made, according to the trailers. It is literally just a woman running around in her bra and panties kicking the shit out of interchangeable mobsters. That's way better than Jackson County Jail, wherein Yvette Mimieux's name pops up on screen just as her breasts are revealed during a freeze-framed rape scene. Now that's dignity. Also, anyone keen on goofs may want to pause Up from the Depths at the 43-minute mark and look around on screen to see if anything seems, um, accidental. (Shout! Factory)