DEEP BLOOD (1990) Reviews and overview of sharksploitation schlock

 

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Deep Blood is a 1990 Italian action horror film about some boys who make an oath to kill a monster – a Great White – when they are older.

Directed by Raffaele Donato [as Raf Donato] and Aristide Massaccesi [as Joe D’Amato] (uncredited) from a screenplay written by George Nelson Ott.

The Filmirage production stars Frank Baroni, Cort McCown, Keith Kelsch, James Camp, Tody Bernard and John K. Brune.

The soundtrack score was composed by Carlo Maria Cordio (The Crawlers; Troll 2; Night Killer; Beyond Darkness; Absurd).

Review:

Deep Blood opens, rather oddly, with a group of young boys happily roasting sausages on an open fire. A weird old guy (Van Jensens) shows up and starts rambling about an ancient evil that they’ll likely have to battle someday. It took me some time to realise this very white weird old guy was supposed to be a Native American and not a cult leader. He makes the kids bury a bunch of stuff and they form some sort of silly pact about fighting a monster.

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A decade or so later, the boys are grown up and suffering typical young adult problems – you know, like whether to join the Pro Golf Tour or study business. Meanwhile, in a scene that directly recreates the Alex Kitner death from Jaws except it reverses the roles (and it’s shit), a woman is gulped down by a big shark while her son watches on in mild, lip-quivering amusement. The town’s permanently sweating Sheriff (Tody Bernard) finds the kid’s story difficult to believe until John (John K. Brune), one of our heroic young men, is eaten in front of his pal, Miki (Frank Baroni).

The town is hit hard by the news. John’s dad is told of his son’s death in a heartrending scene shot entirely in wide showing a non-reacting, non-actor looking completely unperturbed. The Sheriff tells John’s friends war stories to ease their pain. The town bully responds with a sensitive wit true to his character.

In what is easily the best scene of the movie, Miki slips into a depressed state, annoying his father by expressing his teen angst through rebellious disco Moog. His father then yells at Miki about his dead mother to which Miki responds by screaming: “I wish you had gotten eaten by that shark!”

Miki decides that revenge on a mindless animal is in order and organises his childhood pals to go on a motherf*ckin’ shark hunt. Ben (Keith Kelsch) – the golfing champ of the gang – enlists his fisherman father (Charlie Brill) who is convinced to go along on the dangerous mission by a knowing look from his wife (Mitzi McCall), or “Ben’s mather” as the end titles credit her. During their chumming shark hunt, the coast guard catches his wind and yells repetitively from a helicopter loudspeaker: “You should be ashamed of yourselves!”

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Events fart along in the way you’d expect them to. Anyone who has seen Jaws will know what to expect. There’s sh*t versions of all the primary characters. The sweat-drenched Sheriff replaces Chief Brody – only he’s utterly useless. Quint becomes Ben’s father – only he’s not an awesome badass. And Hooper is… well, this guy…

By the time the end credits roll, it seems nothing – nothing at all – has happened in Deep Blood. Even the unintentionally funny moments are few and far between. The film’s climactic shark hunt is dreary beyond belief featuring seemingly endless shots of the characters scuba-diving while soothing throbs on the soundtrack. An ending involving an underwater shipwreck, explosives, and a great white shark should not be this dull. There’s no tension, no threat, but worst of all there’s no f*cking shark!

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Yep, that’s right. Deep Blood is essentially a shark-free shark movie. The shark scenes use the same old National Geographic stock footage shark fans have seen a thousand times before. Supposedly, a mechanical shark head was constructed, but where the hell was it? I don’t have a problem with shark films with a lack of shark action (I’d take that over Sharknado any day), but no rubber shark and zero original footage is going too far. I’ll throw in half a shark for some decent matching of stock footage towards the end of the film.

I feel bad saying this out of a love for Joe D’Amato and cheap trash, but Deep Blood stinks. It’s the worst Italian shark film I’ve seen. Yes, it’s worse than Cruel Jaws (1995) despite the fact that Cruel Jaws steals footage from Deep Blood. (It’s not really fair to compare them though, Cruel Jaws is actually massively entertaining, though I’d struggle to consider it a legitimate film.) As the running time ticked by, I felt my mind slowly regressing to some sort of blank state of death or pre-birth. To its credit, Deep Blood turns boring into a kind of cinematic art form.

Dave Jackson, guest reviewer via Mondo Exploito

Other reviews:

“You won’t easily believe the acting prowess of the cast of Deep Blood. This fine group of thespians change emotions at the drop of a hat… mid-scene […] This movie couldn’t manage to film a child in a shallow pond, and you expect an animatronic great white? The mother f*cker is grainy-as-balls stock footage of a real shark, and briefly… very briefly… a toy or puppet of some fashion.” Horror Fuel

“If the Native American mythology that was mentioned in passing had a bigger hold on the story it would have been a fun spin but it doesn’t. Instead, we get a movie using the same shark-based storyline following a beach community that continues to go into the water even though a shark is known to be killing people. Nothing original or entertaining.” Horror Society

” …lots of shark stock footage, unconvincing attack scenes with actors flailing around in the water with red paint around them, and a script padded out with soap opera filler to get the whole thing up to 90 minutes […]The actors are all extremely variable, with one father-son confrontation veering extremely close to riotous Troll 2 territory for a few minutes…” Mondo Digital

“I feel pretty confident in assuming it’s the only movie where a Native American randomly binds together a group of friends for a blood oath that ends with them confronting a killer shark. Throw in the other stuff you expect from Italian horror—gonzo dialogue, baffling character interactions, low-rent effects work, ill-fitting music—and it all comes together to form a singularly strange experience.” Oh, the Horror!

Deep-Blood-movie-film-action-horror-Italian-1990-review-reviews-2Cast and characters:

Frank Baroni … Miki
Cort McCown … Allan (as Allen Cort)
Keith Kelsch … Ben
James Camp … Wayne
Tody Bernard … Sheriff
John K. Brune … John
Margareth Hanks … Elizabeth
Van Jensens … Indigenous American
Don Perrin … Bartender
Claude File … Oceanographer
Charlie Brill … Ben’s Father (as Charles Brill)
Mitzi McCall … Ben’s Mother
Tom Bernard … Sheriff Cody
John K. Burns … John
Laura Gemser … Lab Assistant (uncredited)
Robert LaBrosse … Police Officer (uncredited)
Don Smith … Man at Party (uncredited)

Technical details:

94 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Original title:

Sangue negli abissi “Blood in the depths”

Trailer:

Ten Jaws clones:

Some images: Mondo Digital

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