Killer Fish (1979)

Lee Majors, Karen Black, Margaux Hemingway, Marisa Berenson,
Jewel thieves attempt to recover treasure from piranha infested waters. Mistrust and betrayals happen amongst the gang in the quest for gold.
  • 4.1 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Michael Rogers, Writer:
  • Antonio Margheriti, Director:
  • Alex Ponti, Producer:

All subtitles:



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5 / 10

Sleeping with the Killer Fish...

Next to Joe Dante's minor exploitation classic, this is already the second "Jaws"-rip off that revolves on piranhas, but the comparison stops right there with the mutual choice of killer fish as the sea monsters. Dante's film is of course better and more relevant, but "Killer Fish" is a typical Italian exploitation product and thus delivers too many grotesque story lines, some neat gore and an unusual cast. Heck, I'm not even sure this film fully qualifies as a "Jaws"-rip off since the main plot involves a diamond heist instead of a besieged tourist resort. Although... it has that, too! A well-organized bunch of thieves successfully complete their diamond robbery and lower the loot to the bottom of the lake for safety reasons. After 60 days ? if the police give up their search ? they will collect the diamonds again and split. In order to guard his precious jewels, criminal mastermind Paul Diller infested the lake with ravenous piranhas that can regularly nibble from the double-crossing team members. Meanwhile, one of the crooks falls for a model with a speech-defect and a tropical hurricane busts a large dam, allowing the piranhas to spread themselves all across the touristy waters. Antonio Margheriti's "Killer Fish" suffers from a slightly tedious and hesitant opening half hour, but it get more adventurous once the first victim is devoured under the water. The piranha effects as well as the underwater cinematography are a bit disappointing but this film has an irresistible 70's charm, complete with cool soundtrack and stereotypical characters. Lee Majors is excellent as the macho with more hair on his chest than brains in his skull and Karen Black is a great shrew. Not as good as I hoped, but a fun piece of Italian trash nonetheless.

6 / 10

I don't know why I liked this movie

Watching Margeaux Hemingway in this movie is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Her lisp and stone-faced moroseness makes Lee Majors' eyebrow look like Marlon Brando, but she is nonetheless compelling. The same goes for the rest of the cast. You just can't believe how sincere everyone is trying to be and it's fascinating to watch.

The last third of this movie is actually good fun, sort of like "Key Largo" without all of the intelligence to get in the way.

5 / 10

Not a "Piranha" rip-off, really. Just a fine Margheriti cocktail.

I really am convinced that Antonio Margheriti is a good director, period. "Killer Fish" is an average, but decent action/disaster/thriller with just a few horror elements. Some might say this is a "Piranha" rip-off, but it's not. Because only in the second half of the movie we get to see some piranha action. And even that isn't much. It's more their constant being there that's causing the threatening atmosphere. This is as much a crime movie as it is a disaster movie, as it is a killer-fish movie. And I simply loved the great miniature effects when the dam broke. But what struck me most, was some of the very well-written and catchy dialogue. One guy says to Karen Black: "There I was thinking you've got some German blood in you...". Karen Black denies this by responding "Uh-uh... I WIN my wars.". Or the bad guy saying "Sometimes an unloaded gun is more effective than a loaded one." (you have to see that quote in the context of the scene). And there's much more good stuff like that coming from all characters. Lee Majors is in it too, and something hit me when I saw him in this film... If George Clooney would have been big in the 70's, he would have been Lee Majors! Surprisingly this flick was a bit less silly than "Tentacoli" (which coincidentally I saw a week before, or so), so I say "Killerfish" is a good, average and watchable film. A typical Margheriti cocktail, actually.

3 / 10

Spaghetti Horror Version Of Piranha.

Ahhh spaghetti horror with Lee Majors.

A group of American terrorists blow up a Brazilian mining operation, in an attempt to heist a collection of jewels.

They hide their take in a local lake...not realizing the waters are infested with piranha.

Turns out, the man behind the whole operation, seeded the dam with piranha, to prevent anyone from betraying the group.

Now, they're all dying.

And only the most cunning will come away with the booty.

I mean, this is obviously a complete ripoff of Joe Dante's Piranha from the year before...but it's also a bit different, and a little epic- at least in it's vision.

Execution is another story.

The acting is mediocre, at best. And the special effects are bad. So bad at some points, you can almost see the persons hand holding the things in a tank of water. Laughably bad, at least, and reliant upon models that look like fish tank props. Though, they do give the film some of it's charm.

It's the story, which has a lot going on, that saves this from totally sucking.

But it's still pretty bad.

Worth a laugh if anything.

3.5 out of 10.

3 / 10

Spaghetti and Pilchards.

Killer Fish is directed by Antonio Margheriti and written by Michael Rogers. It stars Lee Majors, Karen Black, James Franciscus, Margaux Hemingway and Marisa Berenson. Music is by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis and cinematography by Alberto Spagnoli.

Majors leads a band of thieves in trying to regain some stolen gems that are at the bottom of Piranha infested waters.

It's pretty bad, in fact it's a rare case where I would suggest that the low internet rating for the film is about right. OK! You wouldn't think anyone seriously goes into this type of Spaghetti Horror expecting a terrifying masterpiece, but it's not unreasonable to think that you might get some modicum of suspense and half decent acting. Unfortunately Killer Fish has neither.

Filmed on location in Brazil, there's a half decent budget afforded the production, yet the actors stare off into the distance on some sort of sleep deprived auto-pilot, forced to say dialogue so poorly written you wonder if it was being made up as they went along? The fish of the title don't show up until half hour into the pic, briefly raising hope that excitement, peril and drama will now pulse through proceedings, but it's a false dawn.

The Six Million Dollar Man and the perpetually blank Hemingway fulfil their catwalk casting assignments, and some half decent model work is introduced and blown up, but at just over an hour and forty minutes in length, it's a real chore to get through. Oh well, at least it's not insultingly bad on purpose, it is honest in its very modest intentions. 3/10