It’s Alive! Alive! “Frankenfish”

January 24, 2012

When you title your movie Frankenfish, the audience is going to have some natural expectations. I, for one, fully expected there to be a fish with little bolts in its fishy neck. And maybe he’ll be wearing little Doc Martins on some of his fins. There could even be a scene in which a mad fish-scientist—maybe bearing a resemblance to Jacques Cousteau—brings the fish to life in a blaze of electricity and cackles, “It swims! It swims!”  Maybe, if you want to ambitious, you even have a scene in which the fish bellows, “Fire bad!”  I don’t know how you make the fish talk, since they mostly only make that popping noise with their mouths, but what the hell. It’s a Frankenfish. Alas, none of those things happen in Frankenfish. We do get China Chow, and she’s cute. Plus there’s another hot chick, too, so you could do a lot worse.

Frankenfish takes us once again to the depths of the bayou, which, if B-movies are to be believed, is teeming with freaky monsters—usually of the giant variety. Good reason not to go there. There have been a couple of unexplained deaths in the reason (apparently, they’ve ruled out Alligator X), so Sam Rivers, a Louisiana medical examiner, is sent to investigate. There he meets biologist Mary Callahan, who’s played by China Chow–one of the least likely people to have a name like “Mary Callahan.” Well, they go through the usual paces: “What could have made those bite marks?” “Nothing in this swamp.” “Not even an Alligator X?” “No, we blew that up last week.”

Well, they cruise the swamp a bit, which gives us the opportunity to take in some swamp culture…or a bad B-movie’s approximation of it, anyway. It also gives China a chance to strip down into her bikini top, and really, isn’t that the reason we go to movies in first place? You know, that and, like, to dream or whatever. Anyway, they get to a couple of houseboats, and chat up the residents in the direction of, “Hey, seen some kind of a monster that could tear a man to pieces? No, we ruled out an Alligator X already.”

And this is how this movie was green-lit.

The residents in one trailer are a hippie couple played by that guy with the broken nose that shows up in a lot of stuff, and hottie blonde wife who likes to walk around naked. OK, so far that’s awesome (though if Swamp People is to be believed, you really don’t want to see any bayou-dweller’s naked). The other boat has some swamp woman living in it. She’s being visited by her smokin’ hot daughter Eliza (K. D. Aubert), and her douchebag boyfriend/boss. Get used to these folks we’ll be with them awhile.

Okay, so in the meantime we see some Asian mercenary types contacting a Great White Hunter type, who gleefully barks orders into his cel phone while topless cuties canoodle on a sleeping Bengal tiger. That’s a pretty awesome way to live as a millionaire. I bet they all do. If Warren Buffet doesn’t have naked chicks lounging around a mansion with endangered species, I will be very disappointed. I’m pretty sure Ted Turner does.

Cut to Sam and Sara, who’ve settled down to have dinner with Eliza and company. Eliza’s mom keeps pushing her toward Sam, and she ends up fighting with her boyfriend. Sam, meanwhile, reminisces with the mother about when he went to school with Eliza and Sara’s thinking, “Um, isn’t there a killer fish out there or something?” Well, the boyfriend calls K.D.  swamp trash and storms off to…uh, another part of the boat, I guess. Sara takes the opportunity to have a little girl talk with K.D. during which she unsubtly hits on her.

In this moment, the movie brushes up against awesomeness.

Oh please...please...

Alas, K.D. rebuffs her advances, saying, “Funny thing, whether it’s a man or a woman, you always end up with your head between someone’s legs.” She says it like it’s a bad thing. I don’t get it. I also don’t get why the filmmakers didn’t work in at least a decent make out scene. It’s just mean they don’t. Bordering on sadistic, really.

No matter, in short order, the hippie couple get taken out by a massive mutant snakehead fish. The chick’s death in particular is pretty awesome. It smacks her out of the water, then leaps out and snaps her in half in midair. I gotta admit, this is one of the more endearing monsters in B-moviedom. He really puts effort into it, like Colin Farrell did in Fright Night or F. Murray Abraham did in that killer baboon movie.

Okay, so this is the point where everyone freaks out. Reasonably so, you have to admit. But they also think, Aha! I think I know what’s been killing people in the swamp! Well, the fish swims around terrorizing them a little bit more, then decides, “Ah the hell with it,” and attacks the houseboat. Fortunately, a swamp dude shows up in time to blow it away with a shotgun, then cut its heart out. Turns out it’s the brother of the guy whose murder kicked the whole movie off. Then he grills the heart and takes a bite out of it!

Then another fish leaps out of the swamp, rips out the guy’s entrails and eats them in front of him. God damn, this movie is fun. This is almost making up for the lack of hot-chick-on-hot-chick action.

Oh, shit...

So, the houseboats catch fire under the assault of the Frankenfish, and Sara ends up with half her skull blown off by a ruptured propane tank. This is a helluva waste of a China Chow, I gotta say. She went out pretty awesomely, though. Anyway, the group gets whittled down to Sam, Eliza, and her d-bag boyfriend. They end up being saved by the aforementioned hunter and his Asian posse, who explain that they created a massive mutant snakehead hybrid. Why? Because he could, apparently. I guess once  you reach a point in life where you have naked chicks canoodling on Bengal tigers it’s tough to come up with new hobbies.

"We've run out of things for China to do, so, uh..."

Well, the hunter-dude isn’t really a good guy, and he forces the group to wade into the Frankenfish’s lair, where the fish promptly eats him and his Asian posse. I guess attention to detail wasn’t this guy’s strong point.

Sam and Eliza set off in a fan boat, with the Frankenfish in hot pursuit. Sam cuts the engine, and the Frankenfish ends up taking a header into the fan and being diced. Sam and Eliza then exchange banter and make out, obviously haven forgotten about the half-dozen dead friends and family members they’ve accumulated in the past 24 hours. Oh, and Eliza’s d-bag boyfriend ends up stuck in the mud and being eaten alive by baby Frankenfish.

So, yeah, this is a pretty cool movie. You have a fairly well-deployed monster, adequate amounts oif unnecessary nudity, and hot chicks. Still, that tease with the lesbian action was in bad faith, as was killing off China. If she had been the one blithely making out with Eliza in the last scene instead of Sam, this movie would have been epic.

Oh well…


  1. That pic of half-face China reminded me of the Japanese movie “The Machine Girl”. Have you reviewed it yet ?

    • I haven’t seen it yet. Is it any good. Hey, great avatar, btw…

  2. Thnx.

    Not an A -movie but it deserves some attention here: no vampires, just ninjas, yakuza, bloodshed, and all the crazy s***

  3. Oh,, the clip shows up, sorry, thought it wouldn’t.

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