Wretched monster movies #25: Barracuda (1978)


Another cool poster that did not tell the truth about the fishy contents of the film it promoted, Barracuda was an odd entry into this wonderful world of aquatic horrors.

When I saw this ad in the newspaper, I begged my Dad to take me to see it. In retrospect I’m glad he didn’t because I would not have been happy due to false advertising.

Why? Well, let’s discuss…

Barracuda has no idea in hell what it wants to be. Is it a Jaws ripoff? A boring spy thriller? A horror spoof like the awesome Piranha?

“That Heart song does kick ass, doesn’t it? Anyway, back to eating divers! Munch, munch, munch…”

Well, it’s a weird combo of carnivorous killer fish attacking the public sprinkled in with a possibly interesting ongoing thread involving devious, snazzy-dressed corporate dudes who are up to no good. The conspiracy angle would’ve been better served in another film, not this one. The acting is for the most part fine.

Most shocking is that the score is by keyboard legend Klaus Schulze of Tangerine Dream fame and his icy synthesizers and other keyboards are well-placed with the underwater sequences.

This trailer lets you know the film is called Barracuda about 200 times.

The underwater cinematography is pretty good, but a tad murky. There are some cool barracuda attacks, but after the last snack is achieved, the fish never reappear in the film’s final 30 minutes as the government cover-up dealing with glucose (believe it or not) takes over.

Back to the fishies, some of the attacks look OK but awkward due to closeups and tight camerawork but, at times we see why They Might Be Giants may have written “Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head”.

“Me hungry puppet. Feed me human arm”!

While the film starts as a promising fish romp, the government spy plot takes over and there’s also a useless side story where the townspeople are becoming agitated due to the glucose levels in the water just like the fish. This involves nothing more than what people normally do in public: act like assholes and treat each other like crap. And it’s hinted at, that maybe even the sheriff and his assistant are going to start acting like that because they’ve been drinking bottled water. But it never happens and is never addressed again.

The two main characters are a young marine biologist (who actually says “no” when the sheriff’s daughter wants to bump uglies) and the sheriff who is skeptical but later convinced of the government’s experiments on this small Florida beach town. The biologist is Wayne Crawford who also directed the underwater scenes, and William Kerwin is the sheriff. Both aren’t lead actors, but handle the material well enough. Harry Kerwin (William’s brother?) directs.

The sad thing is, as a young kid, once Barracuda aired on TV I wanted blood and killer fish. And though I got it, there was only some of that. I applaud what there was however.

“And tonight, I dine on human head with a dash of red wine! Oh, wait, that’s blood? Ah, as long as it’s vintage…”

The not naked lass who wants to bone the marine biologist is played Rebecca Leighton and she looked good in 70’s short-shorts (not pictured here). Another horror faux pas: get the nudity in there-it belongs!

“I just watched Barracuda…

So, in the end we find it’s the government testing on the town and the evil doctor was responsible, and the fish also got effected because of the illegal dumping into the ocean.

Sure, the film has some decent death scenes, but the fish disappear for the conspiracy angle and the pacing is dull. For anyone sold on the poster and the trailer which implies a fish feast on human flesh, you’d have every reason to be pissed.

“The Whaler was a better sandwich than the Filet O’ Fish! I’ll say it ’til my death”!

There is a gem of a scene where a girl throws a stick for a dog in the water and we fear this is a ripoff of Jaws where the pooch Pipett bites the dust.

But no…the dog comes back, but not with the stick, but a human head severed by the barracudas complete with his scuba gear still on! Yeah!

“AAAAGGGGHHHH! My bathing suit is terrible”!

Also of note, the bad guys win in the end which is a rather dour way to conclude things. So, let’s give the film points for trying something different, but let’s not get too crazy because when you make a film about man-eating fish we want the following: fish eating man, boobs, more fish eating man, more boobs and a dash of…boobs.

Sorry Barracuda, you don’t rock after all…

“You lyin’ so low in the weeds
I bet you gonna ambush me
You’d have me down, down, down, down on my knees
Now wouldn’t you? Barracuda”!

Fun facts:

1.) The fat sheriff’s assistant is played by Cliff Emmich who would get a hammer through his skull by Michael Myers in Halloween II in 1981.

2.) The film was shot on location in Pompano Beach and Ft. Lauderdale, FL in 1978. From 1977-1983 one of the more successful NASL soccer teams was the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, and a new version of the Strikers play in the Division II version of the NASL today. This has nothing to do with anything, so you’re welcome.

3.) Klaus Schulze was an early member of German Prog Rock band Tangerine Dream and went on to do over 40 solo albums. And you didn’t. So there.

4.) Barracuda sank like a dead fish and disappeared from theaters quicker than a bag of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish. It also shown on TV sometimes (and not often) as The Lucifer Project which is also the name of the government plan that is discovered here.

5.) At one point someone makes a phone call and actually uses a real number-not a “555” number. Let’s call them tonight!

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About chudbeagle

My name is Pete Braidis and I'm in Haddon Heights, New Jersey and my goal is to point out how bad so many album and book covers are as well as review classic (usually awful) creature/monster flicks. I also have a book due out in June 2016 dedicated to guitar players I feel have never gotten their due. I interviewed 50 players from around the world and it took nearly 2 years to complete. It's called Unstrung Heroes: Fifty Guitar Players You Should Know and here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Unstrung-Heroes-Guitar-Greats-Should/dp/0764350889/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1454387582&sr=1-2&keywords=unstrung+heroes Sometimes, I'll actually do something normal like a band history with album reviews but I try to do the funny stuff because it's my job to make anyone that bothered coming on here to laugh.
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One Response to Wretched monster movies #25: Barracuda (1978)

  1. 1537 says:

    Man, that glucose was some heavy shit back in the 70s.

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