10 Movies That Feature Killer Fish (Other Than Sharks)
10.) Snakehead Terror
A Sy Fy Channel instant classic featuring voracious snakeheads in an American lake, emigrants from Thailand, that have grown to a huge size after devouring growth hormones. The thespian skills of Bruce Boxleitner and William B Davis (The Smoking Man from The X Files tv show) are no match for a fish that can walk on land and eats everything. Despite the silly creature effects, it’s quite a creepy idea being not safe in water or on land. My favorite scene is where they zap all the critters with electricity at the end of the film.
This is based (loosely of course) on a real life incident in 2002. In Crofton, Md., Snakeheads were found living in an American pond after having been dumped there. Snakeheads can grow to very large sizes (four feet long is not unheard of) although not as large as the 30 foot giant “king” snakehead that appears at the end of this dumb yet fun film.
The monster here is the result of a secret military experiment (where have I heard that before?) that combined the DNA of an octopus with the primitive predator Dunkleosteus. Once the creature inevitably escape, it starts eating bathers and sailors off the coast of Florida and is pursued by heroic scientists and evil military people before tangling with a flamethrower.
Truth be told, the original title of this Italian film was Monster Shark but the creature here resembles a cheaper made predecessor to Sharktocupus. This is an awful movie featuring underwater shots that are completely separate from what’s happening on the surface and unintentionally hilarious dialogue. There are also the obviously foreign actors playing American soldiers and policemen. The noises the monster makes are absurd as well. If you want to see it with humorous commentary included, there is a Mystery Science Theatre 300 episode that featured this movie.
8.) Killer Fish
This is the first of two piranha films on this list. Lee Majors, the Six Million Dollar Man, and Karen Black wrangle with a lake full of flesheaters that are keeping them from jewels their gang has stolen. The piranhas have been deliberately placed there by one of their partners as an obstacle to prevent any cheating from any of his fellow robbers.
A b movie to be sure but a stylish one with supporting performances from the likes of James Franciscus, Margaux Hemingway, and Gary Collins as well as Oakland Raiders quarterback Dan Pastorini. The only thing that gives away the relatively low budget are the piranha attacks themselves in which we see a lot of thrashing water and a lot of overacting from the potential victim but not much fish. The question I had here was this movie takes place in Brazil. Don’t they have piranhas in Brazil? Why did he need to introduce his own?
One of many Jaws rip-offs that appeared towards the end of the 1970’s complete with nighttime swims, disbelieving law enforcement, and a science gone awry explanation for the aggressiveness of the title fish. In fact, the conspiracy angle totally overwhelms the resolution of this film which doesn’t involve the fish at all and even brings in the US government as a co-conspirator.
Barracuda can reach seven feet in length and can swim at burst of speeds of up to 27 miles per hour. Attacks on humans credited to them usually are a result of the barracuda being attracted to a speared fish or a shiny object However, you don’t need to know any of that to get into this film which hardly deals with the titular fish at all. Disappointing for the lack of killer fish action.
6.) The Deep
While this film also features sharks both human and aquatic as well as a host of underwater dangers, I am including it for the giant moray eel which appears in several scenes and is responsible for the demise of the villain. It seemingly guards the old wreck whose contents both the heroes played by Nick Nolte, Jacqueline Bisset, and Robert Shaw and the team of villains led by Louis Gosset Jr. are after.
While not on screen very often, the film’s director Peter Yates makes the most of the monster eel’s appearances with quick cutting of real eel footage and a strobe effect caused by a snapping camera. The longest species of Moray Eel can grow up to 15 feet in length and the one in The Deep seems even bigger. I just wish the eel could get its own film biting more people in the head and causing underwater mayhem.
5.) Dead Sea
The most recent film on this list features a giant killer lamprey which appears every 20 years to take a sacrifice offered by the residents of a town on the Salton Sea in San Diego County, Ca. The totally ridiculous theory offered up here is that all the bodies of water on Earth are linked by underwater canals so every sea or lake monster sighting is of these giant lampreys.
The monster here is not shown very often. We don’t really get a look at it until the end of the film and even that is fleeting. That helps as we do not feel what we are being shown is fake or stupid. The lamprey is the perfect creature for a horror movie with its vampire feeding style, long slimy body, and recent attacks on people in Lake Champlain. I would love to see another filmmaker take a shot at it perhaps having lampreys of normal size gang up to feed on humans.
4.) Humanoids From The Deep
Even though the title monsters are humanoids, technically they are still fish as the source for these creatures is salmon stock that has been fed growth hormone (seems to be a repeating theme in giant monster movies). These are horny fish men as their main desire other than to rip men apart is to mate with human women. Plenty of fishmen on human rape scenes in this movie. The monsters themselves are about what you would expect for a Roger Corman film. Rubbery and waddling but never really on film enough to become totally ridiculous. The editing on this film covers up the cheapness
Among the actors the fishmen run into are Doug McClure and Vic Morrow looking serious and straight jawed in their individual roles. There are plenty of kills of both people and monsters and the mutant baby birth scene at the end is more disturbing than humorous. Showtime made a remake in 1996.
3.) Up From The Depths
A giant carnivorous primitive fish is released from its resting place by an earthquake in Hawaii and proceeds to eat everyone in sight. Another Mystery Science Fiction 3000 gem but actually this is a good bad movie. Entertaining because it’s stupid in a fun way especially for the many silly characters and a couple of the attacks are actually suspenseful.
The idea of a primitive fish monster movie is a good one. The prehistoric megashark, Megalodon, has been used a few times and there are many other creatures such as Dinichthys which would make good horror movie creatures. Here the fish monster is unspecified and kept off screen most of the time (although we do get a lot of first person camera action a la Jaws, the audience as stalker). This is probably a good idea as the monster, when we do see it, looks like an extra large child’s bathtub toy.
The second most famous killer fish movie next to Jaws. Once again, a pesky government experiment creates something that gets out of hand and kills people. Tremendous fun with loopy special effects and a wonderful cast including Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, Keenan Wynn, and Kevin McCarthy. The part about piranhas existing in US rivers is not so farfetched when you consider they’ve actually been released into the wild in Florida a couple times and subsequently caught by fisherman.
The attack scenes are clever and thrilling and play on our fear of what’s under the surface of the water. The genetically enhanced piranhas look great too. The swimming marathon scene is a how to for staging an attack scene like that. Hard to believe this is a Roger Corman film. Certainly one of his best. The remake is not quite as fun substituting non-stop gore and nudity for suspense and tongue in cheek humor.
This recent giant lake cryptid horror film is surprisingly good. Larry Fessenden has created a near classic wherein a group of high school students get stuck in the middle of a remote lake while being stalked by a large hungry fish. How the students gradually turn on each other is as much fun as the attacks themselves. Fessenden does not use CGI at all here so we get a model fish that does the job well. The big staring eyes and mismatched wicked teeth are good details.
What the fish is we never quite find out although the locals do know about its presence. It kind of looks like a cross between a grouper and a pacu. A lake is actually a fairly scary place for a monster movie to be set and it is used here superbly. Also worthwhile is the reminder that the biggest monster of all is often mankind itself.