The Best of Number Two – THE FISHMEN AND THEIR QUEEN or, as I Like to Call It, Screamers 2 or THE RETURN OF THE ISLAND OF THE FISHMEN

fishmenWelcome to the future where you will hunt for your food in gang war ridden streets of a major metropolitan area! You and your buddy are just trying to get by but shit is getting way too real. You decide it’s time to leave the city and go to an island in the Atlantic. It must be better than the Bronx Warriors-like survival of the fittest living conditions. Does this sound like something that might be called The Fishemen and Their Queen? Does it sounds like the sequel to Island of the Fishmen as directed by the great Italian director Sergio Martino, one of the savviest and well-known of the horror men from the booted country? This guy has directed the Gialli of your nightmares. It doesn’t sound like a movie he would make at all, does it? Well, he did, and if you think the title is bad just you wait. It gets worse.

Note: To my knowledge no one actually refers to this movie as Screamers 2 or Return of the Island of the Fishmen. It would inappropriate to do so. It’s equally inappropriate to watch this movie. Watch and read at your own risk. If you feel more comfortable call this movie 2020: The Rise of the Fishmen.

fishmen 2Do you really want to know what happens after the two kids leave the big city for a tropical island where life is sure to be better? Life isn’t better. Grass is always greener on the other side even in Italian Horror features from 1995. Turns out there’s an evil queen that rivals the Disney definition of evil on the island forcing the inhabitants into servitude and essentially playing evil dictator to the islanders. Oh yeah… and she controls the whole mess of them with FISHMEN (you knew they were coming. they’re in the title). Of course this is not what the kiddies had in mind for their island getaway from the post-apocalypse. Rebellion ensues, and you can probably guess the ending.

If you’re familiar with Island of the Fishmen aka Screamers then you have already figured out that this is one of the infamous sequels in name only flicks that came out of Italy in an attempt to capitalize on the success of a classic horror picture. This is absolutely standard in Italy during the late 80′s and 90′s as a drying up market and lack of interest spurned desperation tactics to get asses in the seats or at least to pick up a tape in the video store. Simply reading the title probably put the audience off this one even if it was directed by the same director, a proven and critically acclaimed artist. No one returns from the original picture. The effects are actually worse if that is conceivable. It is no secret that the Fishmen look like half-assed Creatures from the Black Lagoon or better yet, Humanoids from the Deep Jr. At least in the original picture there was enough blood to keep the eyes on screen.

fishmen 4Some of the players in this picture actually have a pedigree of note though not all of them. Giuliano Gensini was in the Lucio Fulci directed Sweet House of Horrors ( a TV movie).  Michael Velez and Natascia Castrignano were only in this picture, but Donald Hodson was in quite a bit including Ladyhawke, Starcrash, Frankenstein Unbound and Alien 2: On Earth!

If you look at Sergio Martino’s work just before and following this feature you start to draw a very clear picture. Martino went from directing horror and action movies made up of wonderful dark fantasy. When funding started drying up and filmmakers started needing paychecks many moved to TV, moved away from the horror genre and created profitable careers that were more consistent that their previous efforts in the 70′s and 80′s. Martino followed this path and created TV programming throughout the 90′s before slowly fading out in the early 2000′s.  The Fishmen and Their Queen was an obvious money grab with a ramshackle story that seemed to be a composite of the Island of the Fishmen storyline (loosely at best) with a previous post-apocalyptic effort, 2019: After the Fall of New York.

fishmen 3I recommend The Fishmen and Their Queen for humor only. The opening sequence in the city is actually awesome until you realize what’s about to happen and how they plan to tie in the Fishmen. After that you have to suffer through the actual Fishmen and some rather strange golden foil eyewear and some fucker named Socrates. Martino directed Torso, Blade of the Ripper, Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, Mountain of the Cannibal Gods, The Great Alligator and All the Colors of the Dark. Stick to those films and the ones in between for some quality filmmaking with awesome scores and occasionally one of my favorite Italian actresses, Edwige Fenech. I can’t say for certain, but this has all the hallmarks of a made-for-TV movie as well. I didn’t see anything to suggest it was, but I’d be willing to take that bet. Also, the release is put out on DVD from Mya who put out excellent titles, but don’t always give you the extra packages you deserve.

IHW WMIII Poster

Screamers aka Island of the Fishmen, the movie of which our featured number 2 is the sequel of) was just re-released by Scorpion Releasing in a beautiful transfer with some extras on Blu-ray. It is a stunning release for fans who have enjoyed the movie for years and maybe want a quality release of this Italian Horror classic. While it isn’t my favorite Italian Horror picture it certainly is entertaining with Cameron Mitchell of all people! During Italian Horror Week at DOCTERROR.COM we will be reviewing that release. The week starts July 11th. Don’t judge it by The Fishmen and Their Queen though. Plenty of goodies and giveaways and guests including The Liberal Dead’s Shawn Savage.

Here is the link to our table of contents for the past Italian Horror Week entries and where you’ll be able to find all future articles posted including giveaways.

About Jimmy Terror

Dr. Jimmy Terror, more commonly known as James P. Harris, has been “writing your eyes” shut since 2010 with his horror themed blog, Dr. Terror’s Blog of Horrors (whose name is a play on words derived from the Amicus film, Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors). In the early 2000’s he fronted the band The Vaudeville Vampires, a short-lived "Horrorabilly" band which saw the creation of a catalog of horror related songs before disbanding (with only one, six song demo ever being produced and distributed). He has had only one on screen appearance to date in the horror short, Ocean Parkway, as maniacal, gloved killer with a hair fetish. Having done some un-credited, behind the scenes work in some low budget genre pictures, he is currently working on his first foray into screenwriting with a demonic, retro gore entry that pays homage to Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento as well as other Italian masters of the genre.
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