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SCREAMERS - 2 Slimes
Rated R
Copyright 1979 Medusa Productions
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 21 April 2001

The Characters:  

  • Lt. Claude de Ross - Military doctor that was washed ashore after a shipwreck. I should be happy that a military type finally survived, but of course he has to be a doctor as well.
  • Amanda - Attractive woman with a talent for interacting with marine life, she is also a crack shot. Anybody who can hit a snake's head from about forty yards, firing from horseback, is impressive. (I'm in love, but Ringo Starr said "zug zug" to her first.)
  • Ernest Marvin - Mad scientist. He is working for the betterment of mankind, but what if I don't want gills?
  • Francois and Skip - Prisoners from the same ship Claude was on, they meet with distasteful ends.
  • Peter - The requisite evil prisoner. For a career rapist/murderer he sure isn't very good at it.
  • Jose - Another prisoner, but he becomes one of Dr. Marvin's experiments. Humanely put down by Claude.
  • Shakirah - Native priestess and a master at the art of voodoo, also an amateur seismologist. Shot to death.
  • Edmund Rackham - Greedy man who funded Dr. Marvin's research into making fish men. He had hoped to recover a fortune in treasure from the lost continent of Atlantis by using the creatures, instead he is eaten by that very same research.
  • The Fish Men - Created by Dr. Marvin to solve the looming world population crisis. Love it when a woman tells them to "go and jump in a lake."
  • Everybody we meet in the first twelve minutes - Fish men food!

Buy It!

The Plot: 

Fish men, fish men, roly poly fish men...

There are some wonderful things you can do with synthetic materials, besides giving the Catholic Church more actions to label as sinful. Turning a normal man off the street into an amphibious monster is one of them.

We start with a group of Nineteenth Century treasure hunters visiting a cursed island in hopes of finding gold. Scenes are a little dark and you might have problems identifying the characters. Don't worry about it; they will not be appearing in the rest of the film except as rotting corpses. I don't expect all of them to see the closing credits. Heck, I honestly expect only one or two survivors, but I have complained about it before and probably should again: why do we spend twelve minutes with people who all die?

Okay, I am done. No more ranting - for now. As implied, the group of treasure hunters is killed off by the island's denizens with much prejudice. Since this is still early in the film, almost every fatality is caused by a claw quickly descending on the camera. Fish men appear to be very strong and able to rip a man's head off with little effort. They also scratch a couple of people to death in the film's course. Seeing someone's camera point of view attacked by the claw, then watching them fall backwards with little more than superficial wounds to the face, leaves you with wonderment at the frailty of life.

Next group to discover the island is a lifeboat full of felons and Claude. The doctor couldn't let men drown, even if they were father-stabbers and father-rapers (Father-rapers!), so he unlocked their cell as the ship sank. Perhaps "discover" is the wrong word; a fish man smashes the lifeboat against jagged rocks and begins killing the hapless swimmers. You've sprinkled flakes into the tank and watched a fish trying to eat all the pieces of food before right? With so many flakes, some make it to the bottom and this is exactly why Claude survives. The monster has his hands full killing all these people; a few waterlogged survivors wash up on the beach.

Food and potable water become the castaways' priorities. Neither is available, so they drink brackish marsh water and hunt among the reeds. Francois does manage to catch a flamingo, but a fish man manages to catch Francois. A very dead Frenchman results. Claude and his pet criminals decide to push inland, hoping for greener and less deadly pastures. Why doesn't anybody ever hunt for food in the tidal zone? Fish, mollusks, and other foods are in abundance there. Find something that does not seem ready to stick a poison spine in you and chow down.

During their trek it becomes obvious the island is inhabited, though a mysteriously empty graveyard makes Jose start babbling about voodoo. He keeps up the rigmarole through their meeting with Mr. Rackham and Amanda, only ceasing when somebody clobbers him. Next time we see Jose he will not be communicating. Thank goodness for mad scientists with truncheons.

Meanwhile, it is obvious the island paradise is in peril. The volcano is rumbling ominously and Amanda seems to have a hate-hate relationship going with Edmund. Peter tries getting back to his roots by raping the beautiful lady and is looking badly out of practice when a monster intervenes. Claude is also attacked, but doesn't get his brain-housing group ripped off, probably because the hero always has his head screwed on right. *Crickets Chirping* Actually Amanda rides up and tells the fish man "No."

Claude has a hard time getting information out of the movie's antagonist (hint: it's not the fish men) about what is going on when Dr. Marvin stumbles from his laboratory. Covered with infected sores, the scientist has seen many better days. With his appearance the plot becomes a torrent. The aquatic killers are first passed off as being descendants of Atlantis, under tenuous control thanks to a secret potion and the female lead's beguiling looks. In reality the creatures are genetically altered humans who the madman hopes will populate the oceans. Rackham has some different goals in mind; he wants the gold and jewels that lie beneath the waves. Below the island, in a few thousand feet of water, is the religious center of Atlantis (I do mean directly underneath, it almost seems as if the island is supported by rock pillars). Only the fish men can retrieve the treasure from such depths and Amanda is compelled to do as Rackham wishes.

Exactly, screw that. Give me a small army of killer fish men and then try to bully me, it would be the last mistake of your life. Amanda never thinks of this, which is just as well when the situation falls apart. Can Claude save the woman he lusts after? Will Rackham get his just desserts? How do you escape from dozens of rampaging fish men? It takes about fifteen minutes to get resolved, plus you get to watch what appear to be fishing lures dance in front of a model in somebody's fifty-five gallon tank.

An oddity about "Screamers" is the box, which describes the movie thusly: "The tribesman say that the doctor has created grotesque half-human creatures for evil, secretive purposes. And though at first the prisoners do not believe this, as they disappear, one by one, they begin to change their minds." I don't know what movie this really describes, though it sounds a lot like "Screamers." I mean there are natives, monsters, and a scientist, but the facts do not quite match up. Let's not forget the tagline either. "They're men turned inside out! And worse... ...they're still alive!" What? Huh? Where are the inside out guys again? I want to watch the movie described on the box!

Here is a study in getting around copyright laws. For all intents and purposes this is H.G. Wells' "The Island of Dr. Moreau" with fish men. Not to say that I didn't like the movie, but it came just two years after the 1977 Michael York adaptation and has all the major plot points. Check this one out if the opportunity arises, watching Piranha with opposable thumbs is a good time.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Don't visit some place called "The Cave of the Dead" at night.
  • Lobsters spin webs.
  • If you find milky sulfurous water bubbling out of the ground you probably shouldn't drink it.
  • Hitting someone across the chest with a stick will knock him out of action.
  • Fish love milk.
  • There is a rare species of python that drools.
  • Having a rug (to wipe muddy feet on) will help prevent the discovery of your secret door.
  • Don't stick some man wearing a wig in front of the camera and expect me to believe it is the heroine.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 2 mins - Who set up a fog machine behind that rock?
  • 6 mins - What in the Hell was a starfish doing on the ceiling?
  • 9 mins - Ewww... ...naughty boy, you'll go blind.
  • 15 mins - Walk much?
  • 26 mins - There is a species of tropical rattlesnake, but it does not look like that.
  • 38 mins - Notice that the background changed from ocean to marsh.
  • 42 mins - How did he not see the cliff?
  • 73 mins - That pipe has to be gravity fed, plug it up with something. Your shirt stupid, try using your shirt.
  • 79 mins - Whoever invented Piercers must have watched this film, I wonder if it was Gary Gygax?

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note screamers1.wav Jose: "This island is inhabited by zombies, the living dead. That's why the graves are empty, there are zombies here!"
Claude: "Stop it Jose, you're talking nonsense. Zombies don't exist, they've never existed."
Green Music Note screamers2.wav Edmund: "You knew those men would follow you, didn't you my dear? You're a very naughty girl."
Green Music Note screamers3.wav Claude: "Nightmares don't have sharp claws. There is something living in the swamps out there, and it attacked me!"
Amanda: "You're talking nonsense, Claude."
Green Music Note screamers4.wav Claude: "You are not a scientist! You're a madman, an insane criminal!"

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipscreamers1.mpg - 2.0m
The creatures are completely out of control here, having been driven over the edge by the sight of their creator dead. Edmund is making good use of his pistol to stop the evolved Mahi Mahi, plus the natives are armed with shovels!

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Comments:Write CommentPages: [1] 2
Reply #1. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Chris K.
SCREAMERS is a good film in my book. But to help Andrew on his confusion with the false advertisement on the video box, I better explain the whole story on why it's like that. SCREAMERS was made by the Italians in 1978 as L'ISOLA DEGLI UOMINI PESCI and was released breifly in the United States in an English dubbed uncut format as THE ISLAND OF THE FISH MEN. The American distributor United Pictures Organization bought the rights to THE ISLAMD OF THE FISH MEN and decided to release the film for full distribution in the United States. However, a new beginning sequence was shot featuring Mel Ferrer and Cameron Mitchell by director Miller Drake and also contained new effects scenes shot by Chris Walas. United Pictures Organization then went into co-production with Roger Corman's New World Pictures and Roger agreed to release the film. But their were some changes that had to be made. Corman had some extra music added in, cut down the 100 minute running time down, added a different English language dub, and changed the title to SOMETHING WAITS IN THE DARK so he can advertise it as a slasher film even though it does not belong in that genre. Well, the film bombed badly in 1980. So Corman has Jim Wynorski come up with a way to re-release the film. Wynorski retitles the film as SCREAMERS, shoots a trailer that shows a scene of a man being turned inside out while giving the tagline "Warning! In this film you will actually see a man turned inside-out!" When SCREAMERS was released it made some money, but when the theatre patrons did not see any person turning inside-out riots began at the theatres. So the film prints were taken back to New World Pictures and had the inside-out scene tacked on. But it does not appear on the video version because the inside-out sequence was not part of the original negative. Also, the video cover is a reproduction of the original poster and it says the film was directed by "Dan T. Miller". The name of "Dan T. Miller" was the alias name credit of Joe Dante and Dante was never involved with the film's American sequences at all! Only Miller Drake was responsible for the American footage of Ferrer and Mitchell, while Sergio Martino was responsible for the whole film. And actor Claudio Cassinelli is credited on the posters as "Charles Cass". So I hope this explains alot about you disappointment, Andrew.
Reply #2. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by David Fullam
Chris hit upon most of the things I was planning on writing about. I will say this though, for years I have read that the original Italian version was a "gentle children's fantasy film." I have only seen Screamers once (and didn't see all of it then), but to be honest I didn't find anything in the bulk of the film to be labled a gentle children's fantasy. It always struck me as a horror film, plain and simple. Regardless, it's legacy is the bogus ad campaign and the controversy it created.
Reply #3. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Shawn
God, I remember that ad.  The thought of a guy turned inside-out freaked me out when I was 9 years old.  They actually showed the inside-out guy in the ad and it freaked me out.  I think it was on late-night during "Shock Theater"(MUHAHAHA).  I guess ad campaigns can have a lot to do with the success of a picture, I have never seen this movie but I still remember that marketing from 21 years ago.
Reply #4. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Warren H.
I saw this movie on "Creature Features" when I was but a young lad.  "Creature Features" was the local, late-night movie show hosted by -- get this -- a 300-lb. hillbilly and his best friend, a skeleton.  They both sat on bales of hay while they announced the film and provided commentary before and after commercial breaks.  I believe the "Screamers" episode had a belly dancer as a guest host.  Ah, those were the days.  I really like "Screamers."  The way the characters act is quite believable given the situations they encounter.  That opening segment is my favorite part of the movie, it has that all-important "that would suck if it happened to me" quality and exudes a creepy ambiance.  I always wondered if the opening segment was added in for American release and now I know.  I'd like to get a look at the film in all its various incarnations.  The fish men costumes, in my opinion, are quite good, if varied in quality.
Reply #5. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Bandit Chris
SCREAMERS (aka. Island of the Fish Men)was directed by Sergio Martino in 1979 as a response to Lucio Fulci's gory Island horror ZOMBIE (of the same year), apparently Segio's brother (Luciano) or someone approached him with a script wanting an Island based horror film as a companion back up to ride on the coat-tails of Fulci's film. However this never was the case as SCREAMERS has been no where NEAR as sucsessful as ZOMBIE however I did find it entertaining, In fact it is sorta like ZOMBIE (They re-used lead British actor Richard Johnson (Dr.  Meynard from ZOMBIE) in this film since he had just finished shooting ZOMBIE and SCREAMERS was being filmed in the same Carribean location, and they just replaced zombies with uber-cheesy looking "fish-men" (a rip-off since the tagline says you will see "inside-out men" possibly hinting at these "inside out men" as being the zombies

special note*
- The added 15min opening sequence shot in the US (featuring meaningless performancess from genre fav's Mel Ferrer and Cameron Mitchell), was done only to beef up the gore level in the movie (since what was already there was pretty tame/low by Italian horror/exploitation standards, I thank Miller Drake for this because this 15 minute opening (featuring a couple nifty head rippings and Mel  Ferrer getting his throat torn out)is easily the best part of the entire film (and of further note this opening sequence has no actual bearing on the actual movie itself, this stuff is never brought up or mentioned upon for the rest of the film,
further more, a breif instance as a  corpse coming  to life in  this sequence and trying to grab a lady (the  ONLY zombie action in the  whole film)
- Just about the entire cast (except for Cameron Mitchell) and location of this film was re-used for Martino's follow up film to this one titled "THE GREAT ALLIGATOR"
Reply #6. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Nikita
Here is some interesting trivia : for the scenes added by Corman, director Miller Drake's assistant was actually James Cameron, who was then working for Corman ! You gotta start somewhere...
Reply #7. Posted on October 08, 2005, 10:06:50 AM by Eagle
I love movies like that. Allthough those monster-costumes suck. But it has all elements of a good b-picture.
Re: Screamers
Reply #8. Posted on December 26, 2008, 09:44:52 AM by chris
From the same director of 2019- after the fall of new york
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