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Featured DVD Review: Roger Corman's Cult Classics: Up From The Depths / Demon Of Paradise

February 25th, 2011

Roger Corman's Cult Classics: Up From The Depths / Demon Of Paradise - Buy from Amazon

The first of a double-shot of Roger Corman's Classic DVDs I'm reviewing this week. One look at the cover of Up From The Depths / Demon Of Paradise and you know what you are in for. They're a pair of low budget horror films that would have populated grindhouse theaters. They are knock-offs of popular big budget movies of the day, or knock-offs of knock-offs, but for many they have a certain charm. So for fans of the genre, are they worth checking out?

Up From The Depths

Set in Hawaii at a resort hotel run by one Oscar Forbes, who is not having a good time. Firstly, there's a con artist preying on his guests, and he's convinced he's there to drive away all his costumers. Their latest attempt involves dumping chum near the beach. Well, he thinks its cum, but really it's the remains of the first victim of whatever it is that came up from the depths. (I think they said shark, but I'm not buying it.) Over the course of the movie, we are introduced to a number of characters in addition to the manager, his public relations lady, a rich couple that argues a lot, a young couple that are always looking for some place secluded, a British playmate, and others. We then wait to see them picked off one-by-one. It's usually not that long of a wait.

This is your typical Jaws rip-off. I've seen more than a few such films and this one is no better than most. It does have a little heavier emphasis on humor with Kedric Wolfe (Oscar Forbes) delivering most of these lines. (On a side note, does anyone else think he looks like Ted from Scrubs?) The special effects are typical of grindhouse production. The monster itself is unremarkable, but at least that means it's not laughably bad, while the action scenes are mostly quick cuts with lots of red dye in the water. Lots and lots of red dye. Because the cuts are so fast, you never actually see much of the attacks and unless you have a phobia of red dye, there's little horror in the movie.

It's good fodder for MST3k types, but that's it.

Demon of Paradise

This is apparently a remake of Up from the Depths, but it feels more like Humanoids from the Deep to me.

After some Hawaiian fishermen use dynamite to catch fish, they awaken a deadly beast. The natives have a ritual to stop him and decide to perform it that night, which is impressive, as when they talk about it, no one has seen the monster. The only deaths up to that point were written off as dynamite fishermen accidentally blowing themselves up. (This is only one of many errors in the movie.) Meanwhile, Annie, a herpetologist (which is someone who studies reptiles and not herpes, although they must hear hundreds of jokes over that) is in the area to discover a new species. Finally, there's the owner of a nearby resort, Ms. Cahill, refuses to shut down over these attacks, in fact, she uses to monster as a gimmick to save her failing hotel. Who cares if a few of her guests become fish food?

Blood, mayhem, and boobs follow.

(There's even a similar "Model & Photographer" subplot.) Sadly, there's not enough of any of it to justify the film. Granted, thanks to the illegal dynamite fishermen subplot, the filmmakers were able to throw in more explosions than you would normally get in a film like this, and there's even a laughable scene where a helicopter gets taken out, but for the most part, this film is filled with stretches of nothing. Even if you like watching movies so you can mock them, you will grow bored here.

The Extras

You can watch the movie with the grindhouse experience, which includes a few trailers ahead of the movie. (Some of which I've previously reviewed and I'd like to review Firecracker if it does come out on DVD.) There is also an 8-minute featurette on the making of these two movies.

Final Verdict

Like most similar releases, Roger Corman's Cult Classics: Up From The Depths / Demon Of Paradise presents two rather weak films, that's rather weak compared to most B-movies, with only a small amounts of extras. If you are a fan of low-budget horror, then the DVD might be worth checking out, but even then I would go with a rental only.

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