Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released in Sweden on October 16, 1978
Directed by Harry Kerwin and Wayne Crawford
Written by Harry Kerwin and Wayne Crawford
Cast: Wayne Crawford, Roberta Leighton, Jason Evers, Cliff Emmich, William Kerwin, Bert Freed, Harry Kerwin, Rick Rhodes, Matt King, Barbara Keegan, Ed Lupinski, Denise Taylor, Leigh Walsh
Shortly after the release and immediate success of the summer blockbuster Jaws in 1975, it seemed that everyone and their grandmother wanted to film their own variation of the ‘killer shark attacks mankind’ storyline. From Mako: The Jaws of Death to Piranha, from Tintorera: Killer Shark to Up from the Depths, and even from Orca to Tentacles, the floodgates had officially been opened, and in 1978 it was director/screenwriter/actor Wayne Crawford who added his two cents to the mix with another sharp-toothed horror thriller, Barracuda.
A mystery is unfolding in the coastal Florida community of Palm Cove, where a visiting marine biologist discovers toxic runoff being emptied into the ocean by a chemical plant outside of town, which in turn is causing the local barracuda population to become a bit, well, aggressive. The biologist soon teams up with the town’s sheriff and his daughter (sadly, she’s not the grizzled barracuda hunter needed to fulfill a Jaws hero trifecta), and together they become mixed up with an experimental government-backed project, whose purpose is to increase aggression levels in townspeople via a decrease in blood sugar. Yes, the villain here is glucose, and of course it’s the military who wants to exploit it.
I assumed—or hoped—that Barracuda would be plenty more entertaining that it was, in a cheesy cult-status kind of way, but mostly it was just slow-moving and dull, with far too much time spent on the conspiracy angle, and not nearly enough on the title creatures, who had very little impact on the story. I don’t mind schlock, but when it’s boring schlock, I tend to give up on it much sooner than later. Here, the only aspects of the film that held my interest were the occasional moments of smart-aleck dialogue spoken by Crawford, and the presence of lead actress Roberta Leighton, playing the sheriff’s daughter, who had a sweet ’70s sex appeal about her that improved any scene she was in.
If you’re a fan of Jaws and are eager to wade through any cut-rate horror offering that dares to mimic its blueprint, then perhaps you should give this one a look. But be advised: for a movie titled Barracuda, there sure wasn’t a whole lot of barracuda going on. You’d be better off spending a few hours with Piranha, released that same year, which offered everything a man-eating creature movie should…and was a heck of a lot more fun. (2/10)