Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Deep Blood, aka Sangue negli abissi

Deep Blood movie posterAccording to the internet, so it must be true, Raffaele Donato, whose work in film had been very limited, decided one day that he would like to direct a movie. As it happened, Joe D’Amato was looking for someone to helm a cheap sharksploitation flick, the only requirement being fluency in English. Donato leapt at the chance, but after filming a single scene, decided life in the director’s chair was not for him. No worries, as the prolific D’Amato was ready to step in and finish beating this dog of a movie to within an inch of its life.

The result was Deep Blood, a Jaws ripoff whose greatest danger to characters was stock footage.

From a screenplay by George Nelson Ott (possibly an alias for D’Amato, as this is his only credit on IMDb), Deep Blood tells the tale of an oceanside community terrorized by a killer great white shark.

The first we see of the shark is rank, amateurish, manipulative filmmaking. A mother, her son, and their tiny dog visit the beach for a dip in the ocean. We know one of these three is going to get eaten. Which is it to be? The shot switches to and fro. It’s not frantic, but it’s meant to keep the audience guessing. Will this movie kill a child? A mother? It surely won’t kill the dog, as, in the hierarchy of film murder, dogs elicit the most groans. It kills the mom, and the plot, what there is of it, is off and running.

Four local, college-aged youths with uninteresting backstories are reuniting in town for vacation, and the shark attack has upended things. When one of them, John (John K. Brune), is eaten in a cloud of blood and no gore, Miki (Frank Baroni), leads the effort to exact revenge on the creature. A whole bunch of character drama is placed in his way. The sheriff (could be Tony Bernard, could be Tom Bernard, could be Tody Bernard — the credits are unclear) doesn’t believe him. The responsible adults in town join in the sheriff’s skepticism. Yet, Miki perseveres against authority and town bullies alike to get us to denouement.

Along the way, viewers will enjoy some of the most inept acting one will be likely to see in a feature film. Baroni is enthusiastic. I can’t fault him for that. He is trying very, very hard to give a good performance, but it just never clicks for him. He’s not alone in his futility. There isn’t a good performance in the entire movie. What makes Baroni standout is all the screen time, and how he eats it up. Deep Blood is, for the most part, a boring watch. It will bounce and land near the bottom of the Watchability Index when I give it its ranking, but it is Baroni’s futile efforts at the thespian arts that gives this flick any value whatsoever.

When he wasn’t making bad horror flicks, D’Amato was making porn. A lot of porn. Usually at a ratio of five to six porn flicks for every feature film he made. I’ve seen one or two, and D’Amato got more out of his cast in those films than he got out of the cast of Deep Blood. All except for Baroni. I wish all the films in the deepest, darkest reaches of the Index had a Baroni, blissfully unaware of the joy they are giving the shitty movie fan.

There’s not much to recommend Deep Blood besides the schadenfreude. It was obviously churned out for a cheap buck, with no love from D’Amato. For a film about a killer shark, there is far too much plot that has nothing to do with the shark. It’s akin to a teen flick that happens to have a shark in it. It barely qualifies as horror, or thriller, or anything promised by the well-worn concept of a killer shark. As noted above, only Baroni’s humorous flailing keeps Deep Blood from languishing with the most hateful movies of the Index. It displaces Vampires and Other Stereotypes at #465. You’ve been warned.

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