Another entry in the recent blue crush of “Drive In Double Features” released on DVD, Dark Sky’s one-two punch of BARRACUDA and ISLAND FURY isn’t necessarily high-grade turbo-A-plus level entertainment, but it does provide a strangely soothing, mildly nostalgic vibe, akin to the feeling one experiences when catching a Rudy Ray Moore movie on cable at 1 a.m.
BARRACUDA (1978), a poorly paced JAWS rip-off, begins with a single tame barracuda attack before settling into a long-winded narrative chastising polluters of the environment. The pernicious Papa Jack is the owner of Jack Chemical Company, a pesticide-crankin’ factory that loves to drop its excrement into the local waterways of Palm Cove. When the local barracuda grow overly aggressive and start killing townsfolk, Sheriff Williams joins forces with Speedo-wearing environmentalist Mike to solve the case and bring down the evil Papa Jack before the entire water-guzzling town goes mad with barracuda juice fever. The barracuda attacks go like this: shot of a dude swimming, POV shot of an approaching barracuda, shot of said dude thrashing around in the water, shot of dude holding rubber barracuda against his shoulder and screaming bubbles, vague shot of blood spreading through the water, finally capped by a shot of a flesh-stripped body part, i.e., a femur, drifting across the frame through the clouds of pink water. Unfortunately, the fish attacks take a back seat to bad guy wrangling in the final third, as the evil mastermind is finally revealed over the course of several highly-melodramatic confession scenes.
Meanwhile, over at ISLAND FURY (1989), a pair of completely average-looking 80s club girls are captured by a fistful of sleazy, pock-marked foreign guys who coerce them into revealing a whole shitload of flashbacks. Turns out that back when Bobbylee and Sugar (seriously) were 10-years-old and vacationing with friends, they were trapped on a remote island by Jebediah and his batshit family, and treasure is somehow involved, although only peripherally. Moving back and forth between the present day narrative (which features the pock-marked bad guys, forcing the girls to return to island to search for treasure) and the flashbacks (which feature Old Man Jebediah, who stalks the bikini-clad 10-year-olds with a homemade and unwieldy shotgun/flashlight combo), ISLAND FURY is an awkward piece of filmmaking. Neither timeline is interesting, the acting is amateurish, and the whole “crazy inbred island family” angle was a lot more effective in the superior AMERICAN GOTHIC (1988).
Neither movie is really any good, but packaged with old-school drive-in concession ads and movie previews (My Favorite: the bizarre and disturbing trailer for BONNIE’S KIDS…..The Tagline: “Thank God She Only Had Two!”), this Drive In Double Feature does provide a queasy sense of lowest-common-denominator contentment. Recommended for inebriated viewers with low expectations.