Italy bloody loves sharks, eh? Other than perhaps Escape from New York and Dawn of the Dead, Jaws would have to be the most regularly imitated film in the Italian film industry, at least during the late 70s and early 80s. The majority of the shark flicks I’ve reviewed for Mondo Exploito are from Italy, and I’d say at least 80 percent of the ones I plan to review are from Italy. Cave of the Sharks is no exception. Only this time, the Spaniards are along for the ride!
CAVE OF THE SHARKS
original title: Bermude: la fossa maledetta
Italy/Spain, 1978, Tonino Ricci
And Optimistic Doctor is sort of right, because it’s not long before Andres is back to work. Andres, Ricardo and their pal Enrique (Pino Colizzi) are hired by Mr. Jackson (Arthur Kennedy) to salvage a plane that went down around the Bermuda Triangle. Andres doesn’t waste any time getting back into the water with Enrique. Near where the plane sits on the bottom of the ocean, they find a strange entrance to a cave surrounded by sleeping sharks. But sharks don’t sleep, so Andres is pretty freaked out and comes to the conclusion that there’s some sort of ancient civilization living under the sea controlling the sharks. Ahem.
Anyway, they salvage the plane, bring up the goods, only to find a gun pulled on them. Mr. Jackson is a double-crossing gangster! Enrique, under the water, disappears assumed drowned, but Andres manages to escape, diving into the ocean. Despite a few bullet wounds in the back and floating face down in the water, Andres proves he is practically indestructible and survives. He then becomes obsessed with discovering the secret to the cave of the sharks and the fate of Enrique, all while avoiding being gunned down by Mr. Jackson.
There’s also a really odd and short-lived subplot involving Fulci regular Cinzia Monreale, a bunch of hippies, a boat and the Bermuda Triangle. It is intercut with a shot of a doll sinking underwater and spitting out blood. Got that?
Cave of the Sharks is a seriously strange shark film, unlike any I’ve seen before. While it looks and sounds like your typical Italian actioner, complete with a funked out score that violently cuts in and out of scenes and flat leading characters, when the idea of a hidden aquatic city is revealed, pretty much out of nowhere, things get weird. It culminates in a truly insane finale that brings to mind the Star Gate sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey… only underwater… and with sharks.
For the most part, in terms of sharks alone, Cave of the Sharks is nothing special. The sharks are not particularly threatening as the wobble about on the bottom of the seabed. The imagery of sharks silently guarding a cave is admittedly rather haunting. That said, it’s also likely a few sharks met their end in order to achieve these shots, which isn’t a nice thought. I would have only given Cave of the Sharks a rating of one paltry shark, if it were not for the film’s aforementioned ending. Not only is the ending utterly mad, it also features a chaotic massacre as sharks tear off limbs and heads like maniacs while Andres uses a human torso like an underwater (and psychotic) mariachi. For shark fanatics, this is worth a watch for the ending alone.
Cave of the Sharks begins as an unassuming, hammy action-adventure, but by its ending it’s something quite different. I can safely say I’ve never seen a film like Cave of the Sharks before, and I’m glad it exists.
Cave of the Sharks is yet to appear on any format other than VHS. It has screened on television and there’s some decent copies of it floating around on the internet to satisfy shark fans until the real thing comes along. If it ever does.