Stop me if you've heard this one before: a
group of students are led by a professor into a dangerous area, where
creatures lurk. I don't know if I'm extraordinarily unlucky or
film-makers today are extraordinarily unimaginative—maybe it's
a little of both.
On the other hand, take a look at that
title. Tell me someone didn't spend a whole 30 seconds thinking that
one up. Talk about generic! And we haven't even started the damn
“Dirty Martini Productions,” okay,
clever name. Anyway, we open with a woman who's clearly been attacked
by something—her face is all cut and bloody. A man appears,
similarly scarred, and they both run around screaming that they've
“gotta get out of here!” They're out in the woods
somewhere. Anyway, something off camera swipes at the woman, the man
brings his gun around, but the unseen thing is gone. There's a lot of
rapid camera work, but no, no sign of the Whatever. But then
something that growls a lot decks the man and drags him off, the
woman runs through the forrest. She hides behind a tree listening to
growling. Then she gets out of hiding—not a good idea, it
seems, since she is then yanked off-camera. To be honest, this first
bit is genuinely okay.
We get the rest of the credits over
some closeups of hands uncovering stuff at an archeological dig. The
music is pretty decent, it reminds me of “Screamers.”
Fade to white, and we're at a university. A Professor is walking
around, meeting students and generally establishing his
professor-ness. And he gets a letter that turns down his grant
request. Naturally, he is not down with this. But this is just to
establish that he is a Good Professor who never gets any breaks. He
won't be selling any kids' lives to save his own skin. At least I
hope not, or I'm gonna look bad.
And we cut to sleazy rich
guy. He's obviously sleazy, the music tells us that. And he's got a
topless assistant lounging in the pool. She is, of course, female. He
totally ignores her except to order her around. And he calls
Professor on the phone.
“Professor, this is Wilson
Friels, do you recognize my name?” As soon as the Prof answered
the phone, Sleazy Guy's music cut off like THAT. Both Arachnia and
Ice Crawlers were both about students led into realms of monsters,
and both had Bad Professors, you know if the trend holds, I think we
know now who the bad guy is. Thanks, Wilson!
Wilson offers to
take up the grant proposal, which is to go up the Amazon to look for
the Calusa Indians. The “only catch” is that it has to be
Prof's wife comes home, and Prof wants to
celebrate. Prof's name is Marta. He pours a glass of brandy or
something, and we cut to Wilson pouring himself a “dirty
martini.” Hey, he said the production company. The cut between
the two shots is very well done. Wilson asks Topless if Derek is back
from the gun range.
Derek asks if there's still no word from
Carl or Maggie, who I'm gonna go out on a limb here, and assume these
are the folks we saw killed before the opening credits. Wilson says
it's been a month, they can't risk anyone “stumbling upon them”
or the information they were able to get. So, there's a mystery
involved here, it's not just people going off to find Deadly Species
and then finding them and being killed by them. “As far as
anyone is concerned, we're searching for the Calusa.”
to a guy waking up, obviously late for class or something. No one
shoots out of bed that fast unless they're late. And we get our next
topless shot. Yes, the guy is topless, yes, but I mean the girl next
to him. These two will be going on the expedition, I bet. Yes,
they're going, along with two other female students. Six so far, not
counting Wilson and Derek, but I'm betting there'll be some wacky
boatman or something.
Cut to a huge airboat. It has a lot of
seats, like a floating church or something. And they're all stowing
gear on board. Bed Guy and Bed Gal are getting some gear when one of
the female students shows up (I'll call her Tube Top) and Bed Guy is
all, “Can I help you with that?” and Bed Gal is all
jealous. Marta hopes “the photographer” isn't a no-show.
I bet that's the wacky guy! Which of course won't be wacky at all,
but it's like pasley, you gotta have parsely, so the customer can
throw it away.
Wilson shows up and acts all cool and stuff
(ie, like a jerk). The other female student I'm going to call Red
Shirt. Photographer shows up next, his name is Laird. And they're off
on their three hour tour. Lots of stock footage, people in the boat,
rushing water, a croc here and there. Kind of an okay travelogue, I
wonder why they insert shots people talking, though. We can't hear
what they're saying. Of course, it's probably not important, just
there to establish that this is Serious Business and not a bunch of
actors being paid to scream and die.
Now, we have our first
POV shot, and close up of monster eye. Can't see much, other than the
iris is red and yellow and the face appears to be all mishappen.
the boat lands. Whoa, right near where the POV was! That's pretty
good navigating for a movie boat. Wouldn't it be great to see a movie
like this where the boat went past the dangerous island, and the rest
of the movie was the monsters being all frustrated and angry and
blaming each other? No, of course not, that would be dull as some of
the things I've watched recently. It's just one of those concepts
that people in Hollywood think of all the time, the difference being
they don't realize how stupid it is and they make the movie. Now,
they probably will make that movie, it'll be a Summer Blockbuster,
and I won't see a dime of that action.
Anyway. They disembark
and hike through the woods. More nice scenery. I wonder where this
was actually shot? Doesn't really look like the Amazon but it's a
They decide to set up camp, and we get some dim
Wait a minute, Wilson just said he was always
fascinated by South Florida. Okay, maybe that's where they are. I
coulda swore they said Amazon earlier. Maybe they're counting on you
not knowing the difference. Well, if so, it's the first really bad
thing about this movie. I'll admit it, so far it's not too bad. We're
still in B territory, don't get me wrong, but it's competantly made
and is keeping my interest. Of course, we're only 18 minutes
Anyway, Wilson says he's an amateur cryptozoologist. I
know what it means, you can look it up on Dictionary.com if you don't
know. I'll still be here. In fact, I'll put an asterisk here so you
can search and find your place again.
I'm nothing if
not accomodating. Anyway, Wilson talks about the “great healing
powers” of the Calusa. And I'm sure we can see his angle for
this expedition. A POV stalks the camp while he talks. Derek explains
he's a bodyguard, though not in so many words.
going to turn in, but then there are monster growls. Marta says a
cat, maybe a bear too. Derek says whatever it is, it's completed its
hunt and will be leaving. And it's the next morning. A drum roll
sounds as folks are walking through the woods. Again, pretty decent
music, this time reminiscent of Predator, but with enough
individuality so it doesn't sound stolen or anything.
found Maggie's backpack on the trail. She'd found part of an
artefact, which they take. A POV doesn't particularly like this. Prof
says the backpack is probably being used as a marker, so it should
stay where it is. They continue on their way.
And they find
some tents. Probably Maggie's and Carl's I bet, or this cast is going
to get even bigger. I mean, we have nine now, and no one's been
killed yet. Except before the opening credits, I mean. Wilson clearly
doesn't like that they've found the campsite, he doesn't say
anything, but you can tell. Everyone's going to check out the
You know something? Wilson also reminds me of Jeffrey
Combs. Okay, maybe too many people remind me of Jeffrey Combs. Can I
help that? I mean, that's like a handicap, I should get to park close
to the mall and you should give me money.
Ha, I fooled you!
You don't have to give me money, honestly, I was just joking. But
thank you, it was a nice gesture.
Wilson finds an Important
Bag and goes through it. He finds a canteen and stuffs it into his
own pack. It seemed to be empty, I guess he just wanted one and liked
this one. And it wasn't important that it was probably drank from by
a dead person. Before they died, of course. (It's not a zombie movie,
at least I'm betting it isn't. And zombies eat people, they don't
drink water. Well, I've never seen them do it, but maybe that's
because it isn't cinematic.)
One of the female students
(they've changed their clothes, damn it) finds something in
the...well, it looks like just a patch of dirt. But folks are saying,
it looks like Maggie (Carl too, I bet) found a Calusa settlement. Um,
okay. Those Calusas, they liked dirt patches, eh? And they also find
a severed leg, which occasions some screaming, so I bet it wasn't
part of that whole “look at this Calusa stuff” bit.
There's a lot of talk about, should we stay or should we go? Wilson
wants to make this the base camp, others want to brave the river full
o' crocs and snakes.
In the end, they decide to stay at the
camp. I've been watching pretty closely, I guess I missed the part
where the boat floated away. Or where it was, um, actually driven by
someone else, who, uh, would be back, er, in a few days. No, no, I'm
sorry, I didn't miss any of that.
Anyway, they decide to make
the campsite workable. It's kind of funny, both times they set up
camp, Marta wants to clean the place and cook the meals. Good thing
the feminists didn't see this, they'd have had a cow.
they have perimeter lights and a generator. So they are in good
shape. And Laird finds a polaroid of...I'm pausing the DVD here...um,
I give up. I can't make it out. But he thinks it's pretty important,
he sticks it in his pocket after looking around furtively.
Shirt (who doesn't have a red shirt anymore, so I'm going to call her
Hat) finds some stuff under a plastic tarp. We don't get to see it,
but it's important, since next scene Prof is barking orders about
searching “based on Hat's find.” No, he didn't say Hat,
but he did call Laird “Clegar.” (Maybe that's his last
Oh, now we see under the tarp. It's a skeleton. With a
sword through it, from the looks of it.
Off in the woods,
Marta finds a stream. “We can use it for cleaning and
“No,” Wilson says under his
breath, “this isn't it.”
I'm starting to put two
and two together, here. Florida, and a race known for their healing
The Fountain of Youth? But, I'd thought it but
legend! Anyway, no guesses yet (thank you, Shark Attack III!) but
let's see how this goes. As I've said before, this actually isn't a
bad movie. But who knows what might happen? I've seen a lot of
promising movies plunge into garbage. But I'm keeping an open mind so
Marta goes through this elaborate series of movements
to...write on a stick (and no, that's not a euphemism). But something
spooks her. She goes off. No POV though, so false alarm. Later at the
camp, Hat polishes an urn (not another euphemism) and says, “Hey,
Doc, look at this!” and then, we cut to the jungle. We get a
decent look at the upper half of a creature's face. It looks like
something off the old Outer Limits show. Like the creatures from “Fun
and Games” if you remember that one. If not, it's on DVD, you
should rent it.
Prof says that only the Calusa warrior who
was pure of spirit could take the “Urn of the Elders”
into battle. Which I guess this urn is. I dunno, I'm not a warrior,
but I could see that carrying an urn that was really sacred and had
to be protected would slow me up quite a bit.
Cut to a grotto
at the riverside, where Marta has found something, some weird trees
with skulls. Wilson shows up and says she's found “the Gates of
Hell.” “Somewhere in there is the secret of life and
death.” Marta's pretty skeptical of all this, she marks the
tree with red tape, but as she turns to leave, Wilson rips it
Anyway, Prof does some exposition about the skeletons
(there were two) and the rest of the day's finds. Wilson and Marta
explain what they found (Gates of Hell and so on). And there's some
talk about legends and such, while a POV looks pretty ticked at all
this gab and such, maybe wondering why his ancient culture is all
poked over by modern types. I'm just speculating.
have a big day tomorrow,” Prof concludes. And I'm going to
differentiate our non-Marta females. From here on out, we have Hat,
Bed Gal and Short-Haired Brunette (SHB). Bed Guy and Laird have been
pretty much non-characters, Prof hasn't done a lot except talk and
take the reigns of command, and Derek is the strong silent type.
That's in case any of you guys think I'm being sexist or something by
differentiating women by their visual characteristics. You see,
Marta's blonde, the rest are brunettes. But aside from Wilson and
Derek, the men are kind of reddish-haired. So there's stereotyping to
go around for everyone. Now, this movie's not getting any shorter,
shall we move on?
SHB says she wants to “rinse off”
and she wants Bed Guy to be there for safety. Anyway, she strips off
her clothes, playfully tosses them at him, and sits in the river to
wash. Bed Gal shows up and is all pissed. Bed Guy goes off to
apologize, which is just the opportunity the POVs have been looking
for. They rush SHB and we have one less character to
“Hey doc, what's that?” It's a
towel someone used to mop up some burgundy. I'm sorry, blood is not
Derek goes off to track SHB and finds a huge
Bed Guy is in deep trouble with the
others because he left SHB when Bed Gal got pissed. Bed Gal says
nothing. Ooohhhh, so nice of her!
Hat has some kind of diary
she thinks Prof should read. What—right now? It's Maggie's
journal. As he starts reading, we flash back to Maggie writing. She
senses something wrong. As if a million voices suddenly cried out,
and were just as suddenly...um, no, no, that's a different movie.
Sorry! Won't happen again. Much.
The main thing they learn is
that Maggie was working for Wilson. It's instructive to watch as Prof
reads, what Maggie writes. Prof says “Day 7” and Maggie's
handwriting looks like “Ehy P.” Now, I don't have the
best handwriting in the world, but then, I'm not in a movie, am I?
(If I am, I don't want to know about it, because I know what happens
to people like me in movies.)
“Last night it killed both
assistants,” Maggie writes, noting that she's “really
frightened.” You know, a word of advice. Sure, when something
attacks you it's a good time to leave, but really, if it KILLS other
people around you, that's ALSO a good time to leave. Trust me on
this! Writing in your diary by lamplight is very important, I know
that, but getting out with hide intact is important too. I do not
understand why anyone would hang around where members of the party
are being killed. Heck, you're in Florida—you could find
civilization or Miami if you just trekked long enough.
try perspective: Imagine you're rich, and are keeping a diary, and
have just written “Jeeves the butler and Flora the cook have
been murdered today. Ho hum, what? Best to get these entries into the
old book before the old midnight chimes, eh? Tomorrow, have to look
for those old antiques Aunt Calusa has stashed about. Deuced things
are rum hard to find. Pip pip, cheerio, Maggles.”
Marta confronts Wilson about all this, he won't say anything though
other than “Mistakes were made.” Not his exact words,
Anyway, he gets a photocopy of a photo, which he shows
to everyone but us. It's some creature mentioned in some old Spanish
journals, and also shown on some of the pottery the crew has been
digging up. Wilson guesses that it's “some kind of mutated
Still some talk about “You should have let
us know about this,” to which Wilson says it's just a myth,
should I warn you about a myth?
Wilson hits on Hat. Wilson,
I'm no ladies man, but it seems a bad time. And Hat pulls out a big
knife. Wow, I was right!
It's now night, and Hat (no longer
wearing hat) can't sleep. A shadow passes over the tent. But now it's
morning. And Hat (no longer with hat) has decided she is outta here.
She's going to take her chances with the river. Okay, does anyone
think this is a good idea? Does anyone think this idea will
Didn't think so. Neither does anyone else in the party,
by the way. Sure, leaving sounds like a good plan, but not on one's
own. In a horror movie.
Prof goes off to see if he can change
her mind, but we all know where this is going. The strange thing is,
Hat was (after Marta) probably the brightest of the women. She was
able to figure out some of the pictures on the pottery, and she found
the skeletons and the diary. She seemed pretty competant. But now
she's wandering off in the woods where there are unknown creatures.
That isn't smart. And, well, no surprise, a Deadly Species attacks
her. So much for Hat. The Deadly Species, by the way, are looking a
lot more like those creatures from the “Fun and Games”
Outer Limits episode, now that we've (briefly) seen a bit more of
Anyway, Derek is setting up some kind of warning system
at the camp, and meanwhile, Prof finds Hat's backpack, which has
blood on it. And just to put the icing on the cake, he sees her
severed head, too. Which ought to send several messages, first and
foremost: don't leave the camp alone, no matter what. Two: whatever
this is, it isn't a simple carnivore, they wouldn't leave the head.
They have some kind of intelligence, albeit a rather nasty one.
Three: Hat is pretty much dead, no need to set up a search party.
Four: Prof, get back to camp, pronto.
Back at the camp, a POV
is watching Bed Guy set up some kind of surveylance thingy. Bed Gal
sneaks up on him, and is all mad cos he was scared. Women, eh? Can't
figure 'em. Now, there's a fairly heavy rain going on. And Derek has
set up his laptop to watch the surveylance things...in the rain. It
is raining on his laptop. That is not a good way to treat your
laptop, just in case you're looking for laptop advice here. Laptop
advice: do not set up and operate your laptop in the rain. Thanks for
Prof shows up, still bloody from Hat, but maybe from
something else? He's too dazed to say anything.
night, Bed Guy is watching the laptop to make sure everyone's safe.
Prof shows up to apologize. Bed Guy says that's OK, and suddenly the
perimeter alarm sounds. But I'm betting it's one of those Predator
misdirection things. Maybe. Anyway, Laird goes off because he has to
get the picture. And somehow the Deadly Species cut the power. “How
could they cut the power? They're animals, man!” No, no one
actually said that. But you recognize the line, right?
Derek and Wilson and start firing into the woods, basically kind of
wildly. Does that ever work?
Anyway, Prof is all mad
that the creature is probably scared off, miles away by now. “This
is supposed to be a scientific expedition, not one of your goddamn
big game hunts!”
Prof...shut up. You've got two people
dead on your “scientific expedition.” It's obvious you
guys are in trouble. Stop being The Big Moral Guy, you just look
stupid wearing that costume.
“You're going to need my
guns, Professor,” says Wilson, “so don't lecture me.”
Only the fact that Wilson is the Obviously Venal Material-Minded
Villain keeps this simple fact from trumping Prof's Overweening
Morality and Respect for the Nature that is Killing Them All. But
only in the movies.
Derek gives Bed Guy a 9mm gun, he (Derek)
is obviously a nice guy and all. Later that night, Bed Guy is having
trouble staying awake and all. Nice montage. But he's still watching
the laptop. Bed Gal shows up to be with him. She doesn't want to be
alone. And she starts initiating romance. And we get the wailing sax
music and all, close up of hands, you know the drill. No nudity,
though we had plenty of that earlier. And yes, you expected it as
much as I did, while this is going on, a Deadly Species shows up,
peeking around a tree. But Derek shows up and spoils the show. But
not for long! Bed Guy and and Gal go off to have a bit more fun. And
a Deadly Species attacks! It claws Bed Guy, but Bed Gal shoots it
with the pistol, good for her! But yeah, Bed Guy is dead, though also
filled with some kind of poison that may be infectious. Prof touches
him and reacts as if burned.
Next morning, Wilson seems to
think it's all under control. We're told Bed Gal needs medical
attention. Prof and Marta are all mad, “those kids were under
Wilson counters their concerns by noting that
the creature was shot in the face last night, and has probably slunk
off to die. Prof asks, “What makes you think there was only one
Wilson, exasperated, says, “This is not
some kind of Deadly Species...it's a freak of nature, a mutant! And
I'm going to kill it!” Hey, now we know where the title came
Prof looks at his arm nervously (the one that touched
Marta asks Prof what are we going to do? He says,
stay here. She lays into him, about how everyone's been killed and
all, so they can't stay here.
“We can't get off the
island for another three days,” he says. Okay, I must have
missed something about that boat. I apologize to everyone.
Marta damns him, and says that he's starting to sound just like
Wilson. For stating the obvious? Well, I guess so. Kind of unfair,
though. Like if I said, “Two plus two equals four,” you
might respond, “Damn you, you bastard! NIXON said the same
thing!” “Yes, but--” “No buts, you
Anyway, Prof promises Marta that they'll be
okay. Laird shows up and says that Derek and Wilson are gone. Prof
wants all the cameras gathered together. And we cut to Derek and
Wilson. They find another big footprint, but are worried that there
isn't any blood. A POV watches them. Kind of a shame, really, Derek
was a decent guy, and Wilson I'll bet couldn't help being a villain,
despite that correspondence course he took a few years back.
to the camp, Laird has set up the cameras all around the camp. And
Wilson and Derek show back up again. After some banter, the main
thing we learn is that Prof's arm—where he touched Bed Guy—is
giving him some problems. He won't admit to them, though. I guess
he'd rather endanger everyone than admit there's a problem. What will
this mysterious weakness do? Maybe turn him into a Deadly Species!
Well, it could happen.
Marta and Prof try to comfort Bed Gal.
She's in total shock mode. Etc.
Oh, Marta suggests that she
and Bed Gal “get some air” and Bed Gal says, “I
really have to go,” and she goes off by herself in the dark
woods, and a Deadly Species attacks and kills her. The guys shoot
into the woods. Prof collapses, and Marta finally knows that he's
been poisoned by the Deadly Species via Bed Guy. They talk about this
poison in some depth. Prof notes that the alarm didn't sound when the
Deadly Species killed Bed Gal.
There's some emotional
confession stuff between Prof and Marta. Not terribly interesting,
but I guess someone thought we needed it, so I'm noting it
Anyway, Marta goes off to confront Wilson about
everything. Wilson, after a bit of banter, decides to spill it all.
He admits that what they're looking for is the Fountain of Youth.
Remember, I said that earlier. Well, I hinted at it.
Prof shows up and has some drawings on his neck, that I guess are
supposed to indicate the poison in his blood. He tells Marta to get
to the airboat and save herself. But he admits the Fountain is real.
Marta can “save [her] hide, or save [her] husband.” She
gives in but keeps a gun. And she grabs the urn from earlier and goes
off with the others to the Magic Spring. Wilson, Derek, Marta and
Laird (hey, the characters with names!) go to look for the Fountain.
They find it, I guess, and Wilson fills the canteen he found. (Good
for him he took it earlier, I guess). “Gentlemen, this is the
day man becomes immortal!”
Well, that's a cue if ever I
heard one, and sure enough, at least two Deadly Species appear and,
you know, look all menacing and stuff. No, there are four of them!
One of them knocks Derek down, another picks up Wilson and throws him
so that he lands on a tree stump, which goes right through his chest.
He drops the canteen into the water, and Marta goes to retrieve it.
(My theory at this point is that it's the only thing that can save
her husband.) Another Deadly Species seems to make sure Derek is
dead, and Marta screams her head off while several Deadly Species
kind of, well, stand in front of her and look like bad makeup
effects. (The quick cuts earlier were more effective.) But she runs
And Laird is still around, and the two of them run
through the jungle...and they run into some Indians. One of them
grabs the canteen and throws it away. But Prof is on the shoulder of
another one (who looks like an Greek philosopher) and he seems kind
of cured. The Greek guy takes the urn, and he and the Indians go to
leave. “The water reversed the effects,” said Prof, and
when Greek-looking guy leaves, Prof asks, “Just who are you?”
and Greek guy flips a coin at him. “Here's a quarter, call
someone who cares!” he laughs. No, I just made that up.
Actually, it's Spanish dubloon or something. Greek guy is (I'm
guessing here) if not Ponce de Leon, then someone who sailed with
All the Indians fade into the landscape (like Predators,
though I'm sure that's not the intent).
We cut to Laird
looking Pensive, and Marta looking Thoughtful and Prof looking Deep
in Thought. They're all wondering what they can tell the outside
world? And Prof suggests that they say that a make-shift raft
overturned, and the others were killed. The three of them must never
reveal what really happened. “We owe the Calusa our lives, they
deserve to be left alone.”
“We'll just ignore the
creatures.” (A paraphrase.) They all agree.
someone on a cell phone, listening as a voice describes the benefits
that the Fountain of Youth should provide. The voice adds, “Our
men should be there shortly.”
The listener wheels
around, revealing Laird. “Are you crazy?” he says, “After
what I told you?” And cut to black. And our cast listing. Great
ending! The best part here, a definite A ending.
And there is
a credit for “Airboat Captain” so I guess I missed that
bit. Sorry folks, but what the heck did you expect when you started
reading this? The secret of eternal youth? Ha, like I'd let THAT
Ouch, bad rock ballad over the end credits. That
costs points, sorry. Ouch, even more points—it was written by
the director! Yikes-a-roni. Apple gets a credit for all the sound
So: not bad. Some cliché stuff, especially in
the stock characters and the actions like
I-think-I'll-go-off-in-the-words-by-myself. The acting is decent,
some of it's actually pretty good, and the scenery is gorgeous. The
creature attacks are well-handled and the mystery is kept going
pretty well. Some directorial short-comings (the characters see stuff
which we don't). On balance, I'd say it's a pretty decent B movie.
I'm not sure how high my recommendation would be to you though—if
you see it in the rental shop, don't act like you've found the
Fountain of Youth or anything. Rent it if you've seen the stuff you
wanted to see. Thanks, and remember to be safe while boating.