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  Fishmen and their Queen, The flaky fishmen and a fetching femmeBuy this film here.
Year: 1995
Director: Sergio Martino
Stars: Giuliano Gensini, Michael Velez, Ramona Badescu, Natascia Castrignano, Donald Hodson
Genre: Science Fiction, Weirdo, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Sixteen years after his swashbuckling horror/adventure Island of Mutations (1979), Sergio Martino culled a handful fishmen effects shots from the original, footage from his 1982 post-apocalypse sci-fi opus 2019: After the Fall of New York, and all-new, fairytale scenes shot in the Maldives, and concocted this bizarre, kiddie-oriented sequel.

Two boys (Giuliano Gensini and Michael Velez) who live in the sewers escape a post-apocalyptic New York ruled by evil Exterminator Warriors. A bewildering array of masked horsemen, laser fire, flamethrowers, and babbling psychos speed by amidst non-stop chatter from the child heroes. After their first companion, a death race road warrior, is shot to pieces, the boys find grizzled, old timer Socrates (Donald Hodson) and his – supposedly supernatural – dog Lampo. A magical book called Destiny leads them on an enchanted voyage to a tropical island, the last unpolluted place left on Earth. The grungy, dystopian city is so depressing, even the viewer feels relieved when we finally reach the kiddie flick part of the movie: palm trees, golden sands and cool, blue waters. Thanks Sergio, what’s next? Well, a beautiful, but evil queen (Ramona Badescu) with sorcerous powers and her army of fetching Amazons are after a deformed dwarf in a golden mask. Like you do. The boys team up with jungle girl Selva (Natascia Castrignano) and rescue the dwarf, who turns out to be a prince cursed by the evil queen. Selva’s sister, the island’s rightful ruler has been transformed into a wooden statue, so the boys set out to break the spell with the aid of those mysterious, heroic, oddly lovable fishmen.

The Fishmen and their Queen is a strange, strange movie, and frequently nonsensical. Often it feels like Martino is making the whole thing up as he goes along. Characters die and return to life, there are mystical prophecies, magic exploding apples that turn people into frogs, lost civilizations, a surprising amount of profanity (considering this is a children’s film), and odd links to the previous film (Selva claims her father was a scientist experimenting on the fishmen. Which makes her a previously unmentioned younger sister to Barbara Bach’s character). However, Martino throws in so many disparate elements in a wild bid to entertain, the result is oddly endearing. A consummate craftsman, Martino’s gialli, adventure films and sex comedies are usually better made than those of his peers. Hazily photographed opening credits establish a nice aura of mystery around the evil queen (The gorgeous Badescu also sings the treacly theme song “Awakenings”), and the movie benefits from the sunny locale, enchanted atmosphere and fast pace. The ending – though it comes completely out of leftfield – is rather sweet, as the children climb aboard a spaceship and take off for a better life amongst the stars. Who knows, maybe four years from now Martino will make Fishmen in Space?
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


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