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  Dark Echo Watery Dies
Year: 1986
Director: George Robotham
Stars: Karin Dor, Joel Fabiani, Wolfgang Brook, Hanna Hertelendy, John Robotham, Norman Marshall, Frederick Tully, James Dobson, Alexander Davion, Melisa Antic, Neda Arneric, Demeter Bitenc, Dragan Bjerogrlic, Tanya Boskovic, Damir Mejovsek, Mira Nikolic
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: One hundred years ago a boat carrying many passengers sank in this Yugoslavian lake, and ever since the Captain has been blamed for the tragedy - but what if somehow he lived on at the bottom of the body of water, biding his time until he was able to get revenge on those actually to blame for the incident? His vengeance begins when a couple of local fishermen are out trying their luck with the lake's fish, only for one of them to get his hook caught on something below the surface, unaware he has snagged the wreck of the ship. This action has awakened the Captain, and soon after the two men have been found dead on the shore, their fishing tackle wrapped around their necks...

Dark Echo was a horror movie renowned for... well, renowned for nothing, since it was incredibly obscure with even the date of its production a mystery, some sources saying it was completed in 1977 but the copyright on the end credits telling us 1986 was the date instead. Certainly the fashions, hairdos and music (synth noises by Sanja Ilic and Slobodan Markovic) spoke of the mid-eighties, and looking at the most famous person in the production, star Karin Dor, she appeared to be in her late forties rather than her late thirties, not seeming a mere ten years after her most celebrated role in Bond movie You Only Live Twice. She got the part in this because she was the partner of the director.

He being legendary Hollywood stuntman George Robotham here making his only film calling the shots behind the camera. He had moved to Europe, though was still much in demand for American efforts, but of course the story he wanted to tell was a horror one, or it was on this evidence, though with its picturesque locations around Austria and the then-Yugoslavia the tourist industry might have had a say in what he chose to shoot. Indeed, too much of Dark Echo consists of nothing in particular scenes designed to show off the lake, a valley, some architecture or an impressive cave, with the actual scares, never mind the plot, left neglected by whatever had taken Robotham's eye.

You might have thought given his background that he would include as many stunts as possible, but he didn't aside from a lengthy sequence underwater where the ghoulish Captain (sporting nice makeup, if nothing else) attacks a group of scuba divers in the lake who are seeking clues to the murders happening up above. The reasons for those we can work out as he is bumping off the descendants of those who blamed him a hundred years ago, which include Dor's journalist Lisa Bruekner who has made friends with visiting tourist Bill Cross (Joel Fabiani), a man with contacts who can sort things out, or so they hope. At this point you may be reminded of another chiller with a not dissimilar premise, which was the 1980 John Carpenter film The Fog.

Therefore if Dark Echo really was produced in 1977, Carpenter could be accused of being influenced by it, and if it was an eighties flick, then the opposite could be true, and it does appear to be the latter if you're judging by the visuals. Also, The Fog is plainly the better film, better photographed, paced and acted, though to be fair in the case of that latter most of the cast were not performing in their native tongue as there was American money here which aimed the proceedings at an international market. What Carpenter forgot to include was a scene where a bunch of young folks hold a ceremony where they worship some pagan deity while divesting themselves of their garments, which might wake you up for a while, though the other bit which is fairly striking occurs when one character has the top of their head lopped off and their brain oozes out. This is surprising as any of the effects budget was patently spent on the Captain's rotting costume, but it wasn't enough to rescue an example of why some films are obscure for a reason.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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