Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media

Aquanoids (2003)
York Entertainment | Review by Dan Taylor

Thanks to the entertaining BLOOD SURF I had a serious "up from the depths" jones running through my system. Which meant I was easy prey for the low-budget schlock of AQUANOIDS. The box – featuring a clawed creature ascending from the briny depths – sucked me in before I ever read the JAWS-inspired plot summary.

With visions of HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP, the unheralded THEY BITE and the aforementioned BLOOD SURF running through my head I grabbed AQUANOIDS and headed home for some low-brow fish-attack hijinks.

How does that old saying go? "Be careful what you wish for..."

Cue pre-credit sequence set in 1987. A couple frolics in the surf, unaware that they're being watched by a horrible sea creature and a creepy guy on the beach who stands by and does nothing. Not surprisingly, things go horribly wrong and our happy loving couple get waxed by the titular aquanoid while Jackson – the guy on the beach – looks shocked, pained and generally upset.

Sixteen years later, the sleepy hamlet of Babylon on Santa Clara Island is readying itself for the onslaught of tourists and residents celebrating the birth of our nation. But Vanessa (Laura Nativo), a big-breasted environmentalist who favors bikini tops and daisy duke cut-offs, has discovered something wrong in the soon-to-be-crowded waters. The aquanoids, responsible for 17 deaths in 1987, have returned and only Vanessa's natural bouyancy prevents her from being a victim... JUST LIKE HER MOTHER!

Not surprisingly, the town's corrupt Mayor Walsh (Edwin Craig) isn't interested in hearing about Vanessa's discovery in the town's waters. With tourist season in full swing, not to mention his shopping mall deal with Clint The Sleazy Land Developer (Ike Gingrich), the ol' mayor doesn't want anything to queer the good thing he's got going. Not Vanessa, not nosy reporter Courtney McClure, not his slut daughter Deborah, and not the "crazy" Ronald Jackson, still reeling from watching the savage aquanoid attack of '87.

What follows this "insert Tab A in Slot B" plot set-up is a lunatic hodgepodge of every creature attack flick to follow in JAWS' wake. And what makes AQUANOIDS even more monumentally absurd is its combination of shot-on-video porn flick quality and a compressed running time of somewhere around 65-70 minutes (not counting credits) that feels much, much longer. And not in a good way.

Filled with montages of Vanessa and fellow daisy duke-clad sea-hugger Christine (Rhoda Jordan) riding around town on their scooters and narrowly escaping the flesh-eating aquanoids on their jet ski, it'd be easy to mistake this for a softcore jigglefest on an "adult" pay-per-view channel.

Of course, that mistake would surely be corrected once you caught: the over-the-top coroner (who eats a sandwich in the middle of an autopsy and keeps a stocked liquor cabinet in the morgue); self-aware references to everything from UP FROM THE DEPTHS and ALLIGATOR 2 to DEEPSTAR 6 and LEVIATHAN; soap opera-type revelations about Vanessa's heritage (no points for figuring this out); the mayor and land developer driving around the surprisingly-deserted town on Foruth of July shooting anybody who interferes with their nefarious schemes; and the aquanoid baby that could be a ball of tinfoil.

Despite a running time that's shorter than Vanessa's cut-offs, AQUANOIDS is easily the longest 70 minutes I've ever spent watching low-budget schlock. I defy even the most hardened sleazehound to resist the urge to check their watch, only to find that the flick has somehow made time stand still.

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