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Episode guide: 911- Devil Fish

Movie: (1984) Bud-swilling Florida scientists discover a gigantic prehistoric shark.

First shown: 8/15/98
Opening: Mike loses his identity…or does he?
Intro: Pearl’s cruise ship scheme requires M&tB to make ice sculptures
Host segment 1: M&tB learn that dolphins are smart … and touchy!
Host segment 2: M&tB learn not to taunt electricians
Host segment 3: Pearl’s Italian filter malfunctions
End: Crow tries to think of animal combos, while dinner at the Captain’s table doesn’t go well
Stinger: “It’s right underneath us!” “I knowwwww!”
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (213 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)


• This episode is one of those comfortable middle-of-the-road ones for me. The riffing has lots of laughs, but there are some quiet spots. The segments are also fun and funny but not exceptional. This episode also featured two elements that had internet MSTies talking!
• Kevin offers his thoughts here.
• This episode is featured in Shout’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Vol. XIX.
• Mike predicament in the opening bit is reminiscent of five or six action movies that were out at that time, especially “The Bourne Identity.”
• That’s Patrick and Beez as the tourists, Ann and Norm.
• The intro almost has an invention exchange feel to it, which everybody offering a different comic take on the ice sculpture idea.
• Did anybody notice that this movie has two title cards? I don’t think the Brains did. They don’t react when the second one appears.
• A generational thing: This movie’s director, credited as John Old Jr., is actually Lamberto Bava. His father was Mario Bava, director of the movie in episode 1013-DANGER: DIABOLIK (Lamberto was the assistant director on that movie) and cinematographer of the movies in episodes 408- HERCULES UNCHAINED and 502- HERCULES. Lamberto worked on many of his father’s films. Mario was sometimes billed as John Old Sr.
• Marc Cohn definitely seems to be one of those pop stars that earned the Brains wrath. I was never a huge fan, but his stuff never really bothered me.
• Segment 1 is less a segment by itself than it is a setup for the segment 2. It’s not a laugh-riot, but it moves along quickly.
• Segment 2 is the pay-off sketch, but it’s still not hilarious. I feel like maybe it’s Paul’s lowkey delivery that drags it down, but I’m not sure.
• This week Mike is reading Mary Tyler Moore’s book “After All.” Is he a member of the book of the month club?
• There’s kind of an odd moment in segment 2 where Gypsy doesn’t know who Pearl is. Made me go:”Huh?” She used to…
• Peter Rudrud is the voice of Sea World phone representative.
• About a third the way through the episode, one of the characters on the boat climbs quickly down a ladder, and is shot from below. Apparently we could see quite a bit up his shorts because Sci-Fi Channel felt the need to put a digital fig leaf over it, in the form of the spaghetti ball logo. The incident sparked a bit of a debate among online MSTies about censorship, etc.
• Incidentally, this addition to the episode apparently was made AFTER the episode was submitted to Sci-Fi Channel for broadcast, because M&TB do not react to the appearance of the logo, and instead react in horror to seeing what the logo covered up.
• This episode marks two Wizard of Id references in two weeks.
• During the dull scuba sequences, nobody thinks to mention that his lungs are aching for air. Just as well, I guess.
• A few fans conjectured that segment 3 was BBI’s response to some fan complaints (baloney, if you ask me) that the show was overdoing jokes mocking the movie characters’ nationality. By now, I imagine the writers have long forgotten whether it was or not, so we’ll never know if it was intentional.
• The first Richard Jewel joke in a while pops up.
• The long laughing-through-the-end-credits bit is reminiscent of the Jim Backus-Phyllis Diller comedy bit, “Delicious.”
• Why is Crow so hyper in the end segment?
• Cast and crew roundup: In addition to the Bava family mentioned above, assistant director Freddy (Goffredo) Unger was an actor in “Hercules Against the Moon Men.” Screen writer Frank Walker also worked on “Operation Double 007.” Cinematographer Giancarlo Ferrando also worked on “Warrior of the Lost World,” as did costumer/production designer Anthony Geleng.
• CreditsWatch: Directed by Mike, his last directing effort of the season.
• Fave riff: “You know, just because you CAN edit doesn’t mean you SHOULD.” Honorable mention: “Tiny Medical Center, starring tiny Chad Everett.”

120 comments to Episode guide: 911- Devil Fish

  • 101
    Kali says:

    Freddy Unger was also in Danger Diabolik – John Phillip Law mentioned him in his commentary for the movie.


  • 102
    Black Doug says:

    “Just because you can edit, doesn’t mean you should.” I think this needs to be made into a demotivational poster.


  • 103
    Depressing Aunt says:

    This is a good episode to put in when I just want to zone out, because, as Tom says, “This is a movie that constantly assures you, you don’t need to concern yourself with this.”

    #59–I guess “As seen on TV” refers to the cheesy quality of the video used every time there are underwater shots of the monster.

    I feel so sorry for Sandra. She should’ve been left alive. And she had such a zest for repeating everything Peter said in a low mumble.

    I enjoyed Mike stupidly trying to weld ice cubes. And the forced laughter over the end credits of the movie was nice, I liked how Tom and Crow stayed in character the whole time.

    Mike: Blake Edwards’ point-10.
    Crow: Can anyone tell me if I have a butt yet? No, huh?


  • 104
    Manny, Moe, and/or Jack says:

    Not to be pedantic, but The Bourne Identity didn’t come out until a few years after MST3k ended its run. I always assumed the opening sketch was making fun of movies like The Net, Long Kiss Goodnight, Conspiracy Theory and the other movies with stolen/lost identity plots that were popular in the mid to late ’90s.


  • 105
    schippers says:

    Also not to be pedantic, but #98, our leading man in this picture, Michael Sopkiw, qualifies. He was the lead in a number of Italian films, the best of which is undoubtedly 2019: After the Fall of New York. Anybody who likes bad movies and has not seen 2019 needs to do so right now.

    Anyway, I wish Mr. Sopkiw had made more of these movies.

    The constant Eurobashing grates a bit in this episode, but I generally like it very much.


  • 106
    Basil says:

    Mike predicament in the opening bit is reminiscent of five or six action movies that were out at that time, especially “The Bourne Identity.”

    Yeah, I need to weigh in on this, too. This episode aired in 1998, and The Bourne Identity hit theaters in 2002. I’m thinking Manny, Moe, and/or Jack might be right about the actual influences.


  • 107
    Kali says:

    On the Bourne Identity, the Brains may have had in mind the Richard Chamberlain TV movie – imdb says it came out in 1988. Frankly, I believed Chamberlain in the part more than Matt Damon.

    And Jaclyn Smith was in it – best looking of Charlie’s Angels, to my way of thinking. Smile


  • 108
    touches no one's life, then leaves says:

    You know what would’ve saved this 1984 Italian production?

    1980 Italian production PUMAMAN coming to the rescue!


    “Pumas can’t swiiiiiiiiim!”
    glub .. glub .. glub


    Or not.


  • 109
    Smoothie of Great Power says:

    Surprised I didn’t offer any comments on this one the last time around. Must have been pretty busy.

    * One thing this movie does well is play up the tension of just how scary the monster is compared to Jaws. It’s an original creation, we never get a decent view of the entire thing and it proves to be a greater potential danger to the entire ocean. Fear of the unknown is more effective than, “Ah! A giant shark!”
    * I haven’t seen the original movie but I do have to say that Sondra was definitely not the brightest bulb in the pack as the first thing she does after being threatened is to call the police without making sure it’s safe to do so and not obviously doing anything to resist or get help.
    * What was up with Janet? Was she Bob’s wife? An old flame? Complete padding? Bob refers to her as “Mrs.” when asking for her on the phone and they greet each other more like a couple before talking business. There’s also the fact that she comes out of nowhere, does nothing of note and gets killed off.
    * Did anyone else get vibes of the motorcycle from Warrior of the Lost World with that endlessly jabbering computer?

    Favorite Riffs:
    Mike: “Shouldn’t we have tied this stuff down? I mean, it is explosive.”
    Crow: “He’s enjoying the bold, adventurous lifestyle of a TV repairman.”
    Servo: “The film crew’s having a lot of fun throwing stuff at her.”

    Favorite Host Segment Line:
    “So we formed a mutual defense pact with the dolphins.”

    Things I Learned from this Episode:
    * Appliance repair is the surefire way to get women!
    * A concrete boat can float and be powered by an ugly guy’s face.
    * Creating a creature that will reproduce asexually and destroy all other life in the ocean, thus crippling the economy and sustenance of countless cities is apparently profitable.


  • 110
    JohnnyRyde says:

    Ah, last time this episode came up, I hadn’t seen it since the ’90s. Now with the recent DVD release, I’ve seen it a few times.

    Yeah, this one was better than I expected. My favorite riff is the sequence where the boat guy plays the “blank” audio tape to the woman and they dub in sounds of him cracking open beers and quickly drinking them.

    I, too, thought that the opening segment was a parody of “Nowhere Man”. I loved that show in the 90s, but have no idea if it would stand up today.

    When the DVD first came out, I thought that they overdid the jokes about the film being “European”… When I watched it this week though it wasn’t as overboard as I thought. And I’m glad I wasn’t hearing things when the scientist claimed that the new sharks developed 350 years ago (missing a “million” there?). Mike and the Bots never react to this…


  • 111
    TitanGojira says:

    Clearly, Gypsy caught “robot amnesia” from Crow. Because, you know, it’s contagious.


  • 112

    @109 Smoothie of Great Power sez: “One thing this movie does well is play up the tension of just how scary the monster is compared to Jaws.”

    Hogwash. Complete hogwash.

    Devil Fish in no way or manner compares to Jaws. Spielberg’s movie is a master class on the old “what you can’t/don’t see is scarier than what you do” and the tension is built from NOT seeing the shark until the final reel of the movie. Nothing in Devil Fish even compares. It’s not even close! Jaws has great acting, a great script, great story pace, great editing, great photography, great build-up and tension release, and great special effects that work on screen. Devil Fish has all the same things except the word “great” is replaced with “terrible.”

    Devil Fish having an “original creation” or an “unknown” creature as its monster does, in fact, NOT give it a leg up on Jaws, because by going more fantastical the movie (and the filmmakers) have to work twice as hard to convince the audience that what they are seeing is real and an honest threat (and not just a terrible puppet). A good way of doing that is by emotionally investing the audience in the story through proper scriptwriting and storytelling. Sadly, director Lamberto “my only good movie is Demons” Bava and his crew were obviously not up to the task.

    I say sadly because somewhere buried in this mess is a halfway decent idea for a movie. I think maybe it’s under that sixer of Budweiser over there. . .lemme just check real quick…

    So yeah, Devil Fish: the MST episode.

    It’s a good, not great one for me. The riffing is lightweight in my opinion and the Host Segments are so-so; HS#1 doesn’t do much for me, but the payoff in HS#2 is better (plus it has electrician Paul). HS#3 is the best of the bunch; love those Italian stereotypes. The opening and closing segments with Pearl and Co. and the fake boat. . .ugh. Not very good (once again) in my opinion.


    Crow: “Peter Frampton!”

    Servo: “Just because you can edit, doesn’t mean you should.”

    Mike: “C’mon beer! Get in my mouth, c’mon!”

    Mike: “Enjoy the soft-core porn soundtrack.”

    move: “Squad #2?”
    Servo: “We done been ate, over.”

    Devil Fish,
    there are better Jaws knockoffs,
    there are better Italian genre films,
    there are better MST3k episodes.

    I give it 3 out of 5 Budweisers (that’s all that was left from the sixer)

    Can Can Can


  • 113
    Cornjob says:

    I’d like to give a shout out to the panel Q&A in the extras on the DVD. Some very funny stuff. Most of you are of course thinking, “I KNOOOWWW!” Aside from from everything else, what’s really wrong with this film is how the monster footage looks like film clips from another movie. It’s one thing to only catch a glimpse of the monster. It’s another to glimpse what looks like someone stuck the camera in a bowl of vegetable soup.


  • 114
    pondoscp says:

    This is a fun episode. But, in may ways, I felt like I was watching Gorgo again, since this is basically the same plot. There’s a bigger one!


  • 115
    Sitting Duck says:

    @ #114: Other than the fact that both feature monsters from the deep, I don’t see any resemblance whatsoever. Gorgo is basically Godzilla crossed with King Kong with a hint of Beowulf. Meanwhile, Devil Fish is Jaws, but instead involves an evil corporation with a terrible business plan.


  • 116
    pondoscp says:

    @115: I was just referring to both creatures in Gorgo and Devil Fish being babies.


  • 117

    Ang says:
    April 1, 2010 at 9:26 am

    I’m really not a big fan of Final Sacrifice but Devil Fish is right up my alley!

    Good host segments and great riffing to a really lame film. I like a lot of the sci fi eps b/c even though the movies are bad, they are still mostly watchable. I think during those years especially they found a lot of films with the right mix of riffability and horribleness…

    I know Final Sacrifice has a big following, but I could never really get into it — I’ll bet I’m probably the only MSTie out here who wasn’t real crazy about it — but Devil Fish, while not an instant favorite, still grew on me quickly. I hadn’t seen it in years since MST3K went out of reruns on SciFi, and only just recently put my copy back into rotation to give it another shot. In fact, I was just watching it tonight. I’m digging it more every time I watch it. Love all the cracks about Italians trying to come off like Americans.

    I thought the little MST3K logo placed over that guy’s area was the writers’ idea, to be honest. It just seemed a really witty visual riff from Cambot, kind of like his “scoreboard” in Sidehackers.

    I caught the “double title” right away, and got a big giggle out of it somehow. I’ve seen several episodes where the movies “lapped” themselves, but Devil Fish set the record. Seeing the title appearing twice was kind of like watching the opening credits to Hercules Unchained, where the overlaid titles are sloppily edited and we see the title a second time, partially, before it wipes into the next title. “Hey, did we just see that?”

    I’m embarassed to say that I totally didn’t get Nelson’s “Evinrude” jokes at first. While I got that he was making sarcastic penile double-entrendres, I totally missed that he was also making a “Johnson” joke.

    While it was rather done to death, the “my lungs were aching for air” riff was still one of my favorites, and I rather missed it. In fact, while watching those scenes, I find myself interjecting that riff myself.

    “It’s Bebe Rebozo’s home movies!”
    “She displaces no water at all!”


  • 118
    Smoothie of Great Power says:

    Oh yeah, and since no one else has mentioned this, the game that Sondra is playing when Tom quips, “Man, Abyss 2 isn’t very good,” is Seaquest for the Atari 2600. A great game that I grew up with.


  • 119
    Thanos6 says:

    Does anyone know what song Sondra is listening to while she plays the game?

    And I think my favorite riff has to be Servo making the beer-chugging noises over the silent tape recording. Never fails to make me crack up.


  • 120
    Savvy says:

    Here we go!

    – You really believe Mike’s identity was taken. Then it’s not.
    – Bobo is cute as he throws the stuff at Patrick and Beez.
    – Who knew Crow could defy the laws of physics and build a sculpture of Michelangelo’s David out of four ice cubes? Cow is an artist!
    – The tile of the movie appeared twice, which is why they comment on “experimenting with film credits.”
    – Yeah, those Coast Guard guys yelling is pretty random. They are Coast Guard guys, though. “It’s gonna be cold!”
    – Tom: “That’s my special line. A beer is in trouble somewhere!”
    – Tom: “Gulp gulp gulp… Ah. (Opens more beer.)”
    – The dolphins most likely did steal Stella’s conditioner. They are capable of more than we know.
    – “They lasted for three minutes.”
    Tom: “Like my last twelve-pack.”
    – Saundra is really immature. It’s funny!
    – The dolphin warship segment was a cute idea.
    – Crow: “Slow day, huh?”
    – “I was only nineteen when I met Bob.”
    Crow: “That’s when I was skinny.”
    – Crow: “Dolphins won the Superbowl! Yay!”
    – Mike: “His broadcast day is over.”
    – I love Tom’s reaction when that lady takes off her glasses! Sleazy music.
    – Paul is great as the electrician.
    – Crow: “Sixteenth is a water hole, surrounded by water at all sides.”
    – Crow: “Y’know, after this beer, we should have a beer sometime.”
    – Crow: “You’d better take off your suit and flag down some help.”
    – Mike: “You know, she displaces no water at all.”
    – “Where are Peter and Stella?”
    Tom: “They’re off being scrawny.”
    – Mike: “Ow! OW! You just laid me on a pufferfish!”
    – Tom: “As seen on T.V.”
    – “What are you gonna do?”
    Crow: “I KNOW!”
    – “The cells of this creature have a life of… Only eight months?”
    Crow: (Guy takes off glasses.) “I’m gonna kick your ass!” It’s true! He really does look pissed off!
    – Tom: “And now, the news. And now, the news again. And now, some more news. And that’s the news.”
    – I really enjoy the Italian segment!
    – Mike: “C’mon, I just wanted to play ‘Free Cell’!”
    – Well, the guy did say “don’t move” before he shot him!
    – This movie proves only one thing: The United States Coast Guard will be anywhere you want them to be.
    – “Peter, the thing’s on top of you!”
    Crow: “Not unlike you and me earlier!”
    – I love how Tom sings as Peter walks out of the Western-looking building.
    – I can’t help but laugh at their incessant laughing!
    – Bobo’s greatest freakout.