Let's start with a caveat: I have never been a big fan of Troma, something that surprises people who know my interest in cult horror. TOXIC AVENGER is a classic and I will always have a soft spot for STREET TRASH if only because I asked Ralph Bakshi if he had any thoughts on it's making during a visiting lecturer symposium, having thoroughly confused it with STREET FIGHT. But Troma is guilty of having made the same mistake that the Austin Powers movies made, which is that the idea of parodying the horror genre is redundant since horror movies are inherently preposterous in the first place. Likewise, folks always look at me in a dumbfounded manner when I confess that I have never sat through an entire showing of "Mystery Science Theatre 3000", ever. I've never been a big cable TV watcher and if I do decide to tune in for anything it usually involves nudity or sex. Why else would one bother with it? If I want to watch some really bad movie and hear a couple of yokels make wise cracks about it I could just have the guys over for a few beers. It's a great idea for a show, but life is short. So right off the top we jettison the two main draws to this video (Troma, MST3K) and by golly if it doesn't still work. I remember when Muskie Madness was all the rage in the mid 1980's but do not remember this film. The box art on the old rental tape I nabbed was what sold it to me. The lurid thrills promised by that image are not to be found on the tape, but what IS there is a remarkable bit of satire crossed with a Summer Camp Horror idea about city types going to an Adirondack resort that is hosting a Muskie contest. A serial killer is at work, thinning down the ranks of the contestants & local denizens by means of a giant fishing lure. He stalks the lake in his rowboat picking people off, reeling them in and stringing their bodies together like a rope of fish, keeping them under his dock until he can grind them down into mush that he feeds to his bait shop minnows. The most evocative image in the film is the human corpses strung through the mouth like a string of lake trout, but the real reason why the film works is that the writers & actors produced a very convincing if somewhat cartoonish community of characters that works in the same way that an episode of The Simpson's works. If we didn't believe in the characters the show would just be a bunch of one-liners, and the same idea is going on here. There are very human traits at work, and the traditional barrage of Troma schlepp is avoided in favor of a sense of personal identification. The movie isn't laughing at the backwoods upstate dorks, but rather having fun with their whole culture of bait shops, contest legends, personal grudges, local dialect and community power structure. One of the rival fishermen delivers a monologue on fishing for Muskie that is actually on the same par with Joe Pesci from JFK, making us understand how someone could kill to be regarded as the best Muskie fisherman in the whole state. And if it sounds like I am responding too cerebrally to this movie, relax: I also love this movie because of Sandy Meuwissen's "Bev D.", a spunky, short haired mid 80's exercise nut with a body on her that God crafted with his two hands. She is sexy beyond belief, and even uses one of the downstate knuckleheads for empty sex that is sadly staged offscreen. That this is the only movie she made is extremely mysterious: I'd love to see more of her. A lot more, actually, and it's nice to see that someone at Troma had the good sense to back this movie & include her in it, since she is about as close as I'll be coming to a summer crush this year. 7/10, and yes, it really is that good.
During a local fishing contest, people are being mysteriously dragged into the lake and killed by a giant fish hook. After a sufficient number of deaths, the killer is finally revealed.
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April 5, 2019