I used to think the Crawling Hand/Killer Body Parts sub-genre was a small one, but then I started to think about all the movies ever made about homicidal mermaids and not counting this one I could only think of two: Night Tide (1961) and the 2001 Stan Winston produced, made-for-cable She Creature. Now we have a third one to add to this list, Killer Mermaid (aka Nymph in the UK), a Serbian film who’s original title is Mamula. Named as such because once the movie finally kicks into gear it spends most of its time on Mamula Island.
Kelly (Kristina Klebe) and Lucy (Natalie Burn) are vacationing in Montenegro, they eventually meet up with a college friend of theirs, Alex (Slobodan Stefanovic), and his new fiancé, Yasmin (Sofija Rajovic), later all four of them are joined by Yasmin’s friend, Boban (Dragan Micanovic). Boban comes off initially as kind of douchebaggy, but he sheds that vibe later on when they all need to step up if they plan on surviving the day on Mamula.
The first half hour is pretty much a meet and greet with the characters, as this is just one big vacation for everyone, except for Kelly, it’s a working vacation for her, she’s a writer. For the most part all of them are likable and the chicks are especially hot. I was most taken with Natalie Burn; she’s smoking hot and kind of looks like she could be related to Daryl Hannah.
Franco Nero pops up ominously as grizzled seaman, Niko, who’s lost his daughter. We already know what happened to her in the prologue. Her boyfriend was enticed into the water by singing only he could hear and another grizzled seaman, this one clearly psychopathic, wielding a razor sharp anchor killed her and dragged her away.
It’s not until they all reluctantly head out to Mamula Island the next day when things turn decidedly interesting and more than a little bloody. Nero warns them not to go, even gives them a quick rundown of its nasty history, but as usual no one heeds his warnings. If they did, we wouldn’t have a movie.
Mamula Island is basically a small islet with a fortress on it, once used as a concentration camp in World War II, to vacationers I suppose it looks like a great place to explore, which it is from what I could see of it in the movie, but what no one knows is there’s a mermaid seemingly imprisoned in one of the chambers in the bowels of the fortress, “protected” by that crazed seaman from the prologue.
Once Kelly and her gang accidentally spy him dumping a bucket load of blood and body parts down this well, the movie is off and running, literally. All they want is to get off the island now and get to the police, but the mermaid’s “handler” sinks their raft and starts hunting them down.
The movie is composed of two genres, a slasher flick, which takes up mostly the first hour, as the vacationers are picked off and killed gruesomely by this seaman and his trademark anchor, and then a creature feature in the final thirty minutes as the “imprisoned” mermaid now takes center stage and starts picking off the remaining cast.
I’m more partial to creature features but the integration of the mermaid’s tale (pun intended) and her “handler” was connected nicely and unexpectedly. From the onset you can kind of see where the movie is going, but after our psycho anchor wielder takes an ax to the back the merging of the two sub-genres takes a slight unexpected turn, which is explained fully by Niko in the final act.
Any movie that employs a CGI creature is already a concern for me, especially when it’s not a big budget Hollywood flick. If the CGI ends up being on the level of a SyFy movie, it instantly gets a thumb down from me. Killer Mermaid’s CGI was much better than anything SyFy would use. The integration of the mermaid parts onto the actress is pretty well done, I have to say. Like the one in She Creature, this mermaid too has an alternate form when it becomes predatory. When she goes in for the kill her hot-naked-chick-with-a-fish-tail shape turns sinister, one of these new features is a a large, serrated toothed mouth.
I was surprised, though, for a movie about a mermaid there’s very little in the way of nudity, even with the mermaid herself. Her tits, when first seen, are hidden by her long hair, and we only see glimpses of them when she uses her predatory form and once again at the end when she’s in hot fish girl form. Not that any of this was a deal breaker; it was just something I tend to note where mermaids are concerned in movies. I do prefer the movies that don’t “cop out.” Then again I don’t think She Creature had a lot of bare-breasted mermaid eye candy on display either.
What I also found unexpected was that the movie ends with the blatant promise of a sequel and let’s say, for the sake of argument, the template for this first flick was Alien (1979), it’s clear the sequel will follow in the footsteps of Aliens (1986) in that our survivors will be dealing with more than one killer mermaid in what I can only hope is a Killer Mermaid Trilogy.
Cinematography was gorgeous, even the underwater shots, but how could it not be when your filming in Montenegro?
Epic Pictures releases the film in the US on DVD only September 9. Its eventual release overseas will carry the Nymph moniker, which, I think, is a better one. There are extra features included as well. Along with the Trailer you get three featurettes: Behind The Scenes Featurette (9:12), which is an on location look at the movies filming; Making The Mermaid (5:30) reveals there were two actresses used, one for her benign appearance and another for her malevolent form. You also see how they CGI’d in the tail, and finally the Bonus Crowdfunding Promo (4.22), where the director, mermaid actress and producer beg us for our money to finish the movie. It looks like it was in postproduction when they needed additional funds.
She Creature (2001) is still my number #1 killer mermaid flick, but Killer Mermaid takes the second spot without a doubt. Looking forward to seeing what the second chapter has in store for us.