The Shark Whisperer
Robert I. Hedges | 12/31/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"William Grefe: the name is synonymous with "horribly made movies." This little gem from 1976 cashes in on the "Jaws" craze with perhaps the most ridiculous concept in fish movies ever: a psychic hero who communes with the sharks telepathically (somehow via a necklace obtained on Mindanao during a "shark god" ceremony, in a subplot that involved much running through a jungle) and defends his toothy friends. Well, really not so toothy, actually. The movie uses Nurse Sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum); large, sluggish sharks, which although they do have teeth, are generally harmless unless provoked. You can spot the Nurse Sharks by looking for the wide head with pronounced barbels (thin, whisker-looking organs in front of the nostrils that are used for sensing touch and taste). End of ichthyology lesson.
Back to the film: this poorly made rip-off contains some of the worst acting and screenwriting in memory, another signature of a Grefe production. The hero (Richard Jaeckel) grimaces through the movie like Mod-Hair Ken in need of Imodium AD. He takes his fish extremely seriously, and becomes a one man shark-feeding machine, placing anyone who crosses his path into the gums of his nurse shark friends. The leading lady is Jennifer Bishop, who may be the worst actress I have ever seen, and wears more eye makeup than Tura Satana. Her aquatic dance scenes are so exciting I believe I may have dozed off during the bulk of them, except during her brief tango with Sam the shark. Her husband, only slightly more overweight than Mr. Creosote, and unfortunately spending much of the film in shorts, is the evil villain, and is very scary (if you happen to be scared of a 500 pound Weeble.)
There is also a subplot about a hurricane. I was left completely stumped by how that in any way furthered the film. There is also a demonstration of why you shouldn't go shark fishing in a tam o'shanter.
I have seen "Piranha," and had previously considered it to be the worst fish movie I had ever seen, trailed very closely by "Jaws 3-D," but no more: this is it, the champion all-time worst fish movie I have ever seen, or ever hope to see. It is pure and classic Grefe.