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Article Archive >> Entertainment

Movies From the Black lagoon: Cold Fish

Movies From the Black lagoon
Cold Fish - 2010, Unrated
By Tom Doty
Weekly Contributing Writer

"Hostel' has nothing on this Japanese gore-fest about a timid "Tropical Fish" merchant who comes under the influence of a fellow aquatic entrepreneur who also happens to be a brutal psychopath.
The story begins with a typical evening at the Shamoto household. Dad stands idly by as his daughter bolts form the supper table for a date while his new wife slips outside to sneak a cigarette. Nobody is happy here and they are even more upset when the daughter gets in trouble for shoplifting. Luckily a benevolent businessman, who witnessed the theft, offers to give the girl a job and train her to be more productive.
The business guy, Murata, is a garrulous sort and a little on the melodramatic side. His fish store is a little ostentatious too, not surprising as his motto is "Business is entertainment." It comes equipped with 3,000 varieties of fish and a team of scantily clad young females who sell fish for Murata and live there while working out the assorted social dilemmas that landed them in his care. Shamoto agrees and that is his main problem-the guy gives in to everyone.
The next day Murata gives Mrs. Shamoto a three-dollar tour of the facility and follows that with some hasty psychoanalysis of her situation, He figures out that nobody is happy at the Shamoto house and worms his way into their lives. Seducing the Mrs. is a piece of cake and he soon gets Shamoto in his pocket too. They embark on a shady business deal together (selling fish to a rube at an over inflated price) but that's nothing compared to what follows.
The rube decides he wants out of the deal so Murata poisons him to death and enlists the aid of Shamoto in getting rid of the body. He blackmails Shamoto into doing more chores, which include covering up the murder when relatives show up looking for their missing kin. Shamoto soon learns that Murata's wife is also morally challenged and an over sexed sociopath to boot. Turns out the cops are investigating Murata due to several disappearances and his own lawyer is planning to do him in and everyone expects Shamoto to help them out.
Eventually Shamoto flips a switch and proves more dangerous than any of the maniacs he has met. Behind his meek exteriors brews a lot of anger so it is not pretty when he loses his moral compass. What follows is the bloodiest conclusion to grace a film since Sam Pekinpah. No one is safe when Shamoto blows his top. His final conclusion (that life is pain and no one is strong enough to endure it) comes at the expense of his loved ones and you'll cringe as he tries to set the world right by committing the most heinous crimes imaginable, against his own family.
This is strong stuff and the scariest part is that most of it actually happened. The story came from a 1990's incident that actually involved dog owners (not fish) but that didn't fool anyone in Japan. The film actually starts out like a moral dram and then lurches into comedy when we meet the highly charged Murata. It slips into horror about the halfway mark and never lets up as we see how ruthless Murata can be. You will be stunned by some of the events depicted here as well as the great lengths they go to let the story unfold at a reasonable pace. The whole affair takes about two and a half hours and proves that a horror film can run long and incorporate dramatic themes. Brave this one if you dare and remember to thank the good folks at "Bloody Disgusting.Com" for bringing this feature to our shores. The website has been reviewing cutting edge horror for years but now they have a video label and, judging from this effort, they aren't afraid to use it.
Best Line: "Shamoto stop that. It hurt a little."
"Stand up and kill me."
"All that money for a fish, I don't think so."

Tom Doty will be in the Potomac Playmakers production of Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap" at the Barbara Ingram School, which opens Thursday, October 20th at 8PM with shows that run through Saturday and a 3PM performance on Sunday.
He occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: dotyfox@myactv.net.

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