Hello folks! It’s Halloween and I decided to add horror movie/tv show/book-reviews to my never ending list of things I apparently think I can write about with no care in the world. Today, we’ll see not the best movies of a thing but just movies of a thing that I found because there are not many movies of that thing out there.
I am absolutely flabbergasted at how many horror movies about big foot – basically a big hairy dude – exist and how few deal with mermaids. Come on, mermaids! Creepy lady-fish-creatures from the deep that lure men out into the sea?! Also, the sea, the home of everything HP Lovecraft conjured up in his nightmarish tales. How is that less scary than that burly furry that casually walks through the woods?
That’s not creepy. That’s unintentionally hilarious at best!
Anyway, on my search for movies about mermaids I couldn’t even concentrate on the good ones, I had to take what I could get. So for today’s horror movie night theme, I present to you: the horror of the deep aka fishtail ladies aka mermaids aka this list has only one really good movie in it!
Disclaimer: I will not feature “mermaid in a manhole” because I generally won’t get into the gore fest of the guinea pig-series and others. It’s just not my cup of tea. If you want to check it and get grossed out, you are welcome.
Possible spoilers ahead!
The Nymph aka Killer Mermaid (2014)
Ok, so this one is your typical B-movie. The acting is … not good. The actors are all 20 years older than the actresses who are all gorgeous but a little too sexy and sensual in pretty much everything they do to really grasp who they are as human beings. The story itself is told in the “please tell don’t show”-way and even has some weird old bearded man tell it because apparently really old men are the best vessels for lore.
The plot is simple: a few hot ladies visit a nondescript Mediterranean island to see a close friend (and ex of one) of the hot ladies. He has a hot new girlfriend now who has an older dude friend who flirts with all of them and touches all of them in ways that made me feel really uncomfortable. However, he also shows them a creepy smaller island how could that ever go wrong? They visit the island and discover that there’s another even older dude who wants to kill them. And when they try to flee, they discover something outrageous!
Well, given that the alternative title “Killer Mermaid” pretty much gives away what they discover, I don’t have to be scared of spoiling anything for you. The movie is ok. I liked parts of the plot but generally the pacing is off and even if the special effects are not as bad as they could be, they are not used in a way that really adds to the tension. It’s a nice one-time and one-time only watch if you want to see a mermaid and that’s that.
This Russian musical is one of those movies that defy genres. It is a musical with a weird selection of songs and the worst choreography ever. It’s hammy and trashy but in a fun way. It’s about two mermaid sisters who – on their way to America – choose to stay with a Russian family of performers who work in a dingy freak show/sex club. One of them falls for the son (who I guess is supposed to be dreamy but I don’t get it), both of them become semi-famous and along the way, some people die. At times it takes on a fairy tale-esque air but there are too few allusions to fairy tale elements to really get into it.
If you enjoy a slightly anachronistic feel to your movies and love musicals and horror movies, this might be just the thing for you. Personally, I missed the humor of movies like “What we do in the shadows” or the glitzy glam wonder of “Vamps” (a fantastic vampire movie by the maker of “Clueless”) which would have suited this movie very much. I also want to throw some shade on the critical message that the makers came up with (immigrants getting extorted and abused on their way to America) because all I could see was some pretty casual sexism and a weirdly sexualized portrayal of the sisters that didn’t really need to be there. The only thing that constantly reminded me that this is a fairy tale was the fact that there were no real motivations to the characters. Everyone just did stuff so the plot would move along somehow.
All in all, it’s probably a movie better watched in a group because it is fun, the music is entertaining enough and it has a few lovely surreal images. All in all, though, I felt like this could have been more than it eventually was.
She Creature (Mermaid Chronicles Part One) (2001)
Look, the title is horrendous and it’s even worse that the chronicles never came to be. This is all there is. But this movie is the closest to a lovely, well made, atmospheric, creepy and beautiful mermaid horror movie that you can get (or at least, that I know of).
The story centers around a pair of circus/freak show/con artists who abduct a real mermaid and want to sell her to the highest bidder. Lo and behold, on their way across the sea, some things go horribly wrong.
The movie plays around the turn of the century 1900 and has a much higher production quality than the previous two movies. And it shows. Not just that, you also get actually acting actors with Rusfus Sewell and “Is that Rachel Weisz? No it’s not”-Carla Gugino, who is fantastic as the only (other) woman on the ship who shares a special bond with the sea creature.
The plot is straightforward and from all depictions of mermaids in these three movies, Rya Kihlstedt nails it with astounding beauty but also a lovely detached, non-human quality to her acting that shows that the mermaid really is not just a pretty lady in a fish tail. Rya, by the way, also gives her creep to the pretty fantastic “The Atticus Institute” which I will probably mention in the future in another list.
Given the setting and the whole vibe of the movie this is like a dark fairy tale that eventually (spoilers!) gets pretty bloody. It’s a shame that these chronicles never made it beyond this movie because I would have loved to find out more about the whole world this first episode established.
Cold Skin (2017)
I could have sworn that this was based on an HP Lovecraft story given the material. A young gentlemen is supposed to replace a metereologist on a lonely island after his predecessor passed away. He has to share the island with a weird old man who has his own secrets. During the night, he and his lighthouse get attacked by strange creatures from the sea.
How is that not an HP Lovecraft story? It’s apparently originally by Albert Sánchez Pinol and maybe I’ve heard it on the HP Lovecraft Podcast and therefore somehow combined these two. Now, this is not really the kind of mermaid you would expect (but it is the one you deserve). But given that there’s humanoid creatures coming from the sea and given that this genre is such a hard one, I give it a pass.
Now, the movie itself is ok. I personally was a little bit bored but maybe I was simply not in the mood for it because the look is great, the acting decent and the story itself quite interesting.
The Mermaid – Lake of the Dead (2018)
A young couple on the verge of marriage gets into trouble when he meets an alluring stranger by the lake at his family’s old house.
Look, I am all for symbolism, but a Russian by-the-numbers-ghost-story does not a mermaid tale make. Mermaids are mythical creatures, they are not women scorned whose vengeful spirits kinda live in a lake. So, if you go into this movie all excited for some amazing mermaid action, you will be super disappointed. Even more so, this movie is such a cliche from beginning to end that it’s also not much more than a one time watch. All the characters are paper thin, the main story gets over-explained in the first five minutes and even though the special and make-up effects are not really bad, they are also far from unique.
I wouldn’t even sort it under mermaid-horror if it wasn’t in the title. But then again, McDonalds’ slogan is “I’m loving it” and we all know that “love” is not necessarily the kind of self-loathing craving that eating at McDonalds results in.
Do you know of horror movies about mermaids? Tell me in the comments and help us to establish a proper list!
By the way, you can get a good overview on all my horror movie lists here.