Since 1975, when Steven Spielberg presented a new level of terror to the mainstream audience woth his movie "Jaws", which was a major box office success, the animal horror genre is as successful as it has never been before. What haven't we seen crawling around us, under us, inside our body etc.? Sharks, sure... but also snails, bats, snakes, spiders, ticks, cockroaches, rats, dogs, apes, birds, several kind of big cats, different kind of mutated water animals... basically, any animal species reached a new level of terror - no matter what is was, no matter how scary and disgusting it was. Today's guest in Gobbo's collection of bizarre characters (or in this particular case bizarre and hostile animals) is the snakehead (aka "Channidae") which is especially domiciled in Asia and Africa. This freshwater fish has a size of 15 cm to 120 cm. Interesting is the following fact: this fish is capable of absorbing oxygen from the air. Some subspecies are even capable of moving ashore for some time.
So much for the background. In this production (of Sci-Fi Channel, among others), we're dealing with a mutation caused by hormones. This mutation will become gigantic (I'm not gonna tell the final size of it, I don't wanna spoil the fun of interested readers). It decimates the marine fauna of a Canadian lake first and the residents of the town are next. The first victim is a bear, so it has become crystal clear after 2 min. what kind of movie we have here. Any possible clicheť is being used (honest sheriff, smoking hot marine biologist, semi-evil doctors, rebellios teens), with eac h of them is being dealt quickly. Plus, someone or something gets eaten, chopped up etc. every 5 min. It will never be boring, director Paul Ziller really knows what he's doing. Ziller also directed some action flicks like "Back in Action", "Bloodfist IV" and "Shootfighter 2" btw. Then he switched to the monster horror genre. As leading actors, Bruce Boxleitner and Carol Alt were hired. These two are also the most famous actors taking part in this project. They may not be a second Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, but genre fans ought be familiar with either of the names. Due to the small budget, the SFX often are cheesy. Sometimes, it's obvious that a doll has been used. The reason why the movie is entertaining anyway is the lively production, the not annoying characters (who bite the dust pretty fast anyway) and the sometimes quite drastic and explicit footage.
BUT... to enjoy all the brutality, one needs to be careful while choosing the version. After the comparison of the TV Version (represented by the German DVD by Splendid / rated FSK 16 [the movie itself is rated FSK 12]) and the R-Rated Version (represented by the US-DVD by Image), I claim that two different official cuts do exist. One of them contains less plot scenes but it shows any brutality. On top of that, some of these scene contain alternate footage. Considering the fact that the movie was co-procuced by the Sci-Fi Channel, it makes perfect sense. A more harmless version was produced for TV, a more violent version for the DVD release. Technically, it depends on what version has been licensed for each country. In Germany and the UK, the TV Version has been released on DVD. In Australia and the US, the R-Rated Version is available on DVD. I can't say for sure which version has been released in Italy but I figure it's the R-Rated Version as well. At least the running time implies it. Therefore, neither the German nor the UK Version can be considered cut. It's just an alternate cut, a more harmless TV Version with (sort of) redundant new plot elements. So, if anyone intends to buy the movie, I highly recommend the US-DVD. It's uncut/uncensored and, in comparison to the Fullscreen Version in Australia, it contains the Widescreen Version.
Plot elements missing in the R-Rated Version have been marked cursivly, the time index refers to the TV Version (German DVD). Let's go!
The hunter recognizes the cadaver of the bear. The R-Rated Version contains two bloody shots now, the TV Version on the other hand contains an alternate shot of the sniffing dog.
The chopped off hand surfaces. The R-Rated Version contains an alternate, extended shot plus an additional shot. Besides an alternate and extended shot of the surfacing hand, the TV Version doesn't only lack the additional shot but also an intercut. All in all, the R-Rated Version is only a couple of frames longer here.
James gets caught by the snakeheads. In the US Version, the scene ends with a disembodied leg on his way to the bottom of the sea. In the TV Version, the shot to the surface is longer, until the sea gets calm.
Now an extended plot scene, exclusively in the TV Version.
Sheriff James holds his daughter in his arms. He tries to get information about the previous events but the other teens' reply very vague. Finally, James and his daugher drive off.
( 59.5 sec )
At the coroner's. The R-Rated Version contains a close-up of the bloody torso, the TV Version a shot of James.
Another shot of the torso in the US, a shot of the coroner in the TV Version.
The meddlesome fisherman gets his leg bitten off. The R-Rated Version contains two bloody shots, the TV Version an extended alternate one. As for any alternate scene, the difference in running time isn't worth being mentioned at all.
Now, some censoring without alternate footage for a change (would be quite a long shot anyway).
The reporter is waist deep in trouble. The US Version contains a shot of his chopped off head, the eyes are still moving. Furthermore, there are intercuts that show his blood splattering from his body against the windshield.
( 12.5 sec )
Extended plot scene in the TV Version, not in the US Version.
James parks his car in the spot, leaves it and looks back to the road. He sees further fishermen on their boats, appoaching the city.
( 17.5 sec )
After James read the headline in the newspaper, another plot scene is missing in the R-Rated Version.
James is stopped by a team of reporters and interviewed about the incidents. Trivial chitchat. Subsequently, a short shot of a driving car. That's it!
( 47 sec )
The TV Version contains some impressions of the live at the beach, including an efficient t-shirt producer. All that is missing in the R-Rated Version. Real bummer.
( 34 sec )
The mayor's conversation with Sheriff James is longer in the TV Version. Not in the R-Rated Version either.
( 34 sec )
Snakehead gets sliced up. In the R-Rated Version, he gets sliced up in a close-up. A hand appears. The TV Version contains a more harmless shot without gory details.
Plot scene: Jagger talks to Amber / picks her up.
( 15 sec )
The fish shredding is much longer in the R-Rated Version.
Amber keeps the snakehead in the propeller, pieces are flying around. She gets sprinkled with blood. Finally, the fish is fish food. Amber gets the first-aid-kit while her friend Jagger panics. Amber calms her down.
( 29 sec )
At the mansion on the island. The three kids find a body. In the R-Rated Version, the camera pans down to the disembodied legs. The TV Version contains two alternate shots.
Doc Jenkins' arrival at the pier is longer in the TV Version.
( 29.5 sec )
Back on the island. Amber and Jagger cover the body in the chair with a blanket. Bloody pan shot from the stumps to the body in the R-Rated Version, alternate shot of Luke in the TV Version.
Another missing scene in the R-Rated Version.
the three kids are schlepping themselves across the beach, complaining about this and that. Until Jagger gets the idea to make a bonfire.
( 50 sec )
And again some plot elements exclusively in the TV Version.
the kids made a bonfire at the beach but they have to get more wood. Luke remains at the beach because he can barely walk.
( 49 sec )
Curtis gets mangled. Bloody close-up in the R-Rated Version, alternate shot in the TV Version. The first two screens represent the last equal frame.
Sheriff James puts a second into Fishy. The R-Rated Version shows the bullet wound, the TV Version Fishy's face.
Only in the TV Version, the Deputy tries to reach Sheriff James via radio one more time.
( 13.5 sec )
WTF? For some mysterious reason, a shot of Amber in action is mirrored. Does it make any sense at all?
And again one of those "WTF-moments". The action and violence itself remains unchanged, lots of rubber monster blood is leaking. But for some ineffable reason, the R-Rated Version contains an exclusive shot which has been replaced by alternate footage in the TV Version.
In the TV Version, Fishy attacks smoking hot Amber for a longer period [who wouldn't? :-)]. In the R-Rated Version, another fish is gnawing at Luke's top of the skull. Slightly different amount of frames, not recognizable with the naked eye.