Our “Frolicking Under The Sea: Mermaid Fantasy Film Festival – August 2016” continues at full speed!! Now it’s time for some scary mermaid action, Euro-style with a look at 2014’s low budget Serbian mermaid horror film “Mamula” or as it’s know most places, “Killer Mermaid”.
Our synopsis reads as follows: “Two young American women, Kelly and Lucy, go on a Mediterranean vacation for fun and sun with an old college friend from Serbia, Alex. Along the way, they will encounter a mysterious stranger and come to grips with a long held secret that will threaten their very lives when they uncover the watery lair of a man-eating mermaid siren hidden beneath an abandoned military fortress. What was once a carefree adventure soon becomes a deadly fight for survival against an ancient myth come to terrible life.”
Sounds like we have a winner here! Sexy fun in the sun, a deadly serial killer, a deserted Island with an ex-Nazi prison, and a killer mermaid with a taste for human meat… What more could this wee kitten want? Well… OK… maybe some kung-fu, but hey… you can’t always have everything… 😉
This one is an odd little bird. It’s probably one of one a couple of films I’ve ever seen from this part of the former Warsaw pact. I know it’s the first Serbian horror film I’ve seen outside of 1973’s “Leptirica”… so it’s about time I check back to see what they are up to, right?
“Killer Mermaid” or “Mamula” as it was originally titled, is about a group of old college friends who get together on the coast of Montenegro at a beach resort for a chance to catch up on old times and maybe squeeze in some fun in the sun time together. Kelly (played by Kristina Klebe) and her ex roommate and bff Lucy (played by Ukrainian model and actress Natalia Guslistaya, credited here as Natalie Burn) plan to reconnect with Alex (played by Slobodan Stefanovic) a hunky Serbian guy they also went to school with back in the day. Lucy sort of hopes that she can maybe do a bit more than just “reconnect”… apparently her and Alex were a couple back then. Unfortunately for her, Alex has moved on, and brings along his new fiance Yasmin (played by Sofia Rajovic) to join them. There’s a little of the “green eyed monster” in the tension between this lover’s triangle, but despite that they soon get down to the business of partying like it’s the end of the world… Good thing too, because for them, it soon practically will be.
We get the first inkling that not all is well when we witness a sexy midnight rendezvous between a couple on the beach, Sergej (played by Janko Cekic) and blonde hottie Ana (played by Jelena Rakocevic). They were racing around the cliffs on Sergej’s motorcycle and stop for some quick sexytime fun only to have it interrupted by some strange singing that mesmerizes Sergej and lures him into leaping from the cliff into the sea never to be seen again. Poor Ana screams for help, only to have her screams answered by a creepy stranger in worn sailor’s togs who kills her with a nasty looking anchor-hook thingee. Well… guess she shoulda seen that coming the moment she took her top off… that’s like catnip to mad slashers even in Serbia…
Back with our little group, Lucy and Alex have a drunken tryst after Yasmin drinks herself sick, which you know is gonna make this group just that much more likely to smash apart once everyone knows about it and things get tough. Oooohhh!!! And to round things out, one of Alex’s local buddies local beach bum Bocan (played by Dragan Micanovic) joins up to round things out (and pad the potential body count)… along with a suggestion that they can visit the nearby deserted isle of Mamula for kicks. Hey… it’s waaaaay out in the middle of nowhere… used to be a military fort and was used as a concentration and torture camp for the Nazis in WW2 … and is currently “off limits” by the current Serbian government. What could possibly go wrong if they visit there? Hmmmmm?
They do get that requisite warning while partying at a local bar, warning them to stay away from Mamula by grizzly drunken old sailor and suspiciously creepy transient Nico (played by genre great, Franco Nero)… who also shares a suspicious resemblance to what little we saw of the crazy hook killer on the cliff. Oh crap… Carolyn and I both kept a keen eye on him for the next part of our film.
We get some nice location footage of our happy group exploring the ruins of the fortress and then, right on cue, things get creepy. While high up above a old well at the center of the fort, they spy on some weird guy that looks like some dumpy watchman or groundskeeper (played by Miodrag Krstovic). He wanders in and starts pouring a bucket into the well… a bucket filled with blood and severed body parts. Yep… that ain’t good…
Turns out, this is our guy with the nasty killer hook… and once he realizes our little group is here gets right to the task of trying to kill them all. First… it’s sink the inflatable boat that out group arrived on… then chase them around the old fort with a shotgun and his hook. Well… at least I guess this lets Nico “off the hook” for the murders… 😉
But what about our mermaid? Don’t worry… she’s lurking about. In fact, Kelly catches a glimpse of her when they look down that well and our little group figures she’s some sort of captive of our crazy killer imprisoned down in the passages beneath the fort. Naturally Kelly insists they have to try to save her…
That doesn’t go so darn well. For one thing, she’s got some sort of ability to hypnotize the guys with her singing and keeps trying to lure both Sergej and Bocan to their doom. it’s all our ladies can do to keep that from happening. Worse… the crazy killer seems to be working for her…
One by one they all die. Sergej first… lured to his doom by the siren song. Then Yasmin… killed by the hook and dismembered by our crazy mermaid henchman. Finally Lucy, overpowered and drowned by the mermaid… who it seems is a shapeshifting thing that can either appear as a beautiful merwoman (played by Serbian model Zorana Kostic Obradovic) or amphibious monster (played by Mina Sablic).
Our heroine Kelly and a badly hurt Bocan eventually find a map of the fort indicating that the government build a tunnel connecting the isle to the mainland, and barely escape ahead of the Mermaid and her henchman, running into Nico at the abandoned submarine pen on the mainland just in time for him to fill us all in about his mysterious connection to things.
Turns out he’s known about the mermaid all along. He was one of a number of marine engineers sent by the old Yugoslav Navy to build that tunnel years before. he and his men ran into the mermaid and she used her siren song to kill all of them but him. Or so he thought… seems his old lieutenant survived, becoming the lover and guardian killer of the mermaid. He’s the one who’s been doing all the murders to feed her… including pretty Ana, who turns out to have been Nico’s daughter. Her disappearance was what finally got Nico hunting for the mermaid again after all these years.
Naturally the mermaid follows them back to the town, eager to kill them to keep her existence secret and we get a final big showdown. Do our heroes win? Do they land the big one or does this fish get away? Guess you’ll have to watch for yourselves and find out.
Lets see. All in all, I’d have to say that “Mamula”ends up being a pretty standard “creature feature”. It follows all the expected conventions and checks all the expected boxes, plot wise. Nothing new or novel, but mostly enjoyable in the way such simple films like this can be. The acting is competent overall… although casting Ukrainian actress Natalia Guslistaya as an American college girl named Lucy was a bit of a stretch. Her English is good, but her slight accent gives her away easily. I’m not really certain why she wasn’t simply portrayed as yet another foreign student friend of Kelly’s. It wouldn’t have affected the story and would have felt more plausible. Franco Nero was a nice bonus lending both his name to the film’s marketing and a certain gravitas to the role of Nico. It’s always nice to see a familiar old actor still working now and again.
The CGI effects, done locally in Serbia, aren’t too bad, and blend pretty seamlessly with the practical make-up to make Scylla the mermaid work as a character. She doesn’t get too much screen time till near the end of the film, but when she does it all works effectively.
I guess i would give “Mamula” a good solid middle of the road 3 “Meows” out of 5. Of our two scary mermaid movies so far this month, I’m thinking I enjoyed “She Creature” slightly better, but this one comes in a close second.
The DVD? Well, I watched this on the Region 1 Widescreen release under the somewhat spoiler title “Killer Mermaid”. It was presented widescreen, with English audio throughout. You can also find versions in most other regions, either under that title, or as in the UK Region 2 with the alternate title “Nymph”.
And we close, as always with our quick video nugget of goodness to get you all in the mood, a nifty Trailer with plenty of Killer Mermaid action… 😉