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Beneath Still Waters (2005)

A scrappy horror picture, based on a novel by Matthew Costello which seems to owe more than a little to John Carpenter's The Fog. It opens in 1965 as two children explore a Spanish town which is about to be flooded by a dam that will create a new lake, and discovering a small group of folks chained up and about to drown. They release Salas (Patrick Gordon), head of an evil cult, who kills one of the boys by ripping his jaws apart and throws the corpse to blood-sucking minions. Forty years later, the town created on the lake shore is celebrating its anniversary and Salas's supernatural evil still festers in the form of an oily black substance which kills, dismembers and zombifies unlucky bathers or divers. A crack spreads in the dam, symbolising the corruption of the community – which is clearly due to suffer the vengeance of those drowned cultists. A hard-drinking journalist diver (Michael McKell), a superficial TV newslady (Raquel Merono), the teenage granddaughter (Charlotte Salt) of the town's cult-fighting but lately dead founder and the grown-up lunatic survivor (Manuel Manquina) of the prologue rush about trying to warn people of danger, but messy zombies, mutilations, an orgiastic breakdown at the anniversary celebration and various hoked-up random scare scenes indicate the trouble is likely to persist.

Poorly played by a Eurotrash cast and wildly inconsistent in its mix of would-be subtle water-based chills and the sort of explicit gory but fakey effects found in Troma movies, this hasn't got much going for it. Cockney-accented Angus Scrimm lookalike Gordon makes for a creepy, all-powerful villain though. Directed by Brian Yuzna.
KIM NEWMAN

First published in this form here.


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