Fish Bait (US-2009; dir. Jeff Joslin, Darby Lynn Totten)
Tales of monster cat-fish inhabiting US lakes provided inspiration for Fish Bait, an independent comedy horror monster flick that is, in the words of the directors, “a cross between Deliverance and Jaws using the improv acting technique of Blair Witch Project“.
Personal experiences growing up on a lake set the stage for this film written and co-directed by Jeff Joslin and Darby Totten. While boating not far from Fort Loudon Dam in Knoxville, Tennessee, Jeff, who was just a high school student at the time, saw a man at Choto Marina with his arm ripped to shreds by a 50-pound catfish. Jeff recalls that the man didn’t seem nearly as bothered by his bloody arm as he did about the size of that fish. Darby grew up on Lake Powell in Arizona, hearing similar stories from her father, who claimed to have seen catfish the size of a grown man. “But don’t worry,” he’d say, “They stay down by the dam, and they’re more afraid of you than you are of them.” As much as she wanted to believe him, she could not bring herself to swim in deep waters until she was in high school and even then, she never could stay in very long. (Official website)
Claiming inspiration story-wise from tales of mysterious man-sized catfish like the one above, and cinematically from the oeuvres of Alfred Hitchcock and Roger Corman, co-writers/directors Joslin and Totten sought to bring new life to the genre by using a group of actors from the improvisation group, Einstein Simplified to star in the film. They felt that this approach would ensure that their black comedy would be a fresh addition to the horror genre, and give it cult appeal.
Our goal for this film and the production company [3 Legged Dog Productions] is to provide the entertainment industry with fresh and creative films which help launch the careers of Directors, Actors and Writers in the entertainment industry, while providing a good investment vehicle for interested individuals and investment groups.
Shot in seven days at the Flat Hollow Marina fishing resort on Norris Lake, north of Knoxville, TN, the low-budget independent film premiered on 23 October in Knoxville, and on the following night at Flat Hollow Marina itself. It is now available on DVD from the website store.
It features music by Billy Bob Thornton and Brad Davis of the Boxmasters, Tommy Shaw of Styx, new artist Jeffrey Joslin (the director’s son, who also wrote the title song “Fish Bait”), Jim Silvers and Joel Weaver.
Frank books a luxury weekend fishing trip online for his three friends Dave, Jaybo and Paul in hopes of hooking the fabled man-sized catfish, but Jaybo has different plans. Bored with fishing, and wanting to spice up the trip, he invites his girlfriend Julie and her friend Kristie. When they arrive and see a beautiful lake, a marina filled with luxury houseboats, jet skis, water-skiing and plenty of good fishing, they can’t wait to get out on the water. Soon they discover their reservation is not at Flat Hollow Marina but at Fear Hollow Marina, which lives up to its name, and the only way to get there is by boat. They’re dropped off at Fear Hollow, and quickly discover that the rundown, rusted-out houseboat they’ve been given is the least of their problems because they have no way back to Flat Hollow. It turns out to more outhouse than penthouse. Reluctantly, they decide to make the best of a bad situation, which turns out to be the worst decision they could make. They travel up-lake, trying to find a hot fishing hole, a place to relax and hook that big fish. Little do they know they’re about to become fish bait.
There is an alternative version of the trailer here.
In case you were wondering, a sequel already appears to be in the pipeline, one that might have a bigger budget and could focus more on the special effects. “Yes, we’re planning Fish Bait 2: The Whiskered Beast,” reports Joslin. “It has a plot that includes a ‘Man-fish’ and his catch, that help him do his dirty work on the lake …”
- Sources: Jeff Joslin via Avery; MySpace page; Facebook page. More information, plus extensive cast details are available on the official website.
Gallery (including screenshots, location and production pictures and cast):