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Lions Gate presents

Octopus 2: River of Fear (2002)

"I did some quick research, sir, and it's not as crazy as it seems. That storm we had in June brought a lot of water south from up near Nova Scotia, and it's possible that this creature was swept down with it, and it is trapped or nesting out in the Hudson."- Nick (Michael Reilly Burke)

Stars: Michael Reilly Burke, Meredith Morton, Frederic Lane
Other Stars: John Thaddeus, Chris Williams, Paul Vincent O'Connor, Clement Blake, Duncan Fraser
Director: Yossi Wein

MPAA Rating: R for some language
Run Time: 01h:34m:28s
Release Date: 2002-07-09
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ C+BB+ C


DVD Review

John Eyres' Octopus (2000) mixed Russians, the CIA, political terrorists, submarines and toxic chemicals into a marginally fun, though thoroughly goofy, giant cephalopod movie. This 2001 sequel of sorts, directed by sequel king Yossi Wein, finds another hungry giant octopus setting up shop in New York City's East River on the eve of the city's massive July 4th festivities. This is really nothing more than an eight-tentacled spin on the now familiar and often copied Jaws mythos, with the oversized sea creature threatening to really put a suckered clamp on the city's big party.

This time it is a member of New York City's Harbor Patrol, or "scuba cops," who eventually discovers how assorted tourists and tugboats have been disappearing, much to the predictable consternation of the bull-headed mayor. Michael Reilly Burke is Nick, a hard-working scuba-diving cop who convinces his partner Walter (Frederic Lane), meant soon to transfer to a desk job, that a humongous octopus is the source of all the problems, based largely on the eyewitness testimony of a drunken bum, no less. The mayor's cute assistant Rachel (Meredith Morton) gets involved, and of course quickly comes to learn first-hand that there really is a big beastie lurking just beneath the surface of the Hudson.

There are plenty of shots of people mishandled in big tentacles, and these kind of shots understandably become a little repetitious after a while; there is only so much drama you can milk from an actor wrestling with a latex appendage. The CG effects are better than a lot of low-budget horror movies, and the sequence where the octopus scales and then decapitates the Statue of Liberty is a piece of high camp shot nicely.

Predictable genre clichés abound here, from the grizzled police captain ("Stay out of trouble for just one day!"), the non-believing mayor ("I'm going to have 20,000 boats in the harbor!"), the doomed partner, kids (including one in a wheelchair) and dogs in peril. Wein even tosses in a prolonged collapsed tunnel rescue sequence that would have been more at home in something like Stallone's Daylight than in this mutated monster movie.

I can't prove it for sure, but based on the Russian-sounding names of the production personnel and most of the secondary cast, I suspect Octopus 2: River Of Fear was shot largely in Europe, and relied on a few repeated requisite cutaways of the New York skyline for location flavor. There is a scene where a couple of the scuba cops are investigating an abandoned boat, presumably in the city's harbor, and the mountainous background definitely looks like it was shot elsewhere.

As far as B-movies go, this one does look better than many, though the storyline is largely familiar, even before the opening credits have rolled. A couple of inspired moments, such as the Statue of Liberty attack scene give Octopus 2: River of Fear an air of cleverness that does not remain for the film's duration, unfortunately.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Lion's Gate 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on this disc looks quite good, with bright, well-saturated colors, even during the underwater sequences where the water has a very deep blue hue. Black levels are respectable, though some of the more shadowy night scenes don't have overly sharp shadow depth.

This might be just a B-movie, but at least it looks presentable, and though there are a few compression issues evident, the print is largely free of nicks and blemishes.

Image Transfer Grade: B

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Octopus 2: River of Fear is equipped with a fairly aggressive 5.1 track that does its best to create an encompassing soundfield. Rears come to life often, especially during the underwater shots, where gurgles, creaks and score elements really add depth to the moment onscreen. Directional imaging across the fronts is minimal, though dialogue is crisp and well mixed.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+ 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 23 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Octopus, Frailty, Spiders 2, Crocodile 2: Death Swamp
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The disc is cut into 23 chapters, and features subtitles in English and Spanish. In addition, Lion's Gate has also piled on four trailers (Octopus, Frailty, Spiders 2, Crocodile 2: Death Swamp) for your enjoyment.

Extras Grade: C

Final Comments

If you want Jaws-style entertainment, I guess you should watch Jaws. This rehash of the giant sea creature poised to ruin a city's holiday plans is not exactly original, but Yossi Wein and cinematographer Peter Belcher have given Octopus 2: River of Fear a more polished look than a tired script like this deserves.

Rich Rosell 2002-09-11