Tintorera (1977)

Conacine.  Director: René Cardona Jr.

Creature Feature Bleachers Awards: Almost Broke Me

“Tintorera” is my least favorite sharksploitation movie to date.  This Mexican-British film has nothing going for it.  Not only did I have to see things I did not wish to see, I had to see them for a little over two hours.  Mercifully, most sharksploitation films are no more than 90 minutes, tops, but this root canal lasts for 126 excruciating minutes.  For anyone who is thinking, “This sounds so bad, it must be good!” I caution you: no.  This film is so bad it is not good.  I highly discourage you from viewing it, unless you really really really love nudity and scenes of real sharks actually being killed.

This film does not have a plot, per se, but rather a setting— Isla Mujeres, Mexico —and a revolving door cast.  Handsome, uni-browed Miguel (Andrés García) surreptitiously seduces the unnamed wife of fat old Lolo by sneaking into her hotel room at night.  Meanwhile, two guys driving an orange truck pick up some female American hitchhikers.  On an unrelated note, Steven (Hugo Stiglitz) must relax on a friend’s yacht in order to recover from a recent physical breakdown.  He meets Miguel when both men find themselves chasing after the same woman, Patricia (Fiona Lewis).  After a few days together, Patricia falls in love with Steven, yet Miguel offers her a simpler relationship with no strings attached.  Whom will she chose?  A shark eats her, the plot ambles on, and she is never mentioned again.  Steven and Miguel bounce around for a while, hunting sharks and entering a ménage à trois with British tourist Gabriella (Susan George).  Steven later meets two other pairs of women, kills more sharks, blah blah blah, etc., etc.

The DVD Cover

“Tintorera” disorients you.  You don’t know who is important or where the movie is going because the answers to those questions are “no one” and “nowhere.”  I had ventured a solid half hour into the film before deciding that Steve might be a protagonist.  Further complicating matters is the fact that the dialogue rapidly shifts from English to Spanish.  In the version I watched, the “English” subtitles always translated the spoken dialogue into the other language.  Thus while Spanish dialogue had English subtitles, English dialogue also had Spanish subtitles.  This left me constantly confused as to whether I should be reading or listening at any given moment.

My thoughts exactly.

While I’ve seen a lot of bikinis in my time, I’ve never seen this much nudity in a sharksploitation film.  Top, bottom, front, back, man, woman: you name it, this movie shows it, repeatedly and at length.  Even the most gratuitous faux-lesbian wish-fulfillment scene in “Two-Headed Shark Attack” pales in comparison.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t watch these movies for the sexual content.  Bikinis are fine every now and then, but when I dedicate 90 irretrievable minutes of my life to watching a shark movie, I want to see some sad attempts at characterization, some ridiculous explanations for abnormally aggressive sharks, or at least a cool setting like a flooded grocery store or something.  The nudity in this movie is frankly too over-the-top, and I spent most of the time begging for the film to be over.

Never in my life have I been so happy to see a Speedo.

In most cases where the characters of a shark film aggravate me (or habitually refuse to clothe themselves), I hope that the sharks will come along and eat them.  “Tintorera” deprived me of even this meager source of relief, because after a while I realized that actual sharks were being killed on screen.  Now, I recognize that people hunt sharks in real life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I want to see it happening, especially not more than half a dozen times.  Nor do I want to see a sea turtle’s legs being cut off, or a punctured stingray bleeding out through its gills.  This film brought me the closest I’ve ever been to just shutting off the DVD player and going outside for a walk.

That being said, I liked the sharks in this movie (when they weren’t being harpooned or clubbed to death).  The tiger shark that eats Patricia was evidently inspired by the crocodile from “Peter Pan.”  Instead of a ticking alarm clock, however, he appears to have swallowed a sub-woofer, since he emits a very loud bass beat in all of his scenes.  As an added bonus, the sharks in this movie travel around with remoras attached to them– not something you usually see in sharksploitation films.

Cruising with his posse.

To reiterate, do not watch this film without a very good reason, like a lost bet or an Executive Order.  “Tintorera” has soured me on the entire Mexican-British sharksploitation film industry, and it’s going to take a lot for them to win me back.  I honestly didn’t think it was possible for a film to be below my standards, but apparently I do have a smack of taste.

Even the trailer contains nudity, so you’ll have to find it on your own if you really want to see it.  This clip represents one of the many plot strings drifting aimlessly in the film:

“Tintorera” is available on Amazon, but don’t buy it.

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