Maria Lewis, author of the AWESOME Tommy Grayson series, has a new Fantasy book coming out called ‘It Came From The Deep’. To tie in with this, she has kindly provided the movies she suggests you should watch as part of a Mermaid Movie Marathon. Do check them out and be sure to check out her latest book
MY MER MOVIE MARATHON by Maria Lewis
A perfectly themed movie marathon has a little bit of everything. For instance, if this was a zombie movie marathon you’d want to make sure there was a genuinely scary entry (28 Days Later), a funny flick (Shaun Of The Dead), a politically conscious one (Dawn Of The Dead) and maybe something a little bit sweet as well (Warm Bodies). Like the kind of books I read, the books I write have a mix of everything too: heart, humour, heroics, horror, you name it. This is true of the Who’s Afraid? series and although It Came From The Deep is a very different tale, the same could be said there. The movies chosen for this marathon are a reflection of that and range from the overwhelmingly romantic to downright terrifying. Enjoy!
THE LITTLE MERMAID (1989)
It’s a classic for a reason and the best-known mermaid movie ever made. This Disney adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale is directed by two legends of the game: Ron Clements and John Musker. Having done everything from Aladdin to Hercules, they’re also responsible for my two favourite Disney princess movies: The Princess and the Frog and Moana. I’ve been lucky enough to cross paths with Clements and Musker a few times over the years, including at the animation studio where they were making Moana last year, and they’re incredible story tellers who pack layers of meaning into every frame. While there may be some messages that are a lil’ dated in this flick – A woman literally losing her voice to woo a man? A teenage bride? – there’s so much goodness to make up for it, namely the underwater world and accompanying politics, the songs, the animation, the visuals and the sassiest Disney villain of them all, Ursula.
Mermaid myths vary dramatically from culture to culture, with some seeing them as an alluring beacon of good while others feel like they are a malicious force of evil. There’s no consensus, with the myth being adapted to communicate whatever message that particular culture was trying to teach. So cinematically on one hand we have The Little Mermaid’s Ariel and on the flip side we have the title character of Siren. This is a genuinely scary, slick and stylish horror film adapted from a short that appeared in the V/H/S horror anthology and follows men at a bachelor party who accidentally summon a siren. Mayhem ensues and so too does one of the best, darker takes on mermaid stories. Well, maybe this and the merman’s cameo from The Cabin In The Woods.
Before the Splash remake hits with the gender roles reversed and Channing Tatum playing the merman (yay!), this eighties rom-com is definitely worth a re-visit. A touch kitsch by today’s standards, you can’t deny Splash has heart and a sweetly romantic core. It’s a difficult concept to pull off – man rediscovers and falls in love with a mermaid – but Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah’s star-making turns really do a lot to sell this. Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape Of Water might be a more high-brow version of this same story, but Splash is still pretty dang adorable.
THE LURE (2015)
Sliding in to the category of ‘weird as fuck foreign films’, The Lure feels a lot like a surrealist vision you had where – once you woke up – you couldn’t quite decide if you had a dream or a nightmare. Part sexy thriller, part musical (yeah, you heard), the Polish film follows two mermaid sisters who are recruited into a cabaret club. While one begins to fall in love with humans, the other begins to dine on them. It’s an incredibly enchanting and electric take on a very old myth.
Remember Jojo? Child star with the killer voice? Unlike many of her peers, she managed to survive the jungle of Hollywood and not have a very public breakdown. She also put out a new album last year, which was pretty alright. She stars in this ashamedly tween mermaid movie, which feels very much like a precursor for the hugely popular H20: Just Add Water. It’s filmed in the same location where H20 and It Came From The Deep is set – the Gold Coast in Australia – which is testament to what a perfect location that city is for these kind of stories. Harmless and soft around the edges, this is an okay entry-level mermaid movie that will probably leave you with a toothache.
For those who want to get swept up in something dramatic and deeply romantic, this Irish film is the one. Written and directed by Neil Jordan, this is a filmmaker who knows what he’s doing when it comes to combining high concepts with humanity (see his works Byzantium and Interview With A Vampire for further examples). This puzzling flick starring Colin Farrell perhaps captures the mystery surrounding mer-creatures and mer-people better than anything else on this list (in the story, it’s believed the title character is actually a selkie). It’s also super earnest, taking itself and the subject matter very seriously which is refreshing in a subgenre that is usually played for laughs. The cinematography from Christopher Doyle is downright breathtaking and many of the images from Ondine will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954)
One of the biggest inspirations for It Came From The Deep, this fifties horror schlock classic is included on the list for a reason. It’s the only movie here not to explicitly feature a merman or mermaid per say, but the misunderstood monster sentiment is something that runs throughout all my stories – both the Who’s Afraid? series and It Came From The Deep. I think it’s my profound love of Mary Shelley manifesting, as I’ve always found telling tales about and through the monsters more relatable and interesting.
THE MERMAID (2016)
Have you ever wanted to see a mermaid perform martial arts with her tail? Then The Mermaid is the movie for you, as the Chinese sure know what the hell they’re doing. By far the biggest budget movie on this list, they really put the full $60M to use. You see every cent up on screen, as technically I don’t think there has been a better made mermaid movie. Visually lush, but also action-packed, funny and romantic, it hits on every level. It also broke box-office records, taking in half a billion globally and proving that mermaid stories can sell. Bonus points for some truly originally production design.
By the end of this you’ll be singing ‘Ponyo Ponyo Ponyo Pooooonyo’ to the beat featured in the movie. From the iconic Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghilbi, and Hayao Miyazaki, it follows a five-year-old boy who befriends a goldfish princess who turns human after falling for him. An absolutely magical twist on The Little Mermaid, it remains one of Studio Ghilbi’s most beautiful films – which is saying a lot given their contribution to cinema over the past 30 years.
IT CAME FROM THE DEEP
Release Date: 31st October 2017
Published by: Self Published
An elderly professor is murdered, leaving a puzzling crime scene for police to unravel and a laboratory housing all kinds of marine life. But something is missing … something huge.
Recent highschool graduate Kaia Craig has problems of her own, with her career as an ironwoman on the Gold Coast in jeopardy after a horrific accident. Yet someone wants to hold her accountable.
After nearly drowning in Lake Pelutz and her attackers on the run, Kaia is left with more than just physical injuries. She’s convinced she saw something in the depths of the lake: something that choose to spare her. Uncertain whether she’s running towards the discovery of a friend or foe, Kaia begins digging into a mystery that may have bigger ramifications than she or any of her friends can fathom.
It Came From The Deep is a thrilling combination of young adult and science fiction from the author of the critically acclaimed Who’s Afraid? series, Maria Lewis.
ABOUT MARIA LEWIS
Maria Lewis is a journalist and author based in Sydney, Australia. Getting her start as a police and crime reporter at a local newspaper, Maria soon transitioned into writing about film and entertainment for publications such as The Daily Mail, New York Post, The Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Empire magazine, Penthouse, Junkee, WHO Weekly, Huffington Post and many more. A journalist for over a decade, she also regularly appears as a pop culture commentator on television and radio and currently works on news program The Feed weeknights on SBS. She’s the host and producer of the Eff Yeah Film & Feminism podcast. Her debut novel – urban fantasy series Who’s Afraid? – was released in January, 2016 in Australia through Hachette and worldwide on July 14, 2016 through Little Brown Books and Piatkus Fiction.