Saturday, March 04, 2006



OK, I imagine you're wondering why I would include a film like Pterodactyl Woman From Beverly Hills in a newsletter dedicated to furthering the goals of the Fish Revolution. The fact is, this cinematic gem -- released in 1994, directed by Philippe Mora, starring Beverly D'Angelo and Brion James -- is a classic among Piscatorial Romances. Go figure.

The story is pretty basic for this genre. An archaeologist, Dick Chandler, cheeses off a desert shaman by digging for fossils where he oughtn't. The shaman retaliates by doing a quick chant to transform the scientist's wife into a Pterodactyl. "It's an on and off type of thing," the shaman notes to the disbelieving trowel monkeys. When the scientist scoffs and points out that he has a permit to dig here, the shaman demonstrates his powers a little more directly by transforming the assistant trowel monkey into a Skink. At this point the scientist keels over from heat exhaustion and dismisses everything that's happened, thinking it must have been a bad dream. Except the spell works and Chandler's wife, Pixie Chandler, starts behaving very strangely. Sure enough, she starts turning into a flying dinosaur overnight and on weekends. The chase is on to find a cure.

OK, but WHAT ABOUT THE FISH? Pixie's transformation changes more than her appearance -- she is suddenly and overwhelmingly CRAZY ABOUT FISH. During a bedtime conversation with her husband she catches herself absent-mindedly chasing the Goldfish around his bowl. When confronted with a tank of live fish in a supermarket, she makes a mess of the floor clawing one out by hand and snarfing it down alive in front of the other astounded customers (one of whom is Dame Edna). She then apologizes sweetly to the store manager and buys the whole tankful for later use. Her best friend is freaked out one night when she finds a live Lobster in the Chandlers' pool. Pixie handles the situation by scuttling off to the shrubbery with the startled Lobster and ripping into her shell with her hands and teeth.

Whatever the effects of the spell the shaman cast on her, Pixie is definitely UNDER OUR SPELL AS WELL. Don't be fooled by the rationalization that she has merely been turned into a piscivorous dinosaur! We learn at length that she is not the only person in the story able to turn into a Pterodactyl. Her counterpart reveals himself by cannonballing into the swimming pool in his dinosaur form, then turning instantly back into a human so he can tread water and make small talk with a woman standing at the poolside, freaked to the gills by what she has seen. At this moment the connection between the Aquatic Ape, the Piscivorous Dinosaur and the Primal Fish is clear poolwater.

Although Pixie is unfortunately cured before we can see her really settle into the life of a Fish-eating Pterosaur, we have a message of hope for the future AND the past. Pixie and her husband and children retrieve a baby Pterosaur, the result of Pixie's unplanned pregnancy in the course of the film, from the government agents studying it. They release the baby into the care of the shaman, who appears to live in a sort of time warp out in the desert called Gondwanaland, populated by fabulous stop-motion dinosaurs. They return to their normal lives with everything back as it should be. So do the dinosaurs.

I think the message of this stirring film is clear as poolwater: Start today, go back 100 million years, and what do you have at both destinations? FISH LOVERS is what. I would recommend this film to anyone, either the new and untried potential recruit or the Piscatorial Operative with a love of our deep history. It's funny, well-made, and INCREDIBLY useful to us as a recruiting tool, considering it was obviously meant to be a light comedy with no whiff of political or historical meaning.

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