July 02, 1979 12:00 PM

Rarely has a horror film been so stylishly photographed. Director John Frankenheimer unreels a tale about cataclysmic pollution produced by a Maine paper mill and at the same time evokes memories of such noble monsters as Jaws, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Alas, every horror director sooner or later shows his menace on camera, and when it looks like this one—clumsy, disgusting and cheap—the thrill is gone. Frankenheimer doesn’t take it too seriously, though. He plays when-is-it-coming games with the audience before the monster whacks victims out of the county with a forehand that would make Jimmy Connors envious. The cast (including Robert Foxworth and Talia Shire, pregnant in this role, too) has little to do, but it is shameful in a movie which pays lip service to the Indian rights movement that the chief activist of the Maine tribes is played by Armand Assante, who looks, talks and is Italian. (PG)

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