Do the Jellyfish!

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STING OF DEATH (1965) tells the strange and tragic story of Igor Egon (John Vella), a horribly disfigured loner who just might be Oliver Reed’s ugly American cousin. Egon works for a scientist (Jack Nagle) in the Florida Everglades who is studying jellyfish, in particular the extremely dangerous Portuguese Man of War. Egon also happens to be in love with the scientist’s pretty daughter Miss Karen (Valerie Hawkins) but Miss Karen only has eyes for John (Joe Morrison), a clean-cut and incredibly dull young man that also assists her father. John smiles a lot, seems to enjoy berating Egon and likes to take his shirt off. Things get interesting when Miss Karen arrives at her father’s swanky Florida home with a bunch of her cute girlfriends. John throws Miss Karen a wild party and a group of local hipsters arrive to drink, dance and assault poor Egon. But unbeknownst to them, Egon has been hatching a sinister plan!

Undoubtedly inspired by a steady diet of comic books and low-budget Japanese monster movies, Egon transforms himself into a deadly jellyfish-like monster and begins eliminating the rhythmless party guests who seem determined to prove the old adage is true: white people can’t dance.

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“Wella, I’m saying fella, forget your Cinderella and do the jella, the jilla-jalla jellyfish!”
– Neil Sedaka

Before this no-budget movie comes to an end you’ll see people “Do the Jellyfish” and witness some of the most unconvincing special effects ever captured on film. It might be hard to believe but STING OF DEATH is probably my favorite William Grefe film. Grefe directed and produced a batch of vaguely interesting American B-movies shot in Florida during the ’60s and ’70s such as DEATH CURSE OF TARTU (1966), THE WILD REBELS (1967) and STANLEY (1972). STANLEY, which tells the odd tale of a Vietnam vet with a penchant for killer snakes, is probably the director’s most respected and best-loved film but I personally prefer STING OF DEATH.

Maybe it’s the “Do the Jellyfish” ska inspired tune sung by Neil Sedaka? John Vella’s scene stealing turn as the sympathetic Egon? Or could it be the cheap jellyfish monster costume that stuntman Doug Hobart risked his life to wear? Whatever the case may be, I found STING OF DEATH a hell of a lot of fun to watch and it’s available from Something Weird Video. If you have cable TV you can currently see STING OF DEATH on demand, which is where I recently watched it.


Trailer for STING OF DEATH (1965)


One of the film’s highlights!
A ska influenced musical number “Do the Jellyfish” sung by Neil Sedaka

Recommended links:
William Grefe’s Official Homepage
Eccentric Cinema’s review of Grefe’s STING OF DEATH & DEATH CURSE OF TARTU with jellyfish monster sound effect!
STING OF DEATH was the subject of a B-Masters blogathon & you can find a batch of reviews for the film at their site.
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