The pearl divers in a seaside port have reported seeing a monster. It is humanoid with fish scales and toad-like eyes. The fishermen and pearl divers in the area call it the Sea Devil. The locals even describe him as riding a dolphin and blowing a horn. They believe he was responsible for the sinking of the Lucia, for the kidnapping of two nuns and swallowing a pearl diver whole. Pedro Zurita (Mikhail Kozakov) runs a pearl diving company. He employs divers to hunt for pearls on the bottom of the sea. He thinks it’s nonsense.
One of Pedro’s employees is an old man named Baltazar (Anatoliy Smiranin). Pedro is in love with Baltazar's daughter Guttiere (Anastasiya Vertinskaya) but she is not interested in the overbearing and sometimes violent business owner. While on his boat Pedro forcefully tries to kiss her. Guttiere jumps into the water and begins to swim ashore. She is attacked by a shark. Pedro takes a dingy and rows out after her but she sinks to the bottom of the sea. She is saved by the Sea Devil but Pedro takes the credit for saving her and killing the shark. Pedro uses his lie to get Guttiere to agree to marry him.
The Sea Devil is actually a young man named Ichthyander (Vladimir Korenev). Ichthyander’s father is Professor Salvator (Nikolay Simonov). The Professor is a doctor and a scientist. When Ichthyander was young his life was in danger because his lungs were not strong enough for him. Salvator implanted shark gills into the boy so he could breathe underwater.
Because of the unorthodox surgery, Salvator keeps the existence of his son’s situation a secret. While in the water the boy wears a diving outfit that looks like a fish with shiny scales and a fin. His face mask looks like bulging fish eyes. His appearance in the water is the reason the Sea Devil stories began. Rather than being a secret he sticks out like a sore thumb. Ichthyander falls in love with Guttiere and wants to be near her. He roams around the city until he finally finds her. Guttiere falls in love with him. Ichthyander’s secret is discovered by Pedro who wants to exploit him.
“Amphibian Man” was released in 1962 and was directed by Vladimir Chebotaryov and Gennadiy Kazanskiy. It is a Russian science fiction romance film. It is based on the 1928 novel by Alexander Beliaev. The film was one of the biggest hits in the USSR selling 65 million tickets.
The movie is more of a romance film than a science fiction film. Ichthyander spends most of his time above water than below it. Out of the water he looks like any other young handsome man. There is no outward indication on him that he has gills. In the water he wears a silly, shiny wetsuit complete with dorsal fin and goggles with its own fin and googly eyes. The production values are mostly good. There are a few props that look fake but most of the sets are decent.
There is a slight political subtext to the film. Capitalism is bad kinda thing. There is also a social subtext as well. Guys that can breathe underwater are bad. The romance is the main part of the film and the story is basically heart wrenching. If you like love stories it’s a good one. If you’re looking for some kind of interspecies kinkiness then forget it.
“Amphibian Man” has been compared to several other films, including “The Creature From The Black Lagoon” 1954, “Edward Scissorhands” 1990 and, for some reason, “Tarzan The Ape Man” 1932. In fact the original novel by Alexander Beliaev was given the working title of “Tarzan Des Mers” or “The Sea Tarzan”. At least until the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs was informed and took exception. It’s also been said that Guillermo del Toro’s 2017 Hollywood film, “The Shape of Water”, plagiarized Amphibian Man. Both have a similar plot, the use of the name "Amphibian Man", and the 1962 setting. There are lots of differences too.