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Filmmaker Russell Richards was inspired to make a horror short about mermaids after seeing a Fiji mermaid –a monkey’s head sewn onto the body of fish–in a history museum. “I dug into the history and folklore of mermaids and discovered they were not the good guys portrayed by Disney movies,” says Richards. “They tended to be sinister seductresses that lured sailors to their doom.” In April, the Charlottesville, Virginia resident plans to shoot in Coney Island, where he says most of the action takes place.

Pledge $1000 or more to the project, which is currently on Kickstarter, and you’ll receive a one of a kind Fiji mermaid made by Richards, an artist with some training in special effects. Pledges of $25-$500 will get you a movie poster, DVD of the film when it is completed, T-shirt, original etching or your name in the credits.

One of the mermaids that appears in "Fiji Mermaid." Photo © Russell Richards

One of the mermaids that appears in "Fiji Mermaid." Photo © Russell Richards

With 59 backers and 57 hours left on Kickstarter, the project has already exceeded its $5,000 goal, but Richards says the film will end up costing three or four times that amount. “A big part of any money raised will go towards film, development and telecine, a high-resolution film scan,” according to the filmmaker. “I live and work in Virginia, so it would also help bring my cast and crew to Coney Island to film for a few days.”

Richards is aiming for a summer 2011 completion date. In the meantime, check out the video compilation of some of the effects and design work he has done so far, including a peek at the new “sideshow banner” and animation.

One of the mermaids that appears in "Fiji Mermaid"  Photo © Russell Richards

One of the mermaids that appears in "Fiji Mermaid" Photo © Russell Richards

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