Death Ship

But then what did you expect? The start of the film after the opening credits is set on a large cruise ship somewhere in the middle of the ocean. In this sequence we are introduced to our main cast of characters. And the on board band, who judging by their music thankfully don’t survive for much longer! All of a sudden the crew notice a large ship heading straight for them, on a collision course. Despite the feeble attempts of the captain and crew to avoid a disaster the liner is sunk. A sequence you have to see to believe, the shots of the liner are at night while the shots of the death ship appear to be in the day, and you never see the two make contact just an awful looking super imposed explosion, and shots inside the liner of water pouring in and thats it. How to sink a cruise liner in a low budget B-movie. Only nine people survive, the captain, Ashland (George Kennedy) and his wife Sylvia (Kate Reid), second in command Trevor Marshall (Richard Crenna) plus his wife Margaret (Sally Ann Howes) and their two young children Robin (Jennifer McKinney) and Ben (Danny Higham), a young couple Nick (Nick Mancuso) and Lori (Victoria Burgoyne), and one member of the crew named Jackie (Saul Rubinek). After drifting for a while they come across the ship that sank them anchored in the middle of nowhere doing nothing in particular. They all just about manage to board the ship, despite collapsing ladders and oil spills. Once on board the ship itself is old run down, dirty, rusty and seemingly deserted (even though the engines look clean and very well oiled and maintained!). While walking across the deck a crane hook snags Jackies ankle, hoists him up over the side and deposits him in the ocean, one down eight to go! As they explore the ship strange unexplained things start to happen. Doors open and shut on their own, old record players start themselves up, a phone rings and yet when answered no on is on the other end and the fact that no one is operating the ship also seems odd, as it would. The captains wife Sylvia decides to eat some sweets and before long she has caught something that makes her face look like a pizza, two down seven to go! They decide that the best thing to do would be to leave the ship, however the lifeboats are released by themselves and are lost. The captain then starts to go a little crazy as the ship starts to possess him. In the final third of the film the ship starts to reveal its shocking secrets as our unwitting passengers fight for their lives!

Director Alvin Rakoff at least tries something different, I don’t think I’ve seen another film like it, except ghost ship made in 2002 over twenty years after this. He manages a few nice shots here and there, I especially like the shot when a crane hook was swinging towards and away from the camera, at its furthest point from the camera the sun was visible and would make the screen glare thus we could not see the hook, but at its nearest point to the camera the hook would block the sun out and the glare would disappear and the hook was a almost perfect black silhouette, whether he thought about this shot in this way or was just lucky I don’t know. And there is a bizarre, but pretty cool shot where the camera moves along the deck of the death ship, only the shot is presented upside down, with the sky at the bottom of the screen and the deck at the top, personally I found this shot a bit disorientating! However these sorts of shots are few and far between. We are also treated to endless shots of the engines pistons and machinery, and the same shots of the death ship sailing through the ocean accompanied by some OK-ish music, for this type of film anyway. Most of its pretty dull looking, but professional enough. The death ship itself is meant to be a Nazi war ship, it looks more like a cargo ship with all the cranes and the cargo holds, one of which contains a net full of skeletons. Its secrets aren’t so shocking either, a room full of skeletal corpses and a walk in freezer full of perfectly preserved dead soldiers. Thats about it. There’s no real violence or gore in it, but the film does contain a shower scene which features full frontal and rear nudity, which is good. As far as acting goes I don’t know whether to laugh or cry! George Kennedy looks embarrassed to be in this, just look at the expression on his face when he is supposed to be dead, funny stuff. The rest of the cast give a more restrained performance, their OK I guess. Some of it is rather stupid, the water in the middle of the ocean is not that calm, why has this ship been floating around the ocean for years and no one has ever noticed it? Its a very silly, unusual film thats pretty hard to come by, but if you like low budget B-movies and you want to watch something a little different give it a go if you can find a copy. You might get something out of this, but probably not too much. I’ll give it five out of ten for at least trying something different.