Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nautical Nightmare #1: Deepstar Six

As I get into the spirit of Halloween with an increased amount of horror movie viewings(which is actually saying something) I find that the movies I really want to see most aren't the time-tested classics, but the semi-shitty monster flicks that stalked video store shelves in the late eighties and early nineties. As much as I love The Shining or The Exorcist, what I really want to watch is crap like Pumpkinhead and Graveyard Shift. It's this urge that's been guiding my movie choices in the weekly movie nights Amber and I host every weekend, and it's why I ended up watching a triple feature this week of monster movies set in(or on) the ocean. The movies all had to have monsters, not just sea creatures of a larger and more bloodthirsty nature than normal. So, with this single rule, we made our choices: Deepstar Six, Leviathan, and Deep Rising.

The first movie of the night, Deepstar Six, came out in 1989 as part of a wave(pun intended) of aquatic sci-fi/horror films that also included Leviathan and The Abyss. The movie isn't anything special, but I remember thinking the monster was pretty cool. Turns out my memories were entirely correct; the movie is generic as can be, and the monster is still pretty cool. When it comes to rewatching these movies from my youth, I'm always worried that the adult experience will be so negative as to overshadow whatever positive memories I may hold. I think the best that can be said about Deepstar Six is that this didn't happen; the movie was pretty much what I expected it to be. What I wasn't expecting, though, was how much the film cribbed from Alien. The film features a few scenes where a character explores the ocean that are reminiscent of John Hurt exploring the spaceship at the beginning of Alien, and the film makes frequent use of radar as a suspense building device. This may just be the requirements of setting a monster movie in an isolated, enclosed area surrounded by an inhospitable environment, but it's not hard to see the pitch line for this film as 'an aquatic Alien.' Either way, the film doesn't have any of the style or skill, not to mention the suspense and visceral punch of that far superior Ridley Scott film, and the writing and characters are rote. Each character is defined only by a single characteristic, like 'British guy' or 'Russian guy' or 'Girl'.

Like I said, the film was about what I expected. The monster effects were still modestly impressive, although the design was a little clunkier than I remembered. But at the very least Deepstar Six didn't make me question the intelligence of my younger self.

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