Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Cult Flix: Death Ship

Does a famous Poster a good Movie make?  Let's find out, shall we?  This is Death Ship, a 1980 Horror Film with a Poster more famous than it.  I personally found it years ago while looking for random Film Posters/Box Art, but never actually watched it until yesterday.  It's gotten less rare over time- even getting a Blu-Ray Release, but it's still pretty obscure.  Strangely, that release uses *different* box art!  What is the Film?  Well, despite the Title, it's not a Carnival Cruise Lines Documentary.  No, instead, it is about people trapped on an evil ship.  Basically, just picture the House from The Amityville Horror as a Boat?  Wait- The Amityville Houseboat- nobody steal that!  The events that lead to the scenario are a bit odd too.  Once on the boat, things get all sorts of freaky...eventually.  The Film has some 'curious' pacing, but I'll get to that.  To find out if this is worth the watch (free on Tubi FYI), read on...
 The first several minutes set up the situation: people are on a Cruise Ship and there's some tension.
Most of it involves the Captain- George Kennedy- being on his last trip and the new Captain- Richard Crenna- taking over.

Before this can turn into Even More Beyond The Poseidon Adventure, a strange boat crashes into the ship and it sinks, save for a handful of people.
The group slowly gets on board the creepy, rusty ship.  I mean it when I say 'slowly' too.

They spend ages dragging Kennedy- found floating in the water- up a ladder, which tips over.  They spend end my formative years dragging him and themselves up ropes.
The boat seems to be controlling itself, which it takes them forever to notice.

Before that happens, it grabs the Ship's Comic- a young Saul Rubinek!- and dumps him in the Ocean.  I guess he drowns, but only since he clearly lets go of the ship moments earlier.

If only the ship had life boats...
The ship lets them wander around, but also does some more nefarious things.  It knocks out one of the men- in slow motion, to further pad the runtime- and it seems to 'talk' to an unconscious Kennedy.
One of the women seems to get covered in freaky sores/legions and gets choked by Kennedy.  He's now up and about, but he's definitely off.

To clear things up, they were doused in oil, which is why his outfit is gray.  Also symbolism.
Afterwards, he seems to be fully-possessed by the ship and changes into the uniform of its Captain!

Well, at least he wasn't a Nazi...
As it turns out, the ship was run by Nazis!  It was apparently an 'interrogation vessel,' which is a thing?!?

They find gold teeth and lots of Nazi paraphernalia.  Are you sure it's not just Richard Spencer's Boat?
The body count eventually picks up as the ship and Captain team up on a few notable ones.

In one case, a shower starts spraying blood until the woman passes out.  The Captain tosses her overboard and I guess water = instant death.

The last man besides Crenna left freaks out big time as a reel-to-reel projector starts playing Nazi Film Reels.  He charges at the screen, but is now abruptly outside and falls into a pit full of bodies and water, drowning seconds later.
A big, silly climax involving Crenna fighting Kennedy- badly- and him not able to pursue them takes place.  The titular ship 'sees' another boat and abandons the life raft for it.  Kennedy falls into the gears, joining the crew full of Ghost Nazis.

The Film ends with Crenna escaping with his family and then that boat attack.  I think it's supposed to be two separate incidents, but the Editing doesn't make that clear.  The End?
An interesting Film- at least in spurts.  The Film was made by a long-time Director of British TV/TV Movies and this is his only Horror Film.  It's a weird one to do as a one-off, that's for sure!  The problem with the Film is the pacing.  I mentioned it before, but it bears repeating.  They give you long stretches of stuff that is supposedly-interesting, but really isn't.  Do I need to see them climb that rope in real time?  Do I need what feels like 10 minutes of people freaking out as Nazi Film Reels play?  The big moments do work pretty well- you just need patience for them to come.  The Ship as a set is a good one.  It looks old, rusty and unsafe.  It's a wonder that anyone would go 'yeah, this is better than our debris.'  The whole premise is all sorts of crazy.  What makes the Film pretty enjoyable is that it is taken so seriously, even as it get sillier and sillier.  Death Ship is a bit of a slog at times, but delivers good (or silly) moments throughout.  Incidentally, if you ever wondered what this Film's Poster would look like from a different angle, here you go...
Next up, I start to get festive as Christmas approaches.  What fresh insanity have I been saving up?  Stay tuned...

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