Tuesday, August 16, 2011

SS by the shore : Death Ship (1980)

Death Ship (1980)
Rating: ***
Starring: George Kennedy, Richard Crenna and Nick Mancuso

Awright! Time to smash the Piñata!
A Cruise ship full of partying holidaymakers gets attacked by a black worn-out vessel, sinking everybody but eight; these survivors managed to hold on a board and float along the sea, hoping to wave down a rescuer. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending whose point of view is it), the only thing that spotted them is the same black vessel; with one of them ill, they decide to board the ship anyway and hope to find food, water, shelter and somebody inside to help them. But what they found inside was a self-running engine with no crew or captain in sight.

Despite finding it strange to see a self-running ship, they settle in and tries to find a way to navigate the vessel, all the while stranger things began to happen no sooner as visions of murdered men, ghostly wailing, showers of blood and Nazi propagandas starts to plague them. It isn't too long before they start to thin down one by one and the ill captain began to lose his mind. They have no choice but to get off the ship, but how can they if the living Nazi Kriegsmarine torture ship is hellbent on finishing what it started?

...So glad I was born in a world of color TV
While the movie itself is bad in sense of cheesiness and a plot lacking any solidity, Death Ship brought in dread, claustrophobia and a little wretchedness from its wonderfully made premise.  It starts like a TV thriller, something like an episode from Tales from the Darkside or some of the later Twilight Zones series, with a family and their friends going through a situation completely otherworldly but as it goes on, with the survivors being tormented and one of them getting the case of either supernatural influence or a violent "cabin fever", the film begins to constrict the viewers to a scenario of pure horror that's improved further by the film's amazing ship setting that's rotting down to its nails, echoing rust and steam, and it's pipes and gears dripping with age.

Perhaps what makes this film scary is that the act that the ship is heavily influenced by a Nazi concentration camps, where the torments our cast goes through is pure SS torture that rings back to the days of the holocaust and the Captain's descend into madness led him more than willing to throw off anyone for the sake of his ship. The "murders" itself, albeit not gory, makes it up by being unsettling and inventive that it doesn't try to be as "sharp" as the slashers' brand of murders but just as effective and even scarier.
For the last time, I don't LOVE you!
Rarely seen and often overlooked, Death Ship is a nice hidden gem of a horror film. It's has the sensibility of a haunted house horror while adding the elements of the infamous "Naziploitations" and slashers, it has everything that would had made it a cult classic including a well-casted set of actors, some devilish cinematography and murders most foul for a B-Movie. So why not give it a chance? And maybe you'll find a gem as well.

1 male snared by the leg with hook and thrown off board, drowns in the sea
1 female strangled
1 female passes out after being bathe in blood, thrown off the ship and drowns in the sea
1 male crushed inside a net full of corpses and drowned in a pool
1 male crushed to death by gears
(a cruise ship full sank after the "Death Ship" crashes it. Also, a number of bodies in various state of decomposition was seen inside a freezer and in one murder scene.)
 total: 5+

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