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John’s Old School Horror Corner: Deep Star Six (1989)

January 21, 2013

MY CALL:  Better acting but a lower budget than Leviathan (1989), and it blaringly shows.  Monster movie fans should stick to Leviathan, but all in all this shouldn’t be too disappointing.  [C+]  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCHLeviathan (1989); weaker acting but way more fun and effects-driven.  And, actually, K-19: The Widowmaker (2002), which features an extremely effective cast trying, and largely failing, to survive a nuclear submarine disaster.  Very intense.

Deep Star Six follows several scientists and NAVY crew setting up a deep sea missile silo.  They find that their missile platform site is on top of a large cavern system which Scarpelli (Nia Peeples; Werewolf: The Beast Among Us) is dying to investigate for new deep sea marine species.  However, Captain Phillip (Taurean Blacque; Rocky II) and crew won’t have it and they instead detonate the caverns to somehow “secure” the site and send down a probe to take video and photos of a cavern separated from the rest of the ocean for upwards of millions of years.  They lose the probe and send a small transport to recover it.  This does not go well.  They get attacked by “something” in the cavern and contact is lost—presumably they’re dead.

No sign of the monster yet in this low budget flick, just a lot of creature POV shots as it swims about.  It must be sizable because it wastes no time saying “hi” to the Star Six crew by ramming the shit out of their vessel causing considerable damage.  Additional powerful checks to the facility nearly push it into the deep chasm they created.

Because this is largely written around the characters, who rarely encounter the creature, this feels more like a disaster movie in which things are just “happening around the characters” instead of a monster movie where the creature “does things to the characters.”  So any suspense is character-driven as viewers are given little to fear in terms of this mysterious creature, which seems to respond to the facility’s lights aggressively.  When we do see the monster it’s pretty cool-looking though.  Really.

From the movie’s start, this sea monster seemed very large and extremely fast since it could ram the deep sea station and move it!  It had more effect on that station than I would on a SmartCar with a dedicated tackle.  However, when we finally meet are deep sea foe we see that this giant crocodile-lobster with sort of a Tremors’ mouth couldn’t weigh more than 5000 pounds (if not less?) and appears incapable of swimming faster than, say, maybe 15-25 mph—this thing is no sleek shark.  Big?  Sure.  Big enough to push a sea station the size of a large house into a chasm?  NO WAY!!!

Shots of the station and ocean exterior are thoroughly unimpressive, but hardly matter for one’s enjoyment of this movie.  Its budgetary wounds are stitched by credible dialogue and, for the nature of the movie, effective acting by a cast representing a solid range of characters.  Dr. Norris (Cindy Picket; Sleepwalkers), the medical officer, is most affected by the loss of a crewman.  And when the captain suffers a fatal injury Joyce (Nancy Everhard; Urban Legends: Bloody Mary) and McBride (Greg Evigan; Tek War) are forced to assume leadership roles.  Jim (Matt McCoy; The Hand That Rocks the Cradle), Scarpelli’s boyfriend, provides the comic relief.

Snyder (Miguel Ferrer; RoboCop, Tales from the Crypt, The Stand), the whiny high-strung tech on board, already wanted to be home since his four-month tour had already been extended.  This fool detonates their missile a little too close to the station.  This does not go well.  This is his first in a series of major screw-ups including accidently killing a crewman with some weird air-pumping harpoon and getting himself killed in via decompression.

The cast is widdled down to a few who find a way to kill the aberration.  Or did they?

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