Ghost Ship
3 out of 5 stars
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This is Dark Castle's third attempt (see also House on Haunted Hill and 13 Ghosts) at recapturing a B-movie horror vibe, and this is easily the best of the three, both generating real creepiness and never taking itself seriously. The tenacious crew of the Arctic Warrior (captain Byrne, tough-chick Margulies, muscle boy Eldard, brainy Washington, filthy genius Urban, greasy genius Dimitriades) is exhausted after months at sea salvaging various vessels. Then a pilot named Jim Ferriman (Harrington) tells them about a ship he saw adrift in the Bering Sea. So they decide to take a look. Turns out to be the fabled Antonia Graza, an Italian luxury liner that went missing in 1962. Something is deeply wrong with this rusty, creaky ship carrying a tempting cache of gold bars, but like characters from a bad horror movie our heroes refuse to leave well enough alone. A big clue is in the name....

If you even begin to take this film seriously it will let you down horribly! It starts with a scene of unbelievable grisliness and then plays with every cliche of the genre as it progresses, right down to boneheaded lines of dialog that are obvious included to make us laugh. Director Beck (who also made 13 Ghosts) really keeps things moving, spending the first half of the film setting up the atmosphere, showing us the ship and its ghostly passengers (little girl Browning, chanteuse Rettondini, captain Ruggiero), then suddenly dispatching each character with over-the-top slasher-film gruesomeness. The cast gamely goes along with this combination of action movie heroics and ghost movie terror, injecting humour into every scene to keep us off balance. And it works, because the characters are actually intriguing and the "mystery" plot is preposterous and clever at the same time. It's refreshing to watch a horror film that's this unpretentious. It's not afraid to be profoundly cheesy ... and it actually unsettles us with hideous grisliness rather than mere noises on the soundtrack.

cert 15 themes, violence and gore, language, brief nudity 28.Nov.02

dir Steve Beck
scr Mark Hanlon, John Pogue
with Gabriel Byrne, Julianna Margulies, Ron Eldard, Desmond Harrington, Isaiah Washington, Karl Urban, Alex Dimitriades, Emily Browning, Francesca Rettondini, Robert Ruggiero, Boris Brkic, Iain Gardiner
release US 25.Oct.02; UK 24.Jan.03
02/US 1h31

Something's fishy! Epps (Margulies) shows the boys what she's found (Eldard, Urban, Harrington, Byrne)

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R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... sea evil "Eew! OK, I am a fan of horror movies. I am even a fan of blood, gore and make-up effects. But this was a little much even for me. This movie went to two extremes. From over-the-top disgusting to painfully boring. Everyone talks about the 'cool' opening sequence, but the only scene I found to be remotely 'cool,' is the scene where the eroded ballroom restored itself to new condition. Fascinating cinematography. Still not worth the price of admission though. I want my money back." --Larry, Oklahoma City 16.Mar.03

"Brilliant movie. Realistic special effects, tons of plot twists and a pretty nifty storyline. Make a change from haunted house movies." --Leanne, England 4.Apr.03

2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall