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Survivors of a tragic shipping collision are rescued by a mysterious black ship which appears out of the fog. Little do they realise that the ship is actually a Nazi torture ship which has sailed the seas for years, luring unsuspecting sailors aboard and killing them off one by one. Written by
Jonathon Dabell <J.D.@pixie.ntu.ac.uk>
At the 51-minute mark, there is a sequence in which the character played by George Kennedy emerges in a dark uniform atop the ship while the character played by Richard Crenna looks from below. During three separate long shots of Kennedy, a crew member and camera are plainly visible to the left of the screen. See more »
Along with 1981 sci-fi / horror 'Galaxy of Terror' (which only a couple months back I saw for the first time), 'Death Ship' has been at the top of my must see list and finally it was fulfilled. The most striking aspect to the film for me was its ominous looking poster artwork (which would be reused by the similar in plot 2002 'Ghost Ship') of a skull transpiring from the front of ramshackle ship. Creepy! And this co Canadian / UK produced low-rent, b-grade picture effectively delivered on its promised chills, despite its low-budget that shows from its creaky, murky and minimal execution. The off-kilter, but downright fixed premise is cut and dry (as the original idea, before the story/script was chopped and changed around was originally penned by cult exploitation filmmaker Jack Hill) with it projecting a Gothic haunted house atmosphere aboard an ominous looking rust-bucket ship endlessly travelling the high seas with an sinisterly deranged twist behind it.
A group of passengers that were on a cruise ship that went down in the Caribbean end up climbing aboard a mysteriously rundown ghost ship that seemed to come out of nowhere. While boarding the vessel they find themselves trapped on upon it, as if it has mind of its own.
Blaring on the back on the DVD case "The Shinning meets The Poseidon Adventure!" sounds about right. Familiar staples in a basic haunting set-up, but a motivated cast keeps it chugging along with the names of George Kennedy, Richard Crenna, Sally Ann Howes, Nick Mancuso, Victoria Burgoyne and Saul Rubinek. Very committed and hardened performances help to keep the tainted script afloat. Alvin Rakoff's sub-par direction is humidly tight and moody, letting it unfold slowly which actually made the nightmarishly suffocating atmosphere drill in some surreal (if tacked on) imagery and an unsettling ambiance when the true horrors are discovered (oh those Nazis). Stemming from that is an unpleasantly crude quality and some anxious suspense (characters losing their marbles); as the survivors are picked off one by one. Some flaws cropping up would be some sequences seem to be overlong, and the editing at times can be rather ragged. Sometime flashes of what's about to happen would work their way in which would spoil any sort of impact. Ivor Slaney's softly spooky score is instrumental in setting the air. It won't set the world alight, as it's a limited, but resourceful minor production that sticks to its strengths.
'Death Ship' is a junky and makeshift, but fairly eerie and cold horror piece.
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