The Abyss (1989) Poster


Alternate Versions

In 1992, an alternate version titled "The Abyss - Special Edition" was released, with 28 minutes of new material. The following is a complete list of all the new and alternate footage included in the Special Edition:
  • An opening quote from Friedrich Nietzsche: "when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you. "
  • The scene where Bud is on the phone has been slightly extended. In the original film, this scene ended right after he says "what's up?". In the special edition, he listens to the response and after a few seconds, screams "WHAT?!"
  • Added scenes involving the crew being recalled: we see Hippy controlling an ROV by remote, then Bud enters and announces to the crew that they are being recalled. The crew gathers in the moon pool and Bud explains to them why the've been called back inside.
  • As One Night is towing the rig, she is listening to a country song on her tape deck. Bud and Hippy hear the song coming through the intercom and join in the singing. A small extract of this scene was used in the theatrical version.
  • A new scene dealing with Bud and Lindsey's breakup is inserted before Bud throws his wedding ring in the toilet. Bud shows Lindsey to her room and asks whether she is still seeing her new boyfriend. They begin having a discussion about why they broke up in the first place, and it turns into an argument. They exchange comments and then Bud leaves the room.
  • After Lt. Coffey explains the mission to the crew, Bud confronts him and suggests that he go easier on the crew. Coffey informs Bud that they will continue to do things his way. This scene increases the tension between Bud and Coffey. Bud goes into the next room where a crew member makes a comment on his purple hand.
  • A brief report about Benthic Petroleum is added to the scene where the crew is watching the news report on TV. The news reporter talks about Benthic's involvement in the sub rescue mission, and one of the crew members says "we want names!" When the news switches over to a live report from the Explorer, a crew member has an added line which was not in the theatrical version: "hey, we're famous!"
  • A second news report has been added which was not in the theatrical version. It discusses the collision of a NATO warship with another vessel.
  • A third news report was also added to increase the focus on the tension building up between world superpowers. The report discusses Soviet, NATO, and military buildups around the globe and also includes interviews with citizens.
  • New scene showing Coffey and his men opening the missile hatch to retrieve a nuclear weapon from the sunken navy submarine.
  • Once the rig has come to rest on the edge of the abyss after the accident with the crane, a new scene shows Bud, Hippy, and One Night surveying the damage using an ROV. They locate a wrecked minisub and a dead crewman. Hippy asks if they are just going to leave him there, and Bud replies that they have to worry about restoring power and getting air first.
  • While Bud and One Night are doing repairs in the moon pool, their conversation is extended to include talking about Bud and Lindsey's relationship. Bud talks about how they first met and some of the details leading to their breakup.
  • A new scene shows Coffey confronting the crew about their recent contact with the NTI's. Coffey refuses to believe that there are really aliens down there, he thinks that they are actually Russian war bogeys.
  • New scene showing Coffey staring out into the water from one of the rig's windows.
  • Just before the "water tentacle" sequence, a brief scene has been inserted showing Lindsey bringing a drink to the injured navy soldier.
  • Once the crew has caught on to Coffey's plan, a new scene shows Hippy walking down a passageway and finding the warhead missing from Coffey's room. We then see Coffey carrying the warhead down a hallway.
  • A new scene involving discussion about the NTI's. Lindsey suggests that the aliens may be from outer space, and that their home planet may have similar conditions as the abyss: extreme cold and intense pressure.
  • When Lindsey is talking to Bud over the intercom during his descent, Lindsey talks for a bit and then says "sorry, I'm rambling." A brief typed response from Bud was inserted after this: "you always did talk too much".
  • During Bud's descent into the abyss, the pressure beings to affect him and his link with the surface. In the original film when the crew realizes something is wrong, they ask if Bud can still hear them, and his typed response is just gibberish. A brief new bit of dialogue has been inserted just before this: Bud types "you're going away" and Linsdey replies "No I'm not, I'm right here, Bud."
  • A new piece of dialogue was added just before Lindsey tells Bud "you're not alone, I'll always be with you": she reminds him about when they were a couple and a special night they spent together.
  • The sequence with the aliens in their underwater ship has been greatly extended and now involves a whole extra twist to the plot. When Bud is taken inside their ship, they show him an assortment of images on a giant screen. The first few images are of the news reports about the NATO and Russian military buildups. Bud realizes that the aliens can pick up our television signals and have been monitoring our TV stations. The next report is a seismologist discussing heavy seismic signals coming from the earth's oceans towards the coasts of every continent. Bud is then shown an image of yet another TV report, this time an on-location report on a beach where an enormous tidal wave, thousands of feet high, is heading towards the shore. People are running and screaming in panic as the wave gets closer. Bud realizes that it is the aliens who are controlling this wave: "you guys are doing this! You have the power to control water!" He asks why they are doing this, and the aliens respond by showing him images of nuclear weapons exploding and causing destruction. Bud realizes that the aliens are concerned about the recent military buildup and the possibility of a nuclear war. He asks "where do you get off passing judgment on us? How do know they'll actually do it?" The aliens then show him various images depicting the horrors of war, all the images are from the great wars in human history. This shows that the aliens have monitored our TV for many years and know that mankind has a tendancy for war. We then see shots of the huge tidal wave increasing in size and approaching coastlines all over the world, including New York and San Francisco. People are panicking and fleeing in terror, and then the wave suddenly slows to a stop and hangs in the air, seemingly suspended in time. Citizens stare in awe at the giant wave, and then it begins receed and back away from the coast. People shout and cheer as the wave moves away. Bud turns to the aliens and asks "you could've done it, why didn't you?" This is where the scene started in the theatrical version, with the aliens showing Bud that they were monitoring his typed conversations with the surface.
  • A very brief piece of dialogue from Hippy has been inserted just before One Night sees Bud's transmission on the monitor. He says "I wish I could've seen it, I mean, how do you stop a thousand-foot tidal wave?"
  • After Bud contacts the rig and informs everyone about the aliens, several new lines of dialogue were inserted as Lindsey reads Bud's messages and discovers the true purpose of the aliens. Bud types that the aliens "have left us alone until now" and "it bothers them to see us hurting each other". He says that the aliens "sent us a message, hope you got it" and that they want us to "grow up and put away childish things." (referring to nuclear weapons). When the crew of the Explorer hears this, one of the crew members jokes to the Navy officer: "looks like you boys might be out of a job!"
  • As the alien ship rises up out of the abyss, some brief footage has been inserted as it rises in front of the rig. We see beams of intense light streaming into the rig's windows, and Lindsey looks at her hands as if something in the light is affecting her. (This could account for the dialogue between Lindsey and Hippy when they exit the rig: Lindsey says "we didn't depressurize, we should be dead!" Hippy says "Maybe they did something to us." to which Lindsey replies "yeah, I think you could say that.")
All UK versions omit shots from the scene where the rat is plunged in the oxygen fluid. The shots showing the rats breathing in the fluid are substituted with close ups of actors describing what's happening.
The airline version of "The Abyss" was supervised by Cameron himself and runs 118 minutes. Since you can't show a vehicle crashing in a movie shown on an airplane, all of the opening scenes of the submarine incident had to be removed and the title sequence changed (the airline version begins with shots of helicopters landing at the rig). The same version has been used for network TV showings.
The UK television premiere (Channel 4) included the rat in breathing fluid sequence. When the film was reshown the sequence had been removed again.
In the Special Edition an alternate take of one scene replaces that found in the original cut of the film, namely when Lindsay is relaying Bud's text messages to the surface ship by radio. In the original version, when she reads the line "This is Virgil Brigman back on the air", she appears amused and relieved, and looks away from the display. In the Special Edition when Lindsay says that line, she looks bemused and mystified, and keeps her eyes on the screen.
When Bud writes back to the crew telling them he's "back on the air", different music, namely keyboard composition, was composed to replace the original score and to accomodate the added scenes of the ship rising from the abyss. The original score picks up again when the crew on the ships above go to see the alien ship rise out of the water.
As a result of the British Board of Film Classification cutting the rat sequence after the RSPCA requested it on grounds of cruelty, 45 seconds were removed.
For the original UK VHS release of the Special Edition, the "rat sequence" was poorly edited. This included an alternate shot of Monk removing the rat from Hippy's shoulder, shown at a slightly different angle and clearly unfinished as it was of poor quality. This also resulted in the entire scene being displayed at a ratio of 1.85:1, before reverting back to 2.35:1 for the rest of the film.
The original UK VHS release (not the director's cut) featured the 'rat' scene in its entirety.
The R2 Special Edition DVD contains all extended/altered scenes mentioned before, and includes the following extra scenes:
  • Before Bendix asks Hippy over the radio to get Bud, he mentions to the guy next to him that Lindsey will probably freak out if Bud agrees to hand over the rig and crew to the Navy.
  • One Night and Sonny are fooling around with Cab One's grappling arm before being called back to the moon pool by Bud.
  • In the briefing scene, Hippy's reluctance to go near the submarine because of the radiation is extended. Coffey comments they will not be in danger because of continuous radiation monitoring. Hippy finally agrees to go when he hears someone else will be appointed to operate his ROV then. The scene returns to normal with Coffey's sudden outburst.
  • There is a short close-up shot of Lindsey's face after Coffey gives Hippy a reprimand.
  • The scene where the Deepcore crew is transported to the USS Montana is extended. After passing the Montana's propulsion system, Monk's team is seen opening up an outer hatch, and Hippy sends his ROV through it and confirms that radiation levels are below tolerance levels. After Coffey's explanation of the nuclear warhead's power, Lindsey responds that "it's World War 3 in a can". Coffey's team then proceeds to the ruptured front of the Montana.
  • The Montana search has been extended, with Coffey's team passing through several more compartments before arriving in the command centre. Coffey removes the nuclear arming key from the dead captain. After splitting up into two teams, Bud and Jammer pass through the torpedo room before Jammer panicks and stays behind.
  • Immediately after the flooding of Deepcore has started, crewman Perry is seen being overwhelmed by the sudden flow of water (his body is discovered in a new scene). -A new scene during the flooding shows Lindsey and Catfish saving the trapped Monk from the fire.
  • Bud comforts Sonny who tries to contact Benthic Explorer after the flooding, and then makes a short inspection tour before he arrives at unconscious Jammer's bed.
  • A new shot of Lindsey bringing a drink to Monk, who thanks her for saving his life.
  • During Bud's descent, power is suddenly running low, causing all crewmembers to quickly shut off all non-essential equipment.
  • Just after the Deepcore crew leaves the rig, there is a low-angle overview shot of the NTI ship with Deepcore and all the other ships on it.
  • As the credits start, the movie is dedicated to the memory of captain Kidd Brewer, who played Finler in the movie and died in a diving accident some years after the original release.
  • Extra credits on the 'Special Edition'.

See also

Trivia | Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Connections | Soundtracks

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