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Dead Calm (1989)

 -  Thriller  -  7 April 1989 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 25,693 users  
Reviews: 130 user | 57 critic

A mass-murderer kidnaps and seduces a young woman after leaving her husband to die on the vessel whose crew he's just slaughtered.

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Title: Dead Calm (1989)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Rod Mullinar ...
Joshua Tilden ...
...
Michael Long ...
Lisa Collins ...
Paula Hudson-Brinkley ...
Sharon Cook ...
Malinda Rutter ...
Benji ...
Dog (as Benji U.D. A.D.)
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Storyline

An Australian couple take a sailing trip in the Pacific to forget about a terrible accident. While on the open sea, in dead calm, they come across a ship with one survivor who is not at all what he seems. Written by Loring Holden <loring@healthchex.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

yacht | ship | schooner | sea | ocean | See more »

Taglines:

A Voyage Into Fear. See more »

Genres:

Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 April 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dead Calm: A Voyage Into Fear  »

Box Office

Gross:

$7,825,009 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Around 1997, there were rumors that Orson Welles material had been revised and seemed "as good as complete (compared to the shooting script)," and that his widow, Paola Mori, was trying to get it cut and distributed. See more »

Goofs

In the scene where Rae is loading the shotgun, you can see the primers of the shotgun shells that have already been fired. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
sailor #1: Merry Christmas, Captain Ingram.
John Ingram: [returning salute] Merry Christmas, Eric.
sailor #2: Merry Christmas, sir...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The producers wish to thank the owners of 'Storm Vogel' for the use of their yacht as the 'Saracen' and Keith Williams, the staff and management of Hamilton Island. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Clerks. (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Wired for Sound
Written by Graeme Revell (as Revell) (Regular Music)
Performed by SPK
Courtesy Regular Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Stay calm and you may yet not end up dead.
16 February 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Dead Calm is directed by Phillip Noyce and adapted to screenplay by Terry Hayes from the novel of the same name written by Charles Williams. It stars Sam Neill, Nicole Kidman and Billy Zane. Music is by Graeme Revell and cinematography by Dean Semler.

After losing their young son in a car accident, John (Neill) and Rae Ingram (Kidman) head out alone on their yacht for an ocean vacation. Whilst taking in some R&R, the couple spy a ship drifting in the distance, then a man in a dinghy hurriedly rows towards them. He boards their yacht, frantic and panicked, he tells them the ship is sinking and that all on board are dead, killed by food poisoning. His name is Hughie Warriner (Billy Zane), and the Ingram's are about to wish they had never met him...

The Saracen and The Orpheus.

It's so refreshing to find a thriller that works without tricks or elaborate plotting, where the narrative is stripped down to the bare bones and played out purely by three characters. Dead Calm, whilst not exactly the most credible of thrillers from the 80s, contains genuine suspense, a pot boiling heart and production value of some distinction. Director Noyce deals in psychological studies, primarily that of a lunatic and that of a woman beset with grief having to use her mental fortitude to hopefully save herself and her husband.

Noyce and his team get the maximum amount of edge of the seat thrills from a small isolated yacht in the middle of a vast ocean, with tight camera work and nifty editing, it's a film of quality that belies its pared back production. Even ace Aussie photographer Semler (previously Mad Max 2/Razorback, latterly Dances With Wolves/Waterworld) creates beauty out of such a sparse set up, where the blues and greens of the ocean warm the soul and the red sunsets please the eyes. They be glimpses of Mother Earth that give the Ingram's something tangible to fight for.

With the plot requiring Neill to be in his own isolated hell, he turns in a more measured performance, perfect in fact, but it's Zane and Kidman who steal the show. This would prove to be the launching point of Kidman's career, and it hints at the top actress she would become. She gives Rae Ingram a real strength through adversity, with energy in abundance, intelligence and a simmering sexuality, she's a lady character earning respect by film lovers because of Kidman's performance. Zane is suitably edgy, very much giving Hughie a man-child persona, he too exudes a dangerous sexuality, and when it inevitably kicks off, he is scary into the bargain.

A couple of daft character decisions within the story, and a WTF finale, stop it from being near the top of the thriller movie pantheon. But it's not far off from sitting with the best and it remains fresh and entertaining as the decades roll by. 8/10


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