Dead Calm (1989)

R  |   |  Thriller  |  7 April 1989 (USA)
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Reviews: 135 user | 61 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.



(screenplay), (novel)
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5 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Try To Stay Calm. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 April 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dead Calm: A Voyage Into Fear  »

Box Office


$7,825,009 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TV)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


After Hughie captures the yacht, John rows back to the schooner. Halfway the movie the row-boat is still visible tied behind the schooner. Yet, as the schooner is sinking, John escapes by a raft. Why didn't he use the row-boat? See more »


[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 »


Featured in Revealed: Billy Zane (2013) See more »


Written & Performed by Tim O'Connor
Copyright © 1988 Kennedy Miller Productions Pty. Ltd.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A great horror thriller in the style of Eric Red
29 May 2002 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

Dead Calm is directed by Australian film maker Philip Noyce (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger) and he is very talented director. This film stars young Nicole Kidman (21-22 years old in this film!) as a wife to Sam Neill and they have lost their son in a horrible car accident. They want to get over it and so they go to the sea with their boat and spend several weeks there. All is going fine and they are going to get over the loss of their son, but soon they discover an abandoned looking ship in the horizon and a man (Billy Zane) paddling desperately towards them. The man reaches the ship and the couple helps him on the board. He is little confusing and suspicious and soon his real nature is revealed...

This is extremely pleasant thriller and reminds me of films written by Eric Red (The Hitcher, Near Dark, Blue Steel) and these four films are very similar. The atmosphere in Dead Calm is very haunting and incredibly restrained. The atmosphere is also very similar to David Lynch and Lost Highway and Twin Peaks. The music is very important element in Dead Calm (as is in The Hitcher and Near Dark, too) and the overall feeling is very threatening and ominous. There are many exciting and breath taking scenes such as the one in which Sam Neill is trapped in a boat that is sinking and filling with water. With music, the photography is great and there are definitely no technical flaws in this great and surprisingly effective flick.

The young Nicole Kidman is so talented and acts perfectly. No one can say she can't act. Just look at her face and expressions: she is the main character in here and she is almost in every scene and she does nothing wrong or never acts over the top. The other actor's are also great, Sam Neill and Bill Zane, even though Zane goes little too far in couple of scenes and is not too believable. But overall, because there are so many great elements here, these little flaws and illogical plot turns can be forgiven.

Philip Noyce is worth watching director and he has done also other effective thrillers, but I think this will be one of his greatest achievements. Dead Calm is highly recommended.


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