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Feodor Chaliapin Jr.
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Michael David Lally
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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 realize 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>
Ship of Death: The Haunting of Unspeakable Acts from the Past
When I was a little kid, driving by this local videostore on my bike, I always stopped to take a quick peek at this amazingly cool video-cover displayed in front of the store window (just look up the poster art here on IMDb). Around that same time I saw on television just a few little fragments of a French-dubbed horror movie taking place on a ship. The name George Kennedy both on the cover and on the credits linked the two facts together. By the time I was old enough to go rent it, the copy had mysteriously disappeared from the videostore. I've been on the look-out for this film ever since.
Thanx to Dario_the_2nd (fellow horror-boarder) the wait finally came to an end. And to say it right away: I honestly don't understand the low rating this film has here on IMDb. Sure it's not a perfect movie; the story is pretty thin and the acting isn't really memorable or something (though not bad at all either). What this movie lacks in the plot-department, at makes up more than enough in eerie atmosphere and creepiness. When a luxury cruise ship sinks, a few survivors adrift find their way onto a huge, dirty and abandoned ship, apparently floating dead in the water. But not quite as dead as they expected, they'll soon find out. The pace of the movie is rather slow, but the ship itself is frightening and menacing. With numerous shots of its self-functioning engine, countless pipes, valves and other iron-work, the vessel establishes itself as a threatening presence, or even more so: a real character, throughout the entire movie. It's no secret at all that this ship is haunted and the reason why is quite shocking. Two scenes that stayed with me from when I was a kid, were that-one-lady-in-the-projection-room-turning-ugly and especially the blood-shower scene. The latter one really is a foul scene. Of course, you've seen that before, but this is one of the better efforts. However, this still remains a very un-stylized B-movie. No fancy cinematography, no well-balanced lighting and a lot of hand-held camera shots. But all this adds to the effect of realism. And at not one point I found myself giggling at the sort of clumsiness of the mise-en-scène (which I actually expected to do so, before going into this movie). As much as the editing is rudimentary, their are some fine textbook examples of cross-cutting to be found. A technique seldomly used anymore. At least not in mainstream films. The rather minimalistic but effective musical score helped to set the right tone from the opening credits on.
I could conclude that this flick might perhaps not be enjoyed by the general horror-fan nowadays, but if you're interested in the weird and bizarre, then this one is worth hunting down. Good luck with it.
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