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Dead Calm (1989)

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After a tragedy, John Ingram and his wife Rae are spending some time isolated at sea, when they come across a stranger who has abandoned a sinking ship.

Director:

Phillip Noyce

Writers:

Terry Hayes (screenplay), Charles Williams (novel)
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Popularity
4,667 ( 331)
5 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Nicole Kidman ... Rae Ingram
Sam Neill ... John Ingram
Billy Zane ... Hughie Warriner
Rod Mullinar Rod Mullinar ... Russell Bellows
Joshua Tilden Joshua Tilden ... Danny
George Shevtsov George Shevtsov ... Doctor
Michael Long Michael Long ... Specialist Doctor
Lisa Collins ... 'Orpheus' Cruise Girl
Paula Hudson-Brinkley Paula Hudson-Brinkley ... 'Orpheus' Cruise Girl
Sharon Cook Sharon Cook ... 'Orpheus' Cruise Girl
Malinda Rutter Malinda Rutter ... 'Orpheus' Cruise Girl
Benji 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

Taglines:

Try To Stay Calm. See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Australia

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 April 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dead Calm: A Voyage Into Fear See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,400,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,463,551, 9 April 1989, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$7,825,009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Nicole Kidman turned 20 during production. The cast and crew held a massive party at a nearby isolated island. 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

Hughie Warriner: Don't you believe me?
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 »

Alternate Versions

The German DVD is cut for nudity and violence. One of the cuts is in the ending where Hugh gets the flare in his mouth. The same master was used on the Scandinavian and Spanish DVD-release. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Celebrity Naked Ambition (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

No-Mad
Written & Performed by Tim O'Connor
Copyright © 1988 Kennedy Miller Productions Pty. Ltd.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Stay calm and you may yet not end up dead.
16 February 2012 | by SpikeopathSee 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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