On the first trip of the world’s most luxurious cruise ship, the Argonautica, the ship’s navigation and communication systems are sabotaged, causing the ship to stop in the middle of the ocean somewhere. Meanwhile, Captain John Finnegan and his crew have been hired by a group of mercenaries with intentions unknown (other than it obviously being something bad) but as Finnegan has promised “no questions asked”, the Captain and his crew don’t realize what is about to happen until they reach the cruise ship. As the mercenaries take over and reveal that they’re planning to rob the ship, they soon realize that something is not right inside the Argonautica. The place is a mess, and people appear to have gone missing. It soon becomes clear that a deadly enemy from the depths of the ocean has wrecked havoc on the ship, and it’s still hungry!
Ah, the 90’s. When creators often made horror movies that was supposed to just be a bunch of fun. When CGI effects were in a (somewhat) young stage and was constantly improved over short periods of time (thus giving various results that would look impressive at the moment, but would age like sour milk in a couple of years). While this decade brought horror buffs everything from gold to crap, there were a fair amount of movies released during this time that, despite not exactly receiving a lot of love, still managed to get cult status later on and still manages to entertain people. Deep Rising is a prime example of one of those movies.
Directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, 1999) Deep Rising is an action-packed aquatic creature feature, and had an astounding budget of $45 million. Now, that’s not exactly a common thing with B-horror movies, and a rather bold step to take…and it only managed to take in $11 million at the box office. Ouch. Still, the movie earned a cult status later on, and is a lot of people’s “guilty pleasure” today. However, I personally don’t see any reason to feel guilty about enjoying this one, especially not if you enjoy B-horror in the first place.
Now, I have to admit…I love horror movies with sea monsters. And most of all, I love these movies if they actually have a plot that is about the frickin’ monster in the first place. There are a lot of monster movies (of various kinds, not just sea monster movies) that focus heavily on other things than the actual monster, and to be honest, this can be a bit hit or miss for me. If I want to watch a creature feature, I mainly want three things: monster, action and body count. While I have enjoyed other monster movies that may not offer much of any of these, I more than often find myself disappointed. I mean…if you can take away every scene or reference to the monster in a movie, and still be left with pretty much the same movie afterwards – then yes, I will be disappointed. Okay, rant over. Deep Rising, despite some flaws, does have exactly what I desire from a sea monster movie, so even after 20 years, I still find myself pleased with watching this 90’s B-horror. So, yay!
One of the highlights in Deep Rising is the monster itself (which it should be, for any creature feature with an ounce of self-respect). While we only see its long tentacles from the start, we later learn that they belong to a larger creature which looks like every fisherman’s nightmare fuel. And the best part is that it doesn’t just eat you, it actually captures you inside the tentacles and “drink you” (slowly digesting you while you’re still alive). This is shown in a scene where one of the characters falls out from one of these tentacles, still alive but severely digested (which is, in my opinion, one of the film’s best scenes). This shows us that each victim to this monster won’t just be easily swallowed/eaten, but will meet a slow and extremely painful death, making the monster even more threatening. A scene featuring the monster’s “dumping ground” is also a highlight, and while this movie is mainly a typical popcorn feature, there’s a lot of gooey gore to appreciate here.
Deep Rising, being a typical B-movie, still had pretty decent special effects for its time. Some of the effects are actually still good, albeit a little outdated in places. Considering that it’s over 20 years old, it’s actually holding up far better than many movies from the same time, and even better than what you can see in some movies today. There’s a solid cast, effects that haven’t aged that badly at all, some awesome gore, and it even has a nice recognizable theme music (when do you actually hear that in movies these days? Damn, nostalgia!) thanks to Jerry Goldsmith who was the composer.
Now, if you don’t enjoy Stephen Sommer’s films or typical silly fun movies, I guess you’d better give this one a miss. However: if you, like me, enjoy putting on a ridiculous and energetic B-horror movie that doesn’t have any other goal than simply entertain you (and also having a pretty cool sea monster), then check it out. Just remember to put your brain on hold first, and enjoy!
Director: Stephen Sommers
Country & year: USA | Canada, 1998
Actors: Treat Williams, Famke Janssen, Anthony Heald, Kevin J. O’Connor, Wes Studi, Derrick O’Connor, Jason Flemyng, Cliff Curtis, Clifton Powell, Trevor Goddard, Djimon Hounsou, Una Damon, Clint Curtis, Warren Takeuchi, Linden Banks