Not all aliens come from space. Save your last breath... to scream.
Year of Release: 1989
Genre: Science Fiction/Horror
Running Time: 103 minutes (1:43)
Director: Sean S. Cunningham
Taurean Blacque ... Captain Phillip Laidlaw
Nancy Everhard ... Joyce Collins
Greg Evigan ... McBride
Miguel Ferrer ... Snyder
Nia Peeples ... Scarpelli
Matt McCoy ... James 'Jim' Richardson
Cindy Pickett ... Dr. Diane Norris
Marius Weyers ... Dr. John Van Gelder
Elya Baskin ... Burciaga
Thom Bray ... John 'Johnny' Hodges
Ronn Carroll ... Osborne
Far below the surface of the unforgiving sea, the daring crew of DeepStar Six are explorers in a forbidding world of impenetrable darkness and unimaginable pressure. They have invaded the icy fathoms into which no human has ever ventured. Their mission is to establish a top secret Navy base on the ocean floor. But something's down there and the crew of DeepStar Six are about to make a startling discovery - there's no escape from the terror of the deep. Director Sean Cunningham ("Friday the 13th," "House") has created a new horror that will plunge you into the depths of fear. Better hold your last breath... to scream.
DeepStar Six, the movie that reminds us that protocol is God, even if it means blowing the crap out of your billion dollar operation. Too many people to count love this movie, but for a quick list, you've got: CEOs, federal agents, judges, cops, operations managers, even your mom loves this movie, an I'll tell you why. Power, and fear. Power on its own is fine an dandy, but if nobody respects or fears you, what good is it? The technician in our movie, played by Miguel Ferrer, opts to follow protocol, even when it's obviously a terrible policy put into place by someone that'll never have to operate under it. Read ahead to see how that goes. Now, anybody that has power can generally bend the rules when necessary an get away with it. But you an I? We're expected to follow it regardless of how it'll end, because they know better than we do. They've calculated the likelihood of failure and they're willing to risk us. Well, I say ask why. And when they hit the independent thought alarm, research why it shouldn't be so an keep coming after 'em with it. I'm going to cite a quote here by one Adolf Hitler, an I hope it sticks with you. "How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think." Was Hitler right? Are you too stupid to think for yourself when something doesn't seem right? Miguel was too stupid. I sure hope you're not. So, with that said, lets move on. There's only a few things you can learn from this one that you can't learn watching Alien, but it's important to give every movie its due, an this will be no exception. First, nobody likes having their home screwed with. Monsters are no exception. And a monster ALWAYS knows who did it, so don't think you can fuck around when they're not looking and get away with it. They will find you, an they will eat you.
Second, it's far better to detonate the missiles you've got on hand than to simply leave them behind. After all, you never know when somebody might be snooping around six miles beneath the surface of the sea just looking for discarded explosives. An third, while it may be a good idea to try to calm someone that's in the process of cracking so you can get a moment to think, injecting them with drugs that can cause hallucinations is probably not the best method. Particularly when there's carnage everywhere. Now, as bad an idea as all those things are, here's something I've never understood, an this one happens in a lot of movies, horror and otherwise. Generally, your main characters are in a bad spot, an things are looking about as optimistic as the U.S. economy, so what do they do? They pray. Now, there are situations where that time is wasted trying to come up with a plan, because sometimes you're just outright fucked. But my question is this, do they think that the people who've already died up to that point in the movie just didn't pray hard enough? Is that why God let 'em die? Do they suddenly get the epiphany that "Oh, it was all so simple, we should have just prayed! Damn, now I feel stupid." Didn't they catch that whole "God helps those who help themselves bit?" Oh, right, religion. Only the favorable parts tend to stick. Seriously though, either try to think of a plan if that's still an option, or kill yourself if it isn't. Unless being murdered/eaten by whatever's menacing you seems like a better plan. Now I'm not saying there's no God, I don't claim to know for certain one way or another like all the really smart people on the planet, but I'm pretty sure that if there is, an even if it can hear prayers, there's quite a lot of them coming in all at once, systematically paralyzing its heavenly switchboard. So the moral is, you're on your own, start acting like it.
The movie begins with our protagonists being awakened, exchanging some pillow talk, an the woman (Collins) becoming mildly annoyed an squeezing the guy's (McBride) grapes in retaliation. Then they take their submersible bath toy down over some underwater baseball stadium lights an dock with the main vessel so they can do a shift exchange with the other poor suckers on the main underwater housing complex. Then everyone has breakfast together like a big dysfunctional family an the Captain keeps giving the lecherous guy chore after chore just to screw with him an make it so he can't possibly have enough time to screw with the tough girl. Textbook cock blocker. Then Collins orders the excavation to halt because she's hearing scary noises in the cavern down below where they're gonna build their missile launch site. I think it was just the breakfast burritos but nobody ever listens to me. Ever get someone with serious gas in a submarine? Has absolutely no place to go. Anyway, an authority figure of some type overrules her on account of him having a bigger penis than her an tells his two explosives experts to blow it the hell up an not to even think about checking for any conceivable problems with the plan first. They don't drill for oil in the ocean do they? Well, even if they did I'm sure it's not flammable. Even when the tough girl wants to check out the cavern because she believes all the tales of sea monsters in the area, there's still nobody interested in stopping to reconsider. So the two bombermen set 'em up the bombs an half the sea floor for a two mile radius collapses into the cavern an their amphibious tank only misses plunging into it by about three feet. When you're hardcore, this is considered a complete success. So since they're already here an don't have any clean shorts to change into, they figure they may as well lower their underwater camera into the grand chasm. Only the camera detaches from its cable, an since they haven't cheated death quite enough today, they go after it. Then a huge something or other starts heading toward them but they can't tell what it is because their sonar monitor is nothing more than an image of Epcot Center an the giant whatzit mugs their sea tank.
Collins keeps trying to get them on the horn only they've come down with a bad case of murder an she panics an makes the technician (Snyder) go find the Captain so he can calm and reassure her. But once Snyder leaves his station the angry something or other starts headbutting the underwater structure like the Junk Yard Dog an knocks it completely off its foundation until there's water pouring in and electronics spitting sparks all over the place an a gigantic trunk lands on her lab partner. So the Captain an McBride have to go after 'em, something about no research scientist left behind, but on the way they start picking up sonar bleeps on their Epcot Center monitor too an the Captain tells McBride to turn the lights down low an go down. McBride seems hesitant but follows instructions an the bleepasaurus goes away. Once they're able to dock with the precariously dangling station they pull Collins outta there but the guy with the lockbox pinning him down dies from... something or other. It's no wonder this operation isn't working, the control panel is nothing more than a rubix cube an the place leaks like a bargain brand maxi pad. So the black Captain heroically gets McBride an Collins out first, which means it's a foregone conclusion that the poor bastard's had it. As he turns to go, the hatch between the hallway an the control room closes on him an pins him in place as the docked ship and the underwater scaffolding continues to teeter on the brink an the Captain tells the two stupid honkies to get the hell outta there before they're all rolling their bones in Davy Jones' Locker. But McBride won't stop defying his orders so he has to flood the hallway an they finally concede an leave the Captain to drown. They're able to make it out just before the miniature tumbles into the great beyond an McBride has really sad face on account of the Captain bein' his homie. Then, if that wasn't depressing enough, Collins goes to get checked out by the doctor on staff an the monitor detects a second heart beat. If only it was something less horrifying, like, that she was part worm. She's got a lotta 'splainin to do for not telling McBride about it, an while she does, DeepStar Six's version of James Doohan figures it's about time to abort. The mission. Abort the mission, of course, not her... moving on. But before they can leave, they have to detonate the missiles they were going to install, as part of their ill fated mission. This is critical.
Can't have any Al-Queda operatives snooping around an carrying them back to the surface as part of some insidious plot, so Snyder blasts 'em off an the ensuing shock wave blows out every form of service they previously had aboard the ship, except for PBS, an Bob Ross isn't much help in the clutch. So with every part of the ship either leaking, sparking, smoking, or burning, the general consensus is that the plan probably could have gone better. It will also be necessary to seal the ruptures so they can reroute the air lines so they can get their decompression chamber working an use the escape pods. You follow? Me neither, but it's critical, so just take their word for it. So they send one of their expendables out in a diving suit that's mostly made of dryer hose an laundry mat dryer windows to weld the outside rupture, only the hairy scary monster comes up an scares the bejezus outta him an he has to high tail it back to the airlock. Ever been in a self contained suit that you just pooped in? Never mind, not important. So he makes it back to the airlock, only there's something else in the airlock with him, an if you've ever seen dolphin trainers hold up a fish so the dolphins can jump up an grab 'em, that's basically what happens to this guy as they try to lift 'em out. We're talkin' cherry Kool-Aid city. Then it uses one of its tentacles to knock the tough girl in the now flooding room an adds even more crimson to the tide. That's about enough for Snyder, he bolts an locks the door behind him an the ship's doctor has to open it before the rest of 'em get snacked on. So once McBride roughs up Snyder a little bit they break out the guns an decide they've gotta try to finish what they started. They're able to reattach the hose, but about that time the bleepasuarus pops up an Snyder confuses Doohan for the monster an jabs 'em with the air pump from Dig Dug an blows his vital organs outta his rib cage. So by now Snyder's starting to get the idea that people think he's a screw up an the doctor has to give 'em a shot to calm him down, but mostly it just causes him to see zombie Doohan an he hijacks an escape pod that hasn't been depressurized yet an he starts leakin' Welch's pure premium raspberry jelly until his face explodes. That just leaves McBride, Collins an the doc to come up with something before the bleepasaurus or the lack of oxygen get the better of 'em.
DeepStar Six is... well there's no way you'll read a review of this without seeing the words "underwater version of Alien." And it's not that there isn't a great deal of truth to that, but, as I may have mentioned a couple hundred times before, I think that's about the laziest way to criticize anything, that critics have ever devised. Just sayin'. Really, despite what the cover may say, the monster isn't an alien. Only some undiscovered species with anger management issues. For my money, you can never have too many monster movies. Besides, it's directed by Sean Cunningham, a bad movie cannot be made while in the hands of the man that brought us Friday the 13th. Oh, I'm sorry, I hadn't gone to Rotten Tomatoes to check on it before now, I forgot to mention the extremely lazy reviewers that might even go so far as to call it a ripoff of The Abyss. Wow, okay. Why stop there, it was under water, why not a ripoff of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea? I really hate people. Anyway, while it does bear similarities to both of those, and is not as good as either, it really doesn't have much wrong with it to speak of. A couple things, but not crippling things. I will say that at 1:43, the pacing is a little slow. Shave about 8 minutes off this sucker an it probably gains 5 points. It's got a 4.6 on the IMDB, which is a bit harsh, although there've been movies I liked a lot more than this one, panned a lot harder than that. I think maybe some of the resentment towards it stems from the fact that there were so many under water movies released in that particular year. In addition to the aforementioned Abyss, there was also Leviathan, The Evil Below, The Rift, and Lords of the Deep. Only two of which I've seen, but I could see how people might get sick of these type movies when so many are coming out around the same time. Apparently James Cameron had a hissy fit about the writer, Lewis Abernathy, selling his script at the same time that Cameron was working on The Abyss, as he considered it competition. The guys were friends, so I suppose maybe, I can mildly see why that'd get him miffed. But realistically, The Abyss and DeepStar Six don't have all that much in common. The Abyss doesn't even have a monster. It's "monsters" are aliens. And beneficent aliens at that. Nonsense I say. Complete nonsense.
The breakdown of individual aspects is as follows. The acting is fine, Nia Peeples talks a little faster than she needs to, although if everyone else did the same they'd shave off that 8 minutes I mentioned earlier. Nothing wrong with any of the other performances, as far as I'm concerned, although not much in the way of genre actors. You've got Ronn Carroll from Friday the 13th an the first two movies in the House series, as well as Miguel Ferrer from The Stand, The Night Flier, an that god awful remake of The Shining. But that's it, so, while the acting is okay, a big name genre actor would have helped. The plot's okay. Nothing special. All you really need is a reason for these people to be down there so we can watch the monster eat 'em, an building a missile launch site is as good as any I suppose. The special effects are hit an miss. The monster is great, much better than I'd anticipated. Mark Shostrom an Chris Walas, not as famous as the big name guys, but their monster looks good enough that when I was checking on who made it, I wouldn't have been surprised to find a big name, it's that good. The blood and viscera, also good. However, the outside sequences with the miniatures, are not at all good. We're talking tanks an airplanes that're about to get stomped on by Godzilla, bad. The good news, is that those effects are the least important. The bad news is, they're bad. The sets are great. Standard science fiction movie set that's plausible in a cheesy science fiction kinda way. Rubix cube control panel an Epcot Center sonar, good stuff. That's what I wanna see when I watch these movies. Knobs, dials, flashing lights, toggle switches, an control panels so big you need a ladder to reach the off switch. Fantastic. The soundtrack, I honestly didn't much care for, I thought that it didn't fit into a couple of the scenes, seemed a little too cheery at times. Harry Manfredini too. Best known for the majority of the Friday the 13th soundtracks. So as you can imagine, it's pretty manic. Only a couple of scenes end up comically mismatched by what's happening and the music, so only a small loss of points. Overall, a decent monster movie. Nothing special, and approximately one third as bad as people claim it is. A good choice for monster movie fans that may be looking for something they haven't already seen, an aren't picky about whether their movies borrow from movies that came before them.