Monday, February 4, 2013
Deep Star Six (1989)
Somewhere along the road (aka "the end of the eighties") the almighty movie moguls decided that movies set on an underwater base is the ultimate way of earning money. James Cameron's The Abyss, George P. Cosmato's Leviathan, Juan Piquer Simon's The Rift and finally Sean S. Cunningham's Deep Star Six all came out between '89 and '90 and they're all quite cool in their own ways. Cameron's film is the worst one, boring as hell - but is very well-made and has a wonderful cast. Personally I prefer when the genre gets a bit cheaper, grittier - and gorier, and I'm afraid peaceful water aliens isn't my cup of tea. It took me many years to actually open the DVD of Deep Star Six, but as usual - while searching for another movie - I found myself standing with this DVD in my hands instead of the Tobe Hooper movies I wanted. And going Hooper to Cunningham isn't that farfetched anyway...
This time the unlucky crew of stereotypical (the black tough guy with a heart, the white asshole, the good-looking hero wearing a cap, the female scientist, the token Russian dude that bites the dust faster then you can drink a small glass of vodka etc etc), hard-working, underwater technicians has spent their last six months by installing an missile base in a remote part of the sea. They discover that there's a huge cave under the place where they put the missile-stuff and when the ground gives away... something (yeah, I know - it's a damn monster, looks like a big, mutated mix between a crab and... something else down at the bottom of the sea) escapes and attacks them with deadly force!
My main complain with Deep Star Six is the lack of monster. There's a monster, but it takes almost an hour until we finally can see that darn creature and from then on it's in very short glimpses! I mean, I came here to watch monsters and kick ass and I'm all out of monsters! What I can see of the monster it's cool and it's fairly aggressive, killing off the characters one by one in not so gory fashion. The two bloodiest kills isn't by the monster, which is odd - but also quite original. Kinda unexpected - and both of them has to do with air pressure, which always is cool and gory. Deep Star Six also has a different kind of asshole in the form of Miguel Ferrer, the guy to go to when it comes to play asshole. But he - and the script - gives him a little bit more to do this time and he's not a total wanker in the end. Just a bit sensitive for monster-induced stress.
Even with the lack of monster Sean S. Cunningham keeps up the pace quite well and the focus is on adventure and rescue missions. I sense that he wanted to do something else than horror, but one of the final shots in the film still reminds me of the one of the final shots in his classic slasher Friday the 13th (but to be fair, it's almost a copy of the ending in Cosmato's Leviathan instead). The presence of Harry Manfredini as the composer of the score and some neat scare scenes still makes this a typical Cunningham film, even without that hockey masked crusader we love so much.