Monday, March 29, 2010
Death Ship (1980)
A cruise liner collides with a menacing black ship (and right in the middle of the big costume ball) capsizing the boat and killing most of its passengers. The remaining survivors are stranded at sea until they come upon the same vessel now anchored in the middle of the ocean. Seeking food and shelter, though apparently not an explanation for how their life raft came upon the captain of the cruise liner emerging alive from the depths of the ocean hours after the collision, they board the black ship and begin to investigate. What they find is a vessel that seemingly operates itself as there is no crew to speak of. There are, however, what seem to be limitless shots throughout the movie of gears grinding, dials fluctuating, crank shafts um...cranking, all set to suitably ominous music. Anyone with an irrational fear of close-ups of machinery operating, take heed. Meanwhile, the captain is clearly not right and the survivors keep having strange accidents. I wonder if these happenings have anything to do with that framed portrait of Hitler found in a cabin below.
Akin to any number of haunted house movies, right down to the nonsensical series of events that unfold, Death Ship creates a relatively spooky atmosphere centered around an incoherent mess of a story. The ship does a perfectly adequate job of offing the survivors on its own as showcased by it immediately stringing up and tossing one overboard, but then we have this hostile, possessed captain character mucking things up. Then, an older woman's face melts after consuming peppermint candy which acts as the lone supernatural death in the movie. Sure, there are doors teetering and those malevolent pistons of DOOM!, as previously noted, but we never get any indication of ghost Nazis actually being present on the ship. I guess this particular model of ship just happened to share the same fascist leanings as its previous occupants. As well, why the ship ever came to be at all comes up as the castaways discover a few operating tables and a drawer full of gold fillings. It is determined that the vessel was employed as some type of interrogation/torture ship though it would seem to be troublesome to take prisoners all the way out to a giant freighter circling the Atlantic. It's not exactly like the Nazis were following the Hague Convention protocol while on land. And then it ends with the ship refusing to let the captain change course to run down the remaining few escaping by lifeboat because deep down the Death Ship is just a big softie...and I, as usual, am just confused.