Ghost Ship (2002)
Director: Steve Beck
A salvage crew is led to a spooked CGI ocean liner in the hopes of finding riches. Of course, ghosts eventually go "pop goes the weasel", Gabriel Byrne flirts with the bottle, and the shite hits the fan.
I didn’t expect much sailing in to see Steve Beck’s latest genre “masterpiece”. Having pretty much despised "13 Ghosts", my expectations were needless to say, in the gutter. But surprisingly, even though I found this fast-food horror burger a tad redundant for the bulk of its running time (they explore, weird shit happens…that’s it!), I still found myself somewhat entertained by the events unraveling before me.
For starters, the killer opening sequence stabbed me in the face with its sharp, pleasurable horror daggers and I have to prop the flick for that. WHAT A KICK ASS SCENE! I’ll remember that one! It then proceeded to showcase some mucho stylish directing that gripped me on occasion, a few boo scares that made me twitch in my seat, a sweetie ghost girl angle that I appreciated, some gnarly horror imagery that echoed "The Shining" at times (among other films) and of course, the man, the myth, the legend himself...Gabriel Byrne doing one of the things he does best: boozing. I also should note that I totally rocked on the aggressive, horror montage that Beck slapped in there as a means of communicating what really went down on that damn ship. Talk about a tight, slaughter-filled and enthralling bit! YIPPEE!
But sadly, this Ghost Ship sunk low on many levels. For starters, the characterization was so damn bland. Apart from The Byrne who managed to elevate his thinly written role to a higher level due to his exceptional acting skills, the rest of the crew members were plain ass dull. I also found it really odd that the ghostly apparitions didn’t seem to affect our heroes much. I mean, if a spirit would stroll up in my face on a deserted ship, I wouldn’t care what it had to say or if it had a nice rack...I’d be off the canoe in a heartbeat!! But not these mo-mos; for some reason, they find the urge to either chit-chat, drink, or even try to nail the ghosts. WHAT’S GOING ON HERE???? If the leads aren’t afraid of the spirits, why should I be? In consequence, apart from a few well executed easy jolts, this cruise criminally lacked in the fear and suspense department. Last I checked this was a horror movie; so that’s a no-no.
To add more water into the hull, the narrative was in way too much of a hurry to reach its conclusion for my liking. The editing was awkward at times and the film went through its more important plot turns faster than I can say “there’s no money to be made running this site”. What’s the rush? Where’s the momentum? The film came off more like a collage of individual scenes at times, than a well woven feature. Last but not least, the special effects went from decent to poor and the crappy narrative twist behind the madness smelled like a convention straight out of Scooby-Doo. I still don’t fully grasp how this silly “evil force” worked! They should’ve kept it simple! Maybe Joel Silver and his checkbook can clarify it all for me one day. Then again, do I give a hoot nanny? AT ALL!
When the end credits rolled, I couldn’t say I found much that was novel or standout in this "Ghost Ship". Most of its tricks were of the “been there, done that” variety and I’ve seen them done much better before in other films. But I will admit that the bloody intro, the kool horror montage, some of the visuals and Gabriel Byrne assaulting the bottle did amuse me though. At least it’s a step up from 13th Crap! Let’s explore this ship!
The tomato sauce is laid on thick on this horror pizza. We get people cut in half, a sliced head, an impaling, lots of body parts, a pool of blood, a hook in the chin, violent mayhem, a burned dude, a crushed to pieces dude, Gabriel Byrne knocking them drinks down and more!
Gabriel Byrne (Murphy) "is" the movie and he out-acts everybody on deck. The man has presence galore and is just an all around blast to watch. You also can’t go wrong with watching Gabe chugging those drinks. Julianna Margulies (Epps) does ok, I guess, but she’s pretty boring as an actress. Ron Eldard (Dodge) acts with his blonde hair, not much of a part. Isaiah Washington (Greer) plays "that guy"...you know what guy I’m talking about…yes, that’s it…"that guy"…again! Desmond Harrington (Ferryman) failed to impress. I liked him way better in "The Hole". He seemed "off" here. Emily Browning (Katie) was very photogenic, handled her part very well and is such a cutie. Call me in 5 years honey; we’ll share some Pop-Tarts.
T & A
Some sexy brunette shows off her boobs and bootie and I thank her for the blood rush in my loins. The ladies get Gabriel Byrne sipping on potent beverages like a man.
I’ll give Beck this, he sure knows how to deliver that flash, use fast motion, slow motion and showcase stylish angles. But unfortunately, the atmosphere here was too candy-coated to give me the chills. It all looked slick, but it never crawled under my skin. We do get some nice shots of The Byrne man getting thirsty though.
The film pumps out some decent rock tunes the likes of Edwin and Mudvayne. We also get an okay score by John Frizzel that sometimes stepped up a few notches in quality to become quite eerie. NOTE: The score didn’t match the feel of certain scenes. Now I’m not sure if that’s due to the filmmakers being cheeky or them just being sloppy. NOTE 2: There definitely should’ve been some blues playing in the background while Mr. Byrne quenched his craving for booze.
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: March 28, 2003
IMAGE: As per most WB dvds nowadays, the GHOST SHIP DVD is sold in 2 separate entities: Full Screen and Widescreen. Why? I guess somebody is greedy out there. Come on!! Put “Full Screen” and “Widescreen” on the same DVD! Bugh! I had the Widescreen edition and the image was clean and solid overall.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital sound came through gangbusters. I felt every rip, slash, cut and ship brouhaha in my living room. Good stuff!
DOCUMENTARY (~ 15 minutes): This extensive look at the film basically acts as a long advertisement for it. It covers everything from cast and crew talking shop about the film, their characters and the story. Joel Silver also pops in to give his jive and director Beck comments on specific scenes (opening), as well as the beats he follows to scare an audience. We also get lots of scenes from the film so yes, this feature is SPOILERS-heavy for anyone who hasn't seen the film beforehand. We also learn about how the film came to be, along with some on-set footage and what everybody's goals.
SECRETS OF THE ANTONIA GRAZA: If you can crack this little game, you’ll see 4 reels that tell one story about another salvage crew on the Ghost Ship. Since I have no patience whatsoever, I only got to see one reel (~ 2 minutes) which was basically a POV walk through the ship, with some dude talking and another yelling whenever he found blood. It took me about ten tries to find the first reel and life’s too short for me to put in the time to find the other ones. You find them! I’m not hip to these games man, JUST GIVE ME THE REELS!
VISUAL FX FEATURETTE (~ 6 minutes): This feature concentrates on the “boat” effects. The film’s producer, director Steve Beck and some effect dude talk about the building of the miniature ship, the way it was used while also addressing the “digital” effects that were used to polish things up. We also get lots of on-set footage.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE GORE (~ 6 minutes): This feature shows us how some of the more impressive gore effects in the film were done (the opening). Director Beck, Howard Berger (KNB) and the other effects people come in to comment on the gore. We also get some kool on-set footage of the red splat taking place. I’m hip to this feature!
DESIGNING THE GHOST SHIP (~ 6 minutes): This feature shows us how they built and used the various boats for the film and the vibe they were going for in terms of their designs. We get to see various designs, on-set shooting and clips from the film. An okay feature.
We also get CAST AND CREW, THEATRICAL TRAILER, a MUSIC VIDEO for “Not Falling” by Mudvayne (great tune) and DVD-ROM goodies.
I dug the DVD and the many features actually made me appreciate the movie more.
Even though I surprisingly found myself having more positive spasms with this glossy fear flick than Beck’s previous poseur horror sandwich "13th Garbage", it still didn’t fully sweep me away. Sure, it isn’t the crud I thought it would be, but it isn’t a pair of Kari Wuhrer titties in my face either. I say, if you've got time to butcher and money to burn, hop onboard and enjoy the hollow ride as much as you can. If not, just wait for video/DVD where you can view it in the comfort of your own cardboard box. It’s that kind of movie. NOTE: This drink is for Gabriel Byrne! You rocked in "The Keep" and made it happen here once more. Cheers mate! GULP GULP! Bartender, refill this glass now and give another round to the Byrne Man…on me!
This flick was produced by Joel Silver, Robert Zemeckis and Gilbert Adler.
The poster art for "Ghost Ship" is a poor rip-off of the 1980 fear flick poster of “Death Ship”.