The F*ckin Black Sheep: Deepstar Six (1989)

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

Deepstar Six (1989)
Directed by Sean S. Cunningham

"An entertaining film that does what it can."

So…in 1989 some dude named James Cameron made a movie called The Abyss, a pricey underwater adventure that had a lot of fancy special effects and a lot of Ed Harris. It served as his follow-up to the ultimate sci-fi action extravaganza and the massively successful movie Aliens. The Abyss did ok, roughly $50 mil in the States, but not exactly gangbusters, proving that water movies usually fail.

At the same time, one of Cameron’s friends, a writer named Lewis Abernathy, wrote his own underwater adventure flick called Deepstar Six, which sounds more like a porn parody than a science fiction horror tale. Produced with a much, much cheaper budget and with a much, much cheaper cast and effects, it was ignored by audiences and only randomly mentioned again when discussing how many underwater movies were made in 1989 (five).

And why should we discuss it? If The Abyss by Supergod J. Cameron disappointed, who the hell cares about a cheap, waterlogged sci-fi flick by the creator of Friday the 13th? Apparently no one…but the Black Sheep.

Deepstar Six got shafted. No…it’s not epic, not even freakin close, but it’s an entertaining film that does what it can. It is no shit film and one that deserves a little more respect than it has. Oh sure, the story isn’t exactly clear at times (several times you end up asking, "What?"), but at least it moves along at a solid pace and things never grow dull, which is sometimes all anyone can ask from a cheap movie.

The story revolves around a group folks who have spent months underwater researching some scientific type shit. They end up examining a cavern that's way deep down there. When the roof of the cavern collapses, some weird shit goes on and people disappear in the darkness below. It turns out some sort of creature rhas emerged from the darkness, and now the thing is on the loose. That's too bad for the crew because they don't have anywhere to go…but to their graves! 

The cast could’ve been worse. We have the biggest, best asshole of the 1980s in Miguel Ferrer and Seinfeld’s favorite nut Lloyd Braun. Then there’s the dad from My Two Dads who wasn’t Paul Reiser. Maybe that was this movie’s plan: if they thought Reiser made Aliens a success, maybe Deepstar Six could repeat that success with that other dad from My Two Dads (Greg Evigan). And then a lot of TV actors who you'll probably recognize, but never, ever know who the hell they are. 

Things get a little silly at times, going 1968 Star Trek as the cast flops around the vessels whenever they get hit. But then the movie correctly plays the gore card when needed. Sometimes in a painful way (the captain gets crushed by bulkhead door). Sometimes in a gruesome way (poor Lloyd Braun gets sliced in two while in uniform, leaving his guts dangling). Obviously, the overall effects are decent, but not great — simply good enough. All the underwater shots are clearly models…and mediocre ones at that. I do give the production team credit for using lots of colorful lights and switches that look expensive and important to dominate the various underwater vessels. Those look quite fancy.

My favorite bad effect is toward the end when some of the crew finally surface. It’s one of the few times when the painted cloud backdrop and the end of the pool of water appear so clearly. Nothing is worse than noticing that the massive ocean looks only as big as the pool at the studio. As for the monster, he/she looks pretty effective. It’s a little too Audrey II, but what can you do? The thing seems menacing as hell and appears plenty of angry for being let out of his/her/its underwater cave. Who cam blame the thing? It wasn't awakened for a hit film. 





Source: Arrow in the Head

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