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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Deepstar Six (1989)

I haven’t spent a lot of time on the great monster movies that came out in the eighties and I thought it was about time to change that. Though instead of starting off with one of the really good ones the Greg Evigan vehicle Deepstar Six went to the top of the list. Mostly because I saw it on my Amazon Prime watchlist and I hadn’t watched it in years. I had totally forgotten that Sean S. Cunningham of Friday the 13th fame directed this!

A team made up of Navy personnel and civilians are working to install an underwater missile platform. They are behind schedule which makes some of them annoyed and others in a hurry. A decision is made to blast a cavern underneath the site without exploring it first. Of course, being a creature feature that doesn’t end well as they unleash something horrible. It first attacks the subs, but is soon drawn to Deepstar Six, the station where they all live. The creature gets loose and a lot of crew die in the process of trying to escape to the surface. Basically, your typical monster movie.

There isn’t much to say about most of Deepstar Six. You have the normal hero and love interest dynamic between Evigan’s character and Nancy Everhard’s. Though they do try and throw a curve ball with a pregnancy. There is the smartass and ultimate screw up played by the late great Miguel Ferrer. This is one of the highlights of the movie. Ferrer’s character, Snyder, is part idiot and part coward. Seriously he is a menace. From accidentally setting off a nuclear bomb that wrecks the station, to shooting one of the survivors with a shark gun that explodes his chest, to stealing the only escape pod in a fit of panic the guy causes more deaths than the monster. Well it might not quite be that bad, but it is close.

The rest of the story follows a familiar pattern of people unleash something terrible by their own stupidity or arrogance. Here it is partly both. Then our cast is picked off one at a time by the creature, which is kept mostly out of sight until things get really rolling. This build up is fun because you don’t have any idea what it is until you get it on screen. Heck even after we see it, I still wasn’t sure what the damn thing was supposed to be which gives the movie a weirdly cool vibe. The monster is alien but not in the from outer space sort of way but in the what the hell is it way.

The above isn’t meant to imply the creature design was bad. It’s effective and looks like an animal that is strange enough to be from the bottom of the sea, while still realistic enough to possibly exist. The kills are pretty tame and involve a mini sub getting crushed off screen, a diver in an underwater suit getting split in half, and a nasty bit with a door crushing someone. But the two best kills are when the shark gun explodes a character’s chest and when Snyder takes the escape pod without decompressing. The second involves veins throbbing and blood flowing in a bit of practical special effects work that I really dug.

Deepstar Six isn’t a great movie. That said I think it is a decent entry into that second tier of monster movies that the Aliens and Jaws series inspired. If you have some time and a hankering to check out Greg Evigan in his best non-truck driving role then this is the movie for you. Consider it recommended.

© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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