In the middle of the ocean, thousands of feet beneath the surface of the water, a navy outpost is 2 months behind schedule. The mission a matter of national security – installing defense missiles on the ocean floor to thwart an attack from outside our country. While scouting the location and prepping the the installation, underwater caverns are found that could be another untold thousands of feet deep. When the head scientist gets a hard on for getting the payload installed by the end of the week, safety and scientific study get thrown out the window in Sean S. Cunningham’s DeepStar Six.
Detonating charges over the cavern site opens a massive hole in the floor that almost swallows the excavation crew. They send a wired remote drone into the hole to check it out, and pump a video feed back to a satellite base. After a few seconds of the feed sending back some beautiful footage of thing never seen before by man, the feed is suddenly cut and to avoid getting chewed out by a superior, the two man crew detaches from their excavator and floats down to retrieve the drone. While they find the drone, they also find something else that they didn’t contend for – the ancient inhabitant of that underwater cavern.
DeepStar Six was conveniently released in 1989. You may say to yourself “what does this ass mean, by ‘conveniently’?”. Well, if you’ll remember 1989 with me for a minute, two other underwater themed monster-y movies came out that same year: The Abyss and Leviathan (starring a previously mentioned IB favorite, Peter Weller). Some of you that are familiar with The Abyss are probably saying to the screen right now “Hey internet asshole, that movie isn’t about monsters”, I’ll answer you in saying: Yeah ok, but close enough. One thing about these three movies I think we can all agree on are that they were all blessed with pretty decent casts, although DeepStar Six was probably the most b-list of the three. While the others had combined Peter Weller, Ed Harris, Ernie Hudson, Hector Elizondo, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Michael Biehn, DeepStar Six has a bunch of “Oh yeah! That guy!”’s including Greg Evigan (My Two Dads), Taurean Blacque (Hillstreet Blues – and has possibly one of the coolest names ever) and Miguel Ferrer (uhh, just about every movie you can think of.)
The story is pretty tense. Between interpersonal conflict and conflict with this “monster”, you get the bonus of being enclosed in such a tight space without much hope of going anywhere anytime soon. The factor of being so far underwater doesn’t really make itself very conducive to being able to just swim to the top. Compression at that depth is a huge factor, and the below clip from the movie can attest to the fact that it doesn’t seem like a whole lot of fun either. In fact, the clip that I’ve included in this review sums up my biggest gripe with it. This movie was made by the same person who directed and helped come up with the story of the original Friday the 13 film. I think that carries a little cache with it that it should just be gory as shit. Unfortunately, more times than not the gore seems to get shown offscreen, or is just a tad bit out of frame so you can’t see it. When it is on screen it usually goes by so fast that you don’t even see it. I ended up rewinding this movie a lot just to get the screenshots that I’ve included in this review. I don’t know if the reason for this was because they wanted to try to get a less adult rating, but if that’s the case, there were an awful lot of f-bombs being tossed around. I don’t think they’d be getting a G rating anytime soon.
The budget seemed pretty top notch, and a lot of the practical effects were impressive. The monster is impressive, the underwater shittiness of the late 80’s – early 90’s equipment was impressive. Greg Evigan’s entire body hair configuration and collection of flannel was impressive. I was even impressed by the CGI animation of the sonar on their screens. It seemed like they used the same 10 second clip for every screen that they wanted to show the sonar on a display, but I was still relatively impressed. It’s no floating water people of The Abyss, but it’s not Attack of the Killer Tomatoes quality either. I don’t know if I used the word enough in this review, but I’ll just lay it out here: IMPRESSIVE.
I was actually invested in the plot. Let’s clarify something here, that doesn’t happen much with these movies. Most of the time it’s laughable and “hey we’re all having a good time, just chill the fuck out on the details, bro”. While I was invested in plot – I mean that I wanted to see what happened. I wasn’t invested in the characters, at no time was I ever in doubt how the whole thing would ultimately end, and there was not a single moment when I was even slightly scared. Despite that, the movie was well put together and the characters were mostly believable even when they tried to cheesecake it up a few times. An interesting movie but don’t go into it expecting to shit your pants. DeepStar Six earns 4 deaths by decompression out of 5.