Ghost Ship (2002)

Sea Evil

In Brief
Released by the same company that brought us the remakes of The House on Haunted Hill and Thir13en Ghosts. Like its cousins, this movie is not going to win any prizes. Every review I read said so, and, now that I've seen it, I agree. On the other hand, if you liked the other two, this will be right up your alley. It lacks some of their humor, but it remains a solid story. It surfs along from beginning to end, fast enough to give me a rollercoaster-like feeling and kept me from asking questions like, "Why didn't she get hypothermia?" until hours later. Even then, I didn't care - I had too much fun.

Plot Summary
The movie opens in an almost pastoral fashion. An oceanliner, mid-60's decor. The uppercrust dancing peacefully to a live band. Rose tinted glasses for all... But I warn you now, put down your popcorn, or you might spill it during the climax of this scene. I did.

Cut to a very skilled ship salvage crew doing what they do best, and getting paid well to do so. When they get back to port they're offered the chance to salvage a gigantic ship that some guy spotted from his weather plane. One of them is engaged to be married the next month, and thinks he'd rather not go. Everyone else agrees, they'd rather go home. Then they hear how much they might make off the salvage, and everyone changes their tune. Bad idea.

The guy agrees to show them where it is, so long as he can come with them. Once they reach the boat, strange things start happening. A few hallucinations, and some impossible occurrences like a lit cigarette that none of the salvage crew lit, sitting in an ashtray. Next they find a bunch of gold bars, and decided to take them and leave the ship. Then people start dying. So, if you're looking for a moral for this movie, it would have to be "always follow your instincts not your greed".

My only question is how they get actors like Gabriel Byrne and Julianna Margulies to be in this kind of thing. I mean, it's an upscale B-movie. They must sift through actors' mail and arrange to call on the same day the mortgage bills arrive. Or maybe there are some dark rituals going on at the main office. The case for the later gets stronger when you look at the other two movies, which, among other well-knowns, have Academy Award winners F. Murray Abraham and Geoffrey Rush!

Okay, I can think of one other explanation. These are fun, reasonably intelligent, and unpretentious movies. While far from great art, they're nothing to be embarassed about. They follow in the foosteps of movies like Mask of the Red Death and Dead Alive. They set out to scare and entertain, and so far they've all succeeded admirably. No wonder the big names are willing to hop in.

Directed by Steve "The Abyss - Effects Art Director (ILM)" Beck

Cast Credits
Gabriel Byrne - Murphy
Julianna Margulies - Epps
Ron Eldard - Dodge
Desmond Harrington - Ferriman
Isaiah Washington - Greer
Alex Dimitriades - Santos
Karl Urban - Munder
Emily Browning - Katie
Francesca Rettondini - Francesca

The movie "Ghost ship" is unbelievably funny if you can read Italian. It's set almost entirely on an Italian luxury liner, the Antonia Graza, and this means that there are plenty of labels, books and posters that are supposed to be written in Italian.

However, it seems that the producers couldn't afford a human translator, so they fed all those sentences to an automatic translation tool. I've copied some of the most striking results of this decision (first the presumed original phrase, then the Italian translation, then an approximate actual meaning):

  • Attention - Poison -> Veleno di attenzione -> (Something that) poisons your attention.
  • Industral (sic) strength -> Resistenza di industral -> Resistance of the industral.
  • Captain's cabin -> Cabina di capitano -> Cabin o'captain.
  • (She) travels alone -> Viaggiando solo -> Travelling only.

In case you were wondering, no, I didn't need a magnifying glass or a perfect freeze frame to spot these howlers; there are several close-ups lasting for a few seconds.

The funniest part was the DVD commentary, where the director and the crew bragged about the incredible level of detail of the set (a hint for mr. Beck: next time let Francesca Rettondini help you with the translations...)

As a final note, remember: ALL YOUR GHOST SHIP ARE BELONG TO US.

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