DEATH SHIP (director: Alvin Rakoff; screenwriter: John Robins/from a story by Jack Hill & David P. Lewis; cinematographer: Rene Verzier; editor: Mike Campbell; music: Ivor Slaney; cast: George Kennedy (Captain Ashland), Richard Crenna (Trevor Marshall), Sally Ann Howes (Margaret Marshall), Jennifer McKinney (Robin Marshall), Danny Higham (Ben Marshall), Nick Mancuso (Nick), Victoria Burgoyne (Lori), Saul Rubinek (Jackie), Kate Reid (Sylvia); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Harold Greenberg/Derek Gibson; Scorpion Releasing; 1980-Canada/UK)
“It’s not that bad considering how bad it could have been, and only distinguishes itself by colorful death scenes and how unintentionally funny it is.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Alvin Rakoff (“King Solomon’s Treasure”/”City on Fire”/”Hoffman”) directs a waterlogged haunted supernatural ghost ship film, that has Nazis as possessed ghosts operating a sinister abandoned rusty freighter. It’s not that bad considering how bad it could have been, and only distinguishes itself by colorful death scenes and how unintentionally funny it is. The lousy movie, from a story by Jack Hill & David P. Lewis and a John Robins screenplay, is compromised by an undeveloped plot and a far-fetched unbelievable tale that might appeal to a few as a goof movie trying to tap into the success of recent haunting and Nazi movies or to those who get off on putrid dialogue between ghosts and Nazis. I just went into an almost swoon over the way the leads sleepwalk their way through the absurd dumb film.
A Caribbean luxury liner is commanded by the martinet Captain Ashland (George Kennedy) in his last voyage, as he was relieved of his command by the company for not being a people person and replaced by his genial family man second-in-command Trevor Marshall (Richard Crenna). While the vacationing passengers dine and party, the liner is rammed and destroyed by an empty freighter. A few survivors on a life raft seek refuge on an abandoned freighter anchored in the middle of the Atlantic, but are alarmed as the deserted death ship is operating on its own and starts killing off the survivors one-by-one. We soon learn the vessel is a floating Nazi interrogation boat that is equipped with torture chambers and Nazi propaganda. Meanwhile survivor Captain Ashland goes schizo, dresses up in a German’s captain uniform and imagines himself as the Nazi commander, an embodiment of a gung-ho Third Reich officer, and assists in the possessed vessel’s murder campaign. There are constant shots of the pumping engine and the boat advancing on its own, and of Marshall’s wife (Sally Ann Howes) cringing with fear and shrieking while her two children (Jennifer McKinney & Danny Higham) run all over the ship looking for a restroom without being killed.
REVIEWED ON 12/31/2012 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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