Horror Movie Review: Death Ship (1980)

Death Ship is a lower-tier offering from the 80’s horror selection, one that has a decent cast & a great location but not a lot else.

Aboard a busy cruise ship, Captain Ashland (George Kennedy) is making his final voyage before retirement. Unfortunately for him & everyone else a huge freighter comes out of nowhere & crashes into them. The cruise ship sinks with only a handful of survivors adrift on a piece of wreckage. The survivors include Ashland’s replacement, Captain Trevor Marshall (Richard Crenna) & his family as well as few lucky passengers.

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While adrift they find the barely conscious Captain Ashland before coming across the freighter that sunk the cruise ship. They manage to climb aboard only to discover it completely deserted & seemingly for some time.

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As the survivors explore, the ship proves to be a spooky place as things move on their own accord, music plays randomly & disembodied German voices are heard. Things then get worse as Ashland regains consciousness & seems to believe he is the captain of this ship.

Will anyone survive…the Death Ship!?

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Silly. That’s the word that comes to mind while watching Death Ship. It’s a very silly premise that ends up taking itself far too seriously. The subject matter is somewhat interesting but it fails at delivering it in a really memorable way. The mysteriousness of the ship is left fairly vague with just what happened to it never really explored. It’s a pity as it’s a really imposing sight & gets the imagination going. The realisation of the torture that took place on the ship is horrific but how we went from that to a ghost ship is never answered.

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It just never realises its full potential with early creepy moments failing to pay off in the long run. There is a lot of nothing that happens throughout but when more gruesome/sinister moments do occur they can be quite fun. The blood shower is a particular high point with some impressive camera angles giving it a much more darker tone. As is the watery pit of bodies that one character ends up in struggling to get out in slow motion while the screams of the dead echo around him.

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These moments are ever so satisfying but they are just too far & few between.

George Kennedy as the seemingly possessed captain is the highlight of the movie. His early abrasiveness while on the cruise ship lending well to the later psychotic-ness of him aboard the German freighter. He & Crenna are about the only members of the cast that really leave an impression. The rest, while delivering perfectly fine performances just don’t have as much to do.

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A disappointing finale ends things on a low point leaving you wondering what could have been considering just how damn cool the ship is!

Death Ship
  • 5/10
    The Final Score - 5/10
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