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A Diamond in the Dung.,
This review is from: Death Ship  [DVD] (DVD)Like at least one other reviewer here the lurid cover art of Death Ship drew me in as young, impressionable boy standing in the local dodgy video store in the early eighties shortly before many of the horror and exploitation films therein were whipped from our shelves by the fledgling BBFC and consigned to that cinematic void that lurks somewhere between obscurity and cult-fame.
Of course the over-zealous authorities did us a favour really. Ridding the shelves of films that in many cases were utter dross, propelled forward by enticing cover art. However there were some diamonds among the dung, Death Ship being a particularly shiny one, and it truly is a mystery how such a great film remained almost completely unavailable and unknown until it's recent repackaging and rerelease.
Despite a few B-movie clangers like the ridiculous day/night differential in the opening scenes Death Ship isn't true horror trash. For a start, it's got a famous-ish cast including George Kennedy, Richard Crenna and not to mention that bloke who went on to play Donnie in Frasier! But the area in which this film really sets itself apart is the set. The Death Ship in reality, I understand, was a decommissioned Canadian freighter of some description (albeit from the sixties rather than the forties) and most of the movie was filmed either on the decks or in the vessel's actual interior. It certainly looks the part with the ship's black, rust streaked exterior and grim, outdated interior brilliantly telling the tale of a Nazi interrogation ship given a life of it's own by the ghosts of it's past.
As the eerie first half of the film gives way to the helter skelter second half there are some truly sinister moments with the old woman's disfigurement at the hands of some innocent looking candies ranking as particularly shocking as was Nick Mancuso's wretched demise in the ship's flooded hold.
Rather less impactful was the supposedly infamous shower scene in which the gorgeous Victoria Burgoyne takes a bloody shower. The reality is however, overlong and sightly tedious.
I guess I could complain a little bit about the lack of answers provided. For example what was with all the frozen sailors and airmen? Were they poor unfortunates the ship had picked up for interrogation during the Second World War? But perhaps I should be grateful that the Death Ship just sailed off into cinematic obscurity rather than ruin it's poise by spelling every single thing out to the audience.
In short, this is a cracking horror yarn that deserves to take it's rightful place in the annals of history.