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  1. #1
    Resident DVD Reviewer
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    Apr 2002


    First of all, let me get this off my chest: this film just plain SUCKED. What added it to my DVD library? Probably the $9 price tag I found it for, and the fact that I am a sucker for these ghost stories. I saw this theatrically with a "first date" I was on when Ghost Ship first hit theaters, and was very dissapointed back then after seeing the wild trailers which promised some kind of Titanic-Meets-the-Haunting type of haunted ship thriller. The film never lived up to the trailers' expectations. The plot is so confusing and convoluted, that it makes one wonder just how good Ghost Ship COULD have been if it perhaps was not in the hands of producer Joel Silver and director Steve Beck.

    Ghost Ship was a product of colaborative efforts between Warner Brothers and Dark Castle Entertainment, a production unit responsible for pumping out 1999's House on Haunted Hill, which was a William Malone remake of the 1958 William Castle classic with Vincent Price (when I get a chance, I'll write a review for BOTH versions of that film, too, for you guys to compare). Dark Castle's idea was to come out with a scary motion picture for each Halloween season; so far, I believe, all they have cranked out is Ghost Ship (which plays just like House on Haunted Hill but on the ocean) and William Malone's House on Haunted Hill remake, which was pretty creepy especially compared to the drab black and white borefest original which was saved only by Vincent Price's mere presence. But I digress.

    Ghost Ship begins with what appears to be a party going on aboard a luxury Italian cruise ship called the Antonia Graza, in years set way before the present day setting of the remainder of the film. As some drop-dead-gorgeous brunette in a sexy red dress is belting out an Italian love song and people are dancing on deck, suddenly some cables snap loose and fly right into the group of guests dancing on the ship --- in what is perhaps the film's most shocking (but horribly fake-looking special effects) scene; we watch as bodies are cut literally in half by this powerful cable, blood spurting everywhere and body parts dismembering all over the deck. It seems only a little girl in a powder blue dress has survived as she screams when the captain of the boat she was dancing with loses his head, coming apart and exposing his brain right in front of her......

    Fast forward to the present day, where Gabriel Byrne (the only "real" headliner of this film) and his team of ocean salvagers aboard his tugboat are attempting to salvage a sinking ship, as is the business they are in. Once celebrating in a local bar on their latest catch, they are approached by a stranger who shows them pictures of a massive cruise ship taken from the air by him, and asks if Byrne's team will help him salvage the boat because he believes it to be valuable. Agreeing to let him in on the deal, the group sail out in search of this mysterious ship which seems to be on the radar screen one moment and then gone the next; they suddenly, from out of a fog, run right into --- literally --- the hull of a massive cruise ship which turns out to be the Antonia Graza......the only problem is, the ship was declared lost at sea for years ever since the "accident" depicted in the beginning, and Byrne cannot believe she is still afloat even if in her rusted, decrepid condition.

    Deciding to go on board, you can imagine what happens next.....Byrne and his crew are subjected to a haunted vessel, of course, hence the name of the film, but the plot goes in so many different directions with a rushed, fast-cut editing style that at times gets downright impossible to follow. Thinking they have made the discovery of the century and deciding the Graza may be worth millions, the crew decides to try and salvage the ship somehow and possibly tow her in, or fix her engines to get her to shore for salvage. However, each member of Byrne's crew are subjected to different haunted discoveries, such as Julianna Margulies (the only female member of Byrne's crew) constantly seeing visions of the little girl in the blue dress that seemed to survive the accident in the beginning, an African American member of the crew (played by Isaah Washington) seeing the ghost of the sexy brunette singer from the beginning who lures him to his own death by seducing him by unzipping that same red dress she was in from the beginning and exposing her really beautiful looking tits, stepping out of the dress, making him think he's going to be banging a ghost, and then letting him fall into an elevator shaft; there is also a sequence where Byrne actually confronts the ghost of the Graza's captain in his cabin, who explains the convoluted story of what happened to his ship the night of the accident in the seems the Graza was attempting to rescue another ship that was in distress in the ocean, and some crew members from the Graza boarded the ship just to steal boxes of gold bars that were on there; it is not until then that we learn there was a very strange, ridiculous plot going on here, whereby the "stranger" that actually brought Byrne and his crew to the abandoned, rusted Antonia Graza is a ghost HIMSELF, but an actual "soul collector" of sorts --- who came to kill Byrne's crew for attempting to steal the gold themselves. This is all seen, also, through the eyes of the little girl, who flashes back for the female member of the salvage crew, exactly what happened the night of that accident: we see visions of crew members attempting to kill other members of the ship they stopped to rescue to steal the gold with machine guns and rat poison, and then we see the eventual murder of the sexy Italian singer, who is betrayed by this "soul collector" stranger who kisses her (in this vision we are seeing) and then has an iron hook driven into her head; if this all sounds ridiculous, silly, and just downright stupid, dont worry because you're not alone in your opinion. It was. And I dont know which Joel Silver produced thriller was dumber --- Thirteen Ghosts or Ghost Ship.

    Once confronted by the "soul collector" stranger who brought Byrne's salvage crew to the Graza at the end, and realizing he is a ghost of sorts himself, the last remaining female member of the crew, after getting some really confusing speech by this "soul collector" about what this entire stupid film was supposed to be about (that is, it is his job to "salvage" souls for what he calls "management"), manages to blow up the Antonia Graza with explosives, sending all the "trapped souls" that were in the ship --- the ghosts of the guests aboard --- out and into the night air as the ship sinks, along the lines of Jan De Bont's Haunting remake. Then, there is some weird sub-plot regarding this "soul collector" character in which he "marks" his victims whose souls need to be taken by him --- the whole thing just didnt make any sense. Whats worse is the VERY ending, where we see the remaining female member of the salvage team being rescued and then put into an ambulance (once she blew up the Antonia Graza) when she suddenly sees ghosts of some men loading the boxes of gold up into a ship.....and the same "soul collector" behind them who looks at her and smiles as the ambulance doors shut closed and she screams........

    Ahhhhhhhh......Ghost Ship......another one of those "what could have been" films; because of pretty poor direction and even worse screenplay writing, we get a ghost story about a haunted ship that just could have been so much better without the convoluted, confusing plot that splinters in a million different directions --- not to mention, as most modern day horror films are doing --- the ripoff effects from films such as The Ring with quick shots of this creepy looking little girl every couple of minutes.....what is it with the kids in these motion pictures?

    Fortunately, Warner Brothers has put together a pretty solid, extras-packed DVD presentation of Ghost Ship for the price they ask for this disc, and just for fun on a lazy evening or afternoon or if you're in the mood for a couple of good but cheesy scares, this title is worth adding to your collection if you can find it for this price or lower (either nine or ten bucks).

    Housed in one of those awful, cheap typical Warner Brothers "snapper case" boxes (God, I HATE these things) with the cheap cardboard inlay, this single-disc release of Ghost Ship boasts some cool artwork on the front cover, depicting the front of what appears to be the Antonia Graza with a skeleton face and the words "SEA EVIL" imprinted on the bottom of the cover; a banner boldly proclaiming WIDESCREEN EDITION adorns the top of the cover.


    As usual, Warner refuses to list the aspect ratios of their DVDs on the back cover, and I can only guess that this was shot in either a 1:78 or 1:85 scope, because the widescreen image filled my entire 16X9 Mitsubishi set when in STANDARD mode; no letterboxing was apparent, indicating this was NOT a 2:35 or 2:40 ratio. There is a FULL SCREEN EDITION of Ghost Ship available separately, but I would advise against this because the widescreen version fills a 16X9 screen just fine, as I said, and the picture quality on this disc was superb. No grain. No shimmering. Nothing I could really detect as wrong with the video on Ghost Ship; colors looked great and there were no blemishes at all on the print --- very smooth and incredible job by Warner Brothers on this transfer.


    With Warner Brothers, you never know what you are going to get, audio-wise, when going into a DVD review....some of their Dolby Digital mixes have been downright horrendous-sounding, such as on the Kurt Russell thriller Executive Decision, and some, lately, have been stellar, such as the DTS track on Exorcist: The Beginning and the awesome, pumped-up muscular Dolby Digital mix on Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. This studio is becoming infamous for delivering mixed-bag results on their DVD's audio tracks, but aside from a personal complaint that I had regarding the fact that I thought Ghost Ship could have really benefitted from a DTS track, this mix we get on this disc is pretty atmospheric and somewhat aggressive.

    While dialogue remained a bit weak as compared to the rest of the mix (yet another Warner Brothers DVD quality problem --- the worst example being 1999's House on Haunted Hill, where the dialogue was HORRIBLY low compared to the rest of the audio), the creepy sounds of the haunted ship were rendered nicely on this mix; this is not something that is going to shake your house down, no way, but there are plenty of moments where LFE were present, such as during explosions and when Byrne's tugboat crashes into the Antonia Graza (which creates an awesome wallop of bass), and when your system is up high enough, you'll be able to hear the dripping, creaking pipes of the Graza in the surround channels. A more than adequate Dolby Digital mix for this highly unappreciated ghost film; of course, I would have preferred DTS, but hey, what do I know.....

    This SINGLE disc release of Ghost Ship, as I mentioned earlier, actually comes PACKED with extra features which is amazing given the fact that it shares bit space with a great-looking video transfer and a nice sounding surround mix. These features included:

    -UNLOCK THE SECRETS OF THE ANTONIA GRAZA featuring spectacular never-before-seen footage & frightening untold tales & more
    -Theatrical Trailer

  2. #2
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    cincinnati, ohio


    This film is a mixed bag for me, too much like 13 ghosts, it's not that bad( i have it too) ,but it go's into standard horror movie mode & never really gets out of that. the ending for me is what killed it, but once again it's still not that bad ,but i can only really watch it in the halloween season & that's about it & as for warner bros. if they are going to do these type of horror movies with good ideas at least complete them with a good final story & a good screenplay.

    another good right on target review !


  3. #3
    Resident DVD Reviewer
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Quote Originally Posted by steamboy 2
    This film is a mixed bag for me, too much like 13 ghosts, it's not that bad( i have it too) ,but it go's into standard horror movie mode & never really gets out of that. the ending for me is what killed it, but once again it's still not that bad ,but i can only really watch it in the halloween season & that's about it & as for warner bros. if they are going to do these type of horror movies with good ideas at least complete them with a good final story & a good screenplay.

    another good right on target review !

    Once again, Mike, thank you for taking the time to read this and comment with kind words; I agree about the ending --- what the hell was this all about with this "soul collector" guy? What was the POINT of this, did you get this at all? Was he there to collect the souls of the ghosts of the people who stole the gold from the other ship?

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