Thursday, April 23, 2009

Terror under the sea!

So the other night, I was watching "DeepStar Six,"and I was reminded of the heady days of my youth, back when VCRs were novel and the only video store in my hometown was a little indie place full of forbidden horror movies.

My buddy Aaron and I got lured in by the excellent video box for "DeepStar Six," but every time we hit the new-release rack, the lone copy was out.

So we went on an undersea-horror kick.

We rented such flicks as the very-similar-looking "Leviathan"and "The Abyss,"(which turned out not to be horror at all).

Ironically, by the time we got to "DeepStar," it turned out to be the worst of the lot.

(Aside: We were sci-fi/horror junkies, thanks to "Aliens,"which he got to see in theaters and I, banned by my overprotective but well-meaning parents, got to see when it made its HBO debut. One highlight: We saw an "Alien"-ripoff film called "Creature"on TV, then rented it, and discovered - in front of his startled parents - that there was a nude scene which obviously had been censored from the network broadcast. (Response to their shock: "That wasn't there when we saw it before!") "Creature" helmer William Malone went on to direct the "House on Haunted Hill"remake and got dubbed a "Master of Horror" for it.)

Looking back, these undersea creature features are some of my favorite movies, despite some stretches of awfulness.

(I should perhaps use the term "undersea" loosely, as while Jim Cameron's "The Abyss" was shot in a huge tank of water, the DVD insert for "Leviathan" confesses they faked all the underwater scenes with filters and particles in the air.)

But what struck me the other night was... for B-movies, "DeepStar" and "Leviathan" have some pretty strong casts!

For comparison, Cameron's "Abyss" has:
Stars Ed Harris ("The Right Stuff"), a four-time Oscar nominee, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio ("The Perfect Storm"), herself an Oscar nom, with Cameron favorite Michael Biehn ("Aliens") in the biggest supporting role. Others of name include John Bedford Lloyd ("Super Troopers"), J.C. Quinn ("Copycat") and comic Chris Elliott ("Groundhog Day").

Sean S. Cunningham's "DeepStar Six" has, in addition to the creator of "Friday the 13th":
Stars Greg Evigan (TV's BJ from "BJ and the Bear") and Taurean Blacque ("Hill Street Blues") plus "That Guy" superstar Miguel Ferrer ("Robocop"), soap star Nia Peeples, Matt McCoy (the star of "L.A. Confidential's" TV-series-within-a-movie) and Cindy Pickett (best known as Ferris Bueller's Mom). Even "Riptide's" Thom Bray shows up.

And George P. Cosmatos' "Leviathan" has, in addition to the director of "Tombstone":
Stars Peter Weller ("Robocop" himself), Richard Crenna ("First Blood") and Amanda Pays ("Max Headroom"), with Daniel Stern ("Home Alone"), Ernie Hudson ("Ghostbusters"), Lisa Eilbacher ("An Officer and a Gentleman"), Meg Foster ("Masters of the Universe") and Hector Frakkin' Elizondo ("Pretty Woman"). That's almost the entire cast!