Friday, July 17, 2015

Deep Rising (1998)

When I look back at the stable of classic action movie heroes there are names that jump out at me. There are the obvious ones, of course, with Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Chan, Li, Lundgren, Norris, and Statham. But what about some of the others who don't get as much attention or love? Some have gotten a taste of that in recent years, like Danny Trejo, but I'm not really talking about unknowns who became known. I'm talking about the knowns who fell into obscurity. When thinking of them you find yourself seeing them pop up in terrible made for TV movies (often of SyFy) and it breaks your heart a bit. Treat Williams is one of those guys.

That's right, this guy right here. Treat Motherfucking Williams.

Yeah, the same guy who played one of the antagonists in Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader. He used to be known for playing badass heroes who took on all comers with a smirk and a gun. This guy was always one of my favourites and it really does make me sad to see him relegated to the place Hollywood has shuffled him off to. He deserves better and dammit, we're gonna celebrate him today because he just so happened to star in a big budget giant monster flick. That's right, Hollywood made some of those that weren't attempts at making Godzilla work in America or Guillermo del Toro getting to play out his childhood fantasies on screen. There was a big budget giant monster movie with a new monster that had never been used before and it starred Treat Motherfucking Williams.

It also starred that one guy Stephen Sommers puts into all of his movies.
I kid, I kid, I know and love Kevin J. O'Connor, so calm down. If the previous picture and caption weren't enough of a hint, this movie happens to be directed by Stephen Sommers, the guy who cranked out quite a few enjoyable movies in his time. He's also the same guy who cranked out some really terrible movies alongside those entertaining ones. But hey, at least he has some good ones. That puts him ahead of Michael Bay...not that that's very hard, but I digress. Years ago he took it upon himself to try bringing the world a giant monster movie that hovered between horror and adventure and we're here to see if it turned out better than some other movies.

Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.
Our boy Treat plays John Finnegan, boat captain and resident hero of this voyage. He, along with Joey and Leila (Joey's girlfriend) are hired to take a boat of mercenaries across the water to a mystery location out in the ocean. This mystery is basically immediately spoiled for the audience, as we then see a luxury cruise ship built by the rich douche of the movie, Simon Canton. He and the captain discover that Jean Grey is on board and she's attempting to rob everyone blind.

It turns out being an X-Man doesn't pay all that well. Especially when you keep dying.
The sonar picks up a large object (which totally isn't a giant hungry monster) and it hits the ship, causing all hell to break loose. Oh, and also these snaky things start eating people. Meanwhile, it turns out the mercenaries aren't as friendly as we thought as they were coming to rob the ship themselves, causing some friction among Finnegan and company. But, faster than you can say Djimon Hounsou, things get pretty bad quickly after they run into Famke Janssen. Back on the smaller ship, Leila gets killed by one of those snaky things, meaning that Joey needs a new hot Asian girlfriend.

Alas, poor Leila, we hardly knew ye. And Joey never even got a single sex scene with you.
The group realizes they need to work together, as it is now clearly them versus these gnarly bastards that want to eat them. Along the way they end up sending Joey out to fix the smaller ship for their escape and also find Canton. Poor Djimon Hounsou finds something too that certainly brings to mind Stanley Kubrick's classic The Shining which also had a very interesting black man who was greeted with a surprise.

Nothing like an axe to the head to make all your other worries go poof.
So he dies and now they're dragging the rich prick around with them (after they kill his friends, because Djimon would've wanted it that way). Canton and the captain both tell the story of the flesh hungry monsters tearing into the people on the boat and it is revealed that Canton hired the mercenaries to rob the ship and blow it up, as building it had nearly put him in the poor house and it was the only way to make anything back. But wait, didn't we forget about something? I could've sworn there was something important that we all should've remembered while all this exposition was occurring...

Ohhhhh, riiiiight, those things!
Canton hypothesizes that the things are giant deep sea worms that evolved to this current state. From then on there's some running, some swimming, some dying, lots of shooting, and even some betrayal. Canton abandons the others to die, as the boat is sinking and he'll make his money off of the insurance. The mercenary leader tries to sacrifice Joey to save h is own ass, but pretty much immediately then gets eaten afterward, and we finally get the big shocking reveal when they make it to the center of the ship as it turns out that Canton was wrong about those things being worms. They're tentacle attached to a really big nasty octopus creature who is not going to win any beauty contests.

"Shut up! My mom says I'm beautiful!!"
Finnegan isn't going to have any of this "being eaten" shit, so he shoots it in its big milky eye and grabs Jean Grey to hightail it outta there. Back on the smaller ship they are lead to believe Joey is dead, as he's missing after trying to fix it again, and Finnegan rigs it to collide with the large vessel, exploding when it does so (as there is a really big bomb on there). They have a final face-off with Canton before taking off on a jet-ski while being chased by a horde of tentacles. Canton tries to escape via the smaller vessel, breaking his legs when he drops onto it, but finds its rigged to explode as he and the large beasty both go up in flames while our heroes end up on an island where it turns out that Joey survived. Yes, the horror is over...at least until a large thing in the jungle roars and we see the tree getting shoved around as whatever it is approaches them. What is it? Who knows! The movie's over now.

I do have my suspicions though...
Was this movie bad? Nope! It was actually a pretty exciting (if formulaic) little creature feature that did honestly surprise me with the reveal that it was one mosnters rather than many. Treat Williams shined perfectly as the older hero who is young enough to still kick ass, but old enough to be tired of having to kick ass. And, wow, there are a lot of notable faces in here too. Granted, most of them weren't known at the time, but still! I never thought I'd be able to say I saw Djimon Hounsou get an axe to the face unless he had a very unlikely casting in a Friday the 13th film. Even then, a machete to the face is far more likely. Famke Janssen hasn't quite hit her stride yet here, but she does well enough as a leading lady. The creature though...that's the real star here.

I don't think Treat agrees though.
Yes, even though you barely get to see the big monster, it truly does steal the show. And its tentacles are nightmarish all on their own, making it easy to see why no one would ever think they were tentacle. They have big toothy mouths, for fuck's sake! That's just messed up! I'm never a big fan of CGI, but I think it was handled well here and the special effects really shine. Especially when you see a half-digested person.

I don't think they're a bandage big enough for that owwie.
While it falls more on the horror side of things, I still think this is a fine movie and I wish it had been a bigger hit as it stands out alongside many of the other movies in theaters at the time of its release as rather unique. People just weren't doing monster movies very often, so it was refreshing to see one done in a way I hadn't quite seen before. I do wish the big ugly had gotten more face time, but it could be argued that it was there all along in the form of its tentacles. And the tension that builds as we're lead into its reveal is great. Ultimately, it's a big of a forgotten monster movie that I think you should check out. It didn't disappoint me and I hope you can dig it too. So, until I too lose my hot Asian girlfriend to a giant tentacled monster...wait, that sounds wrong...I don't even have a girlfriend! Oh well. Later days, bleeders.

Seriously, watch out for those tentacles.

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