There’s something wonderfully romantic about movies set at sea. Whether it’s Quint, Hooper and Brody hunting down that shark, Carl Denham sailing off to Skull Island, or Captain Nemo’s deranged submarine. The sea is a great setting for horror and sci-fi and the ghost ship is one of horror’s more underused plot devices. So avast ye scurvy dogs, gather up ye booty and cast away upon the fine frigate Deadly Movies in a celebration of the Top 5 best ghost ship movies.., or shove it right up ye poop deck. How are those nautical puns working out for you?
Ghost Ship (2002): Sea Evil.., get it? File under disappointing Bought to you from the folks at Dark Castle who at this time had a business model of turning out awfulness after awfulness with the likes of House on Haunted Hill (1999), Th13teen Ghosts (2001), Gothica (2003), House of Wax (2005), and The Reaping (2007). Whilst Ghost Ship undoubtedly loses its way, it is a much better film than its wayward cousins and makes this list solely because of it’s kick-ass opening sequence which takes death-by-cheese-string to a whole new level. Also see Ghost Ship (1952), a solid black and white effort, minus the cheese string.
Cruise Into Terror (1978): Dirk Benedict? John Forsythe? Christopher George? Lee Meriwether? Yes, yes, yes and somehow yes. This TV movie has a wonderfully baffling plot which defies known history, geography, archaeology, logic, and common sense. A cruise ship (which looks more like a garbage tug) searches for EGYPTIAN relics off the coast of MEXICO! That’s right friends. The Egyptian sarcophagus they’re searching for also happens to contain the mummified remains of Satan’s kid. At this point I gave up on making any sense of what was happening and just enjoyed the lunacy. Much like that guy in a wheelchair who lives near my apartment that has a cat in a cape on his shoulder. PS whoever designed that poster.., I mean really? Way to make a horror movie look like a Poirot matinee ad.
Death Ship (1980): Any genre film starring George Kennedy is worth a watch. Any genre film where George Kennedy battles a Nazi torture ghost ship is definitely worth a watch. Unlike most of the other films on the list, it isn’t so much evil spirits which make this a ‘ghost ship’ but rather the actual mechanics, in other words the ship itself. Watch on in hilarity as the writers try to conjure up ways in which a pile of metal can murder people. Granted there are other specters on board, but the ship is the star, and the movie does a decent job of creating an eerie atmosphere. There’s also a lot of unashamed close ups of pistons and engines and the like. It’s enough to give an engineer a proper good boner. Mmmm piston.
Triangle (2009): I really rather enjoyed this film. However be warned fans of accurate geography; never have either Australia or Australians looked less like their US counterparts which they so badly pertain to be. A lowly Sunshine State road sign is about the only effort made to ‘transform’ (mega-lols) Queensland into Florida. But when the action moves out to sea (save for one truly horrid CG storm) the movie’s a pretty effective paranoid horror flick set abound a deserted cruise liner. The twisty-turny plot offers something a little different too. To sum up one calls upon Professor Barry Manilow who once infamously stated “Bermuda Triangle. Makes my woman disappear. Bermuda Triangle. Don’t go too near. Looking At it from my angle. Do you see why I’m so sad. Bermuda Triangle very bad“. Poignant.
Shock Waves (1977): Brilliant! Ghost ship? Check. Nazi zombies? Check. Peter Cushing? Check. Brooke Adams in a bikini? Check. Glorious 70s mustaches Check. What more do you want from me? While the ghost ship itself may only play a small part in the film, it’s wonderfully realised through (what I think is) a matt painting on the horizon which only adds to its oddness (see image above). In the mean time you’ll be entertained by the usual eccentricities you come to expect from peter Cushing as well as Nazi Zombies in welding goggles. Glorious. Oh and to the ‘Cruise into Terror’ poster designer.., This, this is a horror movie poster. Stupid fucking Poirot poster.