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MAY 4 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : DEEP STAR SIX
From feoamante.com

This movie was released in 1989 when Hollywood was going through one of its periodical Water movie eras. LORDS OF THE DEEP, LEVIATHAN and DEEPSTAR SIX were all released in anticipation of the success that would surely follow James Cameron's THE ABYSS*. As it turned out, THE ABYSS was both over budget and behind schedule, being released far after LORDS OF THE DEEP, LEVIATHAN and DEEPSTAR SIX flopped. THE ABYSS flopped too. 1989 just wasn't the right time for dopey Horror/SF movies in the water (8 years later, Hollywood would repeat itself and release a slew of underwater critter flicks just prior to the release of/and after the success of, James Cameron's TITANIC). DEEPSTAR SIX was bad news for Carolco, a studio which started the late eighties and into the early nineties trying to be the final word in SF/Horror movies (TOTAL RECALL, THE RUNNING MAN).

They are dead these days.

What I like about DEEPSTAR SIX is the fine acting despite the derivative story and pedestrian script (Screenplay by Lewis Abernathy and Geof Millar: HOUSE IV), the horrendous plot holes, and bad Special Effects. SFX are usually what keeps most Hollywood horror movies afloat, but not this one. The SFX are laughably bad and the movie score will make you groan time and again. In fact, the music is so horrible for the movie (imagine a three way cross between the incidental music for Kojak, Charlie's Angels, and Murder She Wrote. It totally wrecks all suspense and action.) that nowhere in the credits did I see a listing for who wrote the actual Music Score. There are a few listings for Music Coordinator, Music Engineer, and Additional Orchestration; but I think I'll just be nice and not mention their names here.

The highlights of the movie come from the Direction of Sean S. Cunningham (THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, FRIDAY THE 13th, HOUSE, HOUSE II) who, though good at direction, is lousy at choosing scripts. I hope he does well with the much anticipated, FREDDY vs JASON to be released in 2000.

A cast of mostly "Television Celebrities" provide surprisingly good acting. The words they speak stink for the most part, but actors like Greg Evigan (HOUSE OF THE DAMNED) cut his teeth on really bad TV scripts. Evigan plays McBride, a civilian sub jockey working contract for the U.S. Navy's DEEPSTAR SIX project. The Navy wants missile platforms at the bottom of the ocean, and have thoughtfully provided a few Live Nukes for the team to toy with. McBride's sweetheart is Joyce Collins (Nancy Everhard: DEMONSTONE), the first woman to ever pass through Navy Seal Training. They are both led by two people: Captain Laidlaw (Taurean Blacque: [TV] THE NIGHT THE CITY SCREAMED) and Doctor Van Gelder (Marius Weyers) who is the harried and none too careful civilian project leader. Van Gelder knows that the Navy wants him to hurry up, or they will close the DEEPSTAR SIX project. Putting schedule ahead of safety,Van Gelder has some of the crew plant a bomb over a known underground cavern to blow it up and check for stability. Seems to me that throwing an atomic bomb at anything short of the sun would make it pretty unstable - but what do I know? One oceanic burp later and Merry Mishaps Ensue.

The two who really shine in this movie are Nia Peeples ([TV] Robin Cook's TERMINAL, TOWER OF TERROR [TV], BLOODHOUNDS II) who plays Oceanographer Scarpelli and Miguel Ferrer (ROBOCOP, THE HARVEST, Stephen King's THE NIGHT FLIER) who, as Communications Officer Snyder, dominates his every shot. Ferrer is a natural born scene stealer and underrated actor. He needs to be in movies worthy of his talents.

DEEPSTAR SIX is worth watching just for Peeples and Ferrer.

!!!UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT!!!
While only having two non-white actors in this movie, they are both, of course, slaughtered in the time honored Horror movie cliché of Kill The Black People/non-whites. This is not to say that the white characters don't also die, they do. The UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT is to let you know that, no matter how many victims or how many people from different races in the movie, the whites and ONLY the whites were cast as the survivors.

To be fair, Lewis Abernathy and Geof Millar's screenplay works best when simply showing the interaction of the folks involved. The opening scene with Evigan and Everhard is sweet and real, due to script, acting and direction. The same can be said for Ferrer's interaction with everybody. This movie flops around like a water starved fish concerning everything else. Especially bad are the unnecessary conflicts between crew members and the stupid antics of the creature. My rating is higher than some would expect for this flick, and it is not for the ridiculous Crawdad critter. Nia Peeples and Miguel Ferrer lead a cast that makes this movie worth watching. Two Shriek Girls and one negative Shriek for nearly being so bad its good.


MAY 4 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : GRADUATION DAY (1981)

Minor league slasher film helped by a veteran cast of genre actors. Tragedy strikes at a high school track meet when sprinter Laura Ramstead (Ruth Ann Llorens) drops dead after winning the hundred-yard dash (turns out she had a bad ticker). It's not long before both male and female members of the track team are dispatched in various gory manners. Laura's sister, Anne (Patch Mackenzie; THE DARK TOWER - 1987), takes a leave of absence from the Navy and arrives in town just as a female student is killed while jogging in the woods by someone with a stopwatch and a very sharp knife. Graduation Day is rapidly approaching and some of the athletes blame Coach George Michaels (Christopher George; GRIZZLY - 1976) for Laura's death because he's a no-nonsense kind of guy who pushes his athletes hard. Some say way too hard. Anne returns home to find her mother, Elaine (Beverly Dixon), has become an alcoholic and her stepfather, Ronald (Hal Bokar; REVENGE OF THE BUSHIDO BLADE - 1978), is as verbally and physically abusive since the day she left to join the Navy (He may very well be the reason why she joined). Anne sleeps in Laura's room (Ronald has turned Anne's bedroom into a darkroom) and tells her mother that she only plans to stay until graduation is over (a special trophy in Laura's honor is to be given to Anne) and she has no desire to keeps Laura's life insurance payout, which pleases a drunken Ronald. The black-gloved killer begins crossing out the faces of his victims on a team photo in red lipstick, while Anne tries to figure out why Laura really died; beginning with Laura's boyfriend, Kevin Badger (E. Danny Murphy; FINAL MISSION - 1984), who keeps a shrine of Laura in his home (as well as a crazy grandmother who yells at the TV). Anne likes Kevin and gives him a necklace she was going to give her sister at graduation. Coach Michaels forces gymnast Sally (Denise Cheshire) to do her entire uneven bar routine just for a newspaper photo op and the killer (again with stopwatch in hand) murders her by thrusting a sword through her neck while she is shaving her legs in the shower. Music teacher Mr. Roberts (Richard Balin) is seduced by topless student Dolores (a baby-faced Linnea Quigley) and Principal Guglione (Michael Pataki; GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE - 1972), who carries a switcblade (red herring alert!), is having an affair with his secretary Blondie (E.J. Peaker), so it's no wonder that no one notices that students are going missing. Mr. Roberts hears a tapping on the pipes and checks out the boiler room (Hasn't he ever watched a horror film?), where someone is playing a cassette tape of his makeout session with Dolores (It's a practical joke by Dolores and Tony [Billy Hufsy] and the entire sequence leads nowhere). Dolores and Tony get caught smoking pot by Officer MacGregor (Virgil Frye; UP FROM THE DEPTHS - 1979), but he lets them off with a warning and tokes-up on the joint he confiscated from them. Anne accuses Coach Michaels of killing her sister, but he tells Anne he "loved" Laura, just like all his students (He also lost his coaching job after graduation is over). The stopwatch killer then dispatches football player Pete (Tom Hintnaus) with a spike-tipped football to his midsection. Think you know who the killer is? I've laid out all the potential suspects, but you'll have to wait until just before the graduation ceremony for the killer to be revealed. GRADUATION DAY is a painfully slow-moving slasher flick that throws every early-80's trick in the book to liven-up the proceedings, including an opening disco tune, plenty of topless female nudity and even a roller skating scene (where a band called Felony performs their 'hit' song, "Gangster Rock"), but director/co-producer/co-screenwriter Herb Freed (HAUNTS - 1975; BEYOND EVIL - 1980; SURVIVAL GAME - 1987) forgot the most important ingredients: blood and gore. Sure, there are plenty of deaths and some practical makeup effects, but they lack the "oomph" needed to make them memorable. Tony suffers from one of the driest decapitations this side of an Andy Milligan film and Herb Freed hopes the editing, which is full of shock cuts and pre-MTV flash editing (some of it almost subliminal), will keep our minds occupied. It doesn't. The closest thing this film comes to actual gore is when a pole vaulter lands on a bunch of spikes and Anne discovering the dead bodies (and body parts) under the bleachers while being chased by the killer. This is the type of horror film where every major character acts like they could be the killer by doing or saying ominous things (Such as Anne saying to Coach Michaels, "We'll meet again!" Of course they'll meet again. They'll both be at the graduation ceremony!). It's no wonder that Herb Freed gave up filmmaking to become a rabbi! Also starring Carmen Argenziano (FIGHTING MAD - 1978) as Police Inspector Halliday, who appears during the third act to wrap everything up (by shooting the wrong man!). Letter-turner Vanna White also turns up as an overage high school student. Originally released on VHS by RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video, with a budget VHS by Goodtimes Home Video (recorded in LP mode). Also available on budget DVD from Hollywood DVD Ltd, and a simply horrible DVD from Troma that is the director's cut, with nine extra minutes of footage, none of it gore. Rated R. { text from critcononline.com }

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