Friday, May 20, 2011

Death Ship

(Alvin Rakoff, 1980)
From the people who brought you the absurd "City on Fire" comes this equally absurd yet noticeably improved piece of product about an unmanned Nazi boat that wreaks its wrath on a glamorous boat cruise's bedraggled survivors. The protagonists do almost nothing but run around the hall, the boat exterior and engine-room shots are recycled mercilessly, the 'montage' stuff has Eisenstein pounding on the lid of his coffin, and several groovy set pieces - the waterlogged net o' corpses, the alarmingly full-frontal blood shower - are shamelessly overextended. On the other hand, the film generates a degree of knowing goodwill by having Saul Rubinek's obnoxious comic relief guy drowned at the earliest possible opportunity. And ultimately, the film comes very close to camp classic status on the strength of one brilliant casting stroke: ladies and gentlemen, Mr. George Kennedy! As the asshole ship cap'n turned Nazi possessee, he makes me laugh every time he appears on screen - and when he opens his mouth, take a deep breath. He adds entertainment value to this team's crass silliness, and heroic DOP Rene Verzier - again!! - gives value for money, just enough atmosphere for the goofball content to tense against. Bald idiocy at its most amusing.

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