“Under every deep, a lower deep opens.”
ZombieDog’s rating: Deep-Sea Dish of “B”
ZombieDog’s review: The label of “B-movie” is in many ways unfair. I’m not arguing that movies cannot vary in quality, but the title of B-movie can often come across as negative or lesser.
Take audio recordings. There are studio recordings which are arguably the best version of any given song or album. Then there are concert recordings, small venue recordings, even acoustic recordings. Some of the best musical performances I’ve ever seen have been anything other than studio recordings. Street performances, impromptu gatherings, or even drunken lyrics sung at karaoke are capable of more emotion and passion than the best studio recordings. While movies aren’t randomly made on the streets, this capacity for passion, this capacity for love, is exactly what I’m talking about when you find that special B-movie.
I’m going to make this next part up, not because it isn’t true, but because it’s difficult to verify. So around early 1988 or so, there was some scuttlebutt in Hollywood about James Cameron making on an awesome undersea movie. The executives at Carolco Pictures said to themselves “Hey let’s get in on some of that nice underwater cash!” Now, like I said, I cannot verify this, nor do I think it happened this way, but what we ended up with is a prime example of B-movie goodness.
Deepstar Six is an underwater adventure movie in the spirit of other underwater adventure movies where you know that there is a monster that is, at some time, going to eat somebody. This is what made these movies fun. This movie stars a bunch of young and middle-aged actors just trying to make their way through Hollywood. Most notable among them is Greg Evigan who was in BJ and the Bear (1979-1981). If you never saw that show, it was about a guy who drove a truck and had a chimpanzee as a pet. Oh yes, ’70s television pushed the boundaries.
Deepstar Six takes place with an underwater crew working on a government contract to place a missile silo on the bottom of the ocean. The crew has been down there for six months and, while in good spirits, they are ready to go back to the surface. During the preparation of the site, an explosive causes the sea floor to collapse to reveal a vast underwater cave.
Frustrated because now all their work may have been in vain, the crew sends a tethered drone into the cave to gather more information. The drone suddenly disappears — and simultaneously the construction workers detect something coming towards them. Not long after, this entity claims the two workers who launched the drone. The interesting part of this interaction between humans and monsters is that we’re never told exactly what is attacking these people. In fact, it keeps it a mystery until an hour into the movie.
The restraint to not show the monster saves this movie. Even without knowing the full details, the crew comes to the obvious conclusion that they are kind of in trouble. Without hesitation, their first decision is, “Let’s get out of here!” Rational decisions and monster movies rarely go together, although I’d be hard pressed to come up with an example where staying to study the creature is a good idea. If the people in Jaws said, “How about we stay on land and see if we can come up with a solution to this problem?” it wouldn’t have been as good of a movie.
This is a very good example of what a B-movie is about. I want people to look deeper, though. The idea is that B-movies are somewhat lesser and is where actors go to finish their careers, is simply not true; most of Deepstar Six’s actors are still working today. There’s a short film on the making of this movie showing the cast and crew working on a project that they’re taking quite seriously. After all, everybody has to start somewhere, from screenwriters to electricians even caterers learn from the smaller projects. With the comparison of musical recordings at the beginning of this article, passion comes in all shapes and sizes and should be encouraged because you never know where it will go.
This is a fun movie for me, and I watch it at least once a year. I have a ritual though; I always do a double feature with this movie and Leviathan. I think it makes for a great weekend double feature. If you’ve never seen either of these movies then let me suggest grabbing some friends, making a bunch of popcorn, and settling in to enjoy some pure B-movie awesomeness.
- Humanoids from the Deep (1980)
- Deep Blue Sea (1999)
- The Monster That Challenged the World (1957)