So, I was in a discussion not long ago, about how, in the late '80s/early '90s, there were a crapload of Alien knockoffs...and most of them took place underwater. Deepstar Six was one of 2 of these things that I paid to see in a theatre(the other was nLeviathan), and it's today's SAW. Big, drippy, slippery SPOILERS follow...
According to the opening credits, this movie involved the producers of Total Recall, and the guy who created the Friday the 13th franchise. Weird. Oh, and the cast is mostly made up of actors from television and bad movies, like Nia Peeples, Greg "My Two Dads" Evigan and Matt "That Guy Who WASN'T Steve Guttenberg in later Police Academy Sequels" McCoy. Neat-o.
After the saddest credits ever, we follow a shark to Deepstar Six, which is a military project located on the ocean floor. There, we meet McBride and Laidlaw, a happy couple who are just waking up to begin their work shift. McBride is commitment-shy, and he artfully evades Laidlaw when she starts to ask him why he's never settled down. Trouble in Paradise?
They join the rest of their team for the change in shift, and we find out that their "shift" is in the last week of a 6-month stint on the ocean floor. The team consists of McBride(a submarine pilot) and Joyce Collins; a marine biologist named Dr. Scarpelli; a physician named Diane Norris; 2 hotshot submarine pilots, named Osborne and Hodges; a Russian-sounding scientist named Burciaga; Dr. Van Gelder, who is the man in charge of the scientific experiments being conducted underwater; and Captain Laidlaw, the commander of the underwater station.
Burciaga and Collins are studying an area where the military is trying to place a missile site, and they discover that the cavern underneath that spot is pretty deep. They contact Van Gelder to report that they should probably look for another place to build the missile site, but he orders them to use whatever tools are necessary to blow up the cavern, then put the missiles on top of the wreckage. Collins and Burciaga want to explore the area first, but Van Gelder overrides the decision.
Snyder tells the rest of the group about the cave discovery, and Scarpelli seeks out Van Gelder to try to talk him into letting her explore the cavern first. Despite citing several important scientific discoveries made in similar caverns, he refuses to delay the demolition of the cave. She stomps away, then we get a brief scene of Snyder begging Norris to give him a medical reason to return to land.
After that random bit goes nowhere, Scarpelli talks to the captain about the preservation of the cavern. He points out that the military project is on a tight schedule, but she counter-argues that the study of the cavern would be a valuable tool in her research. The captain chooses to side with Van Gelder, and Scarpelli takes out her frustration on some exercise equipment.
After her workout, Scarpelli jumps into the shower, but abruptly loses water pressure. Richardson pops in to ogle her, and she pulls him into the shower to join her...fully clothed. Heh, bet they both die of exposure before the credits roll.
Osborne and Hodges use a robot to place the explosives, and the resulting charge causes the sea floor around the site to begin to collapse. They activate a remote camera to explore the newly-created fissure, while they watch from their module at a safe distance. What follows is a friggin' enchanted wonderland, filled with glowing seaweed and underwater lava-rocks. Tra-la-la!
They decide to record the experience, as well as taking some photographs(the nudity will be artful, I'm sure), and that's when the probe suddenly loses the transmission. Osborne and Hodges decide to pilot their vehicle into the fissure to retrieve the probe. While waiting for the camera to work again, Burciaga tells Collins that the images from the cavern could be ocean life that has existed for millions of years, undetected by humans until now.
More Disney underwater fantasy stuff, accompanied by even more wondrous music. Man, it's like Seaquest and The Little Mermaid had a love-child! They spot the probe, then something spots THEM. The object chases their vehicle, and the other sub that Burciaga and Collins are observing them from abruptly loses all contact with Osborne and Hodges. Even their mini-sub vanishes from the radar screen.
Burciaga and Collins decide to call Deepstar Six to report the incident to the captain, and Snyder leaves his post to find him. While they wait, the sub is attacked by the large creature that destroyed the first sub. As the small vehicle begins to flood, Burciaga is flung under a pile of flying equipment, and Collins is temporarily knocked out.
Snyder and the captain try to contact them, but get only silence. They ready another vehicle to go after them, then we see hat Collins has finally regained her senses. She soon discovers that the creature that attacked the tiny ship pushed it close to the edge of a ravine, where it's extremely unstable. She manages to revive Burciaga, but he's pinned under a ton of stuff, and his leg is in rough shape. He's toast.
McBride and Laidlaw move in closer to where Burciaga and Collins were transmitting, and the creature nearly collides with them as well. They avoid it, then dock with the other mini-sub. After getting the hatch between the vehicles to open up, Burciaga dies from the trauma of his injuries. Collins crawls through the hatch, as does McBride, but then the portal slams down on Captain Laidlaw's midsection, nearly cutting him in half.
Pinned in place, the captain orders the pair to save themselves, then he floods the chamber to drown himself. They try to pry him loose first, fail, then swim back into the other sub. After a short ride back to the research station, they get escorted to sick bay.
While changing into a dry outfit, McBride and Richardson talk about losing the captain. Richardson gives McBride an old photo of him and Laidlaw during a happy occasion, and McBride is thankful for the good memory. He hugs Richardson, then finishes getting dressed.
During her time with the doctor, Collins reports on the creature that seems to be attacking all of the research vessels. Scarpelli shares the theory that perhaps the creature was disturbed by a combination of both the detonation of the cavern, and the sudden influx of light provided by all of the subs and probes. Also, during the medical examination, Dr. Norris discovers that Collins is pregnant. McBride just happens to walk in as the announcement is made. As George Takei might say, "Oh myyyyy..."
Anyway, while Collins and McBride hash out their relationship issues, Dr. Norris prepares to evacuate the station early. She leaves Snyder in charge of shutting down the computers, while the others all leave to pack up equipment. When the computer asks Snyder to input the reason for the shutdown, he tries to narrow down the attacks as an aggressive threat to the base by a natural force. That starts a missile detonation sequence. Gosh, what could possibly go wrong?
While the others talk about what they plan to do back on land, Snyder fires the missiles. The impact sends a shockwave through the base, and that shockwave also pisses off the creature outside. As the structure of the base starts to buckle, everyone scurries around to make repairs to the many, many leaks that are now happening.
They've fixed things on a short-term basis, but now they're boned on several other levels...For starters, the decompression chamber is being flooded, which is dangerous for them at such a low depth in the ocean. Also, the supplies are flooded, greatly reducing their chances of survival even if they do make it back to the surface; oh, and the reactor that they're running everything off of has become unstable, so they'll die in a matter of hours in a nuclear explosion long before the air runs out.
Snyder suggests trying to get into an escape pod without going through decompression, but he's told that anyone attempting to do that would explode from pressure. They examine the layout of the base, and find a possible route to a place where they might be able to repair the decompression chamber, so they work as a team to set up a new plan of action.
Richardson gets into a diving suit, grabs a welding tool, then heads outside to begin the repairs, while they try to guide him along from a computer screen. The welding tool is bright enough to attract the monster, and we see something slowly advance upon Richardson's position. A moment later, the others hear him screaming over the microphone.
They try to pull Richardson back into the base, but the creature follows him through the airlock. Only Richardson's top half makes it, followed quickly by a wormlike behemoth. The worm-monster ducks back down into the hatch with Richardson's yummy legs to chew on, as the crew work to both shut the airlock, and escape the room.
As the room gets flooded, the worm decides to swim back in. It snatches Scarpelli, and the rest barely manage to get away and seal the hatch. While Snyder and McBride argue over whose fault this is, the others realize that the creature has suddenly gone quiet. Snyder once again proposes using an escape pod without decompressing, and is told that it would be lethal.
The doctor and Van Gelder talk about the nature of the creature, and she tries to pick his brain about ways to kill it. He doesn't know enough about it to offer anything useful, but Snyder, McBride and Collins find harpoon-like guns that fire projectiles that can cause the target to inflate like a balloon, then explode. That sounds like a fun way to die. Snyder doubts the effectiveness of the weapon, until Collins demonstrates on the cushion that Snyder is sitting on.
Armed with their kooky new weapons, they decide to sneak back through the flooded part of the base to get to the decompression chamber. While wading through chest-high water, McBride dives under to see if he can clear enough debris away to finish repairing the decompression chamber, and clear an exit for them. After a couple of dives, he reports that he believes that he achieved his goal.
Then the giant worm pops up, and everyone goes crazy. During the frenzy, Snyder accidentally shoots Van Gelder with one of the Air-rows(heh, couldn't resist that one...), and we see his heart explode out of his chest. After the creature leaves again, Snyder has a mental breakdown, so Norris injects him with a sedative.
Snyder starts to cry and act like a wounded puppy, so McBride and Collins leave him with the physician, so that they can begin the task of readying the decompression chamber, and setting up an escape pod. Snyder is left alone for a minute, while the doctor tries to gather some medical supplies. While alone, he has a vision of the recently-exploded Van Gelder, and the ghost "attacks" him with another explosive harpoon.
Norris hears his screams, and discovers Snyder climbing up into an escape pod. She tries to drag him away from the ladder, but he gets away from her, then slams the pod door shut and initiates the launch sequence. Snyder's pod launches, sending a rush of water into the room through the now-open hatch, and McBride and Collins barely manages to rescue the doctor in time from a watery demise. When McBride declares that he's going to kill Snyder for what he did, the doctor says that Snyder has already killed himself.
Then we get to watch Snyder die. It's slow, it's painful, it's bloody, and it's explosive. Fun times. It's also the best special effect in the entire danged movie. Sadly, it doesn't last very long. When I first saw it in my teens, I thought it felt like forever, heh. Things seemed much gorier in my younger days...
Back in the base, our last three survivors are waiting for the decompression chamber to finish cycling up, so that they can make their escape. McBride decides that he's going to make his way over to another computer, hijack one of the mini-subs, then pilot it remotely over to the decompression chamber so that they can use it for their escape. Oh, and he asks Collins to marry him. Awwwww!!!! I hope they don't go on a cruise for their honeymoon...
McBride swims through several flooded compartments, while Collins tries to use the power of prayer to bribe God to let her beloved live. McBride gets inside one of the mini-subs, and begins to pilot it back to the other survivors. Then, the monster knocks at the hatch, so the doctor lets it in. Seriously, that actually happens. I really wish I were joking, but we get a scene where the monster politely knocks.
The creature eats the physician while Collins works on getting herself inside the decompression chamber. As it attempts to finish the doctor off though, she grabs up a pair of defbrillator paddles, and electrocutes the beast. It eats her anyway, while Collins gets rescued by McBride. The decompression finally finishes, and they get into their escape sub.
The mini-sub surfaces, but so does the stupid worm. As our couple tries to get onto a life raft, the worm attacks, so McBride causes a fire and an explosion, using leaking fuel. The creature gets blown up, then McBride reveals that he swam a safe distance away, and Collins pulls him into the raft. THE END
Well, we had a giant sea worm, a couple of exploding victims, a sexy girl in a shower, and a relatively high body count: so why do I feel so bored by this one? It just felt slow to me, and the kills early on were incredibly dull. Plus, we didn't really get to see much of the creature design, so even those few glimpses felt like they botched it. Still, Nia Peeples had a good shower scene, and the female lead reached Sandra Bullock-levels of cuteness, so it sort of evened out. 3 out of 5 killer trees, for some good 'splosions.
And what did I learn after watching Deepstar Six?
-It wasn't very deep, and there were no stars. Discuss.
-Giant worms hate light.
-Humans make messy balloons.
Next up, a real treat. All The Boys Love Mandy Lane, starring Amber Heard. Can't wait! See you then...