Wednesday, October 28, 2020


 by Patrick Bromley

A pair of horror films new to Blu-ray from Kino Lorber!

In the great Underwater Alien rip-off wars of 1989, only one movie could reign supreme. That movie was Leviathan. Its most direct competition, DeepStar Six, only managed to score half the box office (about $8 million) despite beating it to theaters beat it to theaters by two months and boasting direction from Sean S. Cunningham, the man who gave us Friday the 13th and the directing career of Wes Craven. There's stuff to like about DeepStar Six, new to Blu-ray in a special edition from Kino Lorber (part of the company's Studio Classics line), but it's a horror movie in need of some more horror.

The crew of the experimental Navy vessel DeepStar Six are in the final week of their tour. They're tired, they're cranky, and they want to go home. When the team (which includes Greg Evigan, Nia Peeples, Poor Man's Steve Guttenberg Matt McCoy, Miguel Ferrer, and Nancy Everhard, among others) discover a mysterious underwater cavern, they use missiles to collapse it and call it a day. Unfortunately, something has escaped, presumably from the cavern -- some kind of enormous fish monster that attacks the DeepStar Six and wants to kill everyone on board.

I enjoy a good Alien rip-off as much as the next sci-fi horror nerd, but DeepStar Six doesn't quite fit the bill in that it is an Alien rip-off, but it isn't necessarily very good. It takes the Alien structure too far in one direction, spending far too much time with the crew and their mission before taking the hard right into horror territory. It's over an hour into this 99 minute movie before the monster actually shows up, which might be fine if the characters and their plight were more compelling prior to its arrival. Unfortunately, they aren't. Thankfully the movie kicks into high gear once it becomes an aquatic horror, delivering the goods and the monster movie gore in a relatively satisfying way. In the end, the movie is something of a mixed bag. I end up enjoying it because I like both underwater monster movies and Alien rip-offs, and because director Sean S. Cunningham knows the nuts and bolts of genre filmmaking, but my enjoyment comes with a pretty substantive asterisk. There are better examples of this subgenre -- among them Deep Rising and the aforementioned Leviathan -- but DeepStar Six can still get the job done as passable Saturday afternoon entertainment.

Blu-ray release date: October 13, 2020
99 minutes/1989/R
2.35:1 (1080p)
DTS HD 2.0 Master Audio (English)
English SDH

Blu-ray Bonus Features:
Audio Commentary by Sean S. Cunningham and Visual Effects Supervisor James Isaac
Audio Commentary by Screenwriters Lewis Abernathy and Geof Miller
Isolated Score Selections and Audio Interview with Composer Harry Manfredini
"From the Deep" Retrospective Featurette
"The Survivors" Interviews with Actors Greg Evigan and Nancy Everhard
"Water Damage" Interview with Stunt Coordinator Kane Hodder
Vintage Interview Clips
Original EPK
Behind the Scenes Footage
Image Gallery
Theatrical Trailer
TV Spot

Curse of the Undead (1959)
I recently wrote a piece over at Daily Dead bemoaning the lack of horror westerns, a subgenre with far too few entries. As if in response, Kino Lorber has released the 1959 horror western Curse of the Undead, one of -- if not the very first -- instances of this particular genre hybrid I can think of. It stars Michael Pate as a drifter who arrives in a Western town where young women are dying of a mysterious disease. The stranger, who goes by the name of Drake Robey, is a vampire who has fallen in love with a woman in town (Kathleen Crowley), and clashes with a preacher (Eric Fleming) who suspects the truth about what Drake really is.

As horror westerns go, Curse of the Undead is, despite what the title suggests, more western than horror. As someone who loves both horror movies and westerns, I'm not complaining. It's not a great western and it's not a great vampire movie, but as the first hybrid of both, it's a genuinely interesting curiosity. Director Edward Dein, who co-wrote the screenplay alongside his wife Mildred, isn't looking to make a conventional vampire film; with a few tweaks, Curse could probably just be more of a noir-tinged western about a drifter with a shady past who no one but one woman trusts. That he's a vampire is what makes the movie special, though, especially to horror fans and especially at this time of year.
Cheaply made but earnest, Curse of the Undead is a cool little entry in a genre that hasn't gotten enough love in the last 50 years. It's flawed and uneven, but it's trying to do something new for the time and that counts for something. Kino Lorber deserves credit for bringing a pretty obscure title back into the mainstream and shining a light on the O.G. horror western. Now hopefully we get some more of them.

79 minutes/1959/NR
1.85:1 (1080p)
DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 (English)
English SDH

Blu-ray Bonus Features:
Commentary with Film Historian Tom Weaver

No comments:

Post a Comment