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Ghost Ship Main

Ghost Ship Collector'sEdition Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Scream Factory

Ghost Ship Large

Directed by Steve Beck
Written by Mark Hanlon and John Pogue
2002, 91 minutes, Rated R
Released on September 29th, 2020

Julianna Margulies as Epps
Gabriel Byrne as Murphy
Ron Eldard as Dodge
Desmond Harrington as Jack
Isaiah Washington as Greer
Karl Urban as Munder
Emily Browning as Katie

Ghost Ship 01 Ghost Ship 02


Forty years ago, the Antonia Graza ocean liner was the scene of a grisly mass murder, leaving the ship adrift in the Bering Sea. Now, the crew of the salvage boat Arctic Warrior is approached by Jack Ferriman, a man who has located the missing ship and is looking for lost treasure. Murphy captains the small tug and discusses the proposal with his men (and one woman named Epps), who agree the trip could be worth millions. The crew sets out and before long they come upon the derelict vessel during a powerful storm and their work begins.

The rotting ghost ship is full of interesting sights and clues of the tragedy from so long ago, but the physical conditions make exploration dangerous. While helping save a fellow shipmate who has fallen through a hole in the floor, Epps catches sight of a little girl in the ballroom below. She looks again and the girl is gone, but Epps knows what she saw. The search of the boat’s cargo hold reveals several crates loaded with gold bars. Murphy and the team vote to take the gold and abandon the ship. While preparing to return to their boat, an accident occurs leaving them stranded on the floating behemoth, which has started taking on water. As if their situation wasn’t bad enough, the spirits that haunt the ship awaken and begin tormenting the group of trespassers casting doubt on the chances of anyone’s survival.

In 1999, producers Walter Hill, Gilbert Adler and Robert Zemekis formed Dark Castle Entertainment, a company that would specialize in modestly budgeted, visually dynamic genre pictures. Named in honor of cult filmmaker William Castle (The Tingler), the group found success with their first two productions, remakes of Castle’s classic movies House on Haunted Hill (1999) and Thir13en Ghosts (2001). For their third project it was decided that an original story would be commissioned, which led to the development of Ghost Ship (2002).

Ghost Ship 03 Ghost Ship 04

Director Steve Beck (Thir13en Ghosts) opens the picture on a playful note with a title sequence that totally misdirects the audience with a festive party environment only to blindside viewers with the simultaneous mass murder of about eighty jovial party guests. The opening sequence is tough to beat in terms of thrills and the rest of the movie struggles to keep up, but never again reaches that level of inspiration. Written by Mark Hanlon (Buddy Boy) and John Pogue (The Skulls), Ghost Ship follows the overly-familiar haunted house formula with malevolent spirits playing on people’s weaknesses in the confines of a dark and spooky environment. Beck reteams with cinematographer Gale Tattersall (Virtuosity), whose inspired lighting design and creative camera work generates an appropriately creepy atmosphere. Production designer Grace Walker (Pitch Black) delivers some gorgeous sets rich with an atmosphere of rot and decay.

The cast is headlined by the always reliable Gabriel Byrne (Gothic) as Murphy, the sea-weary captain of the salvage boat looking for the next big score. He has some great moments, particularly the scene where he tells the ghost story of a lost ship. Julianna Margulies (Snakes on a Plane) fills the character Epps with a level-headed determination and self-assurance that serves her well. She is every bit as strong and resourceful as her male counterparts and is sensitive when in the company of Katie (Emily Browning, American Gods), the friendly ghost. The supporting players are made up of familiar faces, including shipmates Karl Urban (The Boys) as Munder, Isaiah Washington (Clockers) as Greer, Ron Eldard (Super 8) as Dodge and Desmond Harrington (Wrong Turn) plays the mysterious Jack.

Ghost Ship is not a particularly scary movie, but it does have its moments. It’s a shame the best part comes within the first five minutes, because it’s mostly downhill from there. The rest of the film takes its time exploring the vessel and trying to generate suspense. In this it occasionally succeeds, but there is a lot of walking around. To those looking for a slick ghost story with some striking visuals, I can give this title a passing recommendation, but you may be satisfied streaming this one.

Ghost Ship 05 Ghost Ship 06

Video and Audio:

Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, this appears to be the same transfer used for the 2009 Blu-ray, and it is still impressive. Gale Tattersall’s lighting design is well represented with all of its shimmering highlights and deep shadows. There is plenty of small-object detail on display and flesh tones appear natural throughout.

A DTS-HD MA 5.1 is immersive with its range of speaker activity. Rear channels add extra weight to the atmospheric sounds of a haunted ship. There are a few explosions in this film and they carry some decent rumble. A DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix has also been supplied. Dialogue levels are clean and understandable and optional English subtitles are provided for anyone in need.

Ghost Ship 07 Ghost Ship 08

Special Features:

An audio commentary with director Steve Beck, moderated by Justin Beahm, reveals plenty of insights and trivia regarding the production. Beck discusses the original script and the rewrites and his relationship with the producers. He singles out the fine work of the cinematographer and production designer that made the film look bigger than it was. He goes on to praise his cast and the numerous effects artists and talks about working with miniatures and shooting in water. Beahm asks some great questions and allows Beck time to answer in full which leads to some great stories, particularly about the history of Dark Castle Entertainment.

Actor Isaiah Washington logs in for the remote interview This Isn’t Real (2020, 7 minutes) conducted during the pandemic. He shares his memories of the set and the director and looks back on the production as a positive experience.

In Dark Castle at Sea (2020, 7 minutes), producer Gil Adler tells of how the film came to be and his responsibilities on the project. This segment is quite informative and easily could have been twice as long.

Makeup effects supervisor Jason Baird is the focus of the remote interview Every Body on Board (2020, 6 minutes) and features some decent behind-the-scenes footage of the gorier elements. He talks about the various gags designed for the film, particularly the opening sequence.

Max on Set: Ghost Ship Featurette (2002, 15 minutes) is a vintage promotional segment produced by Cinemax featuring interviews with members of the cast and crew. There is a generous amount of behind-the-scenes material as well as several clips from the finished film.

Visual Effects Featurette (2002, 6 minutes) focuses on the work of vfx supervisor Dale Duguid, who talks about the various techniques used, including miniatures, motion control camera work and digital effects.

Jason Baird and Howard Berger are on hand to discuss the blood and guts of the production in A Closer Look at the Gore (2002, 6 minutes), featuring additional behind-the-scenes footage.

Designing the Ghost Ship (2002, 6 minutes) showcases the talents of production designer Grace Walker with a closer look at the sets. There are additional interviews with the producers and director.

Secrets of the Antonia Graza (2002, 6 minutes) is a collection of audio clips that tie into the picture, starting with radio transmissions of a salvage crew in trouble. Next, we hear a selection from the ship’s nightclub singer’s diary. Moving on, we hear the details of the greedy crew’s plot to get rich. Finally, we listen to an entry from young Katie’s diary.

There is a music video for Mudvayne’s “Not Falling”.

The theatrical trailer has been included.

Ghost Ship 09 Ghost Ship 10


Movie: Twostars Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Fourstars
Audio: Fourstars
Features: Threestars
Overall: 3 Star Rating

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About The Author
Robert Gold
Author: Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer - USA
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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