DirectorSean S. Cunningham
Release Date(s)1989 (October 13, 2020)
Studio(s)Carolco/TriStar/Paramount/StudioCanal (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: B+
Years after stunning the horror world with The Last House on the Left (produced only) and Friday the 13th, Sean Cunningham returned to the genre with what became one of several underwater monster movies in the late 1980s, DeepStar Six. Though not a successful film upon release, it managed to garner a cult audience on home video, mainly through VHS rentals and later DVD. It also further showcased the creature and makeup effects talents of Greg Nicotero, Mark Shostrum, and Robert Kurtzman, all responsible for many memorable horror effects sequences throughout the 1980s and beyond. The film itself is fairly straightforward in a story sense, but with an inventiveness that helps to distinguish it from other films with similar subject matter. Memorable cinematography and good performances abound, including one from the late Miguel Ferrer, DeepStar Six holds up better than one might expect.
Deep under the ocean’s surface sits the US Naval facility DeepStar Six, an underwater outpost of eleven crew members who are currently installing a nuclear missile storage area. Rapidly approaching their deadline, they are strongarmed into exploring a newly-discovered cave beneath the main site. Unbeknownst to them lies a dormant sea creature, hell-bent on attacking anything with light shining from it, including the crew’s probes and their installation nearby. After it relentlessly bombards them, the crew is forced to abandon DeepStar Six, but not before the monster manages to slaughter a few of them—long before they reach the surface.
Kino Lorber Studio Classics brings DeepStar Six to Region A Blu-ray for the first time in the US utilizing a master provided by StudioCanal, which was also used on other releases overseas. It’s an older master that doesn’t fully hold up next to its modern 4K and 2K counterparts, but it’s a solid HD presentation with excellent clarity and detail, even in the darkest depths of the ocean, not to mention the shadowy environments within the facility once the lights start to flicker. Grain isn’t as defined as it could be, but still appears natural rather than artificial. The color palette is merely passable. The film doesn’t offer a wide range of hues, but nothing ever appears overly vibrant. Blacks are decent, though the brighter areas of the frame are a bit too hot. The image is otherwise stable and clean, outside of the opening titles.
The audio is provided in English 2.0 DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English. Although a 5.1 track would have pushed it over the edge, it’s a fine stereo track with good balance and occasional directionality. Dialogue exchanges are clear and precise and the score, though sometimes overused, comes through with relative clarity. Most of the sound effects have decent push to them as well. The track is also clean and free of any leftover damage or debris.
The following extras are also included:
- Audio Commentary with Sean S. Cunningham and James Isaac
- Audio Commentary with Geof Miller and Lewis Abernathy
- Isolated Score Selections and Audio Interview with Harry Manfredini
- From the Deep: The Creature Effects of DeepStar Six (HD – 21:37)
- The Survivors with Greg Evigan and Nancy Everhard (HD – 16:43)
- Water Damage with Stunt Coordinator Kane Hodder (HD – 12:42)
- Extended Vintage Interview Clips (SD – 8:27)
- Behind-the-Scenes Footage (SD – 4:10)
- Original EPK (SD – 3:36)
- Image Gallery (HD – 188 in all – 16:15)
- TV Spot (SD – 0:34)
- Trailer (SD – 1:58)
- Deep Rising Trailer (SD – 1:25)
The vintage audio commentary with Sean Cunningham and visual effects supervisor James Isaac is a lively one as the two reminisce, humorously delving into the making of the film as they go along, though things go quiet a bit too often. The new audio commentary with screenwriters Geof Miller and Lewis Abernathy is similar, but much more jovial and less informative. The audio interview with composer Harry Manfredini is introduced by Michael Felsher. Manfredini goes into detail about his work on the film with occasional isolated sections of score in between questions. From the Deep interviews creature effects and special make-up designer Mark Shostrom, creature supervisor Greg Nicotero, and creature artist Robert Kurtzman about their work on the project. The Survivors features actors Greg Evigan and Nancy Everhard discussing working with Sean Cunningham and the other actors. Water Damage features an interview with stunt coordinator Kane Hodder who recalls what it was like to work on the film, particularly of being aware of the safety of the cast and crew. The Extended Vintage Interview Clips feature additional interviews from the EPK material with Patrick Markey, Sean Cunningham, Greg Evigan, Nancy Everhard, Cindy Pickett, Nia Peeples, John Reinhart, James Isaac, Miguel Ferrer, and Marius Weyers. The Behind-the-Scenes Footage features a brief fly-on-the-wall look at the making of the film. The Original EPK material is kind of glossy, but like the extended interviews, features interviews with cast members not represented elsewhere. The Image Gallery features 188 images of on-set photography, behind-the-scenes photos, promotional photos, lobby cards, posters, and home video artwork. A short alternate making-of featurette from the aforementioned overseas releases didn’t make the cut, but everything else appears to be accounted for.
DeepStar Six is a fun creature feature with a decent cast and excellent visuals. It’s a tad on the cheap side and not all of its moments fully resonate, but it certainly makes up for it with ingenuity and ideas. Kino Lorber’s release finally provides an extras-laden release that the film has been long overdue for stateside.
- Tim Salmons