Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
May 1st, 2004

Ghost Ship


Terror on the high seas. It's trite, I know, but it's APT, and that counts for plenty.

An oceangoing grand ball gets cut short, literally, by the surprise failing of a piece of high-tension electrical cable. I have to admit, it's a real surprise watching patrons fall to pieces in the first FIVE MINUTES of the movie. Boy, just when you thought things couldn't get any more hellacious!

The sole survivor of this incident is a young girl who was too short to be affected by the suddenly tensed line.

Then we fast-forward to the present day, and a handful of oceangoing scavengers towing a large hunk of something or other that represents a LOT of scrap metal tonnage. The crew of the salvager is celebrating their successful when an arctic weather pilot brings them an interesting offer--a boat adrift in international waters in the Bering Strait.

The Arctic Warrior, our salvage team's vessel, goes after the boat and runs afoul of trouble early on. The boat's radar only sporadically picks up the massive ship, which turns out to be an ocean liner. Thus, in the middle of a pouring rainstorm, the Arctic Warrior slams bow-on into the Antonia Graza, our giant ocean liner.

Murphy, the Arctic Warrior's captain, knows the Antonia Graza and her story well, although even he doesn't know the story of the deaths on deck.

Murphy and company's first foray onto the Graza doesn't end well--the flooring gives way beneath a crewmate and almost sends him falling into what looks like a ballroom. One of the crew spots a little girl standing in the ballroom--the same little girl who survived the bloodbath on the Graza in the first place.

Weird things continue to abound as the crew explores the ship. One crewmember, Epps, who saw the little girl in the ballroom, knocks her head on the marble floor of a swimming pool. Her headwound bleeds slightly, and the blood flows INTO a hole in the pool. The pool is also littered with aging shell casings. After Epps leaves, the pool fills with blood, pouring in from the bullet holes.

Worse yet, a flood of water and corpses pours out of a ventilation shaft. FRESH corpses. Month-old corpses. Shortly thereafter, Epps stumbles across a surprise in the cargo hold--a strongbox filled with gold bars.

Make that strongboxes.

The crew packs up the gold in universal acclaim and poises to load it onto the Arctic Warrior, but the Arctic Warrior has troubles of its own. The boat starts...

..and explodes.

Someone, rather someTHING, had opened the valve on a propane tank. When the boat started, the propane caught, explosively. The Arctic Warrior dies in a burst of flames.

Now our crew is stranded on the Antonia Graza, and the weirdness only gets weirder. Food, sealed in cans, suddenly goes maggoty. Ghosts appear from out of nowhere, and the crew starts dying.

The little girl takes Epps on a little psychic mystery tour, showing Epps what happened on the night in question.


So you can probably guess what happens to the Antonia Graza.

And in a bit of a twist ending, well, I'll let you catch the twist. It's a nifty little surprise on this otherwise predictable junket.

Extra features, and there are quite a bit, include English, French and Spanish subtitles, and your choice of English or French dialogue. They make a special point of telling you that it was dubbed in Quebec. There's a cast and crew featurette, a documentary, a subsection called "Secrets of the Antonia Graza", which is a puzzle game that gives you four extra stories. I suspect these may be deleted scenes, cleverly packaged. There's a visual effects featurette, a SPECIAL effects featurette devoted solely to the gore, a theatrical trailer, a featurette about the set design and even a music video. AND if you've got a DVD-ROM drive, there's even MORE features.

I haven't seen this many features on a DVD in a long time. Now if they could have only made the story a little less lackluster.

Ghost Rig


We start off with this really choice visual of a helicopter in the middle of a cloud bank. Seriously, it's beautiful, looking at this lone dot of a helicopter in this sea of clouds.

The beauty doesn't last long as the chopper lands on the deck of a massive oil rig, and the folks onboard the chopper climb out and search the rig.

Ah, here we go...the PLOT has arrived. Seems this particular rig, the "Janus", is to be toppled over and sunk to the sea bed, where it will form a "natural reef." The folks in the chopper belong to an environmental activist group called "Action Planet," which sounds like a bad cable network. "Action Planet" does not LIKE the idea of the Janus being sunk to the sea bed to become project housing for tuna, and is occupying the rig to prevent it from being sunk.

And by the way...every one of these "Action Planet" folks is very Scottish. It's no small coincidence that the movie was funded by the Scottish Screen lottery--their accents are thicker than fog on the moors.

"Action Planet" discovers a fairly big problem--there's a bad storm coming up on the "Janus" and the power's off throughout the rig. A party goes forth to fix the latter problem, and manages to, after a fashion...the backup generator only powers CRUCIAL systems.

And another problem has cropped up for our beleaguered ecoterrorists--the crew is missing. Somehow, a crew of twenty or so people has just plain vanished off the deck of this oil rig, and can't be found anywhere!

Things only get worse for "Action Planet" when their own people start dying off in various attacks. Even the ground around them is tainted--the reef was quarantined before "Action Planet" even arrived. AND, in the basement, a giant pentagram has been drawn on the floor with chalk.

Boy, sounds like "Action Planet" should've just gone to the rain forests and stayed THERE, no?

"Action Planet" becomes a smaller and smaller world after all, with members steadily dying off until they begin to get a grasp on the situation. The "Action Planet" survivors learn that their membership has been possessed, repeatedly, by some form of ghost. The only way to tell who's possessed? Well, look for the guy killing people left and right. But for those who don't want to wait for the bloodbath, there's another way to tell. Just look for the person with the rapid healing capabilities. Apparently, the ghost doesn't like to be in a damaged body--he's got to knit it back together before he can take it for a spin.

And then, a fairly well put together ending takes place that I can't tell you about, other than to say that it's not half bad.

The extra features are simple enough, Spanish-only subtitles and a trailer gallery for "Jane White is Sick and Twisted," "Icebreaker," "Without Evidence," "Atlantis Conspiracy," and of course, "Ghost Rig."

So, all in all, Ghost Rig may be low-budget, but it's still pretty well done, with even a pleasant homage to John Carpenter's "The Thing."