Courtesy of Dana Townsend

Garbage Day

It’s ‘Die Hard’ on a boat, also the Kraken is there 

Something I’ve been glad to see is the public consciousness’ general reappraisal of Stephen Sommers’ 1999 version of The Mummy. Partially spurred by just how insanely bad that Tom Cruise reboot was, I’ve seen more people online talking about the Brendan Fraiser version’s goofy charm and whirlwind pace. Sommers’ filmography overall isn’t that great (I’m not exactly a fan of the Mummy sequels or GI Joe), but one year before The Mummy, he put out one of my favorite genre films of the late ‘90s in Deep Rising.

It has the exact same tone of The Mummy and is similarly filled with character actors and fun performances but with the added bonus of an R rating and some nutso gore. The film’s elevator pitch is genius in its “mash two ideas together” approach. 

John Finnegan, a Han Solo-esque boat captain with loose morals and a love of money, is chauffeuring a hostile group of well-funded mercenaries into the middle of the ocean. Their target: a gargantuan, state-of-the-art luxury ocean liner with hundreds of wealthy individuals and untold amounts of riches onboard. When the mercs arrive to sack the place, however, the ship is dead in the water and completely deserted. 

Finnegan, having been taken hostage by his clients, has to figure out how to avoid getting killed by them while repairing the only escape route, his boat. To make things worse, there’s a massive deep-sea tentacle monster somewhere in the ship that’s eaten everybody, and the new arrivals are next. Once all the pieces are in place, all hell breaks loose, as faces are dissolved, entire sections of the boat are destroyed and plenty of scenery gets chewed. 

The leader of the would-be pirates is played by the great Wes Studi, who does a fantastic job of desperately trying to maintain control of a chaotic situation. The cannon-fodder mercs are filled with great character actors too, as Cliff Curtis, Jason Flemyng and Djimon Hounsou all get fun moments and ridiculous deaths. Deep Rising cost roughly $40 million (about half of what The Mummy had to work with) and the late-’90s CGI isn’t exactly anything worth writing home about, but it’s never so bad it takes you out of the fun. It helps that the sea monster and its tooth-filled, ravenous combination mouth/tentacles are pretty great designs, and the movie is eager to show them off with regularity. 

The movie sadly isn’t streaming anywhere for free, but you can rent it on Amazon or grab a bare-bones but nicely restored Blu-ray distributed by Kino Lorber. If you need a dumb, fun movie full of monster carnage, I highly recommend it.