Death Ship (1980)

death ship poster 1980 movie
2.0 Overall Score
Story: 2/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 6/10

Some good atmosphere

Bad story and weak cast

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Death Ship

Studio:  Astral Bellevue Pathe/Bloodstar Productions/Lamitas

Genre(s):  Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  March 7, 1980

MPAA Rating:  R

death ship richard crenna sally ann howes

You might be a bad captain if you can let a giant-ass ship sneak up on you on the open seas…

Captain Ashland (George Kennedy) is reluctantly preparing to turn over is ship to Trevor Marshall (Richard Crenna).  When the ship is struck and sunk by a Nazi ghost ship, Trevor, his wife and children, Ashland, and a handful of survivors manage to board the ghost ship after a day at sea.  The ship has a mind of its own and is seeking blood.  With Captain Ashland in its control, Trevor and the other survivors must find a way to escape the ship before it is too late.

Directed by Alvin Rakoff, Death Ship is a B-Movie horror film.  The movie was released to mixed to negative reviews.

I can remember seeing Death Ship late at night on TV.  I remember watching the film and waiting for the scary parts because it did have a lot of atmosphere…but that was about it.

death ship galley death skeleton

I really should try to get out of this net…before I get killed

The plot of the movie was paper thin.  From the onset to the ending, the characters act like they have no sense of intuition of logic.  The ship sinks mysteriously and they are picked up by an abandoned ship that appears to be German and operating by itself…then they are shocked when they discover it is a Nazi ship that was used for torture.  They constantly separate and walk around the ship alone.  When Kennedy appears to go insane, they don’t really react until he starts to kill…it doesn’t make much sense.

The cast is also a B-Movie cast.  George Kennedy had won an Oscar for Cool Hand Luke in 1967 and was at least a “name” for the horror film.  Richard Crenna likewise was a name and was frequently cast in these low budget horror films.  I do find it ironic that Crenna was replacing the retiring Kennedy when Kennedy and Crenna were only a year difference in age.  Sally Ann Howes who played Crenna’s wife was best known for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and her stage work.

death ship george kennedy

I love my Death Ship

The movie does have atmosphere but at the same time looks cheap.  There are points with weird snap camera shots and slow motion to try to ratchet up the fear, but it does not work.  Ships (especially working ships) are claustrophobic.  The movie tries to have some of The Shining aspect to it (and was actually released just before Kubrick’s version of the movie)…The Shining however does it classier and scarier (though Kennedy’s death is pretty gross).

Death Ship is a bad movie that has few redeeming qualities.  I have a hard time with ghost houses and a ghost ship is even less scary.  Death Ship continues to roam the seas at the end of the movie…but I don’t think we’ll see a sequel.  In the days of remakes, however, you never know…the Death Ship might sail again! (cue over the top cliché music)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response