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Fast on the coattails of such exercises in asinine mediocrity as House on Haunted Hill (1999) and Thirteen Ghosts (2001), Dark Castle Entertainment a US based production company finally delivers a somewhat enjoyable piece of horror trash.  While Ghost Ship is more likely a decent Saturday night rental, a few fans of the struggling genre will find an excuse to put this loud, gory movie in their collections.

Ghost Ship
Although this is Dark Castles first “original” movie (both of their previous efforts mentioned above were remakes of much, much better films), the plot feels disappointingly familiar.  Following an admittedly awesome opening scene full of some of the best gore I’ve seen in a movie released to the theaters in a while, Ghost Ship slows down for a minute to fill in some plot.  

A salvage crew led by Captain Sean Murphy (Gabriel Byrne) is approached by a stranger while on a break from the wild seas.  This stranger shows them a picture of a lost ship and agrees to lead them to the vessel if, and only if he is allowed to accompany the crew.  His terms are agreed to after a bit of discussion.  The crew is soon off to the sea.

As the crew approaches the boat, they realize the enormity of the situation and the monetary potential of the find.  What they have found is the Antonia Graza, an Italian luxury liner that has been missing since 1962.  The riches that the ship contains set the crew to work at a feverish pitch, but shortly after boarding they encounter strange goings-on.  Soon, ghosts are spotted, the past is reborn magically and people begin dying.  The mystery is slowly revealed and the horrifying reality of the final outing of the Antonia Graza is revealed.

Ghost Ship is nothing more than a ghost story set on the sea.  What this movie has that so many other do not is a high production value that works not only because it is flashy and looks expensive, but because it is used to chilling effect.  The Antonia Graza looks sick, a mere worn down version of the splendid creature it once was.  Small details show the viewer that this vessel once sailed proudly but is now polluted with something evil.  There are a few genuinely creepy scenes which are pleasantly surprising.

All around the acting is very good.  The cast is supported by “faces” and not necessarily actors you will know by name (other than Gabriel Byrne, of course!).  We believe these people are afraid, but we also get the feeling that they are driven beyond fear by their greed.  This adds a slightly deeper layer to the movie that is generally missing nowadays.

Ghost Ship
Ghost Ship is presented in 1.85:1 Anamorphic widescreen (a full screen edition IS available but NOT recommended).  The transfer is crystal clear and shows off the fine production detail swimmingly.  Being an obsessively dark horror movie, there was the opportunity for shapes to be drowned in black.  This is not so, as the print is well detailed.  Simply put, this is a flawless picture.

Much to my surprise, the audio on this DVD falls just short of reference quality.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is very impressive and will serve you well if you are looking for an awesome auditory experience to show off your home system.  The entire premise of the movie lends itself to constant surround channel use and this movie delivers.  The entire ship is transported into your living room and the echoes, creaks and ghostly murmurs are all rich and clear.
Ghost Ship
This DVD has been packed with some interesting features that won’t disappoint the casual fan.  There is the obligatory making-of featurette that shows some footage that has never been seen.   Secrets of the Antonia Graza reveals in depth production information.  Some of the ship models are even shown and an appreciation for some of the work is gained.

Next up is an extra called A Closer Look at the Gore dissects the graphic and unsettling gore pieces contained in the film.  This technical breakdown of how they did it is short and sweet.  For gore hounds like me, this really classifies as a meaningful piece.

The next featurette is titled Designing the Ghost Ship and gives a deeper appreciation for the abnormally intricate production.  The sets are created masterfully and then deteriorated into their ghostly state. Finally there is a music video - Mudvayne’s Not Falling which isn’t a terrible song, but the video reveals much of the movie.  Watch this one after you watch the movie.
Ghost Ship was a surprise for me.  Perhaps it was because my expectations were so low, or maybe it was because the makers of this movie didn’t take the story 100% seriously, but did take the production seriously.  There’s a decent amount of chilling moments, some very decent acting and a good bit of gore.  Overall, this movie should deliver a fun movie-going experience at least once.  There will be some, like me, who are horror completists and insist on owning almost everything horror related.  This DVD will find its way into many homes because it truly is a gem (not necessarily a diamond, though) in the rough.