Release Date(s)1996 (August 21, 2018)
Studio(s)Hollywood Pictures (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: A+
Giant monster movies have been a cinema staple for nearly eighty years. After reaching their peak during the 1950s, there weren’t as many made in modern times as there used to be. Over the years, different special effects techniques have been used to create the monsters, such as stop-motion animation, puppets on wires, men in rubber suits, and actual lizards that were given horns and shot with macro lenses to make them appear larger. In the early 1990s, a new technique, CGI, more or less replaced these techniques, making the use of practical effects nearly obsolete. Deep Rising mixes these various techniques together and gives them a modern spin.
Shot in just 4 months under the title of Tentacle, Deep Rising is a science fiction horror film that features a giant, octopus-type creature with dozens of tentacles that are equipped with sharp teeth, as well as an expanding mouth that can swallow an entire person in one bite. Living deep beneath the ocean, it eventually rises up and takes over a cruise ship called the Argonautica, devouring most of its passengers. Unaware of their fate, three boaters are paid to transport a group of mercenaries to the Argonautica for reasons unknown. Once they arrive, they must fight for the lives in order to avoid being eaten by the giant creature that has made the ship its lair.
Deep Rising is a fast-paced, non-stop rollercoaster ride that never slows down, blending together heavy action, corny dialogue, and a cool-looking monster. Director Stephen Sommers directs the film without restraint, giving it plenty of relentless, tenacious energy and suspense all throughout. The lead actors and the supporting cast, which includes Famke Janssen, Anthony Heald, Derrick O’Connor, and Jason Flemying, all have great chemistry together, particularly Treat Williams and Kevin J. O’Connor. It’s a shame that they didn’t do more films because they work so amazingly-well together. And as icing on the cake, Howard Atherton provides the beautifully-realized cinematography and legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith supplies an excellent musical score.
Kino Lorber Studio Classics re-releases Deep Rising on Blu-ray in a marvelous package, easily surpassing the previous release from Mill Creek Entertainment. It has been given a new 4K scan and has never looked or sounded any better. A sharper and more precise appearance with higher levels of detail are on display while colors are more robust, particularly some strong-looking reds. Contrast looks solid, skin tones look accurate, and some of the murkier moments from previous releases have been improved upon. It’s not perfect as a few scenes still appear a bit soft and dark, but overall, it’s a stunning improvement. There are also two audio choices: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0, with optional subtitles in English SDH. Both audio options are more than adequate, with dialogue and other sounds coming in clearly without any issues. The 2.0 is a bit more dynamic and aggressive than the 5.1, especially when it comes to the screams of the potential victims, monster roars, and the sounds of gunfire.
Kino Lorber has also gone all out for the supplemental material, providing an extravagant amount of extras. One of the best selections is an audio commentary featuring director Stephen Sommers and editor Bob Ducsay, where they discuss the film, the characters, and crack a few jokes along the way. There are also several interviews with the cast and crew. Wet Cold Canadian Summer is an 8-minute interview with Wes Studi in which the actor discusses some of his more difficult scenes, how stressful it was to act with a CGI monster, and the scene in which he was actually hurt in. Pantucci the Greasemonkey is a 15-minute interview with actor Kevin J. O’Connor where he provides some great insight into his experiences working on the film and how he wanted to add more to his character. Following that is another 15-minute interview, The Argonautica, with actor Anthony Heald. He shares some anecdotes about how he was cast, as well as why his scenes were filmed first.
Deep Terror is a 12-minute interview with second unit director Dean Cundey where he explains why he wanted to be on the project. Sinking the Boat contains a 15-minute interview with cinematographer Howard Atherton in which he discusses his involvement with the production, also admitting that he’s mostly interested in drama films. Bubblefink and the Big Kaboom – The Visual Effects of Deep Rising is a 17-minute interview with Banned from the Ranch’s Van Ling and Industrial Light and Magic’s John Berton, in which they discuss how the special effects for the film were achieved. From the Depths – The Practical Effects of Deep Rising features special effects artists Doug Morrow and Brad Proctor speaking for 10 minutes about the film’s use of practical effects, as well as their fears of CGI taking over. ILM – Animatic Final Sequence showcases a few of the film’s sequences and designs (Creature, Creature 2, DR Tests, DR16 Breakdown, Mason). Last but not least is an animated still gallery and theatrical trailers for Deep Rising, The Puppet Masters, and Rawhead Rex. And if you act fast, there’s also a limited edition slipcover with new artwork to house it all in.
Even though Deep Rising is considered a B-movie, its production, cast, and budget say otherwise. I’ve been a big fan of the film since it was first released in 1996. At the time, I was surprised by the amount of graphic violence it contained and, to my knowledge, it’s one of the few R-rated movies with a giant monster in it, at least domestically. This new Blu-ray release from Kino Lorber will most likely be the best ever for this underrated classic. Highly recommended!
- David Steigman