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Deep Rising

Promotional film poster
Directed by Stephen Sommers
Produced by John Baldecchi
Mario Iscovich
Laurence Mark
Written by Stephen Sommers
Robert Mark Kamen
Starring Treat Williams
Famke Janssen
Kevin J. O'Connor
Anthony Heald
Cliff Curtis
with Djimon Hounsou
and Wes Studi
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Howard Atherton
Editing by Bob Ducsay
John Wright
Distributed by Hollywood Pictures (USA)
Cinergi Pictures (foreign markets)
Release date(s) January 30, 1998
Running time 106 min.
Language English
Budget USD$45,000,000
Gross revenue 11,203,026

Deep Rising is a 1998 action horror film directed by Stephen Sommers. It was distributed by Hollywood Pictures and Cinergi Pictures, and was released in the United States on January 30, 1998.



The film opens with a title card informing the viewer of the massive chasms at the bottom of the South China Sea and the unexplained disappearance of numerous vessels in the area throughout the centuries.

The story opens on a dual-engine boat being piloted in these waters through a storm on by John Finnegan (Treat Williams), a freelance rogue chartered to transport a group of suspicious men led by Hanover (Wes Studi) and a cargo to a specific destination in 'the middle of nowhere, squared'. Despite Finnegan's determination, Joey Pantucci (Kevin J. O'Connor) and his girlfriend Leila (Una Damon) are unhappy with the situation, especially after Joey discovers that the “cargo” consists of torpedoes.

Out in the open sea is an ocean liner named the Argonautica, a luxurious vessel on its maiden voyage with a full passenger list of wealthy patrons. The ship is the dream and brainchild of the wealthy and petulant Simon Canton (Anthony Heald) and is under the watchful eye of the seasoned Captain Atherton (Derrick O'Connor). Mingling among the guests and taking full opportunity of the facilities and entertainment is Trillian St. James, (Famke Janssen) a glamorous thief who pilfers Atherton's wallet by bumping into him. During Canton's christening address to the passengers in the ballroom, Trillian utilizes Atherton's pass card to access the ship's vault and sample the valuable jewelry, but is interrupted by Canton, Atherton and their stewards; alerted to her presence with Interpol documents, they have awaited her intrusion. Because the brig is incomplete, she is locked in a food storage room.

As the party continues, an unknown person sabotages the Argonautica's entire operations mainframe and destroys the control disks before departing. While Atherton and Canton watch the ship's systems shut down, the sonar operator detects a massive signal approaching the ship from over 160 meters below at 31 knots. The signal source closes on the vessel and the entire ship comes to a violent stop, knocking a speed lifeboat loose and causing massive damage and multiple injuries to the passengers, who begin to run for the lifeboats in a panic. A frightened woman locks herself in a unisex bathroom and is pulled down the toilet by an unseen force.

Finnegan's boat collides with the drifting speedboat and suffers massive damage, including hull ruptures and severely crippled engines. When Leila detects the Argonautica in the distance, Hanover and his men break out advanced automatic weapons and take control of the boat. They approach the vessel and board it, surging on the ballroom to take hostages only to find the entire ship devoid of people and slowly taking on water. Hanover and his men (Vivo (Djimon Hounsou), Mason (Clifton Powell), and Mulligan (Jason Flemyng)) head for the vault while Finnegan and Joey go to the ship's machine shop with T-Ray (Trevor Goddard) and Mamooli (Cliff Curtis) to repair the necessary parts for their engines. Trillian, having been knocked unconscious, awakens and escapes the storeroom by haphazardly shorting the electric door lock and heads for the vault with Canton's stolen key card; Hanover and his group come upon her when they arrive. Vivo is killed when he opens the vault door and Canton hits him with a fire axe; the reflexively kills the other survivors before they realize what has happened, and Hanover angrily confronts Canton and Atherton, who are rambling about "things" on the ship; Trillian escapes in the confusion.

In the engine room, Finnegan and Joey get the parts they need, but they witness Mamooli and T-Ray being dragged underwater and killed by some unseen force. Back on Finnegan's boat, Leila and Billy (Clint Curtis) – the mercenary who was left behind to finish installing the torpedo launcher and to watch Leila – suffer a similar fate. While fleeing, they encounter Trillian and then Hanover as they all consecutively end up in the freight elevator. The elevator crashes in the sub-levels and spills the survivors out into a mass of melting skeletons and begin ascending back to the upper levels.

It is revealed that Hanover's men are mercenaries hired by Canton to destroy the Argonautica. The ship's construction has cost Canton his entire fortune, and the liner's expensive operating cost exceeds any expected profits. To avoid losing the liner to the bankers, he had planned to sabotage the ship and allow Hanover to raid it and sink it for the purpose of renewing his fortune with the insurance money. The creatures attacking the ship are giant, tubular worms that digest their prey alive; Canton speculates that they are members of the Ottoia family of deep-sea worms which have evolved to immense size in the extreme depths of oceanic trenches. The creatures kill off Atherton and the rest of the mercenaries, and Finnegan loses the parts for his boat, rendering it doomed to go no further than a city block. However, he formulates a drastic plan to kill the creatures. First, he sends Trillian into the cargo bay to find a working jet ski to escape with, and sends Joey into the engine room to get whatever power he could into the engine. Then, he begins preparations to blow up the ship with the torpedoes, first by positioning one of them into the hole in the bow, and then setting up a U-turn on the auto-pilot program so it would get up enough speed to crash into the hull of the ship, setting off all of the torpedoes and blowing up both the ship and the creatures.

After Trillian finds a key for one of the jet skis, Canton shows up, armed with a flare gun. He tells her to hand over the key, and make an empty promise to take her with him. When she asks about the fate of the others, Canton tells him that they’ll be going down with the ship (so no one would be around to tell the authorities about what he attempted to do). He repeats the order to hand over the key, and when she refuses, he fires at her. After hearing her scream and seeing the light of the flare, Finnegan tells Joey to stay on the ship and cut the engines while he went back in to help Trillian. Canton pursues Trillian into the main atrium, but flees when Finnegan barges in brandishing a machine gun. The boat is rocked and the atrium floor gives way to a massive creature: a gigantic scolexed head of a cephalapod-like animal that is apparently the body to which the tentacles are attached. It attempts to eat Finnegan with its primary mouth, but he wrestles his shotgun free and shoots it in the eye; it drops him to the floor and he and Trillian escape. Finnegan goes back to the boat to get Joey, but finds the windshield smashed and Joey’s hat resting on the control panel, leading him to believe that the tentacles claimed him.

As Finnegan and Trillian ride the jet ski around the inside of the ship to get enough speed for a jump out of the cargo bay, evading more of the tentacles as they do so, Canton gets outside and sees Finnegan's boat below. Then, the boat’s auto-pilot starts up, and thinking it is taking off towards an island he spotted earlier in the distance, Canton jumps onto it, breaking his leg. When he gets into the control room, he discovers where the auto-pilot is steering the ship, and though he tries desperately to get control of the steering, the manual controls have been disabled. He can only watch helplessly as the boat collides with the ship, destroying it and killing both him and the monster. Finnegan and Trillian escape the ship just in the nick of time.

The two reach the island, and after they share a kiss on the beach, they rescue Joey, who has escaped the tentacles and survived the swim to the island with Finnegan's surfboard. They begin to relax until they hear a monstrous roar coming from the jungle behind them. We see that the island's picturesque beauty ends at the beach, and that raging volcanoes lie inland. The forest trees are being rapidly felled by an unseen--and likely monstrous--creature that is descending on their position on the beach.

Armed with his shotgun and a broken jet ski, Finnegan deadpans: "Now what?"



The film received mostly negative reviews. A Rotten Tomatoes "Rotten" rating of 30% based on 27 reviews, 0% of top critics based on five reviews and 44% of the user score based on 165 reviews. It also made Roger Ebert's most hated films list. In his own words, "Deep Rising is essentially an Alien clone with a fresh paint job...." On its opening weekend it made $4,737,793 (42% of its total gross), ranking # 8. Deep Rising's total intake was just a little over $11,000,000 on a $45,000,000 budget.

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