The Abyss: Wikis


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The Abyss
Directed by James Cameron
Produced by Gale Anne Hurd
Van Ling (special edition)
Written by James Cameron
Starring Ed Harris
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Michael Biehn
J.C. Quinn
Kimberly Scott
Leo Burmester
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Mikael Salomon
Editing by Conrad Buff
Joel Goodman
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) August 9, 1989 (1989-08-09)
Running time 146 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $70 million[1]
Gross revenue $90 million

The Abyss is a 1989 American science fiction film written and directed by James Cameron. It stars Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Michael Biehn. The original musical score was composed by Alan Silvestri. It was released on August 9, 1989 in North America.

Underwater scenes were filmed in the containment building of Cherokee Nuclear Power Plant, an unfinished nuclear power plant near Gaffney, South Carolina, in the United States. It took seven million gallons (26.5 million liters) of water to fill the tank to a depth of 40 feet (12 m), making it the largest underwater filming set ever constructed. The depth and length of time spent underwater meant that the cast and crew sometimes had to go through decompression. Filming was also done at the largest underground lake in the world — a mine in Bonne Terre, Missouri, which was the background for several underwater shots.



An American ballistic missile submarine, the USS Montana, sinks near the edge of the Cayman Trough after an accidental encounter with an unidentified submerged object. As Soviet ships and submarines head towards the area in an attempt to salvage the sub, and with a hurricane moving in, the Americans decide that the quickest way to mount a rescue is for a SEAL team to be inserted onto a privately owned experimental underwater oil platform, which they will then use as their base of operations. The designer of the platform, Dr. Lindsey Brigman (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), insists on accompanying the SEAL team, even though her estranged husband, Virgil "Bud" Brigman (Ed Harris), is currently serving as the platform's foreman.

As the SEALS and the platform crew attempt to discover the cause of the Montana's failure, they spot strange creatures they can't identify, later discovering they have intelligence and calling them "NTI's"—"non-terrestrial intelligence." On orders from the SEAL leader Lt. Hiram Coffey (Michael Biehn), the SEALs use one of the platform's mini-subs to retrieve a warhead from a Trident missile aboard the Montana. However, they do so at an inopportune time, as the hurricane strikes the surface and they are unable to detether themselves from the surface ship the Benthic Explorer. Tossed by the storm, the Explorer's crane and cable system snap off and fall into the water. The cable and crane barely miss the platform as they sink, but fall into the trench, its momentum briefly pulling the whole platform towards the trench - the rig catches on the very edge of the cliff, preventing a plummet into the depths. Several crew are lost because of flooding in the platform, while the surviving crew and SEALs tend to their injuries and attempt to restore the platform's critical power.

An NTI, in the form of a living column of water, explores the platform, and while the platform crew believe it to be harmless, Coffey sees it as a threat. The platform crew realize Coffey is suffering from High Pressure Nervous Syndrome, making him paranoid. Using one of the remote operated vehicles to spy on Coffey from outside the platform, they discover he is planning on sending the warhead down into the chasm to destroy whatever may be down there. Bud attempts to subdue Coffey before he can leave the platform in one of the mini-subs, but is unable to do so. Coffey is chased by Bud and Lindsey in the station's other sub; they manage to damage Coffey's sub, causing it to fall into the trench, where Coffey's sub is eventually crushed by the pressure. However, Bud and Lindsey are too late to stop the remote vehicle and the attached warhead, on a pre-programmed course, from dropping into the trench. Furthermore, their own sub's hull has been ruptured, flooding the sub. Lindsey forces Bud to wear the only diving suit in the sub, while she hopes that her mammalian diving reflex will preserve her in the cold water while Bud tows her back to the platform. Bud and the crew are able to resuscitate Lindsey, and the two reaffirm their lost love.

As Lindsey recovers, the crew tracks the warhead, finding the remote vehicle has failed from the pressure and stopped on a ledge partway down the trench. The SEALs have brought with them special diving equipment utilizing a liquid breathing apparatus that would allow for a human to dive that far. Bud volunteers; he will not be able to talk and is instead forced to communicate through a keypad on his suit. Bud begins his dive into the trench, reaching the ledge where the warhead sits, and is guided by the SEALs in disarming it. However, the dive has taken too long for Bud to return back to the top of the trench before the oxygen in the liquid runs out. Bud, aware this could happen, and despite Lindsey's pleas to return, decides to remain on the ledge, typing his love to Lindsey in a final message.

As Bud watches, bright lights appear below him, and he encounters more NTIs, who direct him even further down to their massive craft sitting deep in the trench. The NTIs provide Bud with an atmosphere for him to breathe. They then show him, through a view screen, several videos taken from television news of humanity's destructive behavior; Bud attempts to atone for humanity's mistakes. They follow this by showing Bud's last messages of self-sacrifice and devotion to his wife that he typed out.

On the platform, believing Bud to be dead, Lindsey and the crew are surprised to find Bud replying back to them, telling them to get ready. The crew observe something very large quickly rising out of the trench, and see the lights from the NTI ship as it rises. The enormous ship eventually surfaces, lifting many of the naval ships out of the water and leaving them aground on the NTI ship's hull, as well as the platform itself. The platform crew and remaining SEALS, leaving the platform onto the surface of the ship, are surprised to find they are fine and not suffering from decompression sickness after rising so fast out of the water, believing it to be an effect by the NTIs. Bud emerges from the NTI ship, and he and Lindsey rush to meet each other, engaging in a passionate kiss.

Director's cut

The director's cut includes more of the conflict between the United States and Soviet forces over the crash of the Montana, each side initially blaming the other for it. When Bud arrives on the NTI ship and is shown the images of humanity's destructive behavior, the NTIs create enormous megatsunami-level waves that threaten every coastline, but then stall them moments before they would come crashing down. After showing Bud his messages of self-sacrifice and caring and believing humanity to be capable of the same, the NTIs cause the standing waves to dissipate harmlessly, after which they start to bring their ship to the surface.


  • Ed Harris as Virgil 'Bud' Brigman
  • Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Lindsey Brigman
  • Michael Biehn as U.S. Navy SEAL Lieutenant Hiram Coffey
  • Leo Burmester as Catfish De Vries
  • Todd Graff as Alan 'Hippy' Carnes
  • John Bedford Lloyd as Jammer Willis
  • J.C. Quinn as Arliss 'Sonny' Dawson
  • Kimberly Scott as Lisa 'One Night' Standing
  • Captain Kidd Brewer Jr. as Lew Finler (as Capt. Kidd Brewer Jr.)
  • George Robert Klek as Wilhite
  • Christopher Murphy as Schoenick, U.S. Navy SEAL Team Member
  • Adam Nelson as Ensign Monk, U.S. Navy SEAL Team Member
  • Dick Warlock as Dwight Perry (as Richard Warlock)
  • Jimmie Ray Weeks as Leland McBride
  • J. Kenneth Campbell as DeMarco


The idea for the The Abyss came to James Cameron when, at age 17, he attended a science lecture about deep sea diving in high school by a man who claimed to have been the first human to breathe fluid through his lungs.[2][3] He subsequently wrote a short story[4] that focused on a group of scientists in a laboratory at the bottom of the ocean. The basic idea did not change but many of the details evolved over the years. Once Cameron arrived in Hollywood, he quickly realized that a group of scientists was not that commercial and changed it to a group of blue collar workers.[5] While making Aliens, Cameron saw a National Geographic film about remote operated vehicles operating deep in the North Atlantic Ocean. These images reminded him of his short story.[3] He and producer Gale Anne Hurd decided that The Abyss would be their next film.[4] He wrote a treatment combined with elements of a shooting script and this generated a lot of interest in Hollywood. He then wrote the script, basing the character of Lindsey on Hurd and finished it by the end of 1987.[4] Cameron and Hurd were married before The Abyss, separated during pre-production, and divorced in February 1989, two months after principal photography.[6]


The cast and crew trained for underwater diving for one week in the Cayman Islands.[7] This was necessary because 40% of all live-action principal photography took place underwater. Furthermore, Cameron's production company had to design and build experimental equipment and develop a state-of-the-art communications system that allowed the director to talk underwater to the actors and dialogue to be recorded directly onto tape for the first time.[8]

The remains of Deepcore

Cameron had originally planned to shoot on location in the Bahamas where the story was set but quickly realized that he needed to have a completely controlled environment because of the stunts and special visual effects involved.[8] He considered shooting the film in Malta which had the largest unfiltered tank of water but it was not adequate enough.[3] The film was shot at the Cherokee Nuclear Power Station outside of Gaffney, South Carolina. It had been abandoned after a local power company spent $700 million in construction.[7] The underwater sequences were filmed in two specially constructed tanks. The first one held 7.5 million gallons of water, was 55 feet deep and 209 feet across. At the time, it was the largest fresh-water filtered tank in the world. Additional scenes were shot in the second tank which held 2.5 million gallons of water.[8] As the production crew rushed to finish painting the main tank, millions of gallons of water poured in. It took five days to fill.[9] The Deepcore rig was anchored to a 90-ton concrete column at the bottom of the large tank. It consisted of six partial and complete modules that took over half a year to plan and build from scratch.[10]

The two working craft, Flatbed and Cab One, were specially manufactured for the film by Can-Dive Services Ltd., a Canadian commercial diving company that specialized in "saturation" diving systems and underwater technology. Two million dollars was spent on set construction.[5]

Principal photography

The main tank was not ready in time for the first day of principal photography. Cameron delayed filming for a week and pushed the smaller tank's schedule forward, demanding it be ready weeks before it was scheduled to be used.[9] Filming eventually began on August 15, 1988, but there were still problems. On the first day of shooting in the main water tank, it sprang a leak and 150,000 gallons of water a minute rushed out.[4] The studio brought in dam-repair experts to seal it. In addition, enormous pipes with elbow fittings had been improperly installed. There was so much water pressure traveling through them that the elbows blew off.[4]

The principal underwater sequences were shot by Al Giddings, known for his work on The Deep.[5] He used three cameras in watertight housings that he specially designed.[10] Another special housing was designed for scenes that went from above-water dialogue to below-water dialogue. The filmmakers had to figure out how to keep the water clear enough to shoot and dark enough to look realistic at 2,000 feet, which was achieved by covering the top of the tank with an enormous tarpaulin.[10] Cameron wanted to see the actors' faces and hear their dialogue and so he hired Western Space and Marine to engineer helmets which would remain optically clear underwater and installed state-of-the-art aircraft quality microphones into each helmet. Safety conditions were also a major factor with the installation of a decompression chamber on site, along with a diving bell and a safety diver for each actor.[10]

The breathing fluid used in the film actually exists and was tested on a scientist who almost died.[6][11] Over the last 20 years it has been tested on several animals which survived. The rat shown in the film was actually breathing fluid and survived unharmed, although the scene was censored in Britain for perceived cruelty to animals.

Ed Harris did not breathe the fluid. He held his breath inside a helmet full of liquid while being towed 30 feet below the surface of the large tank. He recalled that the worst moments were being towed with fluid rushing up his nose and his eyes swelling up.[6] Actors played their scenes at 33 feet, too shallow a depth for them to need decompression and they rarely stayed down for more than an hour at a time. Cameron and the 26-person underwater diving crew sank to 50 feet and stayed down for five hours at a time. To avoid decompression sickness, they would have to hang from hoses halfway up the tank for as long as two hours, breathing pure oxygen.[6]

The cast and crew endured over six months of grueling six-day, 70-hour weeks on an isolated set. At one point, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio had a physical and emotional breakdown on the set and on another occasion, Ed Harris burst into spontaneous sobbing while driving home. Cameron himself admitted, "I knew this was going to be a hard shoot, but even I had no idea just how hard. I don't ever want to go through this again".[5] For example, for the scene where portions of the rig are flooded with water, he realized that he initially didn't know how to minimize the sequence's inherent danger. It took him more than four hours to set up the shot safely.[6] Actor Leo Burmester said, "Shooting The Abyss has been the hardest thing I've ever done. Jim Cameron is the type of director who pushes you to the edge, but he doesn't make you do anything he wouldn't do himself."[7] A lightning storm caused a 200-foot tear in the black tarpaulin covering the main tank.[9] Repairing it would have taken too much time and so the production began shooting at night.[12] In addition, blooming algae often reduced visibility to 20 feet within hours. Over-chlorination led to divers' skin burning and exposed hair being stripped off.[12]

Some of the actors did not like the slow pace of filming. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio remembered, "We never started and finished any one scene in any one day".[6] At one point, she became so frustrated with Cameron's style of directing that she walked off the set, yelling, "We are not animals,"[12] after the cameraman had run out of film during one of her most grueling scenes. Michael Biehn was also frustrated by the waiting. He claimed that he was in South Carolina for five months and only acted for three to four weeks.[6] He remembered one day being ten meters underwater and "suddenly the lights went out. It was so black I couldn't see my hand. I couldn't surface. I realized I might not get out of there."[2] Harris said that the daily mental and physical strain was very intense and remembered, "One day we were all in our dressing rooms and people began throwing couches out the windows and smashing the walls. We just had to get our frustrations out."[2] There were reports from South Carolina that the actor was so upset by the physical demands of the film and Cameron's dictatorial directing style that he said he would refuse to help promote the motion picture. Harris later denied this rumor and helped promote the film.[6] Cameron responded to these complaints, saying, "for every hour they spent trying to figure out what magazine to read, we spent an hour at the bottom of the tank breathing compressed air."[6] After 140 days and going $4 million over budget, filming finally wrapped on December 8, 1988.[12]


To create the alien water tentacle or pseudopod, Cameron initially considered cel animation or a tentacle sculpted in clay and then animated via stop-motion techniques with water reflections projected onto it. Phil Tippett suggested Cameron contact Industrial Light & Magic.[9] The special visual effects work was divided up among seven FX divisions with motion control work by Dream Quest Images and computer graphics and opticals by ILM.[5] ILM designed a program to produce surface waves of differing sizes and kinetic properties for the pseudopod.[9] For the moment where it mimics Bud and Lindsey's faces, Ed Harris had eight of his facial expressions scanned while twelve of Mastrantonio's were scanned via software used to create computer-generated sculptures. The set was photographed from every angle and digitally recreated so that the pseudopod could be accurately composited into the live-action footage.[9] The company spent six months to create 75 seconds of computer graphics needed for the creature. The film was to have opened on July 4, 1989 but its release was delayed for more than a month by production and special effects problems.[6]

Studio executives were nervous about the film's commercial prospects when preview audiences laughed at scenes of serious intent. Industry insiders said that the release delay was because nervous executives ordered the film's ending completely re-shot. There was also a question of the size of the film's budget. One executive claimed $47 million while The Wall Street Journal reported a figure of $60 million.[13] Box office revenue tracker site The Numbers lists the production budget at $70 million.[1] None of these figures include marketing or distribution costs.


The Abyss was released on August 11, 1989 in 1,533 theaters where it grossed $9.3 million on its opening weekend. It went on to make $54.4 million in North America and $35.5 million in the rest of the world for a worldwide total of $90 million.[14]

Critical reception

The Abyss was initially greeted with mixed response. Newsweek magazine's David Ansen wrote, "The payoff to The Abyss is pretty damn silly - a portentous deux ex machina that leaves too many questions unanswered and evokes too many other films".[15] In her review for The New York Times, Caryn James claimed that the film had "at least four endings", and "by the time the last ending of this two-and-a-quarter-hour film comes along, the effect is like getting off a demon roller coaster that has kept racing several laps after you were ready to get off".[16] Chris Dafoe, in his review for The Globe and Mail, wrote, "At its best, The Abyss offers a harrowing, thrilling journey through inky waters and high tension. In the end, however, this torpedo turns out to be a dud - it swerves at the last minute, missing its target and exploding ineffectually in a flash of fantasy and fairy-tale schtick".[17]

While praising the film's first two hours as "compelling", The Toronto Star remarked, "But when Cameron takes the adventure to the next step, deep into the heart of fantasy, it all becomes one great big deja boo. If we are to believe what Cameron finds way down there, E.T. didn't really call home, he went surfing and fell off his board".[18] USA Today gave the film three out of four stars and wrote, "Most of this underwater blockbuster is 'good,' and at least two action set pieces are great. But the dopey wrap-up sinks the rest 20,000 leagues".[19] In her review for The Washington Post, Rita Kempley wrote that the film "asks us to believe that the drowned return to life, that the comatose come to the rescue, that driven women become doting wives, that Neptune cares about landlubbers. I'd sooner believe that Moby Dick could swim up the drainpipe".[20] Conversely, Rolling Stone magazine's Peter Travers enthused, "[The Abyss is] the greatest underwater adventure ever filmed, the most consistently enthralling of the summer of the best pictures of the year".[21]

The release of the Special Edition in 1993 garnered much praise. Each giving it thumbs up, Siskel remarked, "The Abyss has been improved," and Ebert added, "it makes the film seem more well rounded."[22] The book Reel Views 2 comments, "James Cameron's The Abyss may be the most extreme example of an available movie that demonstrates how the vision of a director, once fully realized on screen, can transform a good motion picture into a great one."[23]

The film review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives The Abyss a "Certified Fresh" rating of 82%.[24]

Awards and nominations

The Abyss won the 1990 Oscar for Best Visual Effects. It was also nominated for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Cinematography and Best Sound. The studio lobbied hard to get Michael Biehn nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

The Abyss was nominated for many other awards, such as by Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films and the American Society of Cinematographers. It ended up winning a total of three other awards from these organizations.

History of the Special Edition

Even as the film was in the first weeks of its 1989 theatrical release, rumors were circulating of a wave sequence missing from the end of the movie. As chronicled in the 1993 laserdisc Special Edition release and later in the 2000 DVD, the pressure to cut the film's running time stemmed from both distribution concerns and Industrial Light & Magic's then-inability to complete the required sequences. From the distributor's perspective, the looming three-hour length limited the number of times the film could be shown each day, assuming that audiences would be willing to sit through it all (1990's Dances with Wolves would shatter both industry-held notions). Further, test audience screenings revealed a surprisingly mixed reaction to the sequences as they appeared in their unfinished form; in post-screening surveys, they dominated both the "Scenes I liked most" and "Scenes I liked least" fields. Contrary to speculation, studio meddling was not the cause of the shortened length; Cameron held final cut as long as the film met a running time of roughly two hours and 15 minutes. He later noted, "Ironically, the studio brass were horrified when I said I was cutting the wave."[25]

What emerges in the winnowing process is only the best stuff. And I think the overall caliber of the film is improved by that. I cut only two minutes of Terminator. On Aliens, we took out much more. I even reconstituted some of that in a special (TV) release version.

The sense of something being missing on Aliens was greater for me than on The Abyss, where the film just got consistently better as the cut got along. The film must function as a dramatic, organic whole. When I cut the film together, things that read well on paper, on a conceptual level, didn't necessarily translate to the screen as well. I felt I was losing something by breaking my focus. Breaking the story's focus and coming off the main characters was a far greater detriment to the film than what was gained. The film keeps the same message intact at a thematic level, not at a really overt level, by working in a symbolic way.[26]

Cameron elected to remove the sequences along with other, shorter scenes elsewhere in the film, reducing the running time from roughly two hours and 50 minutes to two hours and 20 minutes and diminishing his signature themes of nuclear peril and disarmament. Subsequent test audience screenings drew substantially better reactions.

Star Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio publicly expressed regret about some of the scenes selected for removal from the film's theatrical cut.

There were some beautiful scenes that were taken out. I just wish we hadn't shot so much that isn't in the film.[26]

Shortly after the film's premiere, Cameron and video editor Ed Marsh created a longer video cut of The Abyss for their own use that incorporated dailies. With the tremendous success of Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgment Day in 1991, Lightstorm Entertainment secured a five-year, $500 million financing deal with 20th Century Fox for films produced, directed or written by Cameron.[27] The contract allocated roughly $500,000 of the amount to complete The Abyss.[28] ILM was commissioned to finish the work they had started three years earlier, with many of the same people who had worked on it originally. The CGI tools developed for Terminator 2 allowed ILM to complete one new shot and correct flaws in their original work. New dialogue and foley were recorded when it was discovered that original production sound recordings had been lost. Captain Kidd Brewer died before he could return to reloop his dialog, and the Special Edition was therefore dedicated to his memory. Alan Silvestri was not available to compose new music for the restored scenes. Robert Garrett, who had composed temp music for the film's initial cutting in 1989, was chosen to create new music. The project was completed in December 1992, saw a limited theatrical release in New York City and Los Angeles on February 26, 1993 and expanded to key cities nationwide in the following weeks. The laserdisc release of the Special Edition, the first THX-certified laserdisc, was a best-seller for months. Both the theatrical and SE editions remain available on DVD.


  1. ^ a b The Abyss budget/box office details at
  2. ^ a b c McLean, Phillip (August 27, 1989). "Terror Strikes The Abyss". Sunday Mail. 
  3. ^ a b c Smith, Adam (August 2001). "Water Torture". Empire: pp. 106. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Walker, Beverly (August 9, 1989). "Film Plot Mirrored Filmmakers' Troubles". Washington Times: pp. E1. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Blair September 1989, p. 40.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Harmetz, Aljean (August 6, 1989). "A Foray into Deep Waters". New York Times: pp. 15. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  7. ^ a b c Blair, Ian (September 1989). "Underwater in The Abyss". Starlog: pp. 38. 
  8. ^ a b c Blair September 1989, p. 39.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Smith August 2001, p. 107.
  10. ^ a b c d Blair September 1989, p. 58.
  11. ^ Kylstra JA (1977). The Feasibility of Liquid Breathing in Man.. Report to the US Office of Naval Research. Durham, NC: Duke University. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  12. ^ a b c d Smith August 2001, p. 108.
  13. ^ Sujo, Aly (August 8, 1989). "Abyss Puts Studio Executives on Edge". The Globe and Mail. 
  14. ^ "The Abyss". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-03-08. 
  15. ^ Ansen, David (August 14, 1989). "Under Fire, Underwater". Newsweek: pp. 56. 
  16. ^ James, Caryn (August 9, 1989). "Undersea Life and Peril". New York Times: pp. 13. 
  17. ^ Dafoe, Chris (August 9, 1989). "Big Leak in Underwater Adventure". Globe and Mail. 
  18. ^ Toronto Star, October 9, 1989
  19. ^ Clark, Mike (August 9, 1989). "The Abyss Gets in Deep - For Good and Bad". USA Today: pp. 1D. 
  20. ^ Kempley, Rita (August 9, 1989). "Saturated Sci-Fi". Washington Post: pp. C1. 
  21. ^ Travers, Peter (August 24, 1989). "The Abyss". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-03-08. 
  22. ^ See linked review below...
  23. ^ Reel Views 2: The Ultimate Guide to the Best 1,000 Modern Movies on DVD and Video By James Berardinelli, page 582
  24. ^ "The Abyss (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-08-08. 
  25. ^ The Abyss Special Edition DVD, The Restoration
  26. ^ a b Starlog, Issue 150, interview by Ian Spelling
  27. ^ James Cameron biography from Yahoo! Movies
  28. ^ The Toronto Star, Starweek Magazine

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Abyss is a 1989 film, directed and written by James Cameron, about an undersea mobile oil-rig crew who are called on to assist in the recovery of a lost nuclear submarine, but who find unexpected mysteries and perils in the mission.

A place on earth more awesome than anywhere in space. taglines


Virgil "Bud" Brigman

  • When it comes to the safety of these people, there's me and then there's God, understand?
  • [trying to revive Lindsey] Goddamn, you bitch, you never backed down from anything in your life! Now fight! Fight! Fight!
  • Keep your pantyhose on.
  • When you're hanging on by your fingernails, you don't go waving your arms around.
  • [Typing] LOVE YOU WIFE

Catfish De Vries

  • This here's the bottomless pit, baby. Two and a half miles, straight down.
  • Triple-time sounded like a lot of money, Bud. It ain't.
  • [To Hippy] See this? [Puts up fist] They used to call this 'The Hammer'.
  • Huh. Damn rat's breathing that shit. That is no bullshit, hands down, the goddamnedest thing I ever saw.
  • "There was a time that I wouldve asked why"

Lindsey Brigman

  • [about the Navy SEALS] These guys are about as much fun as a tax audit.
  • So raise your hand if you think that was a Russian water-tentacle.
  • We all see what we want to see. Coffey looks and he sees Russians. He sees hate and fear. You have to look with better eyes than that.
  • It's not easy being a cast-iron bitch. It takes discipline, years of training... A lot of people don't appreciate that.
  • Schoenick, your Lieutenant is about to make a real bad career move.
  • I know how alone you feel... alone in all that cold blackness... but I'm there in the dark with you. Oh, Bud you're not alone. You remember that time, you were pretty drunk, you probably don't remember... but the power went out at the old apartment, the one on Orange Street... and we were staring at that one little candle, and I said something really dumb like that candle is me, like every one of us is out there alone in the dark in this life... and you just lit up another candle and put it beside mine and said "No, see? That's me. That's me..." And we stared at the two candles, and then we... well, if you remember any of it, I'm sure you remember the next part. Bud, there are two candles in the dark. I'm with you. I'll always be with you, Bud, I promise that.
  • Virgil, you wiener.
  • [after Cab 3 has landed in the water] Touchdown, and the crowd goes wild.

Alan "Hippy" Carnes

  • Heeeeeeeeeeere's M.I.R.V.!
  • I got to tell you, I give this whole thing a sphincter-factor of about 9.5.

Lt. Coffey

  • We don't need them. We can't trust them. We may have to take steps. We're gonna have to take steps.
  • It went straight for the warhead, and they think it's cute.
  • Everybody just stay calm. The situation is under control.
  • Sniff something? Well did ya, rat boy?


  • USS Montana Captain: 60 knots, no wave lines; the Reds don't have anything that fast.
  • Bendix: Oh no, look who's with them. It's Queen Bitch of the Universe.


[On the bridge monitor, McBride holds up a weather satellite photo.]
Leland McBride: Well, it's official, sports fans. They're calling it Hurricane Fredrick, and it's going to make our lives real interesting in a few hours.
Bud: Fred, huh? I don't know,man, I think hurricanes should be named after women, don't you?

Lindsey: I had over four years invested in this project.
Bud: Yeah, you only had three years invested in me.
Lindsey: Well you have to have priorities.

[After a tense communication with Lindsey…]
Bud: God, I hate that bitch.
Hippy: Probably shouldn't've married her, then, huh?

Lindsey: Explorer, this is Cab 3, starting the descent along the umbilical.
Finler: Roger that, Cab 3. Good luck.
Lindsey: Luck is not a factor.

[Bud has retrieved his wedding band from a chemical toilet.]
Finler: Bud, you know your hand is blue?
Bud: Finler, why don't you just shut up [and] put your gear on?

[The crew hears they'll get three times diver's pay to check out the nuclear sub.]
Catfish: Hell, for triple time, I'd eat up Beany!
Jammer Willis: Set me on fire and put me out with horse piss.

Hippy: What is all this stuff?
Monk: Fluid breathing system. We just got them. You use it when you go really deep.
Hippy: How deep?
Monk: Deep.
Hippy: How deep?
Monk: It's classified.

Hippy: So these guys are SEALs, huh?
Catfish: Eh, those guys ain't so tough. I fought guys plenty tougher'n them.
Hippy: So, is this where you tell us how you "coulda been a contender"?

Hippy: You know, we got Russian subs creepin' around here; somethin' goes wrong they can say whatever they want happened.
Bud: Relax, will ya? You're makin' the women nervous.
Lindsey: Cute, Virgil.

Bud: Hippy, you think everything's a conspiracy.
Hippy: Everything is.

Lindsey: There is something down there. Something not us.
Catfish: You could be more... specific.
Bud: Something that zigs—
Lindsey: Not us! Not human. Get it? Something non-human, but intelligent. [long pause] A non-terrestrial intelligence.
Hippy: A non-terrestrial intelligence! NTIs. Oh man, that's better than UFOs! Oh, but that works too, huh? "Underwater Flying Objects".

Lindsey: You know, you got some huevos bringin' that thing into my rig! With all that's going on up in the world, you bring a nuclear weapon IN HERE?!
Coffey: Mrs. Brigman...
Lindsey: Does this strike anyone as particularly psychotic, or is it just me?
Coffey: Mrs. Brigman, you don't need to know the details of our operation. It's better if you don't.
Lindsey: You're right! I don't need to know! What I need to know is that thing is off this rig! Do you hear me, Roger Ramjet?!

Lisa "One Night" Standing: This tells us how much radiation we're getting?
Hippy: Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. I ain't going near no radiation. No way.
Catfish: Aw, Hippy, you pussy.
Hippy: Well what good's the money [if] six months later your dick drops off?

Bud: Linds, I want you to stay away from that guy. I mean it.
Hippy: The guy is gone. Did you see his hands?
Lindsey: What? He's got the shakes?
Bud: Look, he's operating on his own. He's cut off from his chain of command, he's showing signs of pressure-induced psychosis and he's got a nuclear weapon. So as a personal favor to me, will you try to put your tongue in neutral for a while?

[Bud is being put into the fluid-breathing suit.]
Bud: So, I can hear you, but I can't talk, right?
Ensign Monk: The fluid prevents the larynx from making sound. It'll feel a little strange.
Bud: Yeah, no shit.

Lindsey: Bud, how much oxygen you've left?
Bud: [typing] About 5 minutes.
Lindsey: Bud, if you drop all your ballast you can still make it...
Bud: [typing] Gonna stay for a while... I knew this was a one-way trip.

Lindsey: Hi, Brigman.
Bud: Hi, Mrs. Brigman.


  • A place on earth more awesome than anywhere in space.
  • There's everything you've ever known about adventure, and then there's The Abyss.
  • Deep below the blue surface, there lies a place no one has ever dreamed of.


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