Release Date(s)2002 (September 29, 2020)
Studio(s)Dark Castle Entertainment/Warner Bros Pictures (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: D
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: B+
After the success of House on Haunted Hill and Thir13en Ghosts (mostly on home video), Dark Castle Entertainment ventured forth with their next horror title, Ghost Ship. Bringing back Steve Beck as a director, the film was equally successful, but was received negatively by critics.
Forty years prior, the SS Antonia Graza cruise ship went missing after an accident killed nearly everyone on board, except for a little girl named Katie (Emily Browning). In the present day, a salvage crew has been hired by an unusual young man named Jack (Desmond Harrington) to find a derelict vessel floating at sea, which turns out to be the legendary ship. Upon boarding, Captain Murphy (Gabriel Byrne) and his crew, comprised of Epps (Julianna Margulies), Greer (Isaiah Washington), Dodge (Ron Eldard), Munder (Karl Urban), and Santos (Alex Dimitriades), discover boxes of gold, but also spirits of the past, including Katie. One by one, the ship and its dead passengers come after each of them, but it appears that something more sinister is at work.
Cutting to the chase, Ghost Ship is not a good movie. There are moments of interest, but it features a cast of unlikable characters, mostly mediocre performances, terrible editing, and an overpowering heavy metal and techno soundtrack that only stands to make the film seem cool instead of scary. It gets by the most on a very effective opening, which when the film came out, was all anybody could talk about. The only other thing going for it is its production design, which is overly lit and the opposite of spooky. Like its predecessors, its DVD release featured interactivity that allowed you to get to know the ill-fated passengers a bit more. However, that doesn’t make up for the lack of scares. It’s not an unwatchable film at all, but it’s disappointing after such a strong opening sequence, as well as its more palatable predecessors.
Scream Factory brings Ghost Ship to Blu-ray for a second time in a new Collector’s Edition package utilizing the same HD master as the previous 2009 Blu-ray from Warner Bros. The main difference is there has been a slight aspect ratio adjustment to conform more closely to the film’s original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, with small black bars on the top and bottom. This release also features a higher bit rate, meaning that even though it’s an older master, it gets more out of it in terms of sharpness and clarity. Outside of that, everything else remains the same. The color palette offers a minor amount of variety, though its limited to the interiors of a rusty old ship most of the time. Black levels are not thoroughly deep as noise can occasionally be observed, but shadows are mostly unaffected. The source is clean and stable as well. A fresher scan would have yielded slightly more detail, but as is, it’s still a decent presentation overall.
The audio is included in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. The biggest star on both soundtracks is the aforementioned heavy metal music, which is large and in charge in the surrounding speakers. Atmospherics are decent, particularly in the interiors of the ship where creaking and watery sounds permeate. Dialogue exchanges are clear and precise as well. Sound effects placement isn’t aggressive, but does offer occasional moments of creativity.
The following extras are also included:
- NEW Audio Commentary with Steve Beck and Justin Beahm
- NEW This Isn’t Real – Isaiah Washington on Ghost Ship (HD – 6:37)
- NEW Every Body on Board – Makeup Effects Supervisor Jason Baird on Ghost Ship (HD – 6:29)
- NEW Dark Castle at Sea – Producer Gil Adler on Ghost Ship (HD – 7:14)
- Max on Set: Ghost Ship (SD – 15:06)
- Visual Effects (SD – 6:01)
- A Closer Look at the Gore (SD – 5:32)
- Designing the Ghost Ship (SD – 5:42)
- Secrets of the Antonia Graza (SD – 6:12)
- Not Falling Music Video by Mudvayne (SD – 3:10)
- Theatrical Trailer (SD – 2:14)
Other than the cast and crew text info from the film’s DVD release, everything appears to have been carried over, plus a few new things have been added. The new audio commentary with Steve Beck is mostly a Q&A session with Justin Beahm at the helm, but an entertaining and informative one. In This Isn’t Real, actor Isaiah Washington quickly recounts his role in the film, working with Steve Beck, and working with actress Francesca Rettondini. In Every Body on Board, makeup effects supervisor Jason Baird talks about where he was during this stage in his career, goes over the opening moment of the film in more detail, and what it was like working with actor Gabriel Byrne. In Dark Castle at Sea, producer Gil Adler speaks about the genesis and the casting of the film, as well as its overall legacy. Max on Set is a vintage making-of which speaks to all of the main cast and some members of the crew. Visual Effects gives a brief overview of the film’s use of green screen, CGI, and miniatures. A Closer Look at the Gore interviews the film’s special makeup effects creators about their work on the film. Designing Ghost Ship talks about the art department and their execution of the film’s main set, which is the ship itself. Secrets of the Antonia Graza collects all of the videos found within the original DVD release’s interactive portion.
Ghost Ship certainly has its fans, and for them, this is definitely a fine upgrade with a slightly better presentation and extras that are worth checking out.
- Tim Salmons