Saturday, June 17, 2017

Gabriel Byrne and The Haunted Love Boat, or Thoughts on Ghost Ship

A variation on the haunted house theme but with the additional threat of drowning, the ghost ship genre has largely sunk under its own weight (see what I did there) and fallen out of public favor.  I blame the airline industry.  Produced by Dark Castle, the same company that brought out Thirteen Ghosts (2002) and House on Haunted Hill (1999) but not based on a previous William Castle film, Ghost Ship (2002) follows brooding Irish actor Gabriel Byrne as brooding Captain Sean Murphy, who finds an abandoned cruise liner in the Bering Sea.  He immediately sees dollar signs from the salvage rights if he can tow her back to port but you know, ghosts.
Most remembered for the fantastic opening scene where all the passengers of the SS Antonio Graza are all chopped in half, however this scene is set in 1962 and while the singer (Francesca Rettondini) has a period correct Shure 55SH microphone (the “Elvis mic”), the mic cable has a very modern 3-prong to 1/4” adapter.  It’s the little details that take you out of the story.
Gabriel Byrne has starred in two of my favorite movies from the ‘90s, The Usual Suspects (1995) and Millers’ Crossing (1990), in addition to the Devil in End of Days (1999, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, no less) if you pay attention to such things, and how could you not?    Watch out for Juliana Marguiles and a pre-Lord of The Rings Karl Urban as Munder, the grungy 90’s mechanic.  Also be on the look out for a very young Emily Browning, currently Laura Moon in American Gods, as Katie, a ghost girl, in one of her first movie roles.
I actually googled maritime law for the purposes of this review (the things I do for you people), and technically, if you are able to recover the vessel you can claim a reward commensurate with the value of the ship and cargo from the original owners.  However it’s easier for the owners to just give you the ship than pay you off, so that’s where you get the myth of free boats in international waters.  Still, it’s part of the romance of the high seas, another theme that has been sorely neglected, that we can also blame on the airline industry.

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