Deepstar Six (1989) poster

Deepstar Six (1989)


USA. 1989.


Director – Sean S. Cunningham, Screenplay – Lewis Abernathy & Geoff Miller, Story – Lewis Abernathy, Producer – Sean S. Cunningham & Patricia Markey, Photography – Mac Ahlberg, Music – Harry Manfredini, Visual Effects Supervisor – Jim Isaacs, Makeup Effects – Greg Nicotero, Mark Shostrom & Chris Walas, Production Design – John Reinhart. Production Company – Carolco.


Greg Evigan (Kevin MacBride), Nancy Everhard (Joyce Collins), Cindy Pickett (Dr Diane Norris), Miguel Ferrer (Tony Snyder), Taurean Blacque (Captain Philip Laidlaw), Nia Peeples (Dr Barbara Scarpelli), Matt McCoy (James Richardson), Marius Weyers (John Van Gelder)


A US Naval Engineering team is constructing an underwater nuclear missile launch platform. During excavation of the ocean floor, they accidentally uncover a previously unknown form of life, which proceeds to attack the installation base. With the pressure lines broken, they are unable to depressurise the escape pods. And with only eight hours before the overheating reactor explodes, the survivors have to fight the creature off as it invades their submarine habitat.

With the announcement of James Cameron’s big-budget The Abyss (1989), dozens of penny-ante operators rushed to the fore with their own variations of Aliens Underwater, assuming that Cameron was attempting a submerged version of his previous hit Aliens (1986). Of course, when The Abyss premiered it turned out that it wasn’t an underwater monster movie type of film at all. 1989 still offered up an instant fad of underwater monster movies anyway, from the reasonably well budgeted Leviathan (1989) to cheapies like Roger Corman’s Lords of the Deep (1989) and the Spanish The Rift/Endless Descent (1990).

Of these, first off the mark was Sean S. Cunningham’s entertainingly cheesy Deepstar Six. It was probably copied from the even more parsimonious Destination Inner Space (1966). Cunningham had started the decade off with his massively successful B-budget hit Friday the 13th (1980), although he never followed that success up in any substantial way and remained making forgettable B-movies. (See below).

Certainly, Cunningham is not above stealing from himself to fuel his shocks here – like mounting Friday the 13th‘s just-when-you-thought-they’d-escaped climax over again. That is only half the generic cliches Cunningham poaches, the mild surprise being that a few of them work. Deepstar Six is not as bad as many made it out to be back when the film was released.

Cindy Pickett under attack by the monster in Deepstar Six (1989)
Cindy Pickett under attack by the monster

Sean S. Cunningham conducts the suspense and running around the underwater habitat with competent regard. There is a good deal of unintentional baloney that adds immeasurably to the basic entertainment value – like Miguel Ferrer (the film’s most enthusiastic over-actor amid the cast of mostly former tv stars and bit-players)’s death by an absurd case of the bends, or Marius Goring’s despatch by injection of explosive oxygen pellets. The monster is designed in such a way that it would have good deal of difficulty actually eating anything – in one of the more improbable moves, it appears to be capable of biting a two-ton pressure suit in half, yet is restrained by a mere bulkhead door.

Sean S. Cunningham’s other genre films are:- the vampire sex comedy Case of the Full Moon Murders/The Case of the Smiling Stiffs (1973), the original slasher film Friday the 13th (1980), the kidnap thriller A Stranger is Watching (1982), the revenge film The New Kids/Striking Back (1985) and the alien invasion film Terminal Invasion (2002). Cunningham also produced the House series of films beginning with House (1986), the Disney teenage zombie comedy My Boyfriend’s Back (1993), Black Friday (2008) and the remake of The Last House on the Left (2009), as well as the Friday the 13th sequels Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993), Jason X (2001) and Freddy vs. Jason (2003), and the remake Friday the 13th (2009).

Trailer here

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