Directed by Alvin Rakoff [Other horror films: Three Dangerous Ladies (1977, segment ‘Mrs. Amworth’)]
Death Ship had a potential that it didn’t at all live up to, which is a shame, as a movie like this really could have been something special. As it is, I just ended up bored most of the time.
There’s plenty of positive things about this film. The setting, an old, abandoned Nazi ship, is creepy, especially a room devoted to all things Hitler. The atmosphere is solid, and showing empty corridors, or the gears grinding, really brings forth a spooky vibe. Heck, there’s even quite a few creepy sequences, such as the net of bones, or the freezer full of dead bodies, or that one torture room. Combine that with a few golden deaths, and all should be well.
The problem is the film is rather slow, and much like a ship anchored at sea, oftentimes doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere. Not all that much really happens, which is a shame, as, like I said, the setting certainly had a lot of potential. George Kennedy’s performance toward the end was suitably creepy, but without a story to really back that up, it felt a bit stale. Richard Crenna is perhaps the only actor who can transcend the mediocre script, and does well for himself, but like Kennedy, it feels his character doesn’t really do all that much.
Unfortunately, the movie’s just slow, and while there are some interesting ideas here (a Nazi ship trolling the waters in search of people to torture/interrogate for eternity is a fun plot), and some creepy scenes, but it’s not enough to make up for the lack of flair. Overall, Death Ship isn’t terrible, but it’s just not that good, and certainly below average.