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Ghost Ship – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Well, 2002’s Ghost Ship is now worthy of the Scream Factory Collector’s Edition, eh? All right. Time to revisit it, then. At the very least, new interviews and bonus features can paint an entertaining story about a film I’m pretty sure most people thought was a disappointment. I think the popular word on this one was that “it had an amazing opening scene!” For this new Blu-ray release they’ve rounded up director Steve Beck for a commentary and for interviews they have Gil Adler, Isaiah Washington and Jason Baird. Funny enough, like Steve Beck’s Thirteen Ghosts which also had a Collector’s Edition release, Ghost Ship was once packaged as a multi-feature Blu-ray with the remake of House of Wax. Could a Collector’s Edition of that film be around the corner as well? I actually like that one, so I’d be pretty enthused. Ghost Ship arrives with this new Scream Factory Blu-ray at the end of the month on September 29th. If you’re a fan, use the paid Amazon Associates link after the review to pre-order a copy.

Film

Finders keepers. Any abandoned ship floating in international waters can be claimed and towed to port by whomever is fortunate enough to find it. Or, in the case of one team of salvage experts, unfortunate enough. In this stylish, effects-packed chiller from Dark Castle Entertainment, salvagers trained for any situation imaginable come face to horrifying face with the unimaginable after boarding a derelict luxury liner. Julianna Margulies, Gabriel Byrne, Ron Eldard and Isaiah Washington are among the hands on deck who’ll confront a seafaring collector of souls. Steve Beck (Thirteen Ghosts) directs this frightful chiller.

We will always have that opening scene, Ghost Ship. A scene introducing a horror movie that is so great, few movies that follow could live up to it, that’s for certain. If anything, that has been the legacy of Ghost Ship. “Great opening scene, then a crap movie”. And, well, its not wrong. Following up this act was tough. This scene features a playful lure, with a fun off-tone font for the onscreen titles, that leads to a brutal, graphic mass killing with some top notch effects. Effects that still hold up and look better than most films today could produce. This truly is a highly impressive and effective sequence. Its why you can’t just totally cast Ghost Ship aside, this scene deserves to be remembered and appreciated. It could be the sole reason Scream Factory went in on this Collector’s Edition.

The rest of the film becomes a bit of generic affair that basically amounts to a lot of flashlight searching through an old ship. Many old tropes like rats and such are rifled through. The main crux of this whole thing doesn’t ring much interesting either. While the film does feature some nice looking and haunted sets, it looks really over lit and doesn’t come across as much scary. In fact it almost look like it was lit for something on TV. They definitely want to give you a peak at all the details, but at some point not having the shadows and darkness more present to go along with some unfavorable camera work doesn’t give much in the way of scares or integrity. There’s a similar vibe with director Steve Beck’s Thirteen Ghosts, but in that one there’s a crazy house in play and he somehow makes it work a little better than this.

I hate to sit and rag on Ghost Ship as it was already done almost 20 years ago. As it sits, the film does have some very good make-up and gore effects that continue on from the work done on Thirteen Ghosts.  Ultimately, as has been said over and over, the opening of this film is groovy, but what follows is incredibly mediocre to sub par. Giving the film another revisit for this review, I had an open mind, but this only re-iterated and strengthened the feelings I’ve had for it.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  There has been on additional information provided regarding the transfer of Ghost Ship for this Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release. We can assume that this is the same as the original release, but now breathing a little better on a BD-50 disc. Going by reviews I’ve researched in preparation, it appears that release was well regarded in terms of image quality. It does feature a more vivid look with plenty of visible texture, patterns and detailed information. Its quite crisp and is able to convey the effects without being too obvious. If you’re watching Ghost Ship in HD, I’m not sure it could get that much more improved.

Depth: Solid depth work with some decent spacing and admirable sense of scale when it comes to big interiors or looking around the outside of the boat. Movements are natural and contain no issues of distortions, blurs or jitters as a result of some of the rapid action sequences.

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty deep and flat. Some minimal information can be swallowed up, but with the vivid look, things like hair follicles or patterns or textures on dark surfaces shine right through. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors sit in the dingier, more normal look. The color of rust and grime is quite bold and well rounded in its saturated appearance. Fancier, more glowing colors come in the form of blood or the flashback-type moments with the old-timey stuff from the past.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural with a every so slightly washed out flavor due to the vivid appearance of the aesthetic. Facial features and textures are readily apparent from stubble to wrinkles to dried dirt or blood.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio

Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Just like the video transfer, we can be pretty sure that the 5.1 mix provided is the same as the previous release. And that is absolutely okay. This is a loud, adventurously mixed track. There is an effective sense of environment with well thought out 360 degree entertainment. Just for fun I changed my receiver to simulate Atmos surround and it played the part very well with things dripping and creaking from above. Basically, despite having to watch Ghost Ship, the technical aspects of this 5.1 track at least impress and make for a fun time from a tech junkie perspective.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension: The subwoofer hit pretty hard and impressively in appropriate moments where action strikes, things slam or the score calls for a good jump.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround work on this mix is wildly playful and impressive. You truly feel that you are inside of the boat during this. There are creaks, drips and all sorts of sounds at all times coming from the rear speakers to help build the environment (It even simulates well for atmospherics). Sound travel is quite intense and effective as well. This is truly the kind of fun you want to have with a horror movie in 5.1.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are clear and crisp and hold up pretty good in louder, bigger moments though time to time it can blend in with the surroundings a little much.

Extras

Ghost Ship – Collector’s Edition comes with a reversible cover featuring the original poster art. Due to the pandemic, 2 of the new interviews for this release were captured what appears to be via a Zoom/Skype or FaceTime session.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Steve Beck

This Isn’t Real: Isaiah Washington On Ghost Ship (HD, 6:37) – Washington says Clint Eastwood’s True Crime got him the attention to land the role and he was originally the lead until it changed and Gabriel Byrne and character surfaced. He has a humorous anecdote regarding him and Francesca Rettondini and also how he corrected his death scene to be a bit more respectful and pliable.

Every Body on Board: Makeup Effect Supervisor Jason Baird on Ghost Ship (HD, 6:29) – He went from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace to The Matrix sequels to working on Ghost Ship. Baird goes over the opening sequence, the challenges of shooting with so much water, making silicon replica bodies and the hanging sequence.

Dark Castle at Sea: Producer Gil Adler on Ghost Ship (HD, 7:14) – He talks Thirteen Ghosts making Steve Beck the right guy for the job, wanting to make something actually scary and doing something with more of an ensemble cast rather than any individual. He’s also got a funny story about kangaroos.

Max on Set: Ghost Ship (SD, 15:06) – Not found on the previous release, this serves as a bit of an EPK for the film. Features interviews from cast, crew and producers.

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)

Mudvayne “Not Falling” Music Video (SD, 3:10)

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:14)

Summary

The only negative thing about this release is the film itself. Ghost Ship isn’t much all too good and has some of the worst tendencies or faults of early 2000s horror. Scream Factory does a terrific job with the audio and video presentation and provides some pretty solid new interviews and commentary to flush out and reflect on the film 18 years later. Heck, even the new box art is pretty cool for it. While I’m not a fan of the film myself, I’m sure there are some out there and this release should satisfy them.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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