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I have to admit a certain weakness for old style haunted house movies. These are the kinds of movies that take me back to my childhood, when scary movies were a regular staple on local television stations. Obviously, the folks at Dark Castle Entertainment remember the simple pleasures of these kind of scary movies, as they have spent a good deal of their production history bringing these types of genre films to the screen. During their early days, Dark Castle specialized in dressing up "B" horror movies with recognizable faces that would appeal to modern audiences. As for GHOST SHIP ($29), it makes use of the standard haunted house premise, but instead of being landlocked, the film takes the audience out for a bit of sea cruise. Like the legendary Marie Celeste, GHOST SHIP tells the story of a derelict ship with not a soul on board. Enticed by aerial photographs of an ocean liner adrift in the midst of the Bering Sea, a salvage team takes a chance that on the ship being worth a small fortune to them.

Once they actually find the ship, the leader of salvage team is shocked to discover that the derelict is none other than the Antonia Graza, a luxurious Italian ocean liner that mysteriously disappeared forty years earlier. With no signs of what befell the passengers and crew of the Antonia Graza, the salvage team begins exploring the rusting hulk, in search of something that would make their excursion to the middle of nowhere worth the effort. What they find is a rather sizable shipment of gold bars, something that will make each of them wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. However, before the gold can be offloaded, the ghostly inhabitants of Antonia Graza make it impossible for the salvage team to leave the liner, in addition to extending a deadly invitation to join them on their eternal cruise. The cast of GHOST SHIP features Gabriel Byrne, Julianna Margulies, Ron Eldard, Desmond Harrington, Isaiah Washington, Alex Dimitriades, Karl Urban, Emily Browning and Francesca Rettondini.

Warner Home Video has made GHOST SHIP available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. GHOST SHIP features a surprisingly good 1080p presentation that is certain to tickle fans. For the most part, the picture appears quite sharp, nicely texture and offers up a good level of fine detail. Facial details in close ups is fairly impressive. Colors can be a little sedate in places, but the do pop nicely when required- blood reds are highly effective in some of the gorier sequences. Blacks are deep, whites are crisp and contrast is smooth. Shadow detail is very good for a modestly budgeted affair. The elements from which GHOST SHIP have been transferred appear relatively free from blemishes. There is some grain in the image, which keeps the presentation very film like.

GHOST SHIP is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. The lossless encode enhances everything present in the previous DVD release, which was quite good. As I stated in my previous review, the sound design heaps on tons of atmosphere, which enhance the ghoulish goings on. Active effects make great use of all the outlying channels. Additionally, subtle sounds come from everywhere, creating an enveloping aural experience the places the viewer right on board the haunted rusting hulk. The bass channel is deep and effective, without sounding artificially boomy. Fidelity is excellent, which allows the film’s score and incidental music to shine. English, French and German Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as is a Portuguese 2.0 channel track. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Norwegian, Portuguese and Swedish.

The interactive menu gives one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental features, which have been ported from the DVD release. Max On Set: Ghost Ship is a fifteen minute look behind-the-scenes that features clips, as well as cast & crew interviews. Secrets Of The Antonia Graza presents the viewer with a bit of a puzzle to solve, before it unlocks four vignettes. Visual FX Featurette offers a five-minute look at the film’s miniature and special effects work. A Closer Look At The Gore takes the viewer up close and personal for a five minute tour of the film’s splatter and dismemberment. Designing the Ghost Ship is another five minutes on the film’s production design and sets. A Music Video for Mudvayne's song Not Falling, as well as a Theatrical Trailer closes out the supplements.

GHOST SHIP is popcorn munching good fun for genre fans. Warner’s Blu-ray release offers a surprisingly impressive upgrade over standard definition. Easily recommended to anyone who enjoys this type of movie.



Ghost Ship [Blu-ray] (2002)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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