Film / Deep Rising

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"Now what?"
John Finnegan

Deep Rising is a 1998 action film, starring Treat Williams and Famke Janssen and directed by Stephen Sommers.

John Finnegan (Williams) is a for-hire boat captain who is contracted by a group of mercenaries to ferry them to a luxury cruise liner they intend to rob. However, when they arrive on board, they discover that something has killed all of the guests.

They eventually meet a pair of survivors - professional thief Trillian St. James (Janssen), the ship's captain, and Simon Canton (Anthony Heald), the ship's owner, who reveal that a malignant creature has infested the ship. What follows is a race against time as the mercenaries try to escape before the creature kills them all.


This movie contains examples of:

  • Accidental Murder:
    • Canton accidentally axes Vivo in the head when he believes that it was the creature on the other side of the door.
    • The triggerhappy mercenaries mistakenly shoot down a few passengers at one point.
  • Asshole Victim: Canton and the mercenaries.
  • Attack of the Monster Appendage: The monsters are actually the tentacles of a bigger beast.
  • Badass Longcoat: Hanover. He loses it halfway through.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed:
    • Entirely justified by anyone who attempts it, given that dying to the seamonster is a slow and awful affair.
    • When Mason is grabbed by a sea monster that will slowly and painfully digest him alive, he detonates one of his explosives before it can eat him.
    • Subverted when Hanover is grabbed by one of the monsters. Joey hands him a weapon as an act of mercy, only for the former to start shooting at him. While Joey escapes, Hanover tries to take his own life and discovers he doesn't have any bullets left.
    Joey, tossing Hanover a pistol: "Here. Don't say I never did nothin' for ya."
    Hanover takes the gun, shoots at Joey
    Joey: "YOU ASSHOLE!"
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Simon Canton is responsible for hiring the mercenaries to sink the ship for him to collect the insurance. However, he is upstaged by the sea monsters that infest the ship. Despite the infestation, he still tries make a shot for Big Bad title by using the others as bait so he can escape himself, and tries to kill Trillian and steal Finnegan's boat.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Trillian and her pilfered pistol show up just in time to save Finnegan from becoming sea monster sushi. Finnegan and his BFG later return the favor when Trillian is being threatened by Canton.
    • Joey is being curbstomped by Hanover's men for being a snoop. Finnegan appears out of nowhere and puts an end to the fun by firing three spears into the wall...right next to where Hanover is standing.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Vivo is the first of the mercenaries to get killed off... and not by the creature, either.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The ending features the heroes now stranded on an Isle of Giant Horrors that seems to have more monstrous creatures they have to deal with. We cut to credits right before they come face to face with something that sounds like Godzilla.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Lampshaded. The writers, aware that the plot will require Bottomless Magazines, introduce the primary weapon of Hanover's pirates as an exotic "Chinese" minigun assault rifle that is auto-cooling, water-tight and has a thousand-round magazine. The small size is still preposterous, given that they dropping .308 casings (a thousand rounds of .308 weighs about 55 pounds and would fill a duffel bag) when they fire. Though in a strange adherence to established canon, they do occasionally run out of bullets at roughly the time that a five-barreled Gatling gun would burn through a thousand rounds while firing in bursts.
  • Brain Food: Vivo tries to make seasick T. Ray puke by claiming he'll be eating pigs' feet, monkey brains, and elephant eyeballs once their mission's over.
  • Break the Badass: Some of the mercenaries, particularly and especially Mason and Mulligan, started to go through this as they never expected to face and combat a sea monster when they were hired for the job and eventually becomes distraught over the loss of their close comrades. Mason lampshades it with this quote:
    Mason: "I don't mean to sound like a pussy, but this shit is startin' to freak me out, man!"
    • Mulligan, overlapping with Break the Haughty due to Mulligan representing the sin Pride, begins to freak out when he realizing all his fellow mercenary friends are gone, the monster is cornering them and even sheds a tear in light of the situation.
    • Hanover as well, when he is slowly eaten by the creature and his facial expressions shows him in visible pain without even screaming initially. After Joey gives him his handgun to perform a Mercy Kill (which he unfortunately wasted the last bullet on Joey in a Taking You with Me attempt only to miss) and he failed to commit quick painless suicide, Hanover can only scream finally in a mixture of horror, disbelief over the loss of bullets, and pain as he is eaten alive.
  • Break the Haughty: The remaining mercenaries go through this when they are terrorized by the monster.
  • Butt Monkey: Joey. He lampshades it when Trillian treats him like crap for no reason after she's just met him.
  • Cannibal Larder: The heroes at one point come across the creature's feeding grounds in the bowels of the ship. There are hundreds of gory, skeletal remains strewn across the giant storage room. The haunting final screams of the people can be heard as the camera pans over them. Earlier in the film, some of the passengers' excreted corpses are found in a corridor at the bottom of the elevator.
  • Cat Scare: Non-cat example: one of the mercenaries is "ambushed" by a bundle of thick cables that drop from the damaged corridor ceiling.
  • Catch Phrase: "Now what?"
  • Chekhov's Gun: Occurs numerous times.
    • Early on in the film, the mercenaries arm all of the torpedoes onboard Finnegan's boat. At the end, Finnegan rigs the boat so it will loop back around and ram into the Argonautica, destroying both ships.
    • One of the first shots of Finnegan focuses on a shotgun he has strapped to the back of his chair. He doesn't carry it for most of the movie, but straps it to his back later on, and uses it to shoot out the creature's eye when it captures him in the ballroom.
    • When the creatures first attack the Argonautica, a speedboat can be seen dropping off the ship into the water. Several minutes later, Finnegan's craft sees the speedboat too late and crashes through it, crippling their systems.
    • Near the end, a surfboard sent flying by the exploding charter boat, which is then used (offscreen) by Joey to swim to safety.
  • Colliding Criminal Conspiracies: There's a Gambit Pileup involving a thief, mercenaries, insurance fraud, a captured cruise ship and a pack of sea monsters that's really just one gigantic beast.
  • Cool Boat: Finnegan's boat is a decommissioned WWII-vintage US Navy Elco PT boat. The cruise ship Argonautica looks like she'd be a wonderful choice for a luxury vacation. Too bad the travel agency didn't warn people about the mercs, the sabotage, and the ravenous sea monsters...
  • Cool Guns: The Minigun-Rifle-thing. Impossibly-huge magazine capacity, laser sight, flashlight, and the awesome rotating barrels.
  • Combat Tentacles: Near the end, it turns out that the protagonists have been facing nothing but these until they encountered the head.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Simon Canton.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The creatures don't simply digest their victims. Instead they are swallowed up, have their liquids effectively drained away, and whatever's left of the body being spit back out (mostly bones and gore). Oh, and did we mention that the victims are still alive during this process?
  • Deadpan Snarker: Joey.
  • Delicious Distraction: Hanover tries to turn Joey into one, wounding him and leaving him behind as bait to distract the pursuing tentacles.
  • Derelict Graveyard: In the opening scene of the film, the creatures are seen travelling through a deep sea ship graveyard, some of them hundreds of years old, all of which they presumably attacked, ate all the people on it, and sank the ships afterwards. There are even remains of whale skeletons besides the derelict ships.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Finnegan destroys one of the monster's eyes with his shotgun, allowing him and Trillian time to escape.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • Simon Canton, when he attempts to leave the survivors for dead.
    • Hanover, when he tries to sacrifice Joey to save himself. Joey escapes and Hanover himself is eaten.
  • Disney Death: Finnegan comes back to the boat to see that Joey's gone, and he assumes that he was eaten by the creature. Later, when he's on the island with Trillian, Joey comes paddling onto shore on Finnegan's surfboard.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Despite Canton technically being the brains behind the operation, Hanover is mostly seen trying to stay to be in charge, while Canton never seem to bark any orders to the mercenaries. Justified as Canton does do carry any combat and survival experience unlike the mercenaries.
  • *Drool* Hello: As the remaining group of survivors discuss what to do next, one of the monsters drips slime/drool onto Joey's shoulder. The mercs open fire on the monster, causing it to split and spill out the partially digested (but still alive) remains of Billy.
  • Dwindling Party
  • Ear Worm: In an in-universe example, Joey gets the elevator music stuck in his head.
  • Eaten Alive: Everyone the creatures get their teeth into, except Mason, who blows himself up, and possibly the Captain, who was yanked through such a narrow gap that crush injuries probably killed him first.
  • The Elevator from Ipanema: Lampshaded.
  • Empty Elevator: The mercenaries are searching through the abandoned cruise ship looking for any passengers or crew members, but none can be found. Then the elevator activates, and they can see it moving to their floor. They keep their weapons aimed at the door, but it's empty. Except for the blood-covered walls inside the elevator, that is.
  • Enemy Rising Behind: When the Dwindling Party reaches the kitchen, Mulligan wants to hole up there for a last stand as he thinks that it's the only place on the ship where they'll be save from the man-eating giant worms. This results in a Mexican Standoff when Finnegan and Hanover disagree, but before it can get violent Mulligan suddenly notices that everyone facing him has an Oh Crap! expression...
  • Eye Scream: Finnegan shoots out one of the creature's eyes on the boat.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Canton wanted to sink the cruise liner so he could reap the insurance money, but when Finnegan accuses him of trying to kill all the passengers Canton takes offense. He claims that he's just a crook, not a savage; he planned for all of them to live, as they would be safely transported off the ship before anyone could drown.
    • Ultimately subverted when Canton decides it would be better for everyone not named Canton to "go down with the ship."
    • Played straight with the Punch Clock Villain mercenaries, who are disgusted with Canton's plan, the motive behind it and how he left them in the dark about it that results in the deaths of their comrades. In addition, they themselves are horrified by the carnage left by the creature's rampage and devastated over the loss of their comrades, who from what we seen so far are best buds to one another aside from their ruthlessness.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: When Billy gets expelled from the tentacle that swallowed him, he looks intact from the right, but then raises a half-melted hand and turns, revealing that the left side of his head has been dissolved all the way through his skull.
  • A Father to His Men: Hanover appears to be this towards his fellow mercenaries, especially after learning about and witnessing their deaths.
  • Fold Spindle Mutilation: Captain Atherton dies when he's yanked through a gap in a catwalk. A very small gap. Possibly also the fate of the woman who hides in the restroom, if the thing that attacked her came up through the toilet pipes.
  • Foreshadowing: There are several allusions to the revelation that the creatures are actually the tentacles of a humongous octopoid monster, most notably Finnegan's anecdote about the octopus and the bottle.
  • Ghost Ship: Subverted in that the main characters are seeking out the cruise liner intentionally.
  • Hate Sink: Simon Canton. The monsters are just predators that live to consume, and most of the mercenaries have some redeeming qualities such as determination, being mostly Punch Clock Villain-type characters, caring for each other except those not in their personal group like Finnegan, their unique wise-cracking characterizations and being badasses. Canton however is only selfish, cowardly, and greedy. He's not so bad at first (having clearly established with Finnegan that he had planned for everyone aboard the boat to be safely evacuated), but he eventually tries to leave the other survivors for dead, then tries to kill Trillian, shrugs off the all the passengers' deaths because he can still scam the insurance agency if the ship sinks, and tries to steal Finnegan's boat. He meets a deliciously Karmic Death.
  • Hired Guns: Hanover's team.
  • I Call It "Vera": Played with in that, while none of the mercenaries name their many, many weapons, the twin engines of Finnegan's charter boat are called "Jezebel" and "Hercules".
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Finnegan hits an elevator door button from about 15 metres with a shotgun, one handed, while driving a jet ski. Twice.
  • Improbable Taxonomy Skills: And how, Canton! More glaringly, the taxonomic group he claims they belong to is actually extinct in Real Life, being known only from fragmentary fossils. Yet he somehow describes its behavior, which would be pretty darn improbable even from a paleontologist ... let alone, a cruise ship designer like Canton. So it is probably no great surprise that he turns out to be completely wrong in his assumptions. The "creatures" are actually the tentacles belonging to a gigantic cephalopod-type creature.
  • Ironic Echo: Trillian steals the captain's ID and snarks to herself about its lousy photo. Then she's caught by Canton and some crewmen, and he snarks about the lousy mugshot on the fax his security people had received about her.
  • Isle of Giant Horrors: At the end, the remaining survivors have escaped to a beautiful sunlit island, only to hear a terrifying monster roar. The camera pulls back to reveal the island is host to an erupting volcano and something tearing down trees as it makes a beeline for the beach where the protagonists are. Cut to credits as the hero asks with exasperation, "NOW what?"
  • It Can Think:
    • When Mulligan suggests holing up in the kitchen, Finnegan relates how he once saw an octopus uncork a bottle to get a fish that had been placed inside.
    • At one point late in the film the monsters start herding the remaining humans towards their feeding area. Makes some sense, as the "monsters" are tentacles of the same creature, and are moving the humans toward the open space where there's the most room to maneuver.
  • It's Personal: Joey and Finnegan (especially Joey) after Leila's death. And later, Finnegan when he thinks that Joey has been killed.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Hanover initially started out as distrusting of Finnegan and his crew, but then started to gradually drop his hostility and shows a level of begrudging respect towards Finnegan when onboard the infested ship. Then when the flooding hits, Hanover, when paired with Joey, pulls a Dirty Coward move by shooting Joey in the leg to feed to the creature and then tried to kill Joey when he himself is slowly eaten.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: See Took a Level in Jerkass.
  • Karmic Death:
    • At the end of the movie, Simon Canton attempts to get away on Finnegan's boat without the others after trying to kill them. When he jumps onto the boat from the cruise ship, he breaks a leg. Unbeknownst to him, the torpedo filled boat has been rigged to run into the cruise ship in order to explode and kill the creature. When Canton realizes this, it's too late and the last thing he sees before dying is Finnegan's computer screen which reads "Game Over".
    • Hanover's death mentioned in Better to Die than Be Killed. He could've spared himself the horrific fate of being a sea monster's meal, but rather than accept Joey's gun as an offer of mercy, he tries to shoot him out of spite. Of course, it was the last bullet, so cue the scream.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Things get serious when the monster attacks.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: The monster is a humongous deep-sea octopoid with possibly hundreds of man-eating tentacles, and is large enough to just fit into the ocean liner's main hall.
  • Lady in Red: This is Trillian's outfit for the first half of the movie, as she was a thief and conman on the cruise liner who used it to distract the captain so she could steal his keycard as part of her scheme.
  • Large Ham: Anthony Heald, especially towards the end.
  • The Load: Joey, for most of the film. Becomes particularly bad when he and Hanover are separated from Finnegan and Trillian and he manages to lose both their guns and throw one of their two grenades without having pulled the pin. Justified in that he's the ship's mechanic/technician in a group composed mostly of hardened mercenaries, and he was only brought aboard to find the parts to fix their ship.
  • Locked in a Freezer: The Argonautica security locks Trillian in the ship's cold pantry when she's caught stealing. In an inversion of the norm for this trope, this protects her from death because its insulating walls keep the tentacles from finding her.
  • Made of Explodium: The cruise ship doesn't just burn and sink, it goes up like a Roman Candle, taking the sea monster - head and all - with it.
  • Man on Fire: Canton threatens Trillian with a flare gun, saying it "might not be quick, but it'll be interesting." Fortunately for her, Finnegan shows up before this can be tested.
  • Mole in Charge: Canton, who disabled the communications on the cruise ship for the mercenaries to do their job that he hired them for.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The creatures have to open wide for this to be really noticeable, but when they do it's quite scary. The primary mouth is also completely littered with teeth.
  • Mr. Exposition: Canton with his Ottoia speech (see Improbable Taxonomy Skills & Smart Ball):
    Canton: "I'm beginning to fear that our friends here may be some kind of strange offshoot of the Archaea Ottoia family..."
  • No Holds Barred Beat Down: When Vivo catches Joey snooping around their cargo, he and Hanover's other men proceed to curb stomp the poor guy. Only Finnegan's timely intervention keeps Joey from being killed.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Trillian gets out of her red dress and into some army clothes in front of the mercenaries, and Canton, albeit she remains off-camera the whole time. None of the guys at any point glance at her while she's changing because they're too busy arguing. Although Finnegan does make a blink-and-you'll-miss-it comment on her "assets" when she slips a pistol into her back pocket.
  • Oh Crap!:
    • Joey gives a smooth "Oh, shit..." when finding out that the basement is full of torpedoes. "Enough to sink a damn aircraft carrier".
    • Canton, when he realizes the boat he's on is about to self-destruct.
    • The reveal that it's not a group of creatures, but one giant entity understandably leaves Finnegan and Trillian realizing just how much bigger their problems have gotten.
  • One-Liner: "What are you looking at?"
    shortly after getting the first glimpse of the monster
    Trillian: What are those things?
    Finnegan: Real unfriendly.
  • Only in It for the Money: The mercenaries are obviously being paid handsomely to help Canton go through with his little scheme. And then there's Finnegan's motto:
    "If the cash is there, we do not care."
  • Outrun the Fireball: On a jet ski actually.
  • Peekaboo Corpse: The floating body that scares Leila while she's using the blowtorch.
  • Phlegmings: Thick sticky globs of them, no less.
  • Picky People Eater: The creatures are interested only in human bodily fluids. They leave their victims as a pile of bone and digested guts.
  • Punch Clock Villain: If it weren't the fact that they're thieving and Ruthless Modern Pirates, if not brash and boisterous, the mercenaries would count as they are only concerned with completely their mission to force out the passengers to make way to sink the cruise liner, while being hardened, trigger-happy and somewhat crooked, they are not sadists or completely unlikable (unlike Canton). Finnegan and his boat crew would also count (as quoted by Finnegan about his line of work, "If the cash is there, we do not care"), perhaps even more so then the mercenaries, with the Punch Clock side outweighing the Villain side.
  • Recoil Boost: Happens accidentally to Trillian when she's shooting one of the mercs' machine guns at worm monsters. The recoil pushes her over backwards into the flooded compartment that everyone needs to escape through, anyway, effectively giving her a head start.
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: The mercenaries.
  • Sacrificial Lion: The mercenaries, who were all killed by the main monster one by one.
  • Scary Black Man: Two of the mercenaries Vivo and Mason.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Joey, especially when he discovers that one of the tentacle monsters is right above his head and he never knew it.
  • Sensor Suspense: One of the Argonautica's bridge crew counts off the rapidly-decreasing distance between the mysterious whatever-it-is that's coming towards the ship.
  • Smart Ball: Canton's theory of the creatures' origins is completely out of left field. In an unexpected (but appropriate) subversion, he turns out to be very wrong.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: The villainous mercenary group seems to be made up of this: Vivo is always talking about food (Gluttony), T. Ray threatens with violence all the time (Wrath), Mamooli talks about his desire to have sex with women from every country (Lust), Jason Flemyng says that the group will "kick ass and take names" as well as taunts a monster and claims it is nothing (Pride), Hanover is paranoid, distrustful and later ends up shooting at someone who is going to live and not him in a Taking You with Me attempt (Envy), Mason is seen stuffing money into his pockets (Greed) and Billy complains about all the work he has to do (Sloth).
  • Spoiler Title: Averted, as the working title of Tentacles was changed to conceal the real nature of the monsters.
  • Sticky Fingers: Trillian deftly swipes Captain Atherton's security pass at the party and uses it to break into the ship's vault. When she's caught red-handed and Canton slaps her, she just as deftly steals his wallet in retaliation.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The sea monsters, who continue to relentlessly pursue the heroes despite suffering extreme gunfire trauma from doing so every time. One might also wonder why the entire creature attacked the ship in the first place seemingly in pursuit of a bunch of microscopic humans, but this is justified if you apply a bit of logic. Something of its immense size would need to devour whales just to get by, and it probably mistook the ship for one. Plus, as it's a cold-blooded cephalopod, tiny meals ought to sustain it for a relatively long time.
    • The graveyard of sunken ships we see at the beginning seems to indicate that the creature long ago figured out that ships were easy to attack and filled with tasty morsels. This is probably the first time it encountered anything on a ship that put up serious resistance.
  • Swallowed Whole: The creature's tentacles can eat human beings in one gulp, and function as a digestive chamber as well. One such victim falls back out after the heroes fire at a tentacle, still alive and half-melted.
  • Taking You with Me: When Hanover is slowly being eaten, he tried to shoot Joey so he won't die alone, only to miss.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Hanover reluctantly teams up with Finnegan (after threatening him multiple times over the last several hours) after he begins to lose more and more of his men.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • At the end, Joey says "This looks like a nice place" just before something huge starts snarling and tossing trees around in the jungle.
    • "I ask you, could it get any worse?" (Lights go out.) "Thanks, Joey."
  • The End... Or Is It?: Our heroes wash up on an island, only to discover another giant monster lives there.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: At first, Canton's plan was to destroy the ship as an insurance scam, but to make it so all of the passengers live. Later though, he uses the others as bait so he can escape himself, and tries to kill Trillian and steal Finnegan's boat. Fortunately, though, he meets his aforementioned Karmic Death in the end.
  • Traveling-Pipe Bulge:
    • When the worm monsters pass through pipes.
    • Overlaps with Dinner Deformation when the bulging mass of half-digested Billy travels the length of a loop of tentacle.
  • Ultimate Evil: The thing on the island.
  • Understatement: When Joey finds out all the torpedoes and Vivo catches him, echoing his "Oh, shit", Joey points out :
    Joey: "I am feeling a real lack of love here."
  • Vasquez Always Dies: The spunky and capable Leila dies early on to establish the presence of the monsters.
  • Villain Protagonist: It is one of the few films that has no heroes or heroines. Finnegan and his crew are hired for villainous reasons. Trillian is a thief. Canton is a fraudster. The mercenaries are simply mercenaries, and the few crew members to survive the initial attack don't last long enough to do anything heroic.
  • The Worf Effect: T. Ray, the biggest and most violent member of Hanover's mercenary crew, is the first of them to be eaten by the monsters.
  • Wormsign:
    • Something makes the floor's iron grates rise up as it chases Finnegan and Joey down a corridor.
    • At the end, the path of the unknown roaring creature is made visible because of the trees it's hurling aside as it charges through the jungle.
  • You Just Had to Say It:
    Joey: "I ask you, man, could it get any worse?"
    lights go out.
    Finnegan: "Thanks, Joey."

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