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Film / DeepStar Six

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Deepstar Six has a serious pest problem.

Well, at least Snyder will get his name in the Guinness Book of Records. I mean, causing two nuclear explosions in one afternoon has to be some sort of record!!
Jim Richardson, at the start of what proves to be a REALLY bad day

The crew of DeepStar Six, an underwater naval facility tasked with deploying nuclear missile launchers on the sea floor, explosively opens an undersea cavern while hurrying to complete the last week of their tour. In doing so, they unleash an extremely large, aggressive arthropod that proceeds to make mincemeat out of the facility and the crew.

The film was directed by Sean S. Cunningham, who also directed the original Friday the 13th, and stars Miguel Ferrer. While released the same year as The Abyss and Leviathan (1989), DeepStar Six is more of a shameless ripoff of Aliens in an underwater setting. However, much like Leviathan, it was poorly received and did not perform well at the box office.


  • Artistic License – Nuclear Physics:
    • 20 megatons worth of nuclear warheads going off within knife-fight distance would have vaporized the base. Even if the fireball didn't reach them, the resultant shockwaves caused by the collapse of the bubble would have absolutely shredded it. Either would have put the whole wretched crew, as well as the audience, out of their respective misery.
    • When the base's nuclear reactor coolant loop is compromised, they start talking about it going "super-critical" - i.e., that it would explode like the nukes they just set off. Nope. They'd certainly get a steam explosion, but it would be infinitesimal compared to the 20 megatons they just set off.
  • Artistic License – Physics:
    • Nobody seems to understand what decompression means. The problem isn't decompression - that'll happen as the base loses gas pressure. The problem is keeping the atmosphere compressed enough that they don't decompress too fast. Divers decompress at or close to the surface, not inside the undersea base, because you are decompressing to ambient (atmospheric) pressure.
    • Snyder's escape capsule would have had to have been at base pressure or explosive decompression would have resulted, and would have had to maintain that pressure as it rose, no problem for a heavy steel box. If someone got it attached to a decompression chamber topside, he would have been fine, and even if he'd been stupid enough to vent the pressure to atmosphere, he wouldn't have just popped like a balloon.
    • They wouldn't have needed a JIM suit if they were at ambient pressure. If they were at atmospheric pressure, they'd have had to have the armored diving suits to prevent implosion, but then decompression wouldn't have been a factor!
  • Bad Boss: Van Gelder's impatience and poor management skills indirectly cause almost a dozen deaths.
  • Berserk Button: Hearing about the initial sub attack, Scarpelli suggests a theory about how light can cause aggressive behavior in some animals. Norris heard this and later makes use of it to distract the creature away from Collins.
  • Big "NO!": Collins, as Norris sacrifices herself. She does it again when McBride gets ready to blow up the DSRV while still on it.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted. Captain Laidlaw is the fourth fatality.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: McBride in particular keeps trying to go back to help others, regardless of how hopeless the situation is.
  • Cowardly Lion: Snyder. He talks a good game, but he panics when things get ugly.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Deepstar Six is meant to be used as a military base once it is completed, which would probably justify the nuclear Self-Destruct Mechanism, but still does not explains why the crew would have pump-action shotguns in storage (for all that they help when the monster attacks).
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Holy crap. We are talking almost an hour (out of an hour and a half of movie runtime).
  • Disposable Vehicle Section: The under water construction vehicle has separable tracks so it may work as a traditional submersible.
  • Driven to Suicide: Snyder, in messy Explosive Decompression fashion.
    • Also Captain Laidlaw, though for much more noble reasons; see Heroic Sacrifice below.
  • Dwindling Party: The crew gets killed by the monster as the film goes on. Hits Characters Dropping Like Flies levels of velocity by the last half hour.
  • Eldritch Ocean Abyss: The creature's home was an underwater cave which is blown wide open by an explosive charge creating a massive sinkhole that barely swallows the guys who did it. Scarpelli tells Van Gelder early on that there are records of sightings of something in the area (obviously implied to be the creature) going back several years (one of which got people killed), but as is standard of the genre Van Gelder doesn't wants to hear it until it's too damn late.
  • Expy: Several characters are very similar to respective characters in Aliens.
  • Explosive Decompression: Snyder gets it when he uses the evacuation pod without decompressing beforehand, and the last we see of him is him popping like a balloon and painting the insides red.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Laidlaw shows a drawing his daughter made for him in the first act. No points for guessing what happens to him a few scenes later.
  • Foil: McBride is rather soft-spoken and humble, whereas Snyder is quick to boast about himself. Though both are terrified by the situation they find themselves in, McBride rises to the occasion, while Snyder succumbs to fear.
  • From Bad to Worse: Let's see:
    • A regular demolition work causes a giant underwater cave to open, and two members of the team are killed when asked to explore it.
    • Then one more dies when the creature attacks their submarine.
    • Then Captain Laidlaw is killed by a closing hatch when he and McBride come to rescue these two.
    • Then Snyder is given orders to get ready to evacuate Deep Star Six by securing the missiles... so he consults the computer. Given a choice between "securing the sled from natural forces" and "scuttling in case of aggression" (read: "detonate the nuclear warheads to deny them to the enemy") he of course chooses the latter. In his defense, he only chose this after asking Collins whether she would consider the monster a natural force or "an aggression type of thing" - unfortunately, he didn't explain why he was asking, and he still followed through after seeing "Missile Detonation" on-screen.
    • With the base severely damaged from the gigantic explosion that ensues, it is impossible to just decompress and escape. Doing the necessary repairs becomes flat-out suicidal with the monster out there... and it's not like they can sit down and wait, because said explosion damaged the base's nuclear reactor, meaning that in a few hours everything will be nuked to hell again.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: The creature. While it's small by Godzilla standards, it's still basically a lobster (or possibly a giant eurypteridnote ) the size of a car.
  • Gorn: A whole lot of the last 1/3rd of the movie goes straight into this territory, to the point of ignoring physics just to get more gory.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Richardson takes a JIM suit to go outside and fix the connections to get the decompression chamber working... and when he's pulled back inside by the crew for a moment it seems he's safe before the monster's head rises out of the water bites him in half.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: No less than three.
    • Captain Laidlaw, fatally injured by a bulkhead closing on him, intentionally floods the chamber where he's trapped to force McBride and Collins to save themselves rather than trying to save him.
    • Dr. Norris distracts the creature so that Collins can make it to the decompression chamber.
    • McBride blows up the DSRV, and seemingly himself, to take out the creature and protect Collins. He Gets Better.
  • Ignored Expert: Scarpelli. She has an understanding that there is something down there because of multiple files of odd sightings in the area (one of which left a few casualties). Van Gelder doesn't gives a damn, citing that they are on a very tight schedule as it is to get Deep Star Six finished.
  • Just Following Orders: Snyder's only defense for the whole clusterfuck he triggers is "I was following procedure!". Considering that the procedure for "missles threatened by enemy forces" is setting off multiple nukes within spitting distance of the base and there was an option for "securing the missiles from natural forces" right next to it, he made a very stupid decision, then compounded it by executing procedure without bothering to consulting anyone else.
  • The Load: Snyder. Most of the difficulties in the second half of the movie could have been avoided by shoving Snyder out the airlock in the first 10 minutes. Oddly, he becomes aware of his own status as this after accidentally killing Van Gelder, breaking down entirely at his own incompetence despite Dr. Norris' attempts to reassure him.
  • Mildly Military: The Deepstar Six base is nominally a Navy base but none of the occupants act remotely like Navy personnel. Gets really blatant when Snyder detonates the nuclear missles; triggering a nuclear detonation requires all kinds of safety interlocks and multiple officer concurrences in reality. It's possible that Deepstar was a civilian defense contractor, but the chance that the Navy would put nuclear detonation controls in the hands of a bunch of civilian wackos was nil.
    • Not to mention, it's quite possible to scuttle nuclear missiles (make them permanently useless to the enemy) without detonating them. You are left with a lot of highly radioactive junk but it wouldn't have damaged Deepstar.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Scarpelli, and Collins to a lesser extent.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Snyder does not take Van Gelder's death well. At all.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Employed on multiple occasions.
    • The deaths of Osborne and Hodges. Their sub's equipment begins to detect the monster approaching them. We see a brief glimpse of it on a monitor, but the focus is on their terrified reactions and attempt to escape. We're spared seeing what becomes of them, while Collins and McBride simply lose their signal and then detect an incoming object.
    • Doing repair work outside, Richardson sees something and gets very worried. Unfortunately for him, it gets into the airlock when he's brought back inside, and we see the messy results.
    • Mistaking the creature hitting the door for McBride, Norris opens it and causes the compartment to flood. Though they manage to seal the door before the room becomes completely flooded, it occurs to them the creature may've slipped in and be waiting under the water. Tense shots of still water and concerned looks follow before it surfaces.
  • Only One Name: Everyone's only called by their last name. This is okay for most of the movie, but makes the last two survivors screaming each other's names in distress sound pretty awkward, since they're supposed to be in love and sticking together to raise their baby after this is over.
  • "Pop!" Goes the Human: Happens to both Van Gelder and Snyder. Van Gelder gets a lesser version via getting accidentally stabbed with an anti-shark spear by Snyder (which injected CO₂ in whatever it stabbed, making his ribcage go chestburster as a result) while Snyder gets the "body goes boom and splatters all over the room" version courtesy of Explosive Decompression.
  • Psycho Party Member: Snyder. Let's count the ways, shall we?
    • When a monster attacks various members of the crew, he's given the order to get the site ready for evacuation — so Snyder looks into the evac protocols under "site being threatened by enemy force" (whereas "threatened by forces of nature" was also a plausible choice) and follows them to the letter... without caring that these protocols include setting off the nukes that are within spitting distance of Deep Star Six and they hadn't left the place yet.
    • When the massive underwater nuclear explosion inevitably damages the station, he insists on trying to leave the place even when everybody else tells him that leaving without decompressing would mean suicide... and still he does, after trying to fight the monster only ends with several deaths (one of which is Van Gelder, accidentally done by Snyder, which leaves the latter on the verge of a complete breakdown and hallucinating that Van Gelder's ghost is coming to get him). No prizes for what happens to him next. Some of this is foreshadowed by the fact he continuously says that he's been overworked in the time the team has been down there and is clearly suffering from some form of cabin fever. But for whatever reason Van Gelder, who is his superior, won't give him a break.
  • Sanity Slippage: Snyder loses it as the film goes on, to the point he starts hallucinating Van Gelder’s ghost is coming to get him.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Almost a given due to the underwater setting. Collins in particular has multiple scenes wearing a flimsy top that is practically transparent when wet.
  • Shaky P.O.V. Cam: We are treated to some of the creature's POV, as it swims around or closes in on a particular victim.
  • Underwater Base: The titular Deep Star Six. Its final objective, once Van Gelder is done building it, is for it to be used as an underwater nuclear missile silo. This specific detail comes to bite everybody in the ass eventually.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • Those Two Guys manning the Sea-Cat underwater tractor had one job: blow a hole for construction. Unfortunately, the spot they blew up was the rooftop of the creature's home, and they were the first to die as a result.
    • Snyder again. The two nuclear explosions mentioned in the page quote are just the start of the havoc he causes.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: McBride lays into Snyder for running and closing the door behind himself, while Richardson was getting killed and all sorts of other things were going wrong.
  • What's a Henway?: McBride and Laidlaw sneak in the joke into the middle of them saying aloud the pre-launch checklist for their submarine with Snyder checking along (Snyder being the one who asks about the Henway when he can't see it in his copy of the list).
  • Workout Fanservice: Scarpelli gets a scene where she uses a rowing machine in a sports bra complete with close-up of her stomach and down her cleavage as she does the motions.