Deep Rising

Deep Rising is a 1998 American action horror film directed by Stephen Sommers and starring Treat Williams, Famke Janssen and Anthony Heald. It was distributed by Hollywood Pictures and Cinergi Pictures and released on January 30, 1998.

Deep Rising
Theatrical released poster
Directed byStephen Sommers
Produced byJohn Baldecchi
Mario Iscovich
Laurence Mark
Written byStephen Sommers
Robert Mark Kamen
Music byJerry Goldsmith
CinematographyHoward Atherton
Edited byBob Ducsay
John Wright
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • January 30, 1998 (1998-01-30)
Running time
106 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$45 million[2]
Box office$11.2 million (USA)[1]


Amidst a storm, Captain John Finnegan and his crew, Joey Pantucci and Leila, are hired by mercenaries Hanover, Mulligan, Mason, Billy, T-Ray, Mamooli, and Vivo to pilot their boat across the South China Sea to an undisclosed location in the middle of the ocean. Meanwhile, the Argonautica, a luxury cruise ship built and owned by Simon Canton, is undertaking its maiden voyage when a saboteur disables the ship's navigation and communication systems. A large object rises from beneath and rams the vessel, leaving it dead in the water, while the panicking passengers are attacked by unseen creatures.

Finnegan's boat collides with a speedboat shaken loose during the collision, at which point the mercenaries take over and reveal they intend to rob the Argonautica's passengers and vault, before sinking the ship with torpedoes. The group boards the ship, leaving Leila and Billy behind to repair the boat, where they are both killed by the same creature. The group reaches the ballroom only to find blood and no sign of the passengers. Finnegan and Joey go to the ship's workshop to scavenge parts to repair the boat, under the guard of T-Ray and Mamooli. T-Ray goes off to investigate strange noises and is torn to shreds by the creature. Mamooli contacts Hanover, but is dragged off by the creature; as Joey and Finnegan are escaping they run into Trillian, a passenger who was imprisoned for stealing. Meanwhile Hanover's group reaches the vault and Vivo opens it only to be mistakenly killed by Canton, who was hiding inside the vault along with Captain Atherton, and three other passengers who are shot dead by Mason and Mulligan. Canton and Captain Atherton explain to the mercenaries that the ship has been attacked by unknown creatures that killed everyone else on board.

Under questioning, Canton is found to be responsible for the ship's sabotage, having hired the mercenaries to sink the unprofitable ship so that he could collect on the insurance. The group is attacked by creatures wielding giant spike-covered tentacles, which eat Captain Atherton. Canton theorizes that the creatures are an extreme evolution of the Ottoia, which drain their victims of their bodily fluids and then eject the carcasses. The creatures attack and the survivors flee; Mason is grabbed by the creature and kills himself by detonating a grenade. Mulligan elects to stay behind in the crew's galley and try to kill the creatures in a last stand. Mulligan scares off one creature, but is ambushed and devoured by another. In a running battle with the creature, Trillian saves Finnegan's life and the group of survivors find themselves being herded towards the bow of ship, where they find a "feeding ground" full of bloody skeletal remains. Canton, attempting to rid himself of any witnesses to collect the insurance, misleads the others to the bow while he moves towards an exit route. The creatures break through the hull, causing more flooding of the lower decks and separating the survivors. Hanover shoots Joey and leaves him as bait to save himself, but instead gets grabbed by the creature and devoured.

Finnegan and Trillian spot an island from a distance and make it back to Finnegan's boat, but having lost the engine parts, it is useless as a means of escape. Joey returns to the boat and does what he can to effect repairs. Finnegan sets the boat's autopilot to crash into the Argonautica and detonate torpedoes. Trillian returns to the cruise boat and locates a jet ski with fuel they can use to reach the island. But Canton arrives armed with a flare gun. Canton encourages Trillian to join him or hand over the keys but she flees and he chases her. Finnegan also returns to the cruise boat, pursues Canton to the ballroom on the main deck and manages to save Trillian. The tentacles smash through the main deck and are revealed to be part of a single giant creature called the Octalus. The monster grabs Finnegan who frees himself by blinding the monster in one eye with a shotgun blast. Finnegan discovers Joey has gone missing, and he and Trillian are chased by the creature but eventually escape on a jet ski. Canton jumps onto Finnegan's boat, breaking his leg, but unable to disable the autopilot, his ride is a short and painful one. The boat crashes into the Argonautica. Its exploding torpedoes destroy both ships and kill both Canton and the creature.

Finnegan and Trillian reach the island and safety. Joey swims ashore and they are reunited. As the three relax, a loud roar echoes from the forest, and something huge crashes toward them through the trees. As the camera pulls back, the island is revealed to be primordial. Finnegan is heard saying his movie catchphrase, "Now what?", as the film ends.



Stephen Sommers began writing the script to Deep Rising, then called Tentacle, when he worked at Hollywood Pictures in the mid-1990s. Claire Forlani was originally cast as Trillian St. James, but dropped out after just three days, due to creative differences with Sommers, and Famke Janssen was subsequently cast. Janssen almost did not get the part because the producers felt she was too recognizable from GoldenEye, but they relented. Harrison Ford turned down the role of John Finnegan, which later went to Treat Williams, and the film's budget was later downsized.[3]

Filming for Deep Rising began on June 12, 1996 and lasted until October 18 of that year. The film was originally set for release in the fall of 1997, but was delayed until the following January. Industrial Light and Magic was responsible for the film's special effects while Rob Bottin who had previously worked on The Thing and on Paul Verhoven's RoboCop was hired as the special makeup effects designer.

The exterior shots of the cruise ship Argonautica was created by CGI, and is an original design not based on any existing vessel.[4] Two models of the cruise ship were created, a 38ft. model for shots of the Argonautica on the ocean, and a 110-ft. model for the sinking of Argonautica.[5]


On its opening weekend the film made $4,737,793 (42% of its total gross), ranking #8. It ended with a total intake of $11.2 million.[1]


Deep Rising received mostly negative reviews. At Rotten Tomatoes, it has a "Rotten" rating of 29%, based on 31 reviews. It also made its way to the Roger Ebert's most hated films list.[6] In his own words, "Deep Rising is essentially an Alien clone with a fresh paint job".[7] whereas Variety stated that "'Deep Rising' is an old-fashioned B-movie with A-budget effects, but the quality sheen can't disguise the cheap-thrills hokum."[8]

On the other hand, Entertainment Weekly gave Deep Rising a positive review awarding it a B- and stating that it is "a tightly written, often howlingly funny Aliens knockoff that, in its portrayal of tough men and tougher women under pressure, favorably recalls the work of Howard Hawks."[9] while Bloody Disgusting stated that "Excellent cast, State-of-art special effects, and terrific acting, this is a movie that should not be missed."[10]

Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.[11]

It has gone on to become a cult classic. [12]

Home media

Deep Rising was released on DVD and VHS on October 14, 1998, both of which are now out of print. It was released on Blu-ray as a double feature with The Puppet Masters from Mill Creek Entertainment on October 9, 2012.[13] Kino Lorber re-released the film on DVD and Blu-ray with new special features on August 21, 2018.[14]


  1. "Deep Rising". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  2. "Deep Rising". The Numbers. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  3. "Deep Rising (1998)". IMDb. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  4. ""Argonautica" Cruise ship CAD Drafting Deep Rising". Matsune FX. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  6. Ebert, Roger (August 11, 2005). "Ebert's Most Hated". Roger Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  7. Ebert, Roger (January 30, 1998). "Deep Rising Movie Review & Film Summary (1998)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  8. Klady, Leonard (January 29, 1998). "Deep Rising". Variety. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  9. Burr, Ty (February 6, 1998). "Deep Rising". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  10. "Deep Rising". Bloody Disgusting. October 22, 2004. Archived from the original on May 26, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  11. "Deep Rising". CinemaScore. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  12. "Deep Rising: The Best Movie You Never Saw". CinemaScore. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  13. "Deep Rising / The Puppet Masters Blu-ray". October 9, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  14. "Deep Rising Blu-ray". August 21, 2018. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
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