Since making his directing debut in 1983 with The Lost Empire, noted B-movie director Jim Wynorski has made an astounding fifty-eight films using his real name and various other pseudonyms. The Thing Below is the twenty-third movie of Wynorski's I've sat through and while it's certainly not the worst of his efforts I've watched (that honour would probably fall to Ghoulies IV) it's still a pretty feeble attempt at mixing a military action movie with a creature feature.
Originally titled Sea Ghost (which I honestly find a much better title than the generic one they've gone with) this opens with a ship escorting a mysterious organism in a container during a heavy storm. Obviously the scientists the government have hired to look after this precious cargo aren't too bright as they decide to transport the container while the ship violently sways back and forth. As soon as you can say, "Oopsie!", the container has cracked open on the floor letting loose a deadly tentacled creature and unleashing on the audience some of the worst CGI effects ever witnessed in a modern day horror movie - I'm not kidding when I say they look like poor cartoon drawings, and that's too bad as the idea of having a guy with the bottom half of his body replaced with writhing tentacles is cool on paper only for it to look like crap in the movie because of such crude effects.
After we struggle through these opening scenes it soon settles down for the first half into a completely bearable "search and rescue" type of film with the crew of a tugboat heading for a distant oil rig, the "Sea Ghost" of the original title. Before they get there we're treated to some mild action, stereotypical but not bad characters (Kiara Hunter does best as the two-toned hair female member of the crew), and a whole slew of silly talkiness.
But it's still not that bad to be honest. In fact most of The Thing Below isn't that bad. It's just that damn CGI creature that ruins it all. If they'd of taken the monster out completely and played the movie out as a supernatural being causing all the havoc then this could've actually been better.
Scripters Raul Sanchez Inglis and Lindsay James make the creature able to play with the crews' minds, which leads to a whole slew of okay hallucinations (Wynorski manages to toss-in Glori-Anna Gilbert to do a strip tease in one of them to try and keep our interest). While this idea seems cribbed from 1993's Alien Intruder, in fact both I remember an "Old West" dream sequence in that movie as well, it still helps keep our mind off that horrible, horrible creature. But eventually the whole mind-reading thing and mostly pointless flashes to the government officials monitoring gets pretty tiring. And just what the Hell is that "time hole" shit that pops-up out of nowhere during one of the action scenes?
The Thing Below is a pretty dumb movie with (as I said before a whole bunch of times) lousy effects - in fact it's skirting a , but I didn't outright hate it and I was never bored, so I guess that counts for something. (Chris Hartley, 8/19/05)
Directed By: Jay Andrews (Jim Wynorski).
Written By: Raul Sanchez Inglis, Lindsay James.
Starring: Billy Warlock, Catherine Lough Haggquist, Kurt Max Runte, Kiara Hunter.
Picture Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen.
Picture Quality: First Look brings this to DVD with a pretty acceptable transfer. Sure, it's a bit fuzzy at times and it can't handle sharp edges too well (jagged city!) but I've seen worse.
Extras: Just a trailer and previews to other releases by the distributor.