Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Joseph Cotten, John Gabriel, Anne Randall, Charles Durning, Preston Pierce
Director: John Vidette
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
No Description Available. Genre: Feature Film-Drama Rating: R Release Date: 22-AUG-2006 Media Type: DVD
Shrouded in a fog of mystery (slathered in secret sauce), sh
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 10/05/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Most of the time when I purchase a movie on DVD, I have a pretty good idea of what I'm getting (and getting myself into), but that wasn't the case with Doomsday Voyage (1972). I bought this one without knowing anything more about it than the fact it featured Joseph Cotton. I thought, at the very least, with a title like that, I was in for some sort of apocalyptic type thriller set on the high seas...well, it was set on the high seas (kind of), but it was neither apocalyptic or thrilling. Written and directed by John Vidette (Wedding in White), the film features Joseph `100%' Cotton (Citizen Kane, Shadow of a Doubt), Charles Durning (Dog Day Afternoon, North Dallas Forty), James Edwards (The Manchurian Candidate), former playmate Anne Randall (Hell's Bloody Devils, Stacey), and English actor John Gabriel (The Curse of the Werewolf, Corridors of Blood), who was an original castaway, playing the role of `The Professor' in the Gilligan's Island pilot episode, before being replaced in the series by Russell Johnson.
As the film begins, the title indicates I'm watching something called `oomsday Voyag', until I realized someone cropped the hell out of this movie for the DVD release (more on that later). After the cut off credits finish, we see a longshoreman/drifter thumbing rides (we later learn his name is Wilson, played by Gabriel). He makes his way to seaport, only to find out the ship he was supposed to meet never arrived due to mechanical trouble. About this time we see pretty, young lady named Katherine (Randall) arriving on the scene, having trouble carrying her luggage onto a cargo ship (her father, played by Cotton, is the captain of the ship). Turns out the cargo ship is headed for New York (this is where the ship Wilson was supposed to hook up with is currently), so Wilson weasels his way on board by helping her with her luggage, and then proceeds to hold her hostage, at gunpoint, in her stateroom. The ship gets underway, temporarily held up as the Coast Guard performs an ineffectual search looking for a stowaway (apparently Wilson did something really bad), and Katherine begins to get bits an pieces about Wilson's past (shown in flashbacks) and we learn Wilson, who's a bit of a nut, did, in fact, do something really bad (the kind of thing that would earn one a gooberment sponsored `hot shot' i.e. lethal injection). Eventually the captain and crew find out what's going on, and there's a lot of back and forth about what to do (the crew want to try something, while the captain doesn't want to risk his daughter's life). Tensions continue to build the closer the ship gets to New York, as no one (except for maybe Wilson), knows what will happen to Katherine once they reach port.
While there was certainly a creative effort put forth here, the whole affair comes off as pretty bland. The intent seemed to be to try and create tension by telling the story in a dual format, the one side being Katherine and Wilson locked away in her stateroom, and then also from the point of view of the captain and the crew, but it didn't really work, as the characters felt a little superficial and derivative. The story plods along at a snail's pace, making the hour and a half running time seem like three hours. Here's a good example of what I'm talking about...there's a series of sequences, after the crew becomes aware of the hostage situation, where we see the captain, the 1st mate (played by Durning), and the 2nd mate, who's got the hots for Katherine, are getting ready to go to sleep for the night as there's nothing else to do for the moment, each dealing with the situation in their own way (Durning's character performs calisthenics in his boxer shorts...something that no one should have to see). Rest doesn't come easy for the men as the situation presses on their minds (as the boredom pressed on mine). The story drags on and on and on (much like this review), but things do eventually pick up during the last ten minutes, providing for an exciting, interesting, and even ballsy finale, but not one that really made up for everything that followed. The performances were decent, Durning's being better than most, while Cotton, who was in his 60s at the time, just looks really tired and haggard, which actually worked for his character in terms of the sense of helplessness in not being able to help his daughter directly. The writing wasn't bad, but it did feel without much substance, sort of hollow, and less than lively. For a first effort, I thought director Vidette well enough, but I didn't care for all the little cinematic trickery he employed to either try create suspense or relate information. Quick cuts, abrupt transitional shots, close ups, flashbacks (including flashbacks within flashbacks, which are always fun), and flash forwards all got to be annoying after awhile. Despite his best efforts, the story still came across fairly clear, albeit boring. There is some dialog between Katherine and Wilson with regards to the morality of his actions, perhaps intended to display the complexities of Gabriel's character, but after the scene where he succumbs to his manly urges all over Katherine (she didn't give it up easy), he just comes off as being a sleaze. The one thing that annoyed me most of all with this film was the folksy, melodramatic, wishy washy musical scoring. Have you seen the film Midnight Cowboy (1969)? The music here sounds a lot like the music the makers of Midnight Cowboy thought wasn't good enough for that film...and the same couple of pieces are played ad nauseum throughout the movie. Something else worth noting is Al Adamson is credited as the producer...Adamson is famous for producing and directing some execrable cinematic delights like Satan's Sadists (1969), Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970), Dracula Vs. Frankenstein (1971), his specialty often being the taking of footage from unrelated, unfinished projects, splicing them together, adding new footage, and spewing forth hideous, patch work celluloid creations that should have never been...
The DVD, released by a company called Mackinac Media, claims to be presented in widescreen anamorphic, and the picture does feature a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, but also features some serious cropping, noticeable from the git go when the title credits are displayed...another thing, something hinky is going on with the picture, as everything looks stretched out, which had a tendency to make all the actors look fat and dumpy (Durning really didn't need any extra help in this department). I thought this was something I could get used to after a while, but I never did. The clarity of the picture is surprisingly good. As for the audio, it comes through pretty good, up until about 39 minutes in, and then it drops out for about a minute and a half. I'm unsure if this was inherent to the film originally (an artistic choice by the director), a flaw in the print used for the transfer process, or a flaw in the process itself, but regardless, it's really odd (and annoying). Special features included are detailed bios on the cast and an essay written by Irv Slifkin titled Maritime Terror: A Retrospective. There's also a slightly hidden feature displaying a promotional ad for the movie.