DEEPSTAR SIX flopped harder than a fish out of water in January; LEVIATHAN did marginally better in March, but still sank like a stone; nobody except Mark Tinta and his two friends went to see Concorde’s LORDS OF THE DEEP in April; and THE ABYSS – the one that was supposed too be “the big one” – choked for air in August, crushed to death in a summer box office tsunami featuring Batman, Indiana Jones, Shrunken Kids and Steve Martin (yes, THE ABYSS failed to unseat Martin’s PARENTHOOD at the box office its opening weekend). Perhaps most hurt by this though was the little guy hoping to ride this wave to box office treasure. (Damn, have I gone overboard on water puns? Overboard, ha, I kill me.) Unfortunately for screenwriter-producer-director-actor Wayne Crawford, the crest had fallen by the time he got THE EVIL BELOW (1989) onto video store shelves.
Crawford – an exploitation vet who got his start as a jack of all trades with the redneck-ploitation flick GOD’S BLOODY ACRE (1975) – was deep into his second cinematic decade when he started making this one. But it wasn’t the first time he tangled with the deep waters as he had previously co-written, co-produced, co-directed and starred in the JAWS (1975) cash in BARRACUDA (1978). So when news hit of an impending flood of underwater movies being planned, you would think Crawford couldn’t get his crew down to South Africa fast enough to film this. The funny thing is he actually started filming this before all of the other films and THE EVIL BELOW has nary an underwater alien in sight. Instead, it comes off like a decade-late rip off of THE DEEP (1977) and, as Tom perfectly said, them’s some choppy waters.
The film's highlight right here:
the term cheap. Tip offs occur as early as the opening with some suspect miniatures for the sinking ship, which may or may not be stock footage from another film. An underwater epic lives and breathes on the exotic submerged footage. While some of the initial treasure hunting scenes capture some nice sea floor scenery, all of the stuff involving the sunken shipwreck is downright terrible. The “wreck” consists of what look like several sawed up picnic tables turned sideways at the bottom of someone’s pool and you never get to see a full glimpse of it. Even worse, these scenes are filmed in a white filtered haze that you can’t make stuff out. For example, Calhoun gets attacked by an undead Barlow during the film’s climax. And dead guy walking around at the bottom of the ocean should be a great visual, but you can’t see anything here.