The new aquatic adventure film The Chamber – where a submarine mission goes badly wrong – is the epitome of an underwater thriller. It plunges you into the action and makes you feel as if you’re right there with the crew fighting amongst each other, and fighting for their lives, sinking into the depths of the Yellow Sea. Here are eight more deep sea chillers that’ll have you struggling for breath.
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961)
“Race from outer space to seven miles below the sea … with amazing aquanauts of the deep!” In this classic sci-fi adventure Walter Pidgeon is in charge of a nuclear submarine whose very mission is to save the planet Earth. Directed by Irwin Allen, who went on to make disaster movies like The Poseidon Adventure and The Swarm, the film features the sub being attacked by a giant octopus, which should be recommendation enough.
The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
One of the classic disaster films of the 1970s, with an all star cast – including Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine and Shelley Winters – aboard an ocean liner and trying to survive when it capsizes and sinks towards the bottom of the sea. Brilliantly gripping and occasionally heartbreaking, this is a Hollywood blockbuster that is sheer quality and thrills. The film was remade in 2007 and, guess what? It wasn’t half as good.
Das Boot (1981)
Wolfgang Peterson’s film (originally a two part German TV mini-series), based on Lothar G.Buchheim’s powerful book, is an account of life on a World War Two U-boat helmed by Jurgen Prochnow – the claustrophobic, intense, suffocating day-to-day underwater existence of the crew who could be torpedoed or bombed at any moment. It’s an incredible film experience – ‘a descent into the pit of hell’ as Variety described it – and became the benchmark for underwater cinema when it was released. Try and find the full length version – you will not regret it.
The Abyss (1989)
James Cameron’s groundbreaking sci-fi thriller featured a diving crew hunting for a lost nuclear submarine, encountering alien life deep in the ocean. With brilliant performances from Ed Harris and Elizabeth Mastrantonio, this is tense, gruelling and strangely beautiful, but not recommended if you have a fear of depths.
Coming out the same year as The Abyss, George P Cosmatos’ underwater horror thriller, about the discovery of a mysterious sunken Soviet vessel occupied by a visitor not of this world, was overshadowed that by that film. The tagline for the film was “How long can you hold your breath?” and there are some nerve-stretching moments where you’ll have to remind yourself to breathe out again.
Deepstar Six (1989)
A research crew stumble disturb an alien lifeform who proceeds to kill them one by one, in Friday 13th and House director Sean S Cunningham’s B-movie underwater chiller that takes you right down to the ocean bed for a cheap and cheerful cross between Alien and The Abyss.
Strange things start happening on a World War Two submarine in Pitch Black director David Twohy’s mystery thriller, co-written by Darren Aronofsky. As in Das Boot, life on the sub is a relentless, nerve-grinding existence, and in this instance it takes its toll on the crew, who begin to experience hallucinations and overpowering fear as their psyche’s start to collapse under the pressure.
Black Sea (2014)
Jude Law is a sub captain searching for World War Two U-boat filled with gold, in Kevin Macdonald’s terrific adventure thriller, a cross between Das Boot and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Macdonald filmed it on a real 1960s Russian submarine, making the viewing experience all the more real and relentless as the mission spirals out of control.
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