Ghost Ship (2002 film)

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Ghost Ship
A front view of a ship with a ghostly skull superimpose on the hull
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Steve Beck
Produced by Joel Silver
Robert Zemeckis
Susan Levin
Written by Mark Hanlon
John Pogue
Starring Gabriel Byrne
Julianna Margulies
Ron Eldard
Desmond Harrington
Isaiah Washington
Music by John Frizzell
Cinematography Gale Tattersall
Edited by Roger Barton
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • October 25, 2002 (2002-10-25) (US)
  • December 5, 2002 (2002-12-05) (Australia)
Running time
90 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million[2]
Box office $68.3 million[2]

Ghost Ship is a 2002 American-Australian horror film directed by Steve Beck. The film was shot in Queensland, Australia and Vancouver, Canada. It stars an ensemble cast featuring Gabriel Byrne, Julianna Margulies, Ron Eldard, Desmond Harrington, Isaiah Washington and Karl Urban. It was produced by Dark Castle Entertainment and Village Roadshow Pictures.

Despite its title, the film is unrelated to the 1952 film of the same name.


In May 1962, on the Italian ocean liner Antonia Graza, dozens of wealthy passengers are dancing to the song "Senza Fine" sung by Francesca, an Italian singer. A young girl, Katie Harwood, is sitting alone, until the ship's captain offers to dance with her. Elsewhere, a hand presses a lever that unravels a thin wire cord from a spool. The spool snaps and the wire slices across the dance floor, bisecting the dancers. Katie is spared due to her height.

Forty years later, at a bar, a boat salvage crew: Captain Sean Murphy, Maureen Epps, Greer, Dodge, Munder and Santos celebrate their recent success. Jack Ferriman, a Canadian weather service pilot, approaches them and says he spotted a vessel running adrift in the Bering Sea. Because the ship is in international waters, it can be claimed by whoever brings it to port. The crew sets out on the Arctic Warrior, an ocean salvage tugboat. The ship is the Antonia Graza, which was believed to be lost at sea. When they prepare to tow it, they discover it contains a large quantity of gold. After a series of supernatural events, the group decide to leave with the gold, but an invisible force sabotages the Arctic Warrior. The tugboat explodes as the engine is started, killing Santos.

Left with no other option, the group begin repairing the Antonia Graza. Greer encounters Francesca, who seduces him and leads him off a precipice to his death. Captain Murphy, after entering the captain's cabin, finds the ghost of the ship's Captain. The ghost explains that they recovered the gold from a sinking cruiseship, Lorelei, along with a sole survivor. Murphy is shown a picture of the survivor, whom he recognises. He rushes to tell the others, but begins hallucinating and sees everyone as the burned ghost of Santos. The others think Murphy has gone mad and lock him in the drained fish tank.

Epps meets Katie's ghost, who reveals what happened on the Graza. The sole survivor of the Lorelei convinced the Graza's crew to murder the passengers, including Katie, for the gold. After the passengers are dead, one of the ship's officers turned on the rest of the crew and killed them, then Francesca killed him. Another man, the mastermind behind the massacre, then killed Francesca. The man is revealed as Jack Ferriman, who is actually a demonic spirit.

Epps deduces that Ferriman lured the salvage team to the Graza to repair it, and decides to sink it to stop him. She sets explosives, but is confronted by Ferriman, who has killed the last of her crew. Ferriman describes himself as a salvager of souls, a job he earned by a lifetime of sin. He plans to use the Antonia Graza as a trap and keep collecting souls. Epps detonates the explosives and sinks the Graza, and Katie helps her escape the sinking ship. She is left in the debris as the souls trapped on the ship ascend to heaven.

Drifting on the open sea, Epps is found by a cruise ship and returned to land. As she is loaded into an ambulance, she sees the battered crates of gold being loaded onto the cruise ship by Ferriman and her fallen crew. Ferriman glares at her and carries on; she screams as the ambulance doors close.


Production notes[edit]

The film first appeared in January 2002, as a spec script called Chimera by Mark Hanlon.[3] Originally, the film, as written, was a relatively bloodless psychological thriller as opposed to a more blatantly supernaturally-themed film. Most notably, much of the film's gore is absent from the screenplay. The film would have focused on four salvage crew members who end up stranded aboard the ghost vessel they are scuttling (the titular Chimera); over the course of one night, each member - whether it be from panic, cabin fever, or supernatural forces - goes insane and plots to kill the other three members of the crew.[citation needed]

In the above-mentioned script,[3] Murphy is the "main killer" and the ship sinks as it runs on the rocks. Murphy and Epps survive till the end but while the ship is sinking Murphy runs to take gold ingots. The weight and also the lost time bring death to Murphy. Like in the final version, Katie helps Epps to escape. Over time, the script underwent rewrites, and the psychological aspects of the script were all jettisoned in favor of making the film a slasher. It has been suggested that "The cast signed on based on this (original) draft ... and were sadly disappointed to find the script had been radically changed by Joel Silver and associates when they arrived to begin shooting."[4]

The featured ghostly relic luxury liner, the 'Antonia Grazia' was visually based on the SS Andrea Doria and is a close replica. This was mentioned in the special feature clips on the film's DVD release.


Box office[edit]

With a reported budget of $20 million, the film opened to #3 at the box office with only a little more than $11,503,423 in ticket sales as Jackass: The Movie dominated the cinema releases. The film grossed $30,113,491 in North America and had an international gross of $38,236,393, earning a total of $68,349,884.[2]

Critical response [edit]

The film received mainly negative reviews on its theatrical release; however, its opening sequence did receive some praise.[5][6] Review aggregate website, Rotten Tomatoes, rates the film at 14% based on 124 reviews. The consensus states that "With a plot as creaky as the boat, Ghost Ship fails to deliver the scares".[7] Similarly, Metacritic gives the film a score of 28/100 based on 25 reviews and rates the film as "generally unfavorable".[8]

Roger Ebert stated "It's better than you expect but not as good as you hope."[9] Website Bloody Disgusting listed Ghost Ship's opening massacre as #13 in their list of "The Top 13 Kills in Horror Movie History".[10] The film has since garnered somewhat of a cult following, with many fans especially praising the soundtrack and the flashback scene which depicts how the original crew killed the passengers.


Ghost Ship Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score by John Frizzell
Released 5 November 2002
Genre Soundtracks
Film scores
Length 73:33
Label Varèse Sarabande

A soundtrack, including original music composed by John Frizzell, was released on the Varèse Sarabande label on 5 November 2002.[11] The song "Not Falling" by Mudvayne is featured in the movie. Though not included in the official soundtrack, "Senza Fine" is sung in the film by Monica Mancini.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "GHOST SHIP (18)". Warner Bros. British Board of Film Classification. November 8, 2002. Retrieved September 9, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Ghost Ship (2002) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 24, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Ghost Ship - by Mark Hanlon - First Draft". January 29, 1953. Retrieved September 24, 2011. 
  4. ^ First draft screenplay of "Ghost Ship" (formerly "Chimera" ).
  5. ^ Don Sumner (August 14, 2012). "Ghost Ship (2002) Review". Retrieved November 21, 2015. … plus it has one of the greatest opening scenes in horror.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  6. ^ "Sunday Bloody Sunday: Opening Scene From ‘Ghost Ship’ (2002)". September 15, 2013. Retrieved November 21, 2015. … I was in definite “Holy Shit!” mode after seeing the opening scene. It was jaw-dropping indeed, but then after it, …  External link in |publisher= (help)
  7. ^ "Ghost Ship - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 24 September 2011. 
  8. ^ "Ghost Ship Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Retrieved September 24, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Ghost Ship - by Roger Ebert". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 13 February 2012. 
  10. ^ "The Top 13 Kills in Horror Movie History!". Bloody Disgusting. November 14, 2004. 
  11. ^ "Ghost Ship Soundtrack (complete album tracklisting)". SoundtrackINFO. 5 November 2002. Retrieved 24 September 2011. 

External links[edit]