The Abyss (1989) | James Cameron



Virgil ‘Bud’ Brigman (Ed Harris) is the lead foreman of Deepcore, an underwater oil drilling rig 2,000-feet deep. Deepcore receives word of a downed US Navy nuclear submarine in the area near the Cayman Trough. As Russian subs are close by, foul play is suspected. The crew must escort Bud’s soon-to-be ex-wife Lindsay (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), the project engineer for Deepcore, and a crew of Navy SEALs for a rescue mission.  A hurricane cuts communication outside, effectively leaving Navy SEAL Lieutenant Coffey (Michael Biehn) in command. Psychosis from pressurization makes Coffey unstable and paranoid, viewing the various neon-colored NTIs (Non-Terrestrial Intelligence) in a nearby abyss as enemy Russian vessels that must be destroyed. James Cameron writes and directs.


DeepStar Six (1989) | Sean S. Cunningham



The plot of DeepStar Six involves a team of eleven scientists working for the US Navy is constructing a facility stationed six miles beneath the surface of the ocean for the launching of nuclear missiles. They discover they are building atop what appears to be a vast underground cavern. The Navy might scrap the project if they don’t complete it before their six-month stint is up. Once they destroy the cavern, they discover that they aren’t alone down there, as some strange and massive prehistoric arthropod creature begins to attack their undersea vehicles. Nancy Everhard, Greg Evigan, Miguel Ferrer, Taurean Blacque, Nia Peeples, and Matt McCoy star.

Erratum: Apologies to Harry Manfredini for calling him “Henry” in this episode.


Leviathan (1989) | George P. Cosmatos



Scientists on the last few days of their stint in a deep sea mining operation stumble upon a mysterious Russian ship, “Leviathan”, which has sunk and perhaps was ambushed by their own navy.  They loot some cargo on board and inadvertently bring back the remnants of a genetic experiment gone awry, which they also set loose upon their own vessel, to gruesome and nightmarish results. Peter Weller, Amanda Pays, Richard Crenna, Daniel Stern, Ernie Hudson, and Hector Elizondo appear in this film directed by George Cosmatos.


Humanoids from the Deep / Monster (1980) | Barbara Peeters



In a small coastal fishing village called Noyo in northern California, the residents are set to celebrate their annual salmon festival. The festival has been on the decline of late because the fish population has dwindled, leaving the town suffering  Doug McClure plays a fisherman and trusted community leader named Jim Hill (Doug McClure), doing what he can to keep harmony among his neighbors. Vic Morrow is the town’s more aggressive type, twisting whatever arms necessary to get a company to establish a cannery in town. Anthony Pena is among the Native Americans protesting the cannery planning to exploit his tribe’s land.

The corporation has been experimenting with ways to escalate the growth of fish in the area. Ann Turkel is a scientist named Dr. Susan Drake who led the experiments, which involved tinkering with salmon DNA so they’d grow large and increase spawning activity. However, the experiment goes awry after prehistoric coelacanths begin to consume these genetically altered salmon. Their offspring evolves quickly into humanoid sea creatures that emerge out of the ocean, attacking landlubbers with an overwhelming desire to feed on mammals and procreate with human women.

Directed by Barbara Peeters for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures.


Piranha II: The Spawning (1981) | James Cameron



The story for Piranha II doesn’t connect to Piranha save for a reference to fish used as bioweapons for a top-secret U.S. Army experiment.  Those experiments continued into cross-breeding piranhas with grunions and flying fish to make them dangerous in both air and water. A ship has sunk and a container of their eggs breaks open in the area near Club Elysium, a posh Jamaican resort, on the verge of their annual Fish Fry Beach Festival, when the grunions hatch and walk upon the shore.

That’s where Anne (Tricia O’Neil), a marine biologist, works as a scuba instructor. Anne’s separated husband Steve (Lance Henriksen) is a cop in the seaside town. Steve’s a little jealous when Anne enters into a fling with a mysterious resort resident, Tyler Sherman (Steve Marachuk). When human bodies are found in a gruesome, half-eaten state, they suspect other summer frolickers are in danger.  Too bad Club Elysium won’t shut down the highly attended festival.

James Cameron’s directorial debut.


Piranha (1978) | Joe Dante



Bradford Dillman stars as Paul Grogan, a reclusive alcoholic living in a cabin out in the woods in an undisclosed part of the United States. He’s visited by a skiptracer named Maggie McKeown (Heather Menzies), who is out to find a couple of backpackers who have disappeared without a trace. Their search leads them to an abandoned Army research facility solely inhabited by a strange scientist, Dr. Hoak (Kevin McCarthy). Hoak has been keeping up the research on “Operation Razorteeth,” where mutant carnivorous piranha fish became bioweapons they can use to destroy the coldwater river systems of North Vietnam.  The war ended, and the research stopped, but the scientist wouldn’t abandon it. A mishap sees the piranha drained out into the nearby river, where they begin to wreak havoc on anyone unlucky enough to be in the water with them. Joe Dante directs this Roger Corman production from a script by John Sayles.


Jaws: The Revenge (1987) | Joseph Sargent



The Brody family, not led by the widow Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary), continues to experience shark attacks, starting with when Ellen’s younger son, Sean. While mourning the loss, Ellen visits her other son, Michael (Lance Guest), in the Bahamas, where she meets the rascally Hoagie Newcombe (Michael Caine). Meanwhile, the same shark that got her boy appears off the coast of the island, and Ellen has to take it down or never escape the shark’s wrath. Mario Van Peebles also appears in this Joseph Sargent film so bad that it killed off the Jaws franchise once and for all.


Jaws 3-D (1983) | Joe Alves



Jaws 3 sees the sons of Sheriff Brody now in Florida, as eldest son Mike (Dennis Quaid) has laid the foundations for a two-year project to bring an underwater structure in the lagoon at Sea World to life.  The younger brother, Sean (John Putch) is also visiting, although he is still suffering from a strong phobia about getting in the water, brought about from his harrowing near-death experiences with sharks from his youth.  He has reason to fear, as it appears that a young Great White shark has entered the lagoon and is terrorizing the pre-opening day adjustments, having gotten through the filtration system, and begins snacking on whatever it can find.  However, when one of the crew ends up viciously chomped, it appears that a much larger shark must have been responsible, as they shudder to realize that the young shark’s mother, a massive 35-foot long Great White, has also passed into the park, hungry for the taste of human flesh and underwater Sea World structures. Joe Alves directs. Lou Gossett Jr., Bess Armstrong, Simon McCorkindale, and Lea Thompson also appear.


Jaws 2 (1978) | Jeannot Szwarc



Jaws 2 is set four years after Jaws, in the same island community of Amity. Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) still patrols, though now shaken from his ordeal with the shark. Mayor Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) is catering to a land developer on the construction of new waterfront condominiums that will be very lucrative for a town still struggling to bring in tourists after the shark attacks of the past. When calamities occur again in the ocean, Brody becomes suspicious that another shark is on the prowl. Once again, the mayor and city council of the town refuse to listen due to economic interests. Brody persists until he loses his job, but still must act, this time as a father, when his sons and their friends become stranded in the ocean with no one but a crazed shark in sight. Jeannot Szwarc directs.


Jaws (1975) | Steven Spielberg



Roy Scheider stars as police chief Martin Brody of Amity, a Long Island resort community just about to enjoy its most popular season of the year, in the sun and fun of the 4th of July.  All is not idyllic on this day, however.  A teenage girl has been found washed up on the beach, apparently the victim of a shark attack.  Brody’s instinct is to close the beach, but he pulls back when the mayor of Amity reminds him how important it is to keep the tourists coming, warning that news of a shark in the water could cost the community dearly.  Meanwhile, the attacks continue. Try as they might to keep a lid on things, they are soon forced with a decision to close the beach or catch the shark themselves.  Enlisting the help of a wealthy oceanographer (Richard Dreyfuss) and charismatic shark hunter (Shaw), Brody sets to the ocean in order to lure the large Great White shark near to go for the kill.

Steven Spielberg directs this shocker on the sea from the novel by Peter Benchley.


King Kong Lives (1986) | John Guillermin



In this sequel to the 1976 remake of Kong Kong, none of the original cast returns, except in archival footage shown in the intro depicting Kong after getting shot down from the top of the World Trade Center and falling to the streets below. We come to learn that Kong (Peter Elliott) improbably survived, existing in a coma for ten years on life support in a giant lab facility in Atlanta awaiting a giant artificial heart to replace the organic one that can no longer support him without medical assistance. Kong also needs lots of ape plasma for the surgery but there aren’t apes like him to give blood. The lead heart surgeon, Dr. Amy Franklin (Linda Hamilton), laments that only a miracle can save Kong.

That miracle arrives when the soldier-of-fortune Hank Mitchell (Brian Kerwin) discovers another giant ape while scouting for diamonds in the jungles of Borneo. He finds a way to bring the female ape back to the United States for fortune and glory. The lab needs her plasma but the two apes sense the presence of each other, which makes it particularly dangerous for any humans trying to keep the apes from doing what apes want to do naturally.  The apes escape their confinement and run away as fugitives, but the scientists can’t have these two roaming the Great Smoky Mountains wreaking havoc, so the military, led by the tenacious Colonel Nevitt (John Ashton), is called in to take whatever measures and necessary. It’s up to Dr. Franklin and Hank Mitchell to lead them to safety somehow. John Guillermin directs.


King Kong (1976) | John Guillermin



In this remake of the 1933 classic of the same name, Petrox, a gasoline corporation, sends an expedition to an uncharted island near Micronesia obscured by perpetual fog to find out if there’s oil there. Stowing away is Jack Prescott (Jeff Bridges), a paleontologist from Princeton University curious if the reports of a giant primate residing on there are true. they pick up another unexpected passenger in Dwan (Jessica Lange), an aspiring American actress adrift in a lifeboat.

What they find instead of useable oil is a gorilla six times the size of a normal ape, who is the god to which the native villagers sacrifice women, of which Dwan becomes the next in line. Kong takes a liking to Dwan but gets captured by the Petrox people who take him back to the United States to gain publicity. Problems arise when the ape escapes and begins destroying the city searching for Dwan. Charles Grodin Costars. John Guillerman directs this Dino De Laurentiis production fro a Lorenzo Semple Jr. Script.


Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981) | John Derek



Set in 1910, virginal Jane Parker (Bo Derek), a feminist who thinks women should be able to explore the world the same as men. She travels to Africa to find the father she never knew, renowned explorer James Parker (Richard Harris). James, who abandoned her when she was an infant, thinks Jane is the spitting image of his late wife, which brings up all manner of incestuous feelings. James continues his safari to find the fabled elephant graveyard where precious ivory exists. Jane insists on coming along despite her father’s protests. Tarzan’s primal yelling makes their native entourage nervous, forbidden to travel into the land occupied by the famous “white ape-man” who stands, according to myth, ten feet tall.

Proceeding cautiously, Jane bathes in the ocean, attracting a ferocious lion, saved by the mysterious ape-man of myth. James determines Tarzan (Miles O’Keeffe) will be their next kill, especially after he kidnaps Jane, though she seems more than willing to get caught.

John Derek directs.


Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984) | Hugh Hudson



Based on elements within Edgar Rice Burroughs’s 1912 novel, “Tarzan of the Apes,” Greystoke begins in the late 19th century, where a young couple born into Scottish nobility, Jack Clayton and his pregnant wife Alice, find themselves shipwrecked off the coast of Western Africa. Months later, they give birth to a boy who quickly becomes an orphan when his mother dies of malaria, and his father is killed in an altercation with nearby apes. One of the apes adopts the human baby as her own. When the boy grows into a man, he takes on the alpha male to become the leader of the tribe.

Meanwhile, an expedition arrives nearby for specimens for the British Musem. The expedition gets viciously attacked by a native village. Surviving the slaughter is a Belgian named Phillippe d’Arnot, whose life is saved and wounds tended by the mysterious ape-man. Phillippe realizes his savior is the son of the married couple, the Claytons, who built the abandoned cabin in the vicinity. Dubbing the jungle man “John Clayton’, d’Arnot teaches him to speak, move, and behave like an aristocrat from civilized society before taking him to his ancestral estate in Scotland to reunite with his grandfather, the Earl of Greystoke. There, John develops feelings for grandfather’s ward, an American-raised woman named Jane Parker.

Christopher Lambert, Ralph Richardson, Ian Holm, Andie MacDowell, James Fox star. Hugh Hudson directs.


The Beastmaster (1982) | Don Coscarelli



The Beastmaster follows the hero, Dar (Marc Singer), the son of a king snatched away from his mother’s womb by a witch under the employ of the evil magician named Maax (Rip Torn). Maax had been prophesied to be killed by the son of a king (to which he takes to slaughtering all of the young’uns he can).  The intended infanticide is thwarted by a goodly peasant, who raises Dar as his own, and harnesses the boy’s skill in fighting and farming. Dar soon discovers an uncanny ability to communicate telepathically with whatever animals reside nearby.

Dar’s village is decimated by the evil forces known as the Jun, in cahoots with Maax.  Out for revenge, Dar enlists some newfound animal friends in the form of a panther, an eagle, and two ferret thieves, to bring down Maax before he slaughters any more innocents.  Also joining Dar is slave girl Kiri (Tanya Roberts), a valiant warrior named Seth (John Amos), and the son of the imprisoned king, Tal (Josh Milrad).

Directed and co-written by Don Coscarelli.