The Thing Below (2004) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This film is also known as Sea Ghost.

It's basically the usual grade-B alien creature movie - high-ranking military officers wearing mullets and long sideburns, cops scratching their heads with loaded guns, painted clouds that never move, stock footage of planes taking off, a cartoonish CGI monster, guys at "command center" commenting on the action so we can follow the plot - that sort of thing, all topped off with the usual "The end????" finale.

The alien creature from the sea depths is roughly like some octopus tentacles, except without the pesky attached octopus. It also has mind-control powers like the monster in Event Horizon, so it presents itself to the members of the search team in non-threatening forms that will allow it to get near them. One crew member fancies himself quite the cowboy, so the monster appears to him as The Man With No Name in those Spaghetti Westerns, and challenges him to a showdown in the dusty streets of a deserted Western town. (I assume this set was available for free, so the director didn't want to waste the opportunity.) Although the film's action takes place far out at sea, ol' Tex never suspects a trap when he finds himself walking around Tombstone circa 1880, and he has no qualms about coming near the fallen gunslinger after the showdown. Bad call. He is choked and strangled by tentacles. Another crew member loves porn, so the monster comes to him in the form of the Adult Entertainer of the Year, and lures him near with a sexy striptease. Once again, the crew member illogically believes that the world's biggest porn star is really there to do a personal hot oil lap dance for him, so he approaches her, and you can guess the rest. There were other times when the creature took the form of a crew member in order to gain the trust of another, but the script quickly abandoned that device since it actually made some logical sense.

It's probably easiest just to say The Thing Below is a Jim Wynorski picture, because that's a guarantee of something or another. Ol' Wynorski has made about as many bad films as anyone in history.

  1. (4.43) - Deathstalker II (1987) (V)
  2. (4.34) - Transylvania Twist (1990)
  3. (4.31) - Desert Thunder (1998)
  4. (4.27) - Not of This Earth (1988)
  5. (4.24) - Chopping Mall (1986)
  6. (4.20) - Little Miss Millions (1993)
  7. (4.18) - The Lost Empire (1983)
  8. (4.10) - Gale Force (2002) (V)
  9. (3.99) - Thy Neighbor's Wife (2001)
  10. (3.99) - Big Bad Mama II (1987)
  11. (3.85) - Against the Law (1997)
  12. (3.81) - The Haunting of Morella (1990)
  13. (3.80) - Sins of Desire (1993)
  14. (3.79) - Gargoyles (2004) (V)
  15. (3.79) - Lost Treasure (2003)
  16. (3.77) - Sorority House Massacre II (1990)
  17. (3.68) - The Bare Wench Project (2000)
  18. (3.68) - Militia (2000)
  19. (3.67) - Body Chemistry 4: Full Exposure (1995) (V)
  20. (3.67) - Ablaze (2001)
  21. (3.67) - Hard Bounty (1995)
  22. (3.66) - Victim of Desire (1995)
  23. (3.60) - Demolition High (1996)
  24. (3.60) - Sorceress (1995)
  25. (3.60) - The Bare Wench Project 2: Scared Topless (2001) (V)
  26. (3.60) - The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)
  27. (3.52) - Dinosaur Island (1994)
  28. (3.47) - Munchie (1992)
  29. (3.47) - Point of Seduction: Body Chemistry III (1994) (V)
  30. (3.46) - The Curse of the Komodo (2004)
  31. (3.45) - Hard to Die (1990)
  32. (3.44) - The Assault (1996)
  33. (3.35) - Stealth Fighter (1999)
  34. (3.28) - Project Viper (2002)
  35. (3.26) - Vampirella (1996) (V)
  36. (3.25) - Virtual Desire (1995)
  37. (3.24) - Rangers (2000) (V)
  38. (3.22) - The Pandora Project (1998)
  39. (3.20) - Sea Ghost (2004)
  40. (3.19) - Final Voyage (1999)
  41. (3.17) - Munchie Strikes Back (1994)
  42. (3.14) - 976-EVIL 2: The Astral Factor (1991)
  43. (3.12) - Crash Point Zero (2000)
  44. (3.12) - Cheerleader Massacre (2003) (V)
  45. (3.05) - The Wasp Woman (1995) (TV)
  46. (2.83) - Storm Trooper (1998)
  47. (2.77) - Agent Red (2000)
  48. (2.55) - Raptor (2001) (V)
  49. (2.34) - Ghoulies IV (1994)

Is that a filmography, or what? Let me put that list into perspective.

  • Jess Franco is sometimes cited as a candidate when people evaluate the worst director of all time. Franco has been directing for 48 years, and has 184 directing credits at IMDb. In all that time, he has only 11 movies rated below 4.0 at IMDb, and none below 3.0. Wynorski has been directing for 20 years, and has already accumulated 41 movies below 4.0, of which four are beneath 3.0.

  • Ed Wood's median lifetime score is 3.2 for ten rated films. John Derek's is 3.0 for five films. Wynorski's median is somewhat higher at 3.6 - but he has sustained that level for 49 rated films.

  • Here's another way to look at it. Plan 9 from Outer Space is rated 3.5, about equal to Wynorski's career median, so his career is roughly Plan 9 times 49, which is Plan 441 if my math is right.

  • Wynorski's highest rated movie (Deathstalker II, which I like) is scored higher than the others because it is outrageously, deliberately,  and self-deprecatingly bad, not because it is good.

  • Since 1998, Wynorski has made only one movie rated above 4.0. He has never made a movie rated higher than 4.5.

So you see what Wynorski's general standard is, right?

Well, Sea Ghost is so bad that Wynorski disowned it!!! That's right. This wasn't good enough for Jim Wynorski to sign the scorecard.

To be fair, I don't agree with this film's low ranking within the Wynorski canon. This movie is not that bad. It's not good in the sense that it will steal any Oscar nominations, but is reasonably good by the standard of grade-B straight-to-vids and is not immediately recognizable as an amateurish or low-budget effort. In fact, it actually should have been one of Wynorski's better films. On DVD it looks like a real movie with a decent budget (the actual budget was $1.5 million), and the acting is at least generally competent, if uninspired. Of course, this kind of film can only be so good to begin with, but given the inherent natural ceiling above low budget alien creature films in general, Sea Ghost really could have been OK - except for one thing:

Worst ... CGI ... ever.

The creature looks about as real as Pete's Dragon, but not as scary. That is the reason why Wynorski disavowed the final cut.

There is a picture of the monster to the right. Please do not look if you have a heart condition, because the image may simply be too frightening. No, I didn't err and post the wrong picture. Those three strips of licorice are the monster.

On the other hand, even bad CGI monsters are better than a rubber octopus or some guy wearing a Halloween monster suit, so it isn't really fair that this film is rated below Plan 9 or Bride of the Monster. It's not an outright abomination, but just a basic straight-to-vid creature feature which got destroyed by bad CGI effects.



  • Wide screen anamorphic (16x9). It looks pretty darned good. Honest.



Glori-Anne Gilbert shows her breasts in a strip sequence (in which the monster is pretending to be a porn star!! That's my kind of monster.)

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online.

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a D. It is not a good movie by any means, but is not too far from the minimum watchable level for guilty pleasure genre movies. The CGI effects, however, are abysmal.

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