Scene 36: That night, the Captain is ondeck as a fog rolls in around the ship. He strolls with his pipe. He finds himself standing in the doorway of the room with the mermaid. In her tank, she is doing a seductive water dance for him, as he finds himself engrossed.
Commentary: Well, considering how often her nipples are fully erect and how freely her breasts are shown, it isn't surprising that manly-man Captain is hypnotized by boobs.
Scene 37: The following morning, Captain is plotting out their course and humming to himself when Bailey brings him a cup of morning coffee. Bailey returns to the mermaid room, to find crewman Skelly standing before the closed door to the room, apparently sleeping on his feet and swaying back and forth rhythmically to and fro. Bailey brings him around and he threateningly tells Bailey that he doesn't care about the amount of treasure promised, that the creature doesn't belong on their ship.
His intensity unsettles Bailey and he suggests that Skelly should be speaking to his Captain.
Scene 38: In the meantime, Angus and Lillie are having an intense bout of sex. As she is straddling him, she begins to slip into a hallucination in which she is, among other camera effects, glowing with female power and growing a mermaid tail.
Her arms begin to move in a way that mimics the mermaid's dance and we see her eyes glow red briefly. Her hallucination intensifies as she gets closer to climax and she wraps her now-webbed hands around Angus' throat and begins to squeeze as she continues bronco-ing him. He pleads with her to stop, but she's enthralled.
Finally, the spells seems to break and Angus is able to push her off of him. He complains that the energetic sex was one thing, but choking him out was too mad for him. She apologizes, hyperventilating and acknowledging that she doesn't know what is happening to her.
Scene 39: The mermaid is bobbing at the surface of her tank, looking off into the distance. Lillie breaks in our reverie to confront her about what she wants from the human.
Lillie demands that the mermaid acknowledge that she can understand what Lillie is saying and also demands that the creature leave her mind and body and let her be. Lillie breaks down in tears and goes to leave, when the mermaid says Angus' name.
Lillie returns, angered. Lillie tells the creature to leave him the hell alone, and the mermaid drops back below the waterline and splays her tail in front of the glass, blocking Lillie out.
Scene 40: That evening, she is lying awake in the cot, as Angus lies sleeping at her side. Lillie slips out of bed and to the mermaid room, where she finds Bailey still awake. Through a series of fades, we see hours go by with Lillie standing perfectly still against the wall, waiting as Bailey does a series of things to try to stay divert himself into staying awake.
He finally goes off to use the head or walk on deck or whatever, and Lillie slips into the mermaid tank room. She retrieves a key from Bailey's pocket as she does so.
Scene 41: At the tank, she uncuffs the mermaid. The creature leaves her tank and Lillie tries to help her slip away, but the Mermaid instead balances on her tail before her, gazing at her much to intensely for comfort. Before she can make for the upperdecks, Bailey returns. He yells in horror as the mermaid squawks at him and dashes for him, which brings the crew on deck - including Gifford, below decks.
Scene 42: They find Lillie standing in shock. The Mermaid is over Bailey and she's bitten through his throat and is in the process of eating him. Angus has been drawn to the room by the commotion and has brought his dart rifle. He tranquilizers the creature.
To the assault, she screams in a hypersonic pitch, driving everyone to scream and their ears to begin bleeding. Glass shatters and Angus shoots her again.
Scene 43: Angus drags and shoves Lillie into their room, shouting at her that she's gone mad. Lillie is left locked in her room alone, shaking with terror.
Scene 44: After daybreak, the ship's crew, Angus and Gifford attend a service as Bailey's body is consigned to the sea. They next scrub away Bailey's blood from the floor under the mermaid's gaze.
Scene 45: That night, Angus is in his room with Lillie trying to get her to eat dinner. She's been placed under room-arrest and has spent the time thinking about the mermaid. According to the journal, the Sea Captain and Old Wife had consulted a museum curator and he'd stated that such a creature had been captured in the past, but none had ever lasted more than three weeks. Lillie is wondering why their mermaid is not only still alive, but seems to be in vigorous health.
Angus just wishes she'd stopped talking about it, completely.
She demands the book back from Angus and he gives in when she threatens that she'll go stir crazy without something to occupy her time during her captivity.
Scene 46: Later, Angus goes across deck to another cabin. Meanwhile, Lillie has dug deeper into the all of the papers that came from the Sea Captain's Wife and is horrified that the Old Woman believed herself to be pregnant before her death. She believed that the mermaid herself induced such a pregnancy, though the agency is unclear.
Lillie comes to realize that her own nausea may be caused by her being pregnant... something that should be impossible due to her past (either an abortion gone bad, or VD) and that if she is suddenly pregnant, it can only be because she has also been given something by the mermaid during their close encounter (although the mechanics remain unknown, and apparently mystical in nature).
She next realizes that though she may have been acting crazy lately, that the fact she recognizes this fact means she isn't crazy and that everything she thinks is happening really is and she has to convince Angus of this fact.
The next several minutes are taken with her practicing over and over how she'll word her conclusions to Angus without him writing her off as delusional.
Commentary: I really like this scene, too... it's amusing and desperate at the same time and Carla's acting and especially her voice really captivate me.
Scene 47: Alas, Lillie also realizes that no matter how she states what she believes to be happening, she doesn't sound any less insane. She takes matters into her own hands, instead, finding a large butcher knife they she carries in her steamer trunk and using this to unlatch the door lock.
Commentary: Wow, that was really clumsy of the scripting.
She sneaks back to the mermaid room, again. In an echo of our prologue scene, Lilly walks through the corridors with a lantern and a large knife.
Scene 48: In the hold, she finds the room in darkness and no one on guard duty. Also, the cuffs are again unlocked and the mermaid is missing from her tank. Lillie stalks the darkened room, talking softly to the creature and trying to get her to come out of hiding.
Commentary: Now, I thought because of the way this was being filmed that this would be a nightmare of Lilly's. Because, it makes absolutely no sense that there wouldn't be somebody posted outside of the door to this room. Hell, after Bailey, you'd think there would be a double guard posted. This whole scene is just made wrong. It's possible that the crew aren't thinking straight by now, as we've seen the Captain and Skelly apparently being swayed by the mermaid, but this scenes aren't clear enough on what is happening to justify the crew leaving the room completely unattended to, here.
Lillie does find the mermaid, but she's lost her fishy attributes and is huddled into a ball in the corner. Afraid and trembling, she now looks like a vulnerable, young woman.
Lillie realizes that the full moon is out and according to the legends, that is when the mermaid grows legs and can come ashore. She also realizes now that is why she didn't take the means of escape when she had undone the restraints before. She knew that she'd be changing form soon, and would be vulnerable to remaining in the deep and rough seas.
Commentary: It also isn't mentioned about how she escaped the manacles, but I think the idea is that her human hands are much smaller than her webbed ones and she was able to simply slip out of them (although, that makes the glimpse we had of them unshackled stupid -- actually, there is just no indication of how she got free again -- which is yet another clumsy script moment).
With the mermaid now in human form, Lillie can't bring herself to murder her and instead gives up her housecoat to her.
But, in the meantime, Angus had discovered that Lillie wasn't in their room. The menfolk come bursting in with their guns. Lillie tries to put herself between the guns and the creature, but she falls into a dead faint.
Scene 49: We jump forward to Lillie coming around, back in her and Angus' room.
Commentary: Oh, come on. If you're going to show Angus swabbing her face, couldn't you have her be sweaty...? What the heck is he doing? The cloth isn't even wet (i.e. as if he'd been using a cold compress).
As Lillie comes around, she tries to tell Angus that she fainted due to being pregnant, but he tells her it is because of the volatile situation she found herself in. She responds that she can feel something inside of her moving.
Scene 50: In the meanwhile, part of the ship's crew and Gifford is surrounding the mermaid, where she lies frightened on the floor of the tank-cabin. There are jokes about her spending time in a gent's cabin, now that she seems so much less dangerous. Gifford tries to stop them from tormenting her, but the Captain states that the men have earned it when Skelly threatens sexual violence toward her.
She tries to escape, but is grabbed by Skelly. Gifford tries again to intervene, but Skelly is drunk and angry. He tells him to butt out and the men with him encourage Skelly to give her some drink, which he forced down her throat.
Gifford, being a decent man, tries to leave in order to call in reinforcements, but he's stopped by the drunken Captain. He seems quite more pissed than he should be and steps in on Skelly's side, where he berates the mermaid and ends up slapping her to the floor.
The Captain grabs a rifle and threatens to bash the creature's face in. As the men grab him to stop him, he yells that they have no idea what the mermaid is capable of....
Commentary: There is a mixed bag about this scene, too. In general - having been raised on 70's flicks where rape scenes are treated as a reason to show tits - I'm really, really uncomfortable where sexual violence is threatened. BUT, in this case, not only is the mermaid covered throughout the scene, but the drunken sailors side with Gifford in stopping the Captain from going forward and they don't follow through on their threats from earlier. So... it's really about if the threat of rape should be a story telling device vs. not showing anything titillating and/or also showing the men as not only not going through with it, because they realize how wrong it is no matter how drunk and fearful and angry over the two deaths aboard, but they actively stop their Captain when they think he's going too far.
We know that the mermaid is a dangerous, non-human creature. We know they should just let her go... or kill her outright... but rape as a weapon cannot ever be acceptable, and I'm always bothered when it is used as a threat in cinema. Maybe this is because in the real world, it is often still used as a way to instill terror and insult in many cultures - look at Africa, where it is still being widely used to insult MEN by raping WOMEN - but on the otherhand, considering the timing of this story and the fact that the murderous were-monster had a non-human form and is suddenly vulnerable and human woman looking, I can see where sailors at sea might immediately see this as a way to express their hatred of the thing in their midst by making her feel helpless.
I guess what I'm saying is that for the movie's setting, this threat is appropriate. As a modern viewer, it doesn't mean I want to see this type of scene. But, again, I'm very thankful that with all of the mermaid's breasts on show earlier in the film, they did not show her naked here. Even when she is hit by the Captain, she remains draped in Lillie's coat.
So, I'm left in the unenviable position of both understanding why this scene would be appropriate for the movie, but also wishing they'd just not gone there at all.
Scene 51: With the Captain having flipped out a bit, he's roughly escorted to his room. Gifford, now joined by Angus, pushes the Captain into his room. When the Captain struggled against him, he punches him in the stomach. As the Captain is hunched down on the floor, he - now sobbing - tells them that they have no idea what the mermaid has made him do!
Commentary: Oh, oh. I told you he was mesmerized by the boob-emphasising dance in her tank.
The Captain switches from sobbing to laughing in the movie-shorthand of being a bit nutsy. He warns them that they're about to find out what she's compelled him to do. Gifford wants to hit him, but Angus calls him off and pleads with the Captain to tell him everything. In the meanwhile, a thunderstorm starts above the vessel. Captain Dunn is looking a bit out of it... both despairing and amused in a gallows sort of way.
Angus goes back to the door to shout for Gifford to return to the room to help him, but he hears a loud crack-boom behind him. He turns, horrified. Captain Dunn has taken his own life.
Commentary: Yeah. Why would he have a gun within reach?! Damn it, script.
Gifford returns and he and Angus look in on the Captain, in shock.
Scene 52: In the meantime, the mermaid had been placed in Lillie's care. She's wiping at her face, when she's startled by the thunder and lightning. The mermaid indicates that she knows that Lillie is expecting. She asks if her baby is normal, but the mermaid doesn't respond. Suddenly, there are several crashes of the deck and the ship heaves to and fro.
The creature shushes Lillie with a finger to her lips and as she is doing so, her hand morphs back to webbing....
Scene 53: A not-good CGI rendering points out that the ship is now headed directly into a rocky shoal. The men on deck start to realize their in a bit of trouble. Skelly tells Angus that there are no such shoals near New York Harbor, where they were supposed to be heading. We know already that they're aren't heading for New York, because we saw Dunn's doodling on his map and the course he was tracking on it was south off the coast of America, rather than straight toward the U.S. mainland.
Scene 54: Angus realizes that the Captain may have been referring to altering the course when he spoke of the mermaid forcing him to do something. He returns to the Captain's room to look for his logs and the navigation mapping.
He realizes in short order that the mermaid forced them to return to her home....
Scene 55: The crew struggle to navigate around the rocky (badly CGI) shoals, as water starts to leak in through the damaged hull.
Scene 56: In the hull, the mermaid begins a painful transformation as Lillie watches in amazement.
Lillie covers her eyes and begs not to be hurt....
Scene 57: Out on deck, in the storm, the ship now runs against the rocks. We see the ship's name... the Mary Celeste.
The ship runs aground and Gifford goes below decks to check the hull (where apparently the rest of the crew vanished?). Skelly is left on deck and he hears a weird hissing noise. From behind him, rising up... a monster appears... the true form of the mermaid.
G'Bye Skelly... with a taloned finger.
On the deck, anonymous guy and Angus hear the choked yell of Skelly.
Scene 58: Below decks, Gifford also stops and listens. He looks up to see that Skelly's bloody body has fallen against the skylight.
Scene 59: At the aftdeck, another crewman is fiddling with tying down the sails or jib or whatever the sailor's term is. Anyway, he's red-visioned to death.
Scene 60: Below decks, Angus has retreated to his room (or the Captain's room -- it's hard to tell at this point) for a rifle. Gifford nearly gets himself shot. (Oh, Okay, Gifford points out that 'sleeping darts' aren't going to stop the creature, now, so it is Angus and Lillie's room.)
Commentary: Yeah, first - I'm not buying that Gifford would have seen the were-mermaid-creature. Also, I'm finding it hard to believe that the rest of the crewman weren't on deck and/or didn't see the creature slithering about there. Third - I'm having trouble accepting that the mermaid can suddenly function just find on dry land with her whole tail thing when she had so much trouble before (though, that could have been Miles' intoxicated blood, I suppose). It feels like both the scripting began to get a bit disorganized here and that they had run out of money for the anonymous extras' salary so they all conveniently vanished to 'other parts of the ship'.
Angus tells him they have to get to the Captain's Quarters for the bullets, but Gifford tells him he won't return there. Angus leaves, not realizing that the Creature is at the staircase that leads down to the room he just left Gifford in.
Gifford rushes out of the room, too, not seeing the monster spying on him....
Scene 61: Anonymous crewman (4 of 'em) are in the ship's armory, when their red-visioned.
Scene 62: Meanwhile, Angus hears the yells of the men. Gifford and Anonymous-Crewman-who-looks-like-Daniel-S
The men shout at one another.
Lillie appears outside of the Captain's Quarters calling for Angus. He pulls her into the room, and she leads him and Giffords out. Anonymous gets yanked through the cabin wall and dies.
Scene 63: She Creature appears behind them and they shoot ineffectively at it.
The three main cast make their way to the armory, where they find anonymouses slaughtered.
Lillie shares what she has figured out... that the mermaid they stole was the Queen of the Lair and that she's brought them here to provide food for her fellows.
Gifford chooses to leave for the deck to make his stand.
Scene 64: In the meanwhile, the other mermaids flock around the ship through POV-cam.
Scene 65: Sorry, Giff.
In the Quarters, Lillie and Angus hear his death yell, which echo through the now deserted corridors.
In the meantime, we see the mermaid back belowdecks and stalking through the corridors.
Scene 66: Angus and Lillie retreat back to the mermaid tank room. They share their declarations of love and then the mermaid busts through the door. He rushes out to shoot at the thing at near-point-blank range, with does nothing.
Angus takes it through the back with the mermaids new tail spikes....
Lillie then rushes out to beat on the mermaid with her fists. It slices her down the throat and chest with its extended claw, but Lillie asks her not to hurt her and the baby.
Scene 67: Sometime later, the creature is at the ship's side, holding court over her flock of mermaids waiting to be fed.
Scene 68: Sometime even later, the Mary Celeste is floating at sea again two weeks later. A liferaft approaches the ship, this whole scene in B&W to suggest another flashback.
They find Lillie in shock.
Scene 69: We flashforward to color footage of Lillie speaking in voiceover. She's in another lifeboat telling us that she never told the ordeal of the Mary Celeste and gave birth to a daughter, who is with her in the boat. On the water floats pages from the Old Woman's journal.
She tells us that she did in future see the mermaid again, but tells us that is a tale for another time... we see the daughter's eyes briefly glow red.
The Good: So many actors do a wonderful job: Rufus Sewell, Carla Gugino, Reno Wilson, Mark Aikon and Rya Kihlstedt do wonderful work.
Aubrey Morris is awesome.
The Creature Effects are great.
The story is also well handled and achieves being suspenseful at several junctures.
I really like the haunting mermaid theme.
The Bad: I'm going to point to several script weaknesses that I've pointed out in commentary. I'll also say that being a 90-minute film on cable, it was a bit too long for its own good.
The making sure that Rya's nipples were in so many shots got annoying to me. Yes, we get it -- she's got a naked chest which adds to her allure for the straight men onboard. We, as the audience, really don't need the lingering, repeated shots to make that clear.
The crap-CGI is obvious. And crap. Obvious crap.
Other Thoughts: There are a few script problems, certainly, but overall this is a good tale. I do find the shoehorning of the Mary Celeste tale into here unnecessary, especially since she isn't mentioned (and as Conan Doyle's 'Marie Celeste' on top of it). We only know this is the 'Marie' tale, if you happen to spot the ship name on its hull. Plus, it doesn't even comport with the tale, so what was the point, exactly? It wasn't that clever. Also, the focus on the daughter at the end did not need the obvious and lame "red eye" effect... we could have gotten that there may have been something supernatural about her just from the tale. Thanks for thinking we're too stupid to get it.
I like Gil so much, but his acting here is just a bit over the top.
It's also slightly annoying the way the extras seem to appear and vanish and the way our characters seem to teleport around the ship to where a scene needs them, too.
I LOVE Carla's humorous, but not, scene in her stateroom when she's practicing how to tell Angus that the Old Woman might not have been crazy. But, the script didn't take advantage of this scene later... so again, not necessary padding in effect to reach 90 minutes.
The Scoring: 3.75 out of 5 -- this is a fun B-Movie.
Part I of the review