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

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


In May 1962, aboard the Italian ocean liner MS Antonia Graza, dozens of wealthy passengers dance to the song "Senza Fine" sung by Francesca, an Italian singer. A young girl, Katie Harwood, sits 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 whips across the dance floor, bisecting the dancers.

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 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. As they prepare to tow it, they discover it contains a large quantity of gold. After a series of supernatural events, the group decides to abandon the salvage effort but take the gold, but an invisible force sabotages the Arctic Warrior. The tugboat explodes as its engine is restarted, killing Santos.

Left with no other option, the group begins repairing the Antonia Graza. Greer encounters Francesca, who seduces him into betraying the fiancée he has ashore, then leads him off a precipice to his death. Captain Murphy enters the captain's cabin and finds his ghost. The captain explains that they recovered the gold from a sinking cruise ship, the Lorelei, along with a sole survivor. Murphy is shown a picture of the survivor, whom he recognizes. He rushes to tell the others, but begins hallucinating and sees everyone as the ghost of the burned Santos, who provokes him into a murderous rage. The others think Murphy has gone mad and lock him in the drained fish tank, where he is later found drowned by Epps.

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 for the gold. Once the passengers were killed, the crew turned on one another; soon, only a single officer was left, but he was later killed by Francesca. Another man, the mastermind behind the massacre, then killed Francesca by mystical means and branded her palm with a hook-shaped symbol using only his hands. 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 thwart his plan. Epps asks Dodge to keep Jack on the ship's bridge while she secretly sets explosives. When Ferriman realizes that Dodge is on to his secret, he walks towards Dodge while insulting him for not being man enough to act upon his feelings for Epps. Dodge threatens to shoot Ferriman, who simply smiles and says that murderers go to hell. Dodge shoots and Ferriman is seemingly killed.

Epps is below decks setting explosives when she is confronted by Dodge. He tells her he has killed Ferriman and that they can salvage the gold to start a life together, but Epps is made suspicious by this unexpected romantic proposal and Dodge's apparent knowledge of the deaths of the rest of the crew despite not being told of them. Realizing that his ruse has failed, "Dodge" morphs into Jack Ferriman, who has killed the real Dodge. Ferriman describes himself as a salvager of souls, a job he earned by a lifetime of sin. He plans to use the Antonia Graza and the gold as a trap to continue collecting souls. Only the souls of sinners can be readily controlled, through the mark he brands them with, and as long as the Graza is kept afloat the soul of everyone who has died aboard the ship will be dragged down when Ferriman has filled his quota and returns to hell, something which will please the "management". He offers to spare Epps's life in exchange for her not interfering but she detonates the explosives. Ferriman is blown to pieces in the explosion and Katie helps Epps escape the sinking ship. Katie is left in the debris before 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 crewmen overseen by Ferriman, who glares at her and carries on; she screams as the ambulance doors close.


Production notes

Ghost Ship first emerged in January 1996 as Chimera, a spec script by Mark Hanlon.[3] This script was a relatively bloodless psychological thriller rather than a vivid supernatural horror film. Most notably, much of the film's gore is absent from the screenplay. The film would have focused on four members of a salvage crew who end up stranded aboard the ghost vessel they are scuttling (the titular Chimera); over the course of one night, each member — due to panic, cabin fever, or supernatural forces — goes insane and plots to kill the other three.[citation needed]

In Chimera,[3] Murphy is the "main killer" and the ship runs onto some rocks and begins to sink. Murphy and Epps survive until nearly the end but as the ship sinks, Murphy goes off to retrieve gold ingots. The weight of the gold and the time he loses in getting it lead to Murphy's demise. As in the film, Katie helps Epps 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 film's cruise ship, the Antonia Grazia, was visually based on the Andrea Doria and is a close replica. This was mentioned in the special feature clips on the film's DVD release.


Box office

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

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.


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.


  1. "GHOST SHIP (18)".. British Board of Film Classification (November 8, 2002). Retrieved on September 9, 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Ghost Ship (2002) - Box Office Mojo".. Retrieved on September 24, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Ghost Ship - by Mark Hanlon - First Draft".. (January 29, 1953). Retrieved on September 24, 2011.
  4. First draft screenplay of "Ghost Ship" (formerly "Chimera" ).
  5. Don Sumner (August 14, 2012). "Ghost Ship (2002) Review".. Retrieved on November 21, 2015. ""… plus it has one of the greatest opening scenes in horror.""
  6. "Sunday Bloody Sunday: Opening Scene From ‘Ghost Ship’ (2002)".. (September 15, 2013). Retrieved on November 21, 2015. ""… I was in definite “Holy Shit!” mode after seeing the opening scene. It was jaw-dropping indeed, but then after it, …""
  7. "Ghost Ship - Rotten Tomatoes".. Retrieved on 24 September 2011.
  8. "Ghost Ship Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic".. Retrieved on September 24, 2011.
  9. "Ghost Ship - by Roger Ebert", Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved on 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 on 24 September 2011.

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