The Evil Below (1989)

*. The main character in The Evil Below is a scruffy charter boat operator played by the director, Wayne Crawford. The character’s name is Max Cash. His father’s name is Max Cash, Senior.
*. Since this is a terrible movie, and rather dull for long stretches, I had the chance to spend some time thinking about this. Was “Max Cash” meant as a joke? Crawford had, after all, played the eponymous lead in Jake Speed, a comic book action film released just a few years earlier.
*. I think The Evil Below was probably meant as just such another comic book adventure, only this time with divers looking for a sunken treasure ship. Alas, as you may guess from the name of the ship, the El Diablo, it is cursed. Apparently (and I’m by no means certain that I got the story straight) the El Diablo was being crewed by a sect of heretic priests when it sank. Because the ship was not destroyed, the power of this evil bunch will continue to grow “until Armageddon.”
*. So it’s up to Max and his new lady friend to destroy the ship, which is something they don’t really want to do because it’s full of glittering baubles. There are also some rival treasure hunters sniffing around, some dangerous aquatic life, and an undead millionaire. This last-mentioned zombie guy is so evil he even wears a black hat underwater!
*. I really like how the priest manages to write the word “ship” in his blood before he dies. Is that supposed to be a clue? To what? They already know all about the El Diablo. Seems a kind of pointless way to spend your final moments.
*. I had some trouble following what was going on, in large part because the editing is so rough that it’s hard to pick up when a scene has shifted location. Nevertheless, there were moments when I was entertained in a so-bad-it’s-kind-of-good way. The dialogue is very funny. The girls all wear bikinis. Because there was no budget the action scenes are all cut so that you never actually see anything except a bloody corpse after the fact.
*. 1989 was the year of underwater thrilles. Think The Abyss, Leviathan, and DeepStar Six. The Evil Below sinks well below all of these and I can’t really think of any good reason to watch it today. Thirty years ago it might have seemed like a harmless enough way to pass the time, but that time has passed.

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