The Abyss (1989)

The Abyss (1989), directed by James Cameron.

When a US Navy sub has a close encounter with a mysterious object it crashes on the ocean bottom. Deep sea miners are tasked with investigating the wreck and looking for survivors. (Shades of Armageddon (1998): roughnecks to the rescue!)

Compared to the other undersea thrillers that appeared that year -- DeepStar Six (1989) and Leviathan (1989) -- this is an entirely different level of filmmaking. The budget, dedication to realism and actual underwater filming are vastly impressive.

Further: unlike the others there is no monster in this thriller. The deep-sea aliens turn out to be friendly. The humans bring their own terrors with them.

Great cast, and we particularly love the three leads:

I had forgotten: in the final instant of the submersible battle, just as Biehn is about to slip over the edge, both he and Mastrantonio reach out as if to touch:

On the downside:

Score by Alan Silvestri -- Predator (1987), Contact (1997).

I'm not going to review the long weepy history of Home Video Hell for this title. It never even had an anamorphic DVD and every few years we are teased with promises of a superb Blu-ray "real soon now". I don't know if the holdup is Cameron or Fox (now Disney) or what. Why I should care more than they do escapes me.

1080p broadcasts have appeared on cable channels.