I recently visited the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, because there aren’t many options for celebrating your birthday in Tennessee that are more fun than commemorating a national tragedy. The museum was pretty cool, but my favorite part was the gift shop where you could process your grief over the loss of fifteen hundred human lives by purchasing a sparkly, teal, heart-shaped pillow with the name of their watery grave on it.
The Titanic gift shop made me think about how Americans are terrible at processing grief through any lens other than capitalism, but boy, are we good at expressing our sorrow via merch. Sure, calling someone the captain of the Titanic doesn’t come off as a compliment in our modern era, but you can purchase a Titanic captain’s hat for your Captain & Tennille cosplay and hope nobody notices the grim reference!
After September 11th, people sold so many country songs, American flags, and Never Forget t-shirts, partially because we never wanted to forget but also, more cynically, because you can’t copyright a national tragedy. So when something terrible happens and everyone is talking about it, and mourning over it, sometimes that’s great news for the makers of 9/11 tribute shirts designed to look like a rap battle between Osama Bin Laden and George H.W. Bush.
When the Titanic movie came out and was a huge hit, the U.S. copyright office was flooded with requests to attach the name to t-shirts, restaurants, perfume, and even a line of iceberg lettuce. Dark! 20th Century Fox even had to go to battle with a guy who owned an army surplus store who had filed for the use of the name Titanic on clothing. I’m not sure if they got the rights or if they had to go with their second choice, Sea Burial Swimwear.
That trademark for Titanic remains up in the air, which is why in 2010, The Asylum was able to make a terrible disaster movie called Titanic II without getting sued by James Cameron. If you’re unfamiliar with The Asylum, they’re the production company that makes “mockbusters” like the Sharknado series and Snakes On A Train. They’re movies specifically designed to suck and maybe fool your grandmother into thinking she’s buying you that silly movie where Sam Jackson says that motherfuckin’ cakes on a motherfuckin’ train line you like so much.
Titanic II performed so adequately that ten years later The Asylum decided to try it again but this time somehow even more gruesome and terrible. “We haven’t spat in the face of a national tragedy that showed the massive issues with inequality in America by drowning a bunch of poor women and children,” someone at The Asylum must have said before sucking a big ol’ loogie out of his nasal cavity and spitting out Titanic 666.
This’ll be the one that makes it!
It’s a zombie movie where the men and women who died on the Titanic are raised from the dead to seek vengeance on the people trying to ghoulishly profit from their tragic deaths, which is, you know, exactly what The Asylum is doing by making this movie. It’s as if they made a movie about how terrible it is to hunt whales and killed seventeen whales in harpoon accidents during production.
The biggest star in the movie is AnnaLynne McCord, the actress who went viral for writing a poem about how if she were Putin’s mother and had hugged him, he wouldn’t have started the war in Ukraine. She’s playing an unbearable influencer named Mia, a role she was made for, but she’s not the main character, even though the movie follows her almost exclusively for the first thirty minutes.
Mia and her husband decide to sneak into the scary abandoned warehouse on the Titanic for some primo content but end up stumbling upon stowaway Lydia Hearst performing what is clearly a demonic ritual. However, there wasn’t much of a script for Titanic 666. You can tell they wrote about three lines for every scene and asked the actors to improv, which they absolutely would not do, so instead, they repeat the three written lines over and over again, which in this scene means they kept saying, “is this part of the entertainment?” “Is this some kind of show?” As Lydia Hearst drank her own blood.
According to IMDB, Lydia Hearst’s character’s name is Idina, but I don’t think they came up with that until way post production. She’s playing the great granddaughter of the captain of the original Titanic, who is psychically connected to the victims of the Titanic, somehow. She gives a speech about this at one point, but it must have been added in reshoots and edited into the story way too early because everyone she meets is like, “who are you? Why are you doing this?” Even though she immediately told everyone her whole deal.
There’s an evil Indiana Jones on the ship who’s selling artifacts from the Titanic for a bunch of money. He’s even ghoulishly showing off the Captain’s wedding ring, which he presumably pulled off a frozen corpse and now wears around. He’s the only one who has something like a hero’s journey where he learns a lesson and grows as a character, but he’s also the inconsiderate evildoer who kicks off the whole problem in the first place as it’s his grave robbing that upsets the captain’s granddaughter so much. There are just no good people in this thing to root for, not a single hero in sight. Are we supposed to be rooting for the zombies? Because I am.
Thirty minutes into the movie, Mia becomes the first victim of the Titanic zombies. She’s a pretty unconvincing scream queen. Her look of terror when seeing the zombie reads more like she’s stoned at a drive-thru and desperately trying to remember her Taco Bell order.
To be fair, the zombies are pretty confusing. They appear and disappear in mist and have some sort of telekinetic powers, so I don’t know if these are actually supposed to be zombies, ghosts, or just lost members of My Chemical Romance. I’m pretty sure this movie’s special effects guy was a TikTok filter, so something might be getting lost in the CGI.
Mia is scared to death by the ghost and her husband is sucked into a cloud, so suddenly the entire movie shifts to a new protagonist– the captain of the ship. She’s more sympathetic than anyone else, but she’s also a woman who signed up to captain Titanic 3 after what happened to Titanic’s one and two. I’m sorry, but you know what they say, Titanic one shame on you, Titanic two shame on me, Titanic three, you deserve the zombie.
The rest of the movie is a series of jump scares as the crew runs around trying to stop the obviously ghost-related shenanigans. They do this as if the only direction they were given was to act like they’re on the Titanic and it’s full of ghosts! They need to stretch the run time so badly and with so little budget that there are multiple scenes where we watch a group of people watch cell phone footage of an earlier scene in its entirety.
Eventually, the Titanic III is steered into iceberg city like Titanic’s I and II before it and surprise, surprise, it sinks! The Captain tells the evil Indiana Jones guy to help load people into the lifeboats, and he does, but the lifeboat line is cut by ghosts and all of the people plunge into the water too fast, breaking the boat and killing everyone.
He ends up alone in a lifeboat. We hear a tapping on the side and just when you think he’s about to get ghosted, the captain appears. She tells him that by helping people into the lifeboats he’s “squared up with God,” and he peacefully freezes to death, then becomes a zombie ghost and lunges at the captain, ending the movie. Literally the entire cast dies, which is fine because they don’t need anyone left to make another Titanic movie. The Asylum has done a Titanic disaster movie and a Titanic zombie movie, I’m assuming their next feature will be a Bollywood musical where a dancing captain accidentally chorus lines into the throttle and causes the boat to hit an iceberg.
This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme: Greg Cunningham, who is writing, directing, starring in and doing craft services for Titanic 4: Titanic Panic!