Monday, March 17, 2014

1PanelReview Leviathan

In 1989, 5 (no less!) horror films taking place underwater and seeing a crew face some supernatural danger while testing the strength of their teams were released simultaneously, one after the other.

These films were in theatrical release order: DeepStar Six, Leviathan, Lords of the Deep, The Evil Below and finally The Abyss.

This is one of them.

What it is: Leviathan 

Which is: A scifi horror film
Directed by: George Pan Cosmatos
Year: 1989

Leviathan, released in March '89, is a science-fiction/horror film directed by Rambo: First Blood Part II and Cobra director George Pan Cosmatos. It follows a geologist named Steven Beck overseeing an undersea mining operation and its rag tag team of crewmembers as they find a mysterious Soviet submarine, the Leviathan. They find a captain's log on video tapes and a flask of vodka in the remains of the destroyed sub. Of course, they unleash a strange virus which mutates into a creature. Death ensues. The films is also famous for feature a cast of some pretty familiar 1980s such as Peter Weller, Ernie Hudson, Amanda Pays, Meg Foster, Richard Crenna and Daniel Stern.

What's Good about it: It's so good!
I mean, the film is a pretty fun scifi horror film. It is a bit cliché and seems to follow the classic 80s formula to a "T"!
It's like a big B-movie take on familiar horror films of the time. It's part John Carpenter's The Thing and part Ridley Scott's Alien, only it's set underwater. It starts RoboCop himself, Peter Weller along Ghostbusters's very own Ernie Hudson. Also They Live's Meg Foster's in here. The special effects were done by Stan Winston's Studio and the creature itself was designed by The Thing's Rob Bottin. It even features a Weyland Yutani-like shady corporation in Tri-Oceanic Corp. And finally it's even actually scored by Alien composer himself in person, the one and only Jerry Goldmsith
This time our flick follows some undersea miners looking for minerals, but actually on a secret mission by Tri-Oceanic Corp who wanted to find the Russian sub. The local douche on the team - as every organization underwater should have I'm starting to think after watching all these movies - gets contaminated by the strange illness. It starts spreading across the crew, killing everyone one by one, it mutates into some weird fish-monster. They escape in their deep sea diving suits as the place blows up. THEN the thing follows them up there! What a twist! It's almost as if all these movies will end the same way.
The entire cast is composed of this bunch of screwballs. They're fun character to watch, for sure.
Despite some bland characters and dumb moments, it's pretty enjoyable.
The creature design was pretty neat, despite barely giving us any good look at. Stan Winston special-effects never disappoint. Once the sea-creature starts to assimilate its victims, the effects are quite fun to look at and gruesome!

Peter Weller always gives a nice interpretation. As our main lead character, he quite never entirely relaxes in the front of the crew and despite not being happy to be in charge, can nonetheless guide and order the crew around.
The lovely Amanda Pays is always great. I used to love her on The Flash, where has she been up to since then!?
And finally, let's not forget the fantastic score composed by Jerry Goldmsith. While never quite distinct or unique, it sounds creepy and eerie enough here. Although the kinda questionable "heroic" theme heard throughout the film and most prominently at the end seems rather off for the genre...

What's Bad about it: It's so bad! 
Well, I wouldn't call it "that" bad, but it certainly a B-movie through and through.
The thing is (no pun intended), Leviathan just seems to attempt to rip off so many other movies... 
Like I said above, it's both fun to see these influences... but also a big distraction. The end product just feels kind of like this huge patchwork!
I mean... they even use flamethrowers just like in Alien! In an underwater camp!? Why did they even have those to begin with?
Also, sometimes I almost wonder if they didn't originally plan to set Leviathan in space but quickly ditched that whole idea for yet another of these underwater flicks at the last moments..? Is it just me? The whole entire set just feels like we're aboard a spaceship the entire movie. Certainly this started production as a direct Alien rip-off?! 
Finally, let me just saw I found Ernie Hudson's death both pretty useless and tasteless. For once the "black guy" seemed like he was going to survive the entire horror film to not follow usual Hollywood tropes. And he did. But then (SPOILER ALERT!) he gets killed randomly at the end for no reason?! Was there a quota to met? Three living survivors was too much and asking to narrow down the count!? So obviously the couple of main characters survives and Winston Zed.. I mean Justin Jones is killed one minute to the credits... sigh...

Overall: Leviathan was not a huge success at the time but gained a small following over the years.

It's well worth a viewing in my eyes, despite some of its flaws.

And it's a pretty fun film all in all. 

The films has some kickass creature effects thanks to Stan Winston Studios, and it's a fun derivative take on the genre.  
I give it: 2.5 / 3 Quacks!
[How does my Rating System work?]

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